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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Cleveland Browns and the Senior Bowl

Cleveland Browns and the Senior Bowl

The 2017 Senior Bowl 

For the first time since 1993, the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff is manning the sideline during the Senior Bowl. I hope this is to the advantage of the franchise, as more time up close and personal is an important thing prior to the NFL draft. I would like to think that Hue Jackson and company know what they are doing, but let’s take a deeper look.

Different Mentality

Several media members have been upset at the Cleveland Browns’ mentality as to how they are running Senior Bowl practices. Instead of the traditional “live” participation where it’s man against man each play – the coaches are instructing the guys on the correct techniques and working on individual drills. Granted, this is only going on for a week – but the Browns will find out which players will accept coaching and which want to do their own thing. I would like to believe that the Browns could potentially have an advantage here during the draft, where they find out a few extra details about potential draft selections.

Understand Positions

There is a stereotype that playmakers have usually come from collegiate Juniors (and redshirt Sophomores), thus the Senior Bowl is here to primarily display lineman and middle of the round selections. With a few exceptions, I subscribe to this thinking – the Browns will likely take a pair of non-Seniors in the first round. Therefore, they should utilize this time in Mobile to determine who makes sense in rounds three through six. 

Potential Options

Seeing as to what the Browns need, I would be content with several members of the Senior Bowl joining the team next fall. Ryan Switzer and Cooper Kupp have been impressive in practice, but I cannot see them as franchise wide receivers. Meanwhile, the quarterbacks appear to be prospects at this point; where they could possibly become respectable veterans at some point in their career.

Pass catchers have really jumped out to me. Outside of the aforementioned duo, O.J. Howard, Josh Reynolds, and Evan Engram each had their moments as well. I would more than welcome the Browns saddling up with these athletes in the second to fourth rounds. I understand Hue Jackson loves quarterbacks (and why not), so if he does not take a signal caller early in April’s draft – he could opt for a Josh Dobbs or Davis Webb later in the process.

Conclusion: The key about this week is to determine what to look for in athletes as well as translating this into the scouting combine and senior pro days. The Browns need tremendous athletes who are hungry for football and have a tremendous desire for the sport. I’m sick and tired of misses during the draft for one reason or another – it is finally time to get it right this April.

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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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The New Guy – Gregg Williams

The New Guy – Gregg Williams

Gregg Williams Press Conference

The Browns have had a history of coaches with exemplary opening press conferences, only to be followed by disappointments on the field – leading to the coach being fired.  New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams recently had a tremendous opening conference; I understand this will mean little if the Browns start out 1 -10 next year but there were some solid takeaways from his time with the media.

Pulling Back the Curtain

Williams spoke about many parts of the job that his predecessors have not disclosed.  He mentioned (on several occasions) how others are willing to come in and steal an incumbent’s job on a daily basis – be it a player or coach.  Coach Williams also let us in to his psyche, that he is extremely organized (to the brink of O.C.D.) and each day is a brand new one.  By which, this means that evaluations will occur for players daily and no one is able to rest on past successes.  I believe his style of motivating will be a huge positive for this defense.  I anticipate a jump in performance, but there are many variables that can determine how large of rise from 2015.

Knowledge and Experience

The defensive coordinate mentioned all the stops that he has been to (in the NFL) over the past few decades.  He also referenced how he was able to turn our defensive units in as little as one year.  Personally, if Gregg can bring his usual tenacity his players play with – then he will have done his job.  No matter whether it was against the Tennessee Titans (in the early 2000s), the New Orleans Saints (in the late 2000s), or the Saint Louis/Los Angeles Rams (in the middle 2010s) it was always a long day against a Gregg Williams led defense.

Effort, Effort, Effort

There was a tremendous amount of references to players working hard each and every day for its entirety.  Fighting through pain or fatigue in the fourth quarter appears to be a foreign concept to the Cleveland Browns over the past few seasons.  Hopefully this mentality will be altered – as the coach noted that he wants all of his players to be in shape and ready to go in spring practices.  The Browns’ youth should surely help with this, as fresh legs late in contests appears to not be a problem.

Conclusion:  The ultra competitive coach sounds like a smart hire for the Cleveland Browns.  The defense (and the franchise as a whole) is in desperate need of an attitude adjustment; the Browns must be mean and nasty and not willing to put up with poor performances.  I am eager for the 2017 already but there are many more things that must occur prior to this.

 

 

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NFL News: Browns and Beyond

The Latest in the League

The day after the Browns’ season ended, pretty much everyone involved with the franchise was ready to turn the page and look forward to the 2017 campaign.  This past week, there were several debating points verbalized extensively by the media and fans of the Browns.  Two of these relate to April’s draft and where the Browns should focus their early picks.  Meanwhile, yet another move will occur in the NFL and a franchise will be playing home games in a different city beginning next fall.

DeShaun Watson Chatter

The Clemson quarterback navigated a game winning draft in the National Championship game in the NCAA this past week.  It was an incredible performance, which prompted talk about the signal caller’s future.  A season ago many felt Watson was a top-five draft pick.  His 2016 season overall was not tremendous (filled primarily with interceptions and passes which missed their targets) and his draft stock fell.  Did his late push allow him to get back into the early part of the first round?  Personally, I am hesitant to trust this type of signal caller in the NFL – a run-first guy who is not exceptionally big while not displaying touch or accuracy.  However, that could change over time but one thing is for certain; DeShaun Watson will be talked about in detail prior to the NFL Draft.

Chargers Heading North

Reading that the San Diego Chargers will now become the Los Angeles Chargers irked me to a degree.  Los Angeles is not a football town and does not deserve one professional football team (let alone two).  It appears that the league is forcing something that simply is not there.  Why not tap into another market that would more than likely support their team?  I could think of five off the top of my head, but since they are smaller markets, they were not options.

The all-mighty dollar still rules and a new stadium, another opportunity for new branding/merchandising, and an opportunity for the second largest city in the nation to be on the big stage were too big to pass up.  It will be sad to see away teams running the Chargers’ stadium and support for the LA team to be minimal.  Perhaps victories could change this, but I have my reservations.

Defensive Options in the Draft

Many have stated that there are several tremendous options on the defensive side of the football, who could come in as rookies and improve franchises immediately.  That begs the question, will the Browns agree with this opinion (and more importantly – who will they choose)?  With the top selection overall, the Browns could opt for an excellent pass rusher or a stalwart interior defensive lineman.  With their second choice, they could focus again on their front seven or secure one of the better safety prospects seen in quite some time.  Personally, getting the quarterback right should be the team’s priority.  If the Browns do this via free agency/trade, then by all means – draft the best player available and bolster the unit for Gregg Williams.

Conclusion:  Many unknowns still remain as we head into this offseason in the NFL.  The Browns should be formulating their plan to vastly improve their roster.  I do not care how the front office does it, but they must get it right for a change.  Also, the Chargers will be playing the Browns in Los Angeles next season.  Depending on how the Browns’ offseason and regular season are at that point, the stadium (of only 30,000) could be mostly donning orange and brown or it could be nearly empty.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Offseason

 

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2016 Cleveland Browns and Beyond

2016 Cleveland Browns and Beyond

What’s Next for The Cleveland Browns 

Tearing down the roster, implementing multiple rookies and younger veterans into the lineup, and witnessing injuries a-plenty.  That is the summation of the season that the Cleveland Browns season in 2016.  The team lost fifteen of its sixteen contests, but it can be argued that the Browns can be looking up beginning with this season.  Instead of another miserable, sad commentary about what went wrong – we look towards the future.

Senior Bowl

For the first time in fourteen years, the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff will be leading one of the two Senior Bowl roster.  Several have scrutinized the franchise as they chose not to attend the event in Mobile (when an opportunity was present) – thus missing critical time that could have been spent with potential draft picks.  I hope coach Jackson and company make the most of their time, as their draft needs to be excellent for a change.  Coaching the Senior Bowl will likely be felt in the middle rounds of the draft, as many seniors are chosen draft weekend.  Meeting up close with these athletes can give the Browns an advantage that other teams will not have.

Coaching Changes?

It has been floated out in the media that there might be at least two changes to Hue Jackson’s coaching staff.  The first relates to defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who has been rumored to be replaced in the near future.  For the second time since 2013, I will continue to say this – Horton seems like a nice guy but cannot get the most out of his defense.  Frankly, I’m tired of seeing opposing tight ends run wild against the Browns’ defense, as well as witnessing opposing signal callers leading their offenses with ease.  Add to the fact that Horton was not Hue Jackson’s top candidate as defensive coordinator and a change makes sense.  I don’t expect the Browns’ to have a dominating defense in 2017, but a mediocre one would be a welcome sight.

Additionally, quarterbacks’ coach Pep Hamilton could be on the move as well.  The former Stanford assistant appears to want to join his ol’ buddy Jim Harbaugh and desert the orange and brown.  If that is indeed the case, I wish him all the best – but I cannot feel a sense of loss.  Hamilton, in my opinion, did not do a ton to improve the play of the quarterbacks on this team.  Jackson could replace the departed coach and an improvement would not be out of the question.

Conclusion:  This long offseason could have not come soon enough; I am over their terrible campaign and am already looking towards the future.  The front office must make the correct decisions in coaching hires, free agency, and obviously the draft.  I will put blind faith that the team will get it right (for the time being) – however that can change in the coming months.  One of these years I would like to actually write about the Browns participating in the playoffs (in January and possible February).

 

 

 

 
 

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Officially the Worst – The Cleveland Browns

Officially the Worst – The Cleveland Browns

Finishing Dead Last

Congratulations Cleveland Browns, you did it!  They completed their horrific campaign not only ending with the worst record in all of the NFL (first time since 1999 in doing that), but also ending with the worst regular season record in franchise history.  It wasn’t easy, but the Browns managed to lose a contest that was easily winnable.  Let’s look at a few reasons why the Browns blew it.

Fumblerooski in the Fourth

Driving for the go ahead score in this contest (tied game with just over one minute to play), the Browns gave the ball to Isaiah Crowell inside the five yard line.  The running back coughed it up and the Steelers avoided a defeat.  It’s hard to fault the play call, as Crowell had a long gainer earlier in the contest and was doing exceptionally all game.  Nonetheless, the back put the ball on the ground and a game winning field goal never materialized.

First and Goal

In overtime, the Browns reached the two yard line following a facemask penalty on a pass play to Corey Coleman.  Instead of utilizing their workhorse to run for two yards (and win the game), the offense threw three passes and did not score a touchdown.  The end result was a missed block by Terrelle Pryor, a huge loss, and a field goal.  We all know what happened when the Steelers got the ball in overtime.

One Yard Away

Briean Boddy-Calhoun had a tough day in the cornerback position.  The rookie got torched a few times in this game (both in regulation and in overtime), but what hurt most was his costly mistake.  Boddy-Calhoun intercepted Landry Jones and retuned the football over sixty yards and was running it in for a touchdown.  Instead of getting tackled at the one yard line, the cornerback stretched the ball out for a touchdown – only to fumble it back to the opponent.  Instead of having a fourteen point lead, the Steelers would take advantage of the gift and score the game-tying touchdown.

Conclusion:  I have never been happier for a Browns season to conclude.  I cannot count how many times they got in their own way to avoid any sort of success.  At least they defeated one squad to avoid a winless season, but outside of that it was awful and embarrassing.  I hope the front office can make the right decisions and drastically improve over the next few months.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2017 in NFL Season, Players

 

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