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Getting Down to 53

Getting Down to 53

Cleveland Browns Trim their Roster

Though it’s not finalized, the Browns have pared down their active participants to the maximum required by the league.  While there were some controversial cuts (Joe Haden, John Greco, Jordan Leslie, and Rannell Hall come to mind) – overall I am content with their roster moves.  Let’s take a deeper look into some guys who are on the roster – at least for now.

Trevon Coley – Defensive Tackle

A month ago, many fans knew very little (if anything at all) about the defensive lineman who was fighting for a spot on the orange and brown.  Throughout training camp and four preseason games, Coley has looked solid and been a part of a couple of forced turnovers against the opposing offenses.  The team released veterans Desmond Bryant and Xavier Cooper over the past few weeks, providing an opportunity for Coley to prove he belongs.  I hope to see him continue to make plays in the regular season, but it will not come easy.

Backup Quarterbacks

Out goes Brock Osweiler, while Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan are the reserve signal callers.  It’s a bit alarming that the Browns currently have three quarterbacks on the roster who have not won an NFL regular season contest – but that will change soon.  I am not sure whether it was the perceived attitude, or he did not live up to the “stabilizing” status of a veteran signal caller – but the team chose to let Osweiler go.  I could see his touch on passes being less than great, but would have been ok with him over Kessler.  I really hope all of these backups don’t see the field in 2017, as Kizer has a successful rookie campaign.

Sammie Coates – Wide Receiver

In a bit of a surprising move, the Browns traded within their division and acquired a speedy wide out from the same alma mater as Ricardo Louis.  Coates brings something that none of his counterparts possess, the ability to stretch the field.  However, he must work on hauling on the passes once thrown his way.  At this level, it will be rather difficult to correct a quality like that.  I would like to believe he can turn it around here; but my guess is that the Browns will look for another burner (with solid catching ability) in the 2018 draft.

Conclusion:  For all intents and purposes, the hay is in the barn and the team is ready to go for the 2017 season.  I am buying into the new culture change, but now the wins must follow.  Stay tuned, Browns fans.

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Posted by on September 3, 2017 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Ready to Roll with Kizer

Ready to Roll with Kizer

Looking Forward to the Rookie Quarterback

DeShone Kizer made some solid plays in yesterday’s game against Tampa Bay.  The signal caller was backed up (to begin drives) a majority of his drives and was not helped out by others around him – including his teammates and the officials.  Nonetheless the offensive unit moved the sticks a handful of times on third down, which historically has not been the case for the orange and brown.

As rookies generally do, Kizer locked in on just a few targets, especially Corey Coleman.  The second year wide out hauled in some nice grabs to continue drives for the team.  I would have liked to have seen the tight end position utilized more, but Randall Telfair dropped another catchable pass and the other two players did not make an impact.  The running backs did not stand out terribly well, as Isaiah Crowell was (hopefully) getting back into game shape.  Duke Johnson certainly did not help his case by fumbling the ball in the red zone – killing a potential touchdown drive.

I would like to believe that the Browns’ defense will play as well as they have in the exhibition season, as they have been stout.  However, there could be stretches during this season when the team will have to rely on their offense to win games.  I’m starting to believe that this unit is able to make plays but I worry about their consistency.  Mistakes are going to occur but I know that Hue Jackson and his staff will try their hardest to limit these.

Having said all of that, DeShone Kizer is the only quarterback on the roster who shows touch, accuracy, and an ability to move the offense towards the end zone.  It was night and day after Kizer exited the contest and Cody Kessler got under center.  The offense became stagnant, and the team was put into difficult situations to succeed.  I am confident that DeShone can win games in this league; while it might not be many in 2017 – there will be more in 2018 and beyond.  It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff divvies up playing time for the fourth preseason contest next Thursday.

 

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Cleveland Browns:  What is Going on Prior to their Next Game

Last contest was not pretty, but it was a victory for the Browns nonetheless.  Having said that, in addition to some solid plays made by the team – the first half of the contest was less than stellar.  Can this be blamed on poor play by one guy?  Certainly that is not the case, but a handful of guys should be concerned heading into next Monday’s game against the Giants.

Cam’s Gotta Go

Former first round draft pick Cameron Erving simply is not cutting it; no matter which position he is playing on the offensive line – the athlete has been largely underwhelming.  Committing Penalties, allowing defenders to make plays, and not blocking effectively are three areas of Erving’s game that are alarming and will be the reason why he does not make the 2017 roster.  The sooner, the better (in my opinion) would be a good time to let the guy go and provide an opportunity for another youngster along the line.

Wideouts are a Problem

Kenny Britt could not haul in a touchdown grab on three occasions in the first half of last week.  In addition to that, none of the guys were able to get a reasonable amount of separation from the Saints’ defenders.  I was glad to see Ricardo Louis and company get past the sticks and secure a first down grab on a few occasions, but my hopes are not tremendously high for this group.  I hope that Corey Coleman can turn this group around – but they are currently miles from a solid bunch.  The NFL requires more than chain movers.

Kizer Conundrum

It was just one game, but I have all the faith in the world that rookie DeShone Kizer is the best signal caller on the squad.  I still expect that Brock Osweiler (as Kizer’s inexperience will be the reason) will begin the regular season under center – but how long is the huge question.  The first four regular season contests are far from easy, so the change at quarterback to the rookie could still come rather early.  Ideally, Kizer will dominate the remainder of training camp to force Hue Jackson into giving him the nod on September 10th.  As it stands, Jackson has a tough decision on his hands though.

Sharpening that Saw

I was rather unimpressed with the starting defense last Thursday; Garrett Grayson and Chase Daniels are two quarterbacks who should not have any success against your franchise.  Yet that was the case, and reserve running backs played solidly as well against the Browns.  Gregg Williams has got to wake this sleeping giant of a defensive unit (I will give him credit for building the start of a foundation for this), but so far a handful of good plays is all we have seen.  Hopefully they can improve every week as a whole.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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News Before Preseason Game #1

News Before Preseason Game #1

What is Going on Just Before the First Game

There has been multiple practices, as well as an intra-squad scrimmage now for the orange and brown.  In that timeframe several members of this franchise have gone through some highs and lows.  The depth chart of this roster is shuffling and some tough decisions will have to be made soon by Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson.  In the meantime, the team is gearing up for the Saints next Thursday – so what has been going on prior to this meeting?

Myles Ahead of the Reserves

Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett is shooting up the depth chart, as the athlete is now in line for a starting role.  While this was expected, it was good to hear that the number one overall selection is actually earning his spot on this starting unit.  I look forward to him competing against guys with different colored uniforms next Thursday.  Additionally, I am eager to see how this allows Emmanuel Ogbah to play more freely – granted that opportunity might not come until September.

Cody’s Issues

There has been ample coverage by the Browns’s media mentioning that quarterback Cody Kessler is not lighting the world on fire in practice (or the team scrimmage).  The second year pro has allowed himself to be sacked on multiple occasions, as well as missing his targets on occasions.  I would not be surprised to see him third on the depth chart for the signal callers (provided all three guys are kept).  Regardless of who starts, I just would like the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns do well this fall – for a change.

Defense Dominating

Outside of a couple of drives in the first practices of camp, the Browns’ defense is showing their counterparts a thing or two.  Again, this was to be expected – but I would have anticipated a bit more resistance from the offensive unit.  Perhaps one of the quarterbacks will step up, take the starting role, and find his rhythm in this offense.  Thus in turn, he would be able to finally excel against this defense.

Conclusion:  While I will not have an analysis against the Saints in the preseason – I am hoping the Browns get their issues out of the way early.  I want them to avoid sloppy plays and to witness some flashes on both sides of the ball.  Seeing a kicker step up in this game wouldn’t be the worst thing either.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Early Camp Observations

Early Camp Observations

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – What is Going on

Well, their first few practices did not include the players wearing pads – however that does not mean that a few things did not stand out for the orange and brown.  As expected, there were a handful of guys who excelled on the practice field.  From what I am reading, the team looks vastly improved (both by the size of the athletes, as well as in their play) from the 2016 crew.  Let’s delve further into a few areas of note.

Kizer’s Charge

Understandably, this is a time of the year for very positive (fluff) pieces regarding players on a historically struggling franchise.  Enter rookie signal caller Deshone Kizer – who has been receiving praise on his work ethic and study habits of the game.  He still has a large mountain to climb if he wants to become the Browns starting quarterback, but I like hearing good news about his attitude.  Using the past few campaigns as a guide, he will likely see some playing this fall following injuries at the quarterback position.

Offense Making Plays

Another less than shocking statistic is that the Browns’ offense has been moving the football against their defense.  It is hard to judge how well players are performing without pads, but I am glad to hear that Kenny Britt is trying to have fans forget about that guy who sold trinkets in college for tattoos (I’m not bitter though).  It is expected that veterans are stepping up early, but what about the younger receivers?  Going forward, I hope to read about the strides that Ricaro Louis and Rashard Higgins are making in Berea.

Rookies Making Mistakes

This refers to David Njoku succumbing to a pair of strips by defenders, causing the ball to come loose during practice.  The tight end later went on the Jugs machine and was scolded by Hue Jackson after practice was completed.  I am not surprised to hear about this sort of news – but I would prefer to read about Njoku learning from this and eliminating this from his game.  What kind of mistakes will Myles Garrett, Kizer, and Jabril Peppers make – and just as importantly, will they occur in camp or in the fourth quarter of game in December?

Conclusion:  It is extremely early in the 2017 NFL season, but I am hearing positive stories about the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously, the regular (and possibly post) season will not alway go smoothly – but getting out of the gates will be vital for this franchise.  That comes down to great preparation and practice in July and August.  How will putting on the pads change the team as a whole?  We will find out over the next few days.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2017 in NFL Season, Set Up, Training Camp

 

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Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Things to Keep an Eye on

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Things to Keep an Eye on

Training Camp 2017 – Cleveland Browns

In just a matter of days now, the orange and brown will put their pads on and head onto the practice field in Berea.  In addition to the many position battles; there is a handful of interesting aspects of this franchise.  Overall, I feel this camp will be much improved from the 2016 one – hopefully that translates into the season.  Let’s look at a few interesting parts of training camp.

Responding to Williams

At this point, Browns’ fans are well aware of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and what he brings to the table.  However, in addition to the yelling and firing up the unit – it will be fascinating to see how the athletes respond to this much different form of coaching.  I anticipate improved play, as athletes attempt to avoid criticism while getting into Williams’s good graces.  Some guys could get defeated mentally by this; however that could be pretty apparent if an athlete or two are released after having tough practices.

Hold the Peppers?

In this day in age, the holding out of rookie Jabril Peppers is simply asinine – and the safety could enter camp in trouble.  Ed Reynolds, Ibraheim Campbell, and Calvin Pryor will all enjoy their reps with the defensive unit, while the unsigned rookie is sitting and waiting.  While not a murder’s row of NFL-caliber defenders, they will be ahead of Peppers.  As Corey Coleman proved last season, missed time definitely hurts one’s development.  I don’t want it to see that happen two years in a row – but that might be what happens to this franchise.

Which Kind of Experience is Better?

Brock Osweiler is the only quarterback on the Browns’ roster who has earned a victory in the NFL – while making some plays for two other franchise prior to being traded to Cleveland.  Meanwhile, Cody Kessler is the only signal caller who has experienced the tutelage of Hue Jackson firsthand.  Will one of those factors matter in the quarterback derby?  I would like to believe that Osweiler’s multiple seasons in the league makes him significantly better than his two competitors, but this position has been unpredictable for decades now.

Testing Depth

I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but one could make an argument that the Browns are quietly building depth on both sides of the ball.  Therefore, seeing Williams shuffling defensive linemen around in certain packages should be expected.  If the coach can lock down how to best utilize these athletes now, the defense will be in good shape come September.  Meanwhile, the offensive side of the ball might feature some rotations to determine who can be counted upon in 2017.  Right tackle, wide receiver, and the running back pecking order are a few areas of this team that Jackson and company would like to sort out over the next few weeks.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Players, Training Camp

 

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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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