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Category Archives: Offseason

Signings and Trades, Heading Towards the Draft

Signings and Trades, Heading Towards the Draft

Latest from Berea:  What the Browns are Doing

The NFL offseason is in full swing, as free agency kicked off last week.  Guys are signing with new teams and franchises and swapping picks in the NFL Draft.  Let’s review a few things that pertain to the orange and brown.

More Acquisitions

Following the four trades that occurred last weekend, the Browns signed seven (you read that right) free agents.  Some are expected to be starters, while other will simply provide depth and experience on the roster.  Looking at the seven guys, Chris Smith, Terrance Mitchell, and Donald Stephenson are not going to make headlines during contests – perhaps they can overachieve here though.  Darren Fells will be doing the dirty work along the offensive line; the blocking tight end might help the unit move past the Joe Thomas era.  The Browns will more than likely be tipping their hand when he is in games versus David Njoku, but it won’t matter if the offense can perform (regardless of who is in there).

As of now, T.J. Carrie, Chris Hubbard, and Carlos Hyde are slated as game one starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously things can change following the draft, but I see all three as solid selections for the team.  Carrie and Hyde appear to be upgrades from their predecessors and improvement is vital for this franchise.  Hubbard will likely be the starting right tackle, pushing Shon Coleman to take over on the left side.  There will definitely be a drop-off from the past eleven seasons at that position, but you can bet that the players, coaching staff, and management will try to minimize it.

Big Trade Early

The New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts traded picks yesterday; in surrendering three second round picks in the future, the Jets moved up to secure the number three selection.  It goes without saying that this type of move signals a choice for a quarterback early in the draft.  To reset, the Browns are likely to take a quarterback with the first overall selection and now the Jets are all but guaranteed to do the same thing two spots later.  That leaves all eyes on the New York Giants with the second pick – they could take Saquon Barkley (the top running back), the second quarterback of the draft, or trade back with a handful of teams who will likely take a signal caller.

Regardless of what occurs, the Browns will be in a pretty good position with the fourth selection (provided they do not trade away the choice).  I am tired of seeing the team forgo talent in order to get future draft picks, which don’t always pan out.  Therefore, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, and Bradley Chubb are my early three frontrunners for the Browns’ second draft selection.  The only trade down that I could get behind is one for a spot or two – where they can still have the aforementioned trio to choose from.  I would be hesitant to trade the fourth pick to the Bills.  I understand the value of multiple draft picks but I agree with John Dorsey’s assessment that the team needs “real football players”.

Conclusion:  The excitement for the 2018 Cleveland Browns continues to increase as they are completely overhauling a roster that went winless a season ago.  Also, the trade for the third pick makes puts the Browns’ choices more in the spotlight.

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More Changes for the Browns

More Changes for the Browns

Out with the Old…

Another offseason and yet another overhaul for the orange and brown.  That is not surprising, considering what the franchise has become over the past few seasons.  I remember a younger version of myself where I used to think “now they have it right with (enter new general manager, head coach, etc)”.  However, I cannot get hyped anymore regarding changes with this team – at least until they can show consistent winning – and deep playoff runs.  Nevertheless, let’s look further into a few tweaks to the members of the franchise.

New Guys in the Front Office

Following the replacement of Sashi Brown for John Dorsey – they also added Alonzo Highsmith (for the role of Vice President of Player Personnel) and Eliot Wolf (as the assistant General Manager).  The Browns are putting together a front office that is full of “football guys” after years of having members without much experience with the league or football in general.  They don’t have to do much to improve upon their predecessors and can trip and fall over that low bar.

Turnover in Coaching Ranks

Looking at the offensive side of the football, Ken Zampese replaces David Lee as the Browns’ quarterback coach.  Zampese has worked multiple years with coach Jackson in Cincinnati – but was ousted as offensive coordinator last season amid a struggling offense.  That position remains open for the orange and brown and many are wondering if coach Jackson is willing to give up play calling duties.  Stayed tuned to see what route the Browns take for their 2018 campaign and beyond.

After spending seven years under multiple coaches and general managers, the special teams will no longer be headed by Chris Tabor.  I wish him the best as he seems like a nice guy and a passionate coach – but they Browns were not winning games because of this aspect of their team.  I would be surprised (and disappointed) if the special teams takes a step back under their new coach.

Next Steps

The new front office will be busy over the next few weeks attending several collegiate all-star games across the country.  It’s well-known about their assets in the upcoming draft; it would be nice to see the men selecting draft picks actually take franchise-changing athletes who can significantly improve this team.  Five selections in the first two rounds does not come around every year, thus the Browns must take advantage.

Conclusion:  The anger, frustration, and parade are fortunately over for the 2017 Browns and I am moving forward.  I look for a strong increase in talent and play next fall, but many correct decisions must be made by John Dorsey and Company before that happens.

 

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Defensive Matchups to Watch

Defensive Matchups to Watch

Intriguing Battles on the Defensive Side:  Cleveland Browns Training Camp

In addition to his hard nose (and that’s putting it lightly) mentality, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have to monitor a handful of interesting match-ups among potential starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Being in the business for so long – Williams will be able to identify the right guy; what I would like to see is the coach getting the most of each of the athletes competing for a starting gig.

Logjam at Defensive Tackle

This refers to the three technique spot in the defensive line.  Assuming that Danny Shelton mans the zero/one technique role, and the Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett are the men on the edge – that leaves one spot remaining for the defensive line.  Desmond Bryant, Jamie Meder, Larry Ogunjobi, Caleb Brantley, and Carl Nassib could each be the missing link for this unit.  This is easily the most interesting position group to see who emerges from the Browns.  Bryant should be the front runner, but I would not sleep on one of the youngsters.  Meder has filled a role in run support, but perhaps his new contract has made him a bit more eager to improve as a player overall.

Third Linebacker

People have penned Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey as bona-fide linebackers who should be on the field a majority of the snaps during the upcoming question.  With the recent trade of Demario Davis, the question that comes is – who will be the third linebacker?  In addition, will the Browns utilize Nickel and Dime packages (with an additional secondary member or two on the field and one fewer linebacker) instead?  I would not be surprised with the latter, as the NFL has become a pass-heavy league over the years.  As far as the linebackers are concerned, Tank Carder and Dominique Alexander are two viable options, while second year pro Joe Schobert will get a shot.  I am intrigued with Alexander and Schobert and hope one impresses in training camp.  One thing is certain, the Browns desperately need a reliable guy outside of Collins and Kirksey.

Who Plays Safety

Ibrabheim Campbell, Trey Caldwell, Calvin Pryor, and Jabril Peppers are just four of the names who could possibly sew up roles for the safety spots in the orange and brown.  Toss in a Jason McCourty, and the Browns could have options in the defensive backfield.  The big issue is that none of these guys have a proven track record in the NFL – including Pryor, who was a former first round selection.  The door is wide open for Peppers to come in a take a job day one.  Like with other areas on this roster, the Browns will need a gigantic improvement in this part of the team before they can have a competitive defense.

Conclusion:  The offense should feature several good battles in training camp, but I am looking more towards the defense.  This unit could be above average in this league, but all hands will have to be on deck.  Additionally, the Browns can either utilize veterans or rookies on their squad – it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in NFL Season, Offseason, Players

 

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Updating the Cleveland Browns

Updating the Cleveland Browns

The Latest News Coming from Cleveland

Well, there are other things going on in the world of sports – outside of the NBA Finals.  The Browns are making moves both by acquisition and departure, hopefully they were the correct ones.  Meanwhile, a possible issue could be looming for one of the team’s better players.

The Trade (Heard Round the World?)

I am being a tad facetious when I mention the swapping of underachieving athletes between the Browns and the Jets.  The Browns sent linebacker Demario Davis to his former club and agreed to take Calvin Pryor (the former first round safety from the University of Louisville).  I am hoping that Pryor can fill in at the strong safety role for the orange and brown – while rookie Jabril Peppers plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role.  It’s a boom or bust proposition made by the Brown; a gamble I would prefer over Demario Davis.

Potential Contract Dispute?

It will be interesting to determine whether running back Isaiah Crowell will be on the roster for several more years or just though the 2017 campaign.  The veteran signed a restricted free agent tender a couple months ago, guaranteeing his spot on the club this year.  What will happen after this occurs?  The Browns have Duke Johnson and newly acquired Matthew Dayes to compete at the running back position.  I would venture that the team would add another talented runner to this group if they wanted to get rid of Crowell.  I would prefer the team keeps the veteran on this team, but that is the nature of the business – anywhere the team can upgrade, they should do it.

Latest Release

Before he could even put the pads on and get ready for training camp, Tyvis Powell was let go by the orange and brown.  Personally, I would have liked for him to compete on the gridiron to see what will be the best combination of safeties for this franchise.  However, the team did not agree with me and they will go the other direction.  I sincerely hope that Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds step up and provide solid play at that position.  Anything similar to what we saw in 2016 and the Browns are in trouble this fall.

Conclusion:  There were some under the radar rumblings for the Cleveland NFL franchise at this point in the season.  I firmly believe they will be improved from a year ago – but am far from confident that they are making all the correct decisions.  Hopefully the team has taken to the new leadership (especially on defense) and fans will see an up close difference during next month’s practices.

 

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Latest News with the Browns

Latest News with the Browns

Newsworthy Browns Notes

The stories are not as enticing as they were during the NFL Draft, but the Browns are still grabbing headlines. First they added a new man to bring in talent for the franchise; meanwhile there has been some backlash by the media regarding both veterans and rookies alike.

Another Addition to the Front Office

A few days ago, the Browns announced that Ryan Grigson was added to the staff with the title of Senior Personnel Executive. I must admit that I have mixed emotions regarding this decision. On one hand, the franchise added a solid scout who has had a respectable track record in that department. However, Grigson is coming off of a stint as a general manager of the Indianapolis Colts that left much to be desired. The draft misses, trading for Trent Richardson, and inability to surround quarterback Andrew Luck with a reputable supporting cast come first to mind. I guess I will give the new hire a break, but do not to expect that he will do anything of significance while being with the orange and brown.

Brock Osweiler Banter

The veteran quarterback was peppered with questions following the recent OTAs practice sessions – a majority of these were of negative tone imitating that the signal caller will not be the “guy” for the Browns. Regardless of what last year’s film says – Osweiler will get his shot with the team to prove he can handle the duties on Sunday. Personally, I don’t know what was gained by a reporter being combative at this point of the year. Perhaps this will be a driving force for the newly acquired quarterback?

Early Injuries?

Of course fans and media alike are making gigantic deals of Myles Garrett and Jabril Peppers not practicing due to minor injuries in May. The pair of first round draft selections will be made or broken in the fall, not whether they are 100% full go four months prior to the regular season beginning. If Howard Wilson’s injury should have taught us anything, it’s that people can be sidelined at any point in the season. Therefore, I am ok with Hue Jackson taking precautions during spring practices.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, there was not a bunch of positive news for the Cleveland Browns these last few days (unless you think the Grigson hire was a home run). The doldrums of the NFL calendar march on, and we have just under two months until the team hits training camp in stride. In the meantime, we should expect less than ideal stories surrounding the team.

 

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Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

What is Going on in Browns’ Town

In the week in between the rookie minicamp practices and the veteran group practices, there were some noteworthy events that occurred for the Cleveland Browns.  The first was an unfortunate injury that happened to a recently signed draft selection, followed by a veteran signing shortly thereafter.  After that was a needed break by the franchise that has not been common for this franchise.

Howard Wilson Injury

It was difficult and unfortunate to see rookie Howard Wilson suffer an injury (especially a non-contact one) so early in the campaign.  Similarly to what happened to Kyrie Irving two seasons ago, Wilson fractured his knee cap – this occurred during the rookie minicamp practices.  The NBA star was out several months following his surgery (in 2015).  It is still not set in stone as to
how he will rehab this injury, though.  Personally, provided Wilson is healthy, I would like to see him participate and gain valuable
experience in 2017.  With the recent news that he will not necessarily need surgery, he could still see a fair amount of action on the Browns’ roster this campaign. .

Jason McCourty Signing

Did the re-signing of Jamie Collins open the floodgates for future veterans to latch on to the Cleveland Browns?  I would not got that far just yet (however some in the media are already declaring this), but acquiring a solid veteran in Jason McCourty was a wise move by Sashi Brown and company.  McCourty will provide another veteran for a thin (in terms of experience) position group – especially following the injury to Howard Wilson.  I do not anticipate the former Tennessee Titan to light the league on fire during his time with the Browns; but he should be competent enough to eliminate the possibility that teams can play catch up-and-down the field against the secondary of the orange and brown.

Update on Caleb Brantley

Caleb Brantley was back in the news earlier this week – it was not negative this time around.  The rookie sixth-round selection entered the draft with battery charges towards a woman during an altercation in a bar.  Those charges were recently dropped, allowing the rookie to perform on the field without the dark cloud hanging over his head.  Assuming he can outperform his lowered expectations (as he fell mightily in the draft) – the Browns will have gotten tremendous value from the former Florida Gator.  I hoping that he is truly 100% innocent and did not escape his charge due to technicality, but there is a great chance that I and many others will never know.

Conclusion:  Following the unlucky injury news, the Browns received a pair of two positive stories regarding their roster.  My optimism in the 2017 season is slowly rising, but there is a long time between now and week one of the regular season.  I am particularly intrigued to see how different training camp is from 2016 one – as result from the infusion of talent.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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The Latest From Browns Town

The Latest From Browns Town

What is New in Berea?

Outside of an embarrassing segment on a morning talk show radio (accusing Browns’ players of frequent drug use), the Browns have relatively been out of the news since the draft has ended. I am excited to hear that the rookies are ready to take the field, and a veteran will be able to participate this season without any contract issues. On the other hand, the 500-pound elephant in the room reared his ugly head. Let’s look further into the recent happenings.

Thumbs Down to Gordon 

In an unsurprising move, wide out Josh Gordon’s appeal back into the league was denied. It’s rough and probably unfair – but at this point, Gordon has not taken a regular season snap since 2014. It is time to cut the cord and move on from this disastrous supplementary draft pick made several years ago. I wish the Browns had drafted another wide receiver a few weeks back (as they could use another talented weapon in that group) – but now they have to hope that Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, or Jordan Payton step up in their second season.

Crowell Signs Tender

Fortunately, running back Isaiah Crowell inked his restricted free agent tender (at a second round price) a few days ago. 2017 will likely be a “prove it” deal for the rusher – and if he parlays this into a sizable contract with the Browns, then I will not complain. Odds are that he will be the primary runner this season; I anticipate that he will continue to run well for the team.  I would hope he can accumulate over 1,000 yards on the ground in 2017.

Minicamp Begins for Rookies

Sure they are just wearing shirts and shorts with their helmets at this time of year – but at least Myles Garrett, Jabril Peppers, and David Njoku (to name a few) will be on a field together representing the Cleveland Browns. Obviously I will not be able to watch these practices directly, but I would hope to hear about positive reports coming out noting how these guys appear to be much faster, stronger, and bigger than their predecessors. If Deshone Kizer is light years ahead of schedule as to where Cody Kessler was a year ago – that would not be a bad thing either.

Conclusion: We all know that real football does not begin for several months – but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing going on for the orange and brown. The rookies are getting a taste as the work environment, in addition to some good and bad news relating to a pair of veterans.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in NFL Draft, Offseason, Players

 

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