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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Lamenting this Loss for the Browns

Lamenting this Loss for the Browns

What I Learned from this Defeat: Cleveland Browns

I really thought the orange and brown would secure their first victory in the season this afternoon. It wasn’t meant to be and another clunker was the outcome for the Cleveland Browns. The team led early in this contest but they could not hold on and their furious rally came short. There are a few things I took from this game:

#1 – Second Half Adjustments

This point is rather simple, the Browns took a 20 – 7 lead into the second half and was beaten up pretty well in the second half. Matt Forte was running up and down the field with ease. Meanwhile, the Browns’ offense was stagnant (which is generous to say) after intermission. They scored a meaningless touchdown late but that was not enough to help with this comeback. I am scratching my head about this one, as this comes down to coaching – I would have thought that the Browns were better than this.

#2 – Too Young for Pressure

Every single time the Jets were facing a third down and a sizable amount to gain, Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back and had time to complete a pass long enough to move the chains. Carl Nassib had three passes deflected, but other than him – no one was able to make it difficult on the veteran signal caller. The team desperately needs a guy who can knife through the defense and disrupt the opposing quarterback’s timing.

#3 – McCown’s Opportunity and Kessler 

I felt that Josh McCown would have gotten some kind of spark for this offense. The veteran signal caller has actually gotten the most from this unit, but he was the cause of this lethargic output that came out in the second half. I’m ready to move on to Cody Kessler, once the rookie clears the concussion protocol. Perhaps he will be able to actually win a game for this franchise. 

#4 – No Heart or Passion

I did not see any fiery emotions or excitement coming from this team. Maybe it is their record or the fact that about half of the stadium is full, but the Browns look like a defeated bunch. I honestly don’t know how they will rally to get their first win of the season – they are clearly fighting an uphill battle.

Conclusion: Halfway through the season and the Browns still have not produced a victory. I am very sad and disappointed in this bunch, but I did not have high hopes to begin with. Hopefully they can get on the winning track next week, but I would not expect that to occur.

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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Game #8 vs. Jets – Breakdown

Browns Game #8 vs. Jets – Breakdown

Browns vs. Jets – Game #8 Preview

Well, for the first time in several weeks the Browns actually have a chance at winning a game on Sunday. Despite winning their last contest, the Jets come to town as an underwhelming bunch with quarterback issues. That being said, the Browns obviously have an bleak outlook at multiple positions on their roster. This game is likely to be a boring one…let’s have a look see.

Offense: 

Quarterback: I’m going to assume that Kevin Hogan will get a majority of snaps in this contest for the Browns (until he gets hurt). At that point, the Browns will have to yield to gimmicks and trick plays – their “traditional” quarterback position has not been spectacular at this point. I actually think that they can win this game without great play from this spot however.

Running Back: Despite being out gained by the backup quarterback, Isaiah Crowell did a solid job of gaining rushing yards. He will continue to get the lion’s share of carries this season, and depending on who is behind center – Crowell can get back to the level he was in the first few games. My weekly rant of getting Duke Johnson more involved continues; the reserve runner has been making the most of his opportunities. It would be nice to see him get an increased workload.

Wide Receiver: It’s extremely hard to evaluate a position group that is primarily based on the quarterback – especially when the team is on its sixth man under center. However, last game saw Andrew Hawkins, Terrelle Pryor, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis all get involved in the passing game. Pryor was not completely healthy, but he did his best to still make plays on the field. I want to see Higgins and Louis excel (while Corey Coleman is out), but the constant injuries to the quarterback makes it a little difficult for that to occur.

Tight End: Surprisingly, Gary Barnidge saw his most targets in quite some time last contest. The veteran did admirably, though his receptions did not produce a tremendous output (in terms of yardage). He can be a security blanket for a young quarterback, I would just prefer that guy under center be Cody Kessler and not Kevin Hogan. Another target outside of Barnidge would be nice, but the Browns can’t seem to find one.

Offensive Line: It appears that Cam Erving will miss more time going forward, thus John Greco will more than likely be the center for a bit. It will be interesting if Jonathan Cooper breaks through and finds an opportunity with this unit, or if Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman will continue to get the repetitions with the offensive line. It’s obvious that this part of the team is the reason why the quarterbacks are getting killed – hopefully the coaching staff can finally find a combination that can prevent a rush and a rash of injuries.

Defense: 

Defensive Line: As mentioned before, (against the Bengals) the run defense for the Browns was good in spurts but surrendered several long runs. I have faith in Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, and Xavier Cooper, but they need to be more consistent in stuffing the run for the opposition. Matt Forte is not nearly as great as Jeremy Hill (at least at this point in his career), but nonetheless the Browns will have a large challenge on their hands. One would expect the Jets to rely heavily on their ground game – the home team must prepare and shut this unit down.

Outside Linebacker: While Emmanuel Ogbah has been getting better and making plays, Joe Schobert has regressed a bit as an outside linebacker. I understand he is a middle round draft pick rookie, but he has not been tremendously involved in the Browns’ defensive highlights. I would like to think that his position group can get to the signal caller on a bad team like the Jets – but the Browns have not proved that they can do that up to this point. 

Inside Linebacker: I thought Chris Kirksey actually made some solid plays in last contest. It would be nice to see this continue, as the defense could use more consistency up the middle. Demario Davis ought to be active in the middle of the defense as well in this game. I’m still waiting on the big play to come from this unit, but that appears to be wishing for too much.

Safety: Tracy Howard is trying his best at the safety spot, but is playing just as well as his predecessors. The undrafted rookie has been invisible in coverage and when trying to stop the run. Not surprisingly, Derrick Kindred has not been any better either. The Jets feature one of the worst tight end situations in the NFL – but that is not any reason for Browns’ fans to breathe a sigh of relief.   All I ask is that this unit does not get burned on multiple occasions. 

Cornerback: I thought Briean Boddy-Calhoun was the best cornerback for the Browns last contest. While he has been ok, an undrafted rookie should not be leading a position group (especially this  early in the campaign). Brandon Marshall is the key option for the opposing team – he could make the Browns pay, given an opportunity. However, I have faith that the Browns will bounce back from last week – as A.J. Green is not on their roster. 

Special Teams: It appears that the special teams for Cleveland has somewhat settled down. They are not great, but also not the reason why they are losing ball games. I would really like to see the orange and brown do something to put the Jets in a bind – though recent history is not on their side.

Coaching: Hue Jackson continues to make play calls based on who he has available to play in contests. I haven’t found reason to second-guess the head coach, but there is a great deal of games remaining. I would like to see him put the offense in spots to beat the visiting team, but executing this is of the utmost importance.

Prediction (My Record: 7 – 0): I think the Browns can actually win this game, but until I see more I am not ready to pick them to succeed. The Jets come away with a 27 – 17 win at First Energy Stadium.

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

 

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More Games, More Problems

More Games, More Problems

Looking Back at the Browns’ Loss 

It was yet another defeat for the Browns, and the starting quarterback left the game – go figure! This miserable season is not even halfway over and it’s felt like three years since the Browns won their last contest. What should the supporters of the orange and brown think about after this contest?

#1 – Their Run Defense is a Work in Progress 

For a majority of the contest, the defensive front won at the point of attack for the Cleveland Browns. However, Jeremy Hill took advantage of an off-tackle carry (with two guys pulling his way) for a long touchdown. He also tallied a touchdown later in the contest. I applaud how the run defense works hard but they are still surrendering a big play or two. Obviously they are not there but hopefully that can change in the near future.

#2 – These Quarterback Injuries Must Stop 

I’m getting sick and tired of a Browns’ quarterback lying on the field and then being helped to the locker room. Whether it is dirty play by the opposing defense or a porous offensive line, this lack of protection for the guy under center has got to come to an end. I loved seeing Kevin Hogan run the read option well (for the most part), but the Browns will have no shot to win with him as quarterback.

#3 – Some are Improving

I am primarily referring to Emmanuel Ogbah, who notched two sacks on the afternoon. While some were ready do write off the rookie, he has steadily getting better on the field. If Carl Nassib can improve as well (I will cut him some slack due to the hand injury), then the Browns might have the makings of a solid pass rush in 2017.

#4 – The Secondary is Helpless

As many of you are aware, I’ve all but written off the Browns’ secondary. They cannot cover opposing receiving threats and are not too helpful against the run. The Joe Haden absence surely does not help – but it’s not like anyone is standing out on the roster. Sweeping changes are likely (in the position group) this upcoming spring.

Conclusion: I’m frustrated, Jimmy Haslam is frustrated, Hue Jackson is frustrated…etc. Who knows when this team will get their first win of the season (I’m certain they will not go 0 – 16), but I would not be upset it was to happen next Sunday. The losing appears to taking it’s toll on the franchise, but the injuries are not allowing the Browns to even be competitive in games.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

Browns @ Bengals – Game #7 Preview

The frustration continues as the Browns head south to face the Bengals in Cincinnati.  For the first time in three seasons, the two will not be playing in Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night – which is a bit of relief for the orange and brown.  I feel a little bit more confident in this game than I did before the season started, but is that enough to predict a win?  Here’s a breakdown of the matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I look for more progression from rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in this contest.  He has been inconsistent at times in contests, but still has been making plays throughout.  Being outmanned basically everywhere makes it hard for the signal caller, but I give him a ton of credit.  I figure he should keep them in this contest with a touchdown or two – hopefully he can limit his mistakes against a tremendous defensive front.

Running Back:  I really do not know what to expect from this position group, as they have been bottled up during the past two contests.  The moving parts (and subsequent poor play) by the five upfront has made running the football rather difficult for both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  More of the same should occur this Sunday – as the Browns will be lucky to eclipse seventy-five yards on the ground.  Maybe some late heroics might help this position group garner some respectable statistics.

Wide Receiver:  I cannot wait to see Corey Coleman return to this lineup, as the receiving corps is missing “something”.  Their M.O. has been Terrelle Pryor having an extremely productive first half, then the defense adjusting, followed by the Browns being shut down in the passing game in the second half.  Ricardo Louis continues to progress as an threat, but his drops are glaring and do not inspire confidence the way Coleman could.  I do not have high hopes for this group, but a touchdown should still be projected.

Tight End:  It would appear that Connor Hamlett’s breakout game a few weeks ago did not convert over into last contest (which is no surprise).  Gary Barnidge continues to be the only viable option at this position, but even his production has been down from a year ago – also expected.  Perhaps he wins on a coverage mismatch and is able to score for the orange and brown in this game.  The offense could sorely use it.

Offensive Line:  Cody Kessler’s health might be of concern in this contest – the guys upfront have not been holding their end of the bargain.  I would not be opposed to moving John Greco back to center and inserting either Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman at right guard to see if that is a better group that one with Cameron Erving at center. I understand it’s a developmental year; thus the Browns ought to find out which lineup works best (for the future).  Not getting their signal caller killed would be welcomed as well.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  What I am seeing from Danny Shelton (and to a lesser extent, Jamie Meder and Stephen Paea) really gives me hope for the future of this defensive line.  They are coming off a contest where they stonewalled one of the best rushing teams in the league.  Jeremy Hill is a feisty back however, and he is eager to embarrass his AFC North foes (as he did in 2014).  I predict a step back for the Browns’ defensive front, but they should not get gashed by Paul Brown’s second professional football club.

Outside Linebacker:  Outside from one sack from Emmanuel Ogbah, the depleted position has not been productive in any way this season.  Joe Schobert dropped an early interception last contest; everything (from the rookie) that followed that was rather mediocre.  Andy Dalton is a bit more mobile that many give him credit for – thus he should evade the pass rush with ease.  Who knows, maybe these guys will generate a coverage sack on Sunday.

Inside Linebacker:  Despite getting moderate play each contest, Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis cannot break through and finish a game-changing play.  Historically, this position group has (occasionally) been able to intercept Dalton.  I would like to see this occur once again, but that is a tall order for this duo.  Preventing any long gains on the ground must be a priority – if the
Browns want to have a chance at victory.

Safety:  Tracy Howard is in line to get the start in this contest at free safety.  The undrafted rookie has not been great by any stretch, but can he be any worse than any other safety for the Browns?  At least Tyler Eifert will not be available for this contest; otherwise the tight end would make the Browns’ defenders pay.  My expectations are extremely low and seeing A.J. Green and other wide outs getting behind safeties will (more than likely) be on display.

Cornerback:  Speaking of Green, he should be putting up big numbers in the contest – regardless of Joe Haden’s availability.  The veteran has missed multiple games due to his groin injury and was less than effective when being out on the field.  More of the same should be predicted, which means Dalton will find open targets early and often in this matchup.

Special Teams:  The blunders, i.e. turnovers, were not apparent last meeting, but the Browns were penalized an exorbitant number of times.  This led to awful field position and the team not being able to dig them out of a tough spot.  I hope they can improve upon this part of their team but it will likely take time, with all of the youngsters on the roster.

Coaching:  So Marvin Lewis says he misses Hue Jackson very much.  I hope that is motivation for Jackson to prove to Mike Brown that being “a head coach in waiting” was not good enough and that he can make his former franchise pay.  I still support Jackson and his play calling decisions; hopefully they can be the difference.

Prediction (My Record: 6 – 0):  I got a blemish-free record, why should I jeopardize that?  The Browns play hard and lose once again by the score of 32 – 20.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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The Aftermath from the Browns/Titans Game

The Aftermath from the Browns/Titans Game

What this Game Told Me about the Browns

An early deficit, several mistakes, and another defeat occurred on Sunday afternoon – what is new for the Cleveland Browns? I still content that the orange and brown are not awful; they are simply young and inexperienced. However, I want to see them win a game and soon. What did the game in Tennessee tell me about the Browns? 

#1 – Their Safeties Might be the Worst

Jordan Poyer (before his injury) and Derrick Kindred were once again invisible in this contest – with a few exceptions. The duo allowed Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews to get behind them for long gains in the contest. Watching a hurt Tashaun Gipson and ineffective Donte Whitner last season was bad, but what the Browns are putting out now is even worse. It should come to no surprise that this position will be improved upon this offseason. 

#2 – They are Prone to Errors 

The numerous penalties were inexcusable, as well as commonplace, for the Cleveland Browns. Be it the offense, defense, or special teams – the Browns committed infractions which sorely hurt the team. I’ve said it before, but am not afraid to reiterate this, the Browns are simply not good enough to overcome these errors and still expect to win. I don’t know what it’s going to take for the Browns to play within the rules, but until they learn this lesson the losses will follow.

#3 – No Depth at Offensive Line 

Clearly Joel Bitonio was the lynch pin for this team’s running attack. Without the services of the third year pro; the five guys upfront struggled mightily to pave running lanes for Isaiah Crowell. The bad news is that Bitionio might be out for the rest of the season, so the Browns might not be churning out running yards in contests. 

#4 – A Tale of Two Second Year Guys

Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving are going their separate ways. The former is rapidly improving and even notched a sack on Sunday. If he can continue to do this, then this could validate his early draft status. Meanwhile, Erving looked abysmal once again in the middle of the offensive line. His opportunities should be scrutinized and if poor play continues, the Browns might have to think about his replacement in the spring. 

#5 – Liking What I am Seeing at QB 

Rookie Cody Kessler is going out there and making plays. I really like seeing him stepping up in the pocket and delivering the ball to a wide-open option. His growth is apparent and I never would have expected it. I still am not ready to call him a franchise quarterback, but I want to see him play on Sundays (and I have not said that about a Browns’ quarterback in quite some time).

Conclusion: It does not get any easier, as the Browns have another difficult one in Cincinnati next Sunday. These defeats are not fun but that’s pretty much what the franchise signed up for.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Next Game: Browns @ Titans – Game #6 Preview

Next Game: Browns @ Titans – Game #6 Preview

A Glance into Game #6 – Browns @ Titans 

After another dismal performance, the Browns dust themselves off and travel south to Tennessee to face the Titans. Prior to the beginning of the regular season, I strongly considered this as a potential victory for the Browns. However the injuries are piling up and the team’s play has been less than inspiring. Let’s look into this matchup regardless.

Offense:

Quarterback – I got to be honest, I was going to wait to share my thoughts about this position after the team named their starter for this game. But does it really matter? The starter will probably get hurt and the backup might also go down with an injury. What a dismal season for Browns’ quarterbacks – they cannot do anything right.

Running Back – Isaiah Crowell was not effective when a team focused on stopping him (last game). Was the lack of yardage an aberration, or should fans not expect the runner to be extremely effective anymore. I envision a middle ground, where Crowell puts up decent yardage but is far from perfect. Hopefully Duke Johnson can find touches (and more importantly) yards in this game. Regardless of who is under center – they need a reliable running attack to help out the offense.

Wide Receiver – The Browns could really use the services of rookie Corey Coleman, as the franchise is still looking for another reliable target opposite Terrelle Pryor. Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis have had a few opportunities – but it will take time for them to hit their stride. Andrew Hawkins is making the most of his targets; perhaps he can usher a respectable game for the starting signal caller. However, I do not anticipate a great deal from this unit.

Tight End – Is Connor Hamlett a one-hit wonder, or could he be a fixture for this offense for years to come? Last week was a solid start, but he’s got a ways to go to be a consistent option. I do like the physical tools the youngster brings, but doing the little things will be extremely important (i.e. blocking, finding the soft spot in defenses, etc.) in his development. Gary Barnidge continues to haul in tosses for moderate gains; he is playing with a new signal caller every week but still helps out the Browns’ offense. I could possibly see a touchdown come from this duo. 

Offensive Line – How about the goal of this game is to not get a quarterback hurt? The line has allowed defenders to breeze through the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions. The Titans do not present a tremendous defensive front, but that does not mean the Browns will have an easy time upfront. Alvin Bailey was adequate after being re-inserted into this lineup; hopefully he will play with a chip on his shoulder after getting a second chance. I would like to see a clean pocket on drop backs and running lanes for Crowell and Johnson – but I have some reservations.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Danny Shelton continues to play pretty well in the middle. I understand that he is not filling the stat sheet in tackles and sacks; but he is disruptive against opposing running backs. The Titans bring a tremendous running attack (which includes their quarterback) in this game. This should be a great challenge for the guys upfront, and I believe they can hold their own. After missing a few games, Carl Nassib came back last contest. Despite not being extremely effective, I anticipate he will improve and make a handful of plays in this contest. 

Outside Linebacker – The duo of Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert were pretty much invisible in last week’s game. They did not put pressure on the quarterback nor did they enforce the edge on runs. I hope the pair of rookies play better, but these are some of the growing pains that accompany rookies. Marcus Mariota is very mobile, so both guys will have to keep their head on a swivel or the Browns could see large gains from the opponent. I do not expect a lot from this bunch so I hope I am surprised. 

Inside Linebacker – Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis must be very good to great in this contest, in order for the Browns to have a chance. They will see plenty of carries between the tackles, as well as crossing routes by pass catchers. I can count on both of these guys for solid play on a consistent basis, but I fear that one big play (or two) will occur when the inside linebackers are out of position. Defending tight ends has been a nightmare for the orange and brown, so if you have Delaine Walker on your Fantasy Football team you might want to start him.

Safety – The disappointment train continues to roll on at the safety positions. Did Jordan Poyer and Derrick Kindred even play last game? The ineffective duo has made a play here or there, but overall they have to improve. I am worried that the Titans will carve up the safeties in the passing game. The only saving grace is that Kindred might be useful in creeping up and stopping the opposing running game. 

Cornerback – Ah, the weakest of weak spots for the Cleveland Browns. I have no hope or faith that Joe Haden, Jamar Taylor, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun can slow down the trio of Tajae Sharpe, Andre Johnson, and Kendall Wright. The home team should collect three or four passing touchdowns in this contest and give Browns’ fans more headaches on Sunday. Any good plays by the cornerbacks would be greatly welcomed but should not be expected.

Special Teams: This part of the team was respectable last contest. If the Browns can force their opponent to punt on more of a regular basis, then perhaps they can have an advantage over their counterparts. After a brutal first game, Cody Parkey is coming into his own and is making kicks. The Browns could use a big play by their special teams, a la a long return or a forced turnover. 

Coaching: I mean, it’s hard to fault the coaching staff with this roster. Coach Jackson is still putting the team in the best spot to win – he can’t help it that his players keep on getting hurt. I would like to see Ray Horton do something to help out this secondary, but I do not know what can be done to actually see positive results. 

Prediction (My Record: 5 – 0): Another game and another loss is on the horizon. The Browns lose this one by the score of 31 – 17 and the team will suffer their sixth defeat of the 2016 campaign.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Where Have I Seen This Before?

Where Have I Seen This Before?

Browns Blownout Again by New England

There was an awful outing by the offense and defense, and another quarterback got injured.  Just another Sunday for the Cleveland Browns, as they now have an 0 – 5 record and look less than excellent.  Let’s look more into what came about from this loss.

#1 – Kessler Can Play

Prior to his injury, quarterback Cody Kessler displayed signs that he can be a serviceable signal caller in the NFL.  He made smart decisions and tossed a touchdown pass in the first quarter.  We’ll see how he plays once he returns to this lineup, but I remain confident in the rookie up to this point.

 #2 – Secondary Needs Work

This is an obvious statement, as the Browns could not stop any receiving option for the away squad.  It did not matter who was in coverage, the home team allowed Tom Brady to play pitch and catch down the field.  They must address this part of the roster in the offseason – until that happens, we will witness the same awful play.

#3 – Can’t Match Opponent’s Blueprint

It was widely known that the Patriots were going to game plan against the Browns by taking away the Browns’ running attack.  Did Cleveland figure out a way to counter this?  No, and the running offense was very lethargic when the game was still in doubt.  A sign of good teams is to find ways to overcome when opponents limit them; it is apparent that the Browns are not there yet.

#4 – Tight End Troubles

The terror of not being able opposing tight ends continued, as Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett made the Browns look silly.  Bennett had three touchdowns – and they all seemed to come with ease.  Meanwhile, Gronkowski had a reception early in game and the Browns looked like children trying to tackle a grown man.  It’s great that this game finally ended for the Browns.

Conclusion:  I fully expected a pummeling by the Patriots and that was exactly the case at First Energy Stadium.  Outside of a few nice plays made by Terrelle Pryor, there was little to no positives for the orange and brown.  Hopefully they can come back next week and try to get a victory on the road.  But until that happens, the struggles continue.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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