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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Next Game – Browns @ Washington

Next Game – Browns @ Washington

Browns @ Washington – Game #4 Preview

The Browns have another road contest against a Washington team that had a huge win against their division rivals.  Once again the orange and brown will be underdogs and are expected to come away with a defeat.  However, will this be a situation where the home team comes in overconfident and plays tight (leading towards a possible upset?) It’s unlikely, but let’s discuss this game anyways.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I thought the coaching job done with Cody Kessler was exceptional last week; Hue Jackson did not put him in any difficult situations and lightened his load with Terrelle Pryor taking several snaps behind center.  I anticipate that the rookie quarterback will have more snaps than he did a week ago – but the play calling should be rather similar (shorter crossing and under routes).  Hopefully this is where Kessler finds his first career passing touchdown in the NFL.

Running Back:  Are we starting to see the Browns actually utilize their two running backs correctly?  Let’s hope that this can continue on Sunday – as they will rely heavily on this with their rookie signal caller.  I am gaining confidence in this unit, despite the struggles with the offensive line.  The big thing missing from Crowell and Johnson last contest was a trip to the end zone (though that feat was accomplished by Pryor).  I would not be surprised to see their fortunes change as they get more comfortable with this offense.

Wide Receiver:  It’s hard to imagine that Terrelle Pryor will duplicate his performance from a week ago; if the Browns can just see an output similar to his receiving numbers that would be a good day.  However, the opposition will more than likely double cover the veteran with one guy preventing a deep pass.  That leaves Andrew Hawkins and a rookie or two to step in and make their mark.  Ricardo Louis is coming off a contest with three grabs for forty yards, which he can definitely build off of.  Rashard Higgins is the wild card; I don’t expect much but perhaps he can make that one “big play” for this offense.

Tight End:  Well Gary Barnidge is doing a yeoman’s work on the field.  The veteran is not showing off, but rather is playing well by securing passes and collecting first downs.  His big play ability has tapered off from 2015, but part of that could be the Browns actually have other good receiving options on their offense.  Rookie Seth DeValve finally saw some playing time last contest; he did not accumulate any statistics though.  Perhaps he can make his first mark against Washington.

Offensive Line:  That was an alarming performance last contest by Austin Pasztor; this might be his last opportunity to hold down his starting job at right tackle.  Rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman ought to be practicing hard to get their shot at hitting the field. The OVI by Alvin Bailey surely did not help the right guard; I would not be surprised to see one of the rookies supplant him in the near future.  One thing is certain; the guys upfront must win consistently at the point of attack if they want to see their first win.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  Whether you want to admit it or not, Danny Shelton continues to be a force in the middle of this defensive line.  He is not tallying seven tackles for losses and three sacks, but the second year pro is making it difficult for opponents to run up the middle of the field.   I am not completely worried about shutting down Matt Jones this week but there’s always a possibility of a few long runs.  It would be nice to have Carl Nassib return for this contest, but his status remains undetermined as of this point.

Outside Linebacker:  Coach Jackson confirmed that Nate Orchard’s ankle injury will cause him to miss time at outside linebacker.  Thus Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert will continue to see nearly all of the snaps at the edge on Sunday.  There’s a shot that Corey Lemonier sees ample action as well; it would really be a boost if this unit could take down Kirk Cousins multiple times in this matchup.

Inside Linebacker:  In addition to corralling the opposing rushers, the duo of Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis will have their hands full with tight end Jordan Reed.  The veteran is reliable and can make teams pay who do not focus on him during their game plan.  Kirksey is coming off a game with nine stops – he has been relentless but is still searching for those big hits behind the line of scrimmage.

Safety:  I have been extremely impressed with both Derrick Kindred and Jordan Poyer’s play as of late.  The former was a late round draft pick who is making big hits on a regular basis.  Poyer has improved significantly against the pass from a year ago – I am holding out hope for an interception (or two) against Cousins.  A pair of safeties who can alter opposing game plans is something not seen by the Browns in quite some time.  They are not there yet but are inching ever closer each week.

Cornerback:  Getting Joe Haden back should be a boost for the cornerback spot, but the real question is about Briean Boddy-Calhoun.  Was the rookie simply in the right place at the right time (last game)?  Or can he be a staple in the Browns’ secondary.  The Browns are supporting the youth movement, so Boddy-Calhoun might be seeing more opportunities to collect interceptions.

Special Teams:  One could argue that special teams lost the Browns their last two contests (and that person would win that
argument).  Fans just have to hope and pray for the worst not to happen when attempting field goals.  Perhaps coach Jackson will be more aggressive and try for touchdowns  rather than kicking it on fourth down.

Coaching:  This is by far the best coaching staff the Browns have had for many years.  I know that is not saying a ton – but it is
refreshing to see talent finally being utilized.  The coaches are not perfect and are subject to mistakes – but I would rather have Jackson and company than Jay Gruden and his staff.  I am pulling for the home team to  commit a coaching blunder that proves costly.

Prediction (My Record: 3 – 0):  Until the Browns show they can win a game, I will not predict them to win.  They will come close again this week, but will fall for the fourth time this year by the score of 24 – 20.  At that point they will be accompanied by a couple suspendedplayers (provided they are activated).

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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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What I Saw – Browns Loss in Miami

What I Saw – Browns Loss in Miami

Takeaways from the Latest Loss

Well, I guess Browns’ fans should not have anything else – another defeat in a gut wrenching way. The new kicker missed three field goals (including a chip shot that would have won the game). However, there were a handful of positives that came from this contest. Let’s review those:

#1 – Hue Knows How to Coach 

Getting guys in the right spot, taking the load off the rookie signal caller, and finding ways to score the football are three things that were visible from the orange and brown sidelines. It’s refreshing to see a guy in charge know what he’s doing; he doesn’t have the best weapons in the league but he’s making the most of what he’s got. 

#2 – Terrelle Pryor’s Development 

Whether he was under center, running slants, or running down the field – the Browns’ athlete played extremely well on Sunday. I must admit that he is exceeding my expectations, and I am excited to see him improve on a weekly basis. It will be very interesting when Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon (hopefully) return to the lineup.

#3 – Right Tackle Issues 

I thought Austin Pasztor was decent last season for the offensive line of the Browns. However, in 2016 he has struggled mightily. Whether teams are figuring him out or if he cannot handle the starting role – the right side of the offensive line has had their issues. I’m not going to second guess their free agency strategy from a year ago (as everyone else is), but the team must get this fixed prior to the start of next season. 

#4 – Cody’s First Start

For a third-string’s first start in the NFL, I thought Cody Kessler put together a solid performance. He was not spectacular, but outside of a few fumbles early, he was steady under center. I am eager to see what he will do with another week of practice and another start in the NFL. 

Conclusion: It was not a great contest for the Cleveland Browns, but improvement (as a whole) is visible on the field. Hopefully they can actually pull out a victory next week; these close losses are not very fun.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns @ Dolphins – Week #3 Preview

Browns @ Dolphins – Week #3 Preview

The Browns are Taking their Talents…

On the road again, the Cleveland Browns head south to face another defeated franchise in the Miami Dolphins.  It will be a hot one, and there might not be a ton of great football to be played – but hopefully our annual road trip (for yours truly) will generate a Browns’ win.  There have been injuries to both teams already – who will be the guys to step up?

Offense:

Quarterback:  Another game and another quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.  Cody Kessler gets his trial by fire and has to look across at Cameron Wake, Mario Williams,  and Ndamukong Suh – not an enviable position.  The signal caller threw a touchdown on his first pass of the preseason, and then everything else has gone downhill since.  I anticipate Hue Jackson will pare down the playbook and limit the number of tosses (especially deep) in this contest.  Assuming he attempts quick screens and outs, I can envision a decent passing percentage.  However, I do not see any touchdowns or big plays by the quarterback.

Running Back:  One would imagine that both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson would receive ample opportunities against the Dolphins’ defense.  Their game plan will more than likely feature “stacking the box” to try and take away the Browns’ running attack.  With two capable rushers at the helm, the Browns can opt for runs or pass attempts to either guy.  It will come down to scheming and how Jackson can outfox Adam Gase’s defense.  I expect Duke Johnson to get an expanded role, but Crowell will obviously not have another tremendous output.

Wide Receivers:  In following the theme of short, quick passes – the two beneficiaries of this should be Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins.  Hopefully they can get a larger guy (i.e. Terrelle Pryor or Gary Barnidge) on the edge that could block down field for a larger gain.  Many are concerned about the stunting of the growth of Coleman (as he is now paired with a rookie).  This is hard to argue against; he and all wide outs will underperform until a veteran returns under center.

Tight End:  A tight end is predominantly utilized as a safety valve for green signal callers.  Gary Barnidge should more than help this offense – provided Kessler dials up his target and complete passes. He made some key catches last week at home but I have no idea as to how he will fare in this contest.  The injury to Randall Telfair might allow another guy (Seth DeValve) to come in and play.  However, with all of their quarterbacks getting hurt, the coaching staff might employ the tight end as more of a blocker for maximum protection.

Offensive Line:  For all the complainers about Cameron Erving and his porous play – they will get their wish (for a while, at least), as the second year pro will be out of action.  I am confident in John Greco as his replacement but am unsure of Alvin Bailey at right guard.  One thing that Kessler can do to help himself – is to get the football out of his hand as quickly as possible.  The guys upfront have not been consistent blocking, so not leaning on them to propel this unit might not be a wise idea.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  The broken hand suffered by Carl Nassib really hurts the defensive line – the rookie was playing well which helped a few of his teammates.  In his absence, Xavier Cooper must step up and be a force on the edge.  He has been mediocre so far in 2016 – but could continue to improve in only his second season.  Speaking of which, Danny Shelton proved that he can actually be disruptive in the middle of the line.  I hope he can not only force action elsewhere, but move the point of attack behind the line of scrimmage.  The status of runner Arian Foster is not set in stone, so a hobbled runner or a backup should help the Browns’ run defense.

Outside Linebacker:  Emmanuel Ogbah was one of the pass rushers who was aided by Nassib’s early performances.  Without his services, the rookie linebacker will have to find another way to be a force on the outside.  Meanwhile, Joe Schobert took a step back last game and was hardly visible during the contest.  With Nate Orchard seeing regular playing time behind him, there’s a chance that he could surpass the rookie as the starter.  Regardless of who is out there, they must be fast on the edge and force everything to the middle of the field.

Inside Linebacker:  (Not surprisingly) the pair of veterans in the middle are doing a great job of showing the way for the younger guys.  Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey have not been brilliant, but stout enough against both the run and pass where they are warranting their playing time.  I would like to see them either notch a few sacks on Tannehill or even secure a huge interception.  A big play like that might be the difference in this contest.

Cornerbacks:  Outside of the rejuvenated Joe Haden, I am very fearful of Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams going against Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, or Kenny Stills.  I hope that Taylor’s return to Miami will lead him to play inspired football and make some key plays – but that is admittedly wishful thinking.  Tannehill will likely hit at least two targets in the end zone in this contest and propel the offense to a solid afternoon.

Safeties:  Derrick Kindred is getting “there” and Jordan Poyer is trying to get “there”.  The rookie has been awful active in games and around the ball on multiple occasions.  I could see him jarring a football loose in this contest and turning the tide to Kessler and company.  Meanwhile, Poyer nearly had an interception last meeting.  He improved from week one, but must be better in his coverage than just a play or two each contest.

Special Teams:  Here is where the Browns really need to see tremendous improvement going forward.  They cannot get field goals (or extra points) blocked anymore, nor can they surrender longer returns.  In a conservative offensive game plan, will the Browns attempt a fourth and short situation or go for a longer field goal attempt?  Let’s hope coach Jackson makes the right call on Sunday.

Coaching:  As previously referenced, there will be a vanilla offense run by this group to move the football while not getting their third quarterback hurt in as many weeks.  I do not have high hopes for this unit, but perhaps the staff can silence the doubters.  The defense will be relied upon more than usual – so more aggressive play calls could be seen.

Prediction (My Record: 2 – 0):  I don’t know what to think about this team with all the injuries and young guys, so I’ll keep the
expectations at a minimum.  The Dolphins and Browns will compete in an ugly contest, with the home team coming out ahead by the score of 20 – 6.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Cleveland Browns Fans, NFL Season, Players

 

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Defeat #2 – Browns vs. Ravens and Refs

Defeat #2 – Browns vs. Ravens and Refs

A Last Second Loss for the Browns

Clearly the zebras did not want the home team to win on Sunday – and a pair of suspect calls ensured that the team in purple got to steal a victory.  In the game, there were some encouraging things – but at the end of the day they did not pull out a win (despite leading 20 – 0 at one point).  Let’s look back:

Offense:

Quarterback:  Despite Baltimore’s best efforts to injure the signal caller, Josh McCown finished the contest.  He played well (outside of two poorly thrown passes) and was an improvement over Robert Griffin.  However, McCown will definitely not finish this season looking at the way he plays.  However, the quarterback was not a liability for the Browns in this contest – as he his Corey Coleman twice in the first quarter.  We’ll see his availability going forward.

Running Back:  Isaiah Crowell had a tremendous touchdown early in this game.  The runner has improved significantly from his 2015 form and I expect this to continue all season long.  He has been hitting open holes with authority and finding yards on the ground.  It would appear that Duke Johnson’s role is limited to occasional receptions – the back has breakaway speed, Perhaps he will see more touches down the road, but the opponent might dictate that.

Wide Receiver:  Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor are growing in this offense.  Each made multiple receptions and moved the ball well from the quarterback’s hand.  What was great to see was Pryor excelling at crossing routes – something not seen in the preseason.  I expect more big things from this duo.  Meanwhile Andrew Hawkins has been a guy who can move chains and is a key for this offense.  Hopefully the other rookies can find their roles in this offense as well.

Tight End:  Gary Barnidge has reemerged back into this offense; the veteran made some plays in this contest and is contributing to this unit.  I figure McCown (or Kessler) will be looking his way a fair amount the rest of the campaign.  I don’t know if Seth DeValve will be inserted into this lineup following the injury to Randall Telfair – but the Browns would be wise to carry two active members at this position group.

Offensive Line:  Overall, the offensive line improved significantly from week one.  Cameron Erving made a critical error in the third quarter, but it still was not as bad as his high snap.  Sacks and pressures are going to happen agains the Ravens, but I felt that the guys upfront did their job to limit the number of these occasions.  They have another tough test next Sunday on the road.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  Carl Nassib continues to play well upfront, and I saw a fair amount of him coming off the edge.  The guys upfront played exceptionally against the run; hopefully this is a building block where they can improve upon this performance.  There were no long gashes, and the team did not surrender several consecutive long gainers.  Danny Shelton did not stand out either positively or negatively in this matchup; I feel he is starting to settle in the middle of the defense.  I can’t wait to see them play next week.

Linebackers:  On the outside, Emmanuel Ogbah was all over the field both against the run and the pass.  The rookie was not dominant, however he continues to be solid in his production.  Nate Orchard tallied three tackles and could have been more involved in this matchup.  Meanwhile, Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey combined for sixteen stops and were around the ball consistently.  Dennis Pitta made too many receptions to my liking, but the linebackers cannot be perfect.  I would really like to see these guys take down quarterbacks more often; the came close multiple times, but Flacco was able to squirm away with little to no damage.

Secondary:  Amid much criticism, Joe Haden returned to form on Sunday.  The veteran hauled in two interceptions and kept Steve Smith in check (despite several passes headed his way).  It will be difficult to replicate this type of output, but I would not be surprised to see Haden play more like this than he did in Philadelphia.  As far as the safeties are concerned, Derrick Kindred showed he is an upgrade over Ibraheim Campbell.  The rookie was extremely active and his physicality was infectious.  He nearly had an interception as well – the Browns’ defense needs more players like him on this roster.

Special Teams:  Here is a spot where the Browns might have lost this game.  A blocked extra point, which was returned for two points by the opposition, and another field goal was tipped and sailed wide.  The Browns are not good enough (at this point) to surrender points these ways and still come out ahead.  Hopefully this will get cleaned up immediately.

Coaching:  It’s easy for some to blame Hue Jackson for the play calling after the first quarter.  However, the Browns had two third down conversions in the second half wiped out by penalties (which could have led to points).  Jackson knows what he’s doing and talked some sense into Coleman after his penalty.  The Browns are in good hands for the future, but there will be growing pains (which we saw on Sunday).

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns vs. Ravens – Game #2 Preview

Browns vs. Ravens – Game #2 Preview

Game #2 Preview – Ravens @ Browns

It only took one week, but the Browns are already in the cellar of the AFC North.  Speaking of which, they face their first divisional opponent on Sunday – a team who defeated the Bills a week before.  The Browns looked pretty bad in the season opener (what’s new?); can they turn it around at First Energy Stadium?  We will analyze this matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  Coming off a poor performance (and an injured left shoulder), signal caller Robert Griffin will be missing at least several weeks of action.  In comes veteran Josh McCown, who also has an injury history.  The Ravens’ defense held their own last week – so the assumption would be that the Browns would not be able to move the football with ease.  I expect McCown to enter this game make a few smart plays down the field and actually find the end zone this week.  However, the opposition will bait him into a mistake as well.  Hopefully the next signal caller can be precise on his throws – or this contest can get away from the team in a hurry. McCown did not sparkle in the preseason, but that’s not necessarily a true indicator for the regular season.

Running Back:  It is time for this offense to feature Duke Johnson in a more prominent role.  The second-year veteran had some nifty moves last week, and could cause problems in the passing game (for the defense).  Isaiah Crowell proved he can still run the ball rather well (provided the offensive line can pave the way).  I wouldn’t mind seeing the runner garner early carries in the matchup to soften up the defense.  Getting to one hundred yards on the ground will not come easy, and I envision the Browns being bottled up until they are down a couple of scores.

Wide Receivers:  The slant route, albeit juggled, was something I was glad to see hauled in from Terrelle Pryor last contest.  He is beginning to show he is more than a one-trick pony – and I am anticipating on him to continue to grow in this offense.  Corey
Coleman struggled a bit but snagged a deep pass in the second half; he should see more targets this week.  Andrew Hawkins continues to disappoint in his role with the offense.  I would like to see him get back on track, as the team could surely use another threat in the passing game.  At the end of the day, outside of some nice grabs I do not expect too much from the wide outs.

Tight Ends:  Gary Barnidge desperately needs to shake off last contest and get back to his 2015 form.  Not catching a pass is just as unacceptable as is dropping easy throws which killed offensive drives.  He will more than likely get a couple of early targets (to build confidence), then should be available for underneath routes to complement longer passes.  This offense is not too far from being reliable, but all hands must be on deck for that to occur.

Offensive Line:  The two problematic positions for the offensive line reared their ugly heads in Philadelphia.  Can Austin Pasztor and Cameron Erving get out of their funks and solidify this unit?  Pasztor got blown up a few times (and got away with holding a time or two), he cannot afford to continue to play this way.  Meanwhile, Erving did improve at pass protection from a season ago – however his high snap was embarrassing.  If this is not cleaned up soon, the Browns might be looking for the replacement of the replacement for Alex Mack soon.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  The team took a step forward last contest – in terms of their run defense.  They were not spectacular, but they were also not nearly as horrendous as they have been.   I was actually watching Danny Shelton get up the field a time or two in the contest.  Should he continue this on a regular basis, as well as Carl Nassib being a threat on the edge, and the Browns’ defensive line might be a respectable unit in 2016.  John Hughes needs to step up on the opposing edge, otherwise the Ravens will exploit this time and time again.

Outside Linebackers:  If Emmanuel Ogbah, Nate Orchard, and Joe Schobert could not get to a rookie quarterback – then I do not envision this trio making life tough in the pocket for Joe Flacco.  Granted they are young and can improve, but I would be surprised to see them make a jump this early in the campaign.  The only saving grace is the old adage that “teams improve the most between weeks one and two”.

Inside Linebackers:  Despite not making any tremendous plays in the opener, both Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey graded out well.  Being dependable is something that is necessary for inside linebackers – however I want to see them blow up offensive plays now and again.  The Ravens’ tight end situation is one riddled with injuries, so this duo should not have to worry about many guys crossing their face trying to catch passes (the way Zach Ertz did).  I could see a big play coming from this position group on Sunday.

Safeties:  Derrick Kindred displayed some tenacity in his first NFL game, and then turned his ankle.  The Browns need a thumper at safety – and hopefully the rookie can come back healthy for this game.  Otherwise the team will have to turn to Ibraheim Campbell, who is capable but not a standout safety.  Jordan Poyer was all around the ball last contest but could not come away with the big interception. He will likely need the assistance of teammates (via a tipped pass or help in coverage) in order to generate a turnover from the opposition.  Overall the safety spot has not been great, but they are an improvement from the guys on the edge.

Cornerbacks:  This is easily the worst unit of the Browns – they were unable to cover any wide receiver last week.  That said, I figure more of the same at First Energy Stadium and a boatload of passing yards surrendered by the orange and brown.  I do not know what it is going to take for the coverage to improve (and apparently neither do the Browns).  I’m hoping they can simply get lucky and one of Haden, Taylor, or Williams can be at the right place at the right time for a change.

Special Teams:  Can the Browns change momentum in this game on a single play?  That would be great, and perhaps special teams could be the spark the team needs.  Whether it is a long return or a key stop, the Browns need to be the beneficiaries of a big play and use it to their advantage.

Coaching:  I can assure you that fake punts and offensive linemen split out wide will not be a part of the Browns’ game plan this week.  Neither worked last Sunday, and Hue Jackson and company must be smart in trying to pull a fast one over the opposing coaching staff.

Prediction (My Record: 1 – 0):  I look to keep my record perfect and choose against the team that has not come out ahead in five tries.  Joe Flacco will make one too many great throws and the Ravens will come away with a 27 – 13 victory at First Energy Stadium.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Bummin…Another Browns Loss

Bummin…Another Browns Loss

Game #1 Review – Browns @ Eagles

Ahh, another year is upon; and yet another season is complete without the Browns winning their opening game. They are now a record one win and sixteen losses in the first game of the campaign – when will the madness end? We will have to wait another year to answer this question; for now let us look back at Sunday’s debacle. 

Offense: 

Quarterback – It could have been much worse for Robert Griffin; the signal caller had a decent outing, and was able to find the end zone. The problem occurred in the latter stages of the contest – when Griffin airmailed several tosses by substantial amount. I still have a decent amount of confidence in the quarterback, but he could have played a bit better on Sunday.

Running Back – As expected, the Browns gained most of their yardage when the game did not matter (mostly long gains by Isaiah Crowell). I felt Duke Johnson was underutilized in this matchup and would have liked to see him given opportunities to succeed. Alas, that was not the case and the Browns had to settle for yet another disappointing outcome. 

Wide Receiver – Terrelle Pryor continues to be a bright spot for the wide receiving unit. The veteran had a couple of great grabs, including a down field haul early in this matchup. I am rather impressed at his turnaround from the 2015 season. Rookie Corey Coleman could have played a bit better – the wide out had a few drops and did not make the most of his opportunities in this matchup. 

Tight End – Speaking of poor outings, what was up with Gary Barnidge? The tight end coming off a Pro Bowl appearance had a pair of drops and then did not have a target the rest of the campaign. I understand the Browns’ passing attack does not have to revolve around Barnidge, but having him as an option would be a welcomed sight.

Offensive Line – I thought the guys upfront held their own in the first half of this matchup. Meanwhile, the Browns trudged their way though this contest, and the offensive line had their issues later in the contest (including Joe Thomas surrendering a sack).  The horrible snap surrendered by Cameron Erving was the game changer – and not for the good.  It could have been better for this unit, and I have no idea if they will improve going forward. 

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Outside of Carl Nassib giving pressure on the edge, were there any other athletes playing along the defensive line? It was hard to find an athlete or two who could disrupt the offensive sets of the Eagles on a consistent basis. Danny Shelton made one or two nice plays, but that is not nearly enough for a first round selection. This unit needs a great deal of work going forward. 

Linebacker – The linebacker corps appears to be a mess; in the middle only a handful of plays appear to be memorable. Christian Kirksey and Demario Davis had their hand in a few stops, but were not nearly as important as I would have imagined. Emmanuel Ogbah, Joe Schobert, and Nate Orchard were rather underwhelming as outside pass rushers. I hope their lack of experience is the reason why they struggled and the group continues to improve as the season moves along. 

Secondary – Well Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams did not accomplish anything to give me any sort of excitement. Meanwhile, Joe Haden was rather quiet until surrendering another deep touchdown pass. I can’t recall anything from the safety postion of notes as well; Derrick Kindred had a solid hit or two but that was about it. Overall, the Browns’ secondary was abysmal and I am extremely worried that they will be torched on a weekly basis. This is a passing league and the Browns cannot defend it.

Special Teams: Outside of a poor punt coverage in the first half, the Browns and Eagles had an even matchup in the battle for special teams. I think Andy Murray did an adequate job as a kicker, and Brittion Colquitt was not perfect – but far from terrible. In the end, the Browns still have room to grow but immediate improvement would be preferred.

Coaching: I would have liked to have seen more blitzes by the defense; they showed (in limited opportunities) that they could be effective, but the Browns did not utilize them too often. Meanwhile, the play calling could have featured more of swing passes to Duke Johnson and in routes (maybe the early drops curtailed this). Nonetheless, the Browns did not do enough and lost yet another opening game. Now, it’s on to week two.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns @ Eagles – Game #1 Preview

Browns @ Eagles – Game #1 Preview

Browns Game #1 Preview – @ Philadelphia Eagles

Well, here we are – the Cleveland Browns’ 2016 season is finally underway!  Yes, this is the season opener and we know how unkind this has been for this franchise.  But the team will hit the road in a very winnable game against another franchise that has a new coach, an unproven quarterback, and lowered expectations.  Where have I heard this before?  I figure there will be some big plays in this contest; but it might come down to not committing the big mistake.  Let’s get to some analyzing:

Offense:

Quarterback:  Robert Griffin had a decent exhibition season, but how will things change when the regular season begins?  I figure Hue will put his signal caller in situations to avoid sacks and possible injuries when being flushed from the pocket.  Hitting the underneath routes in stride has not been his forte, but he must get this down to help with the “long ball” – which was his bread and butter in August.  I could see a few short runs and a touchdown or two from the quarterback.  Not committing a turnover is vital if the Browns want to win this game.

Running Back:  For some reason, I could see solid performances by this position group of the Browns.  Isaiah Crowell might not a tremendous amount of yardage, but he should find the end zone.  Meanwhile, Duke Johnson ought to hall in a couple of passes and find room to run on the ground.  Provided he can score a touchdown as well; this can be a great start for the running backs.  Eclipsing the 100 yard total is a must by this duo, although it will not come easy.

Wide Receiver:  On the flip side, I am not as confident in the wide receiving unit as I thought I would be entering the season.  The obvious reason for this is that Josh Gordon will not be participating in this matchup.  Additionally, Corey Coleman will more than likely not be up to speed and therefore rather mediocre in this game. Terrelle Pryor has been only been excelling at one aspect (fade routes) on the field – which begs the question, who will step up at wide out in this game?

Tight End:  Gary Barnidge could be the wildcard for this offense in this contest.   I do not anticipate on him being as productive as he was a year ago, but the veteran could make things easier for Griffin and company.  Some key grabs to move the chains is the minimum I would accept from the position group.  Anything above this would be icing on the cake.  I am eager to see if a second tight end option can (begin to) establish himself in this matchup.

Offensive Line:  For the first time since 2008, the Browns will not have Alex Mack snapping the football during the regular season.  The turnover upfront had led to a great deal of fear by fans and media alike.  Will Griffin come away from this game (relatively) unscathed after multiple drop backs?  Can the unit open holes for Crowell and Johnson?  I would not be surprised to see a guy or two struggle against the Eagles but hopefully they will be able to quickly recover.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  Will this be the game where the Browns escape their horrid run defense that has plagued them for many years?  Not trying to be too pessimistic just yet, but the Eagles will more than likely have their way on the ground (as they will lean on this to primarily move the ball).  I am not sure whether it will be Ryan Mathews, Wendell Smallwood, or Darren Sproles who will be doing the damage – but the trio might make the Browns pay.  It’s simply hope (at this time) to believe that Danny Shelton and Jamie Meder can win at the point of attack and allow the guys behind them to make plays in a matter of seconds.  Being proven wrong by the defensive line would be excellent.

Outside Linebackers:  The recent shuffling of this unit has put a sizable amount of pressure on Nate Orchard and Emmanuel Ogbah – as their roles have increased significantly as a result.  Frankly, I have no idea as to whether they will be able to get to the quarterback and affect the Eagles’ passing attack.  Can these two (along with Joe Schobert) cover Sproles out of the backfield?  I am a little fearful of that situation presenting itself, but hopefully the safeties will be able to assist their teammates in this department.

Inside Linebackers:  Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis have been underwhelming during the preseason – outside of a few respectable plays.  The Eagles will likely attack the middle of the field, via both the run and the pass.  I cringe at the thought of Zach Ertz (Wentz’s safety valve) running free with the football against little resistance by the defense.  Perhaps the linebackers can step their games up, especially when corralling opposing running backs.  I do not anticipate this part of the team to stand out via great plays, but if they cannot be a glaring weakness – then that might be a victory in itself.

Safeties:  Over the past few seasons, the safety positions have been able to make a few nice plays in games.  However, that has yet to be the case in 2016 and the Browns are waiting for that big hit or critical interception from this tandem.  I want to think that Jordan Poyer could lure the rookie quarterback into an errant pass and flip the field for the offense.  Perhaps an outstanding stop on a toss sweep is what this group needs to get rolling.

Cornerbacks:  I have little to no expectations for this position group – but perhaps going against a rookie can be a great starting point.  The best case scenario is that Joe Haden locks down on one side of the field, while the other corners hold their own with help (in coverage) over the top.  Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams have not been exceptional in the preseason, but they should not be getting burnt by Jordan Matthews or Dorial Green-Beckham.  Whether it’s a dink-and-dunk game plan or longer tosses, I still worry that the Browns are simply a step too slow.

Special Teams:  A new kicker (who missed a chip shot in the preseason finale) and a brand new punter (who is not turning heads) are what the Browns currently have on their roster.  Hopefully the coverage units can manhandle their competition, or else the team will get thoroughly beaten in the special teams battle.  I predict the home squad will have a decided advantage in this phase of the contest.

Coaching:  A bright spot is that this coaching staff is miles ahead of their predecessors; the talent might not be great on the field – but those in charge will provide the athletes opportunities to succeed.  I only hope that Ray Horton can come up with a game plan to make the defense look respectable; if this is not the case, it could be a very long game (and season).

Prediction (My Record 0-0):  This is going to be an ugly second half for the Cleveland Browns; the guests should keep it early going into intermission but the Eagles will pull away late.  I figure this game will finish up 20 – 13, handing yet another opening game defeat for the orange and brown.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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