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Yet Another Loss Breakdown – Browns vs. Raiders

Yet Another Loss Breakdown – Browns vs. Raiders

Review of Raiders @ Browns – Game #2 

What’s that? Another embarrassing performance by the Cleveland Browns against an inferior performance? You better believe it. Turnovers, not stopping the run, and sloppy play did in a team that did not play up to what they should have. I’m pretty embarrassed at their play, and now they face a tough seven game stretch. Let’s review the poor play.

Offense:

Quarterback – I am confident in stating that the Josh McCown experiment is nearing a close. The veteran signal caller was brutal in stepping up in the pocking, avoiding the rush, and hitting his targets. He only hit Brian Hartline and Gary Barnidge in situations and scored only when the team was down but quite a bit. Put in Johnny for the next game, but I fear the coaching staff won’t agree with me for quite some time.

Running Back – This unit failed to improve upon their performance last contest. Isaiah Crowell had a nice scamper to the one-yard line, then the Browns settled for a field goal. That was pretty much all you needed to know; it was a depressing output by the rushing attack. Duke Johnson made a few nice plays, but it was not enough to be content with position group.

Wide Receiver – Not hitting Travis Benjamin on the deeper routes was the downside for the wide outs. He made a few nice grabs, but the receivers did not distinguish themselves in this matchup. I was happy to see Brian Hartline made a few nice catches (especially during third down), but that was not good enough to make me feel good about targets for the signal caller.

Tight End – Outside of Gary Barnidge, the tight end spot was invisible and rather disappointing. The veteran had a score and several nice grabs for the team, however none of the other tight ends could produce on Sunday. I am still looking for E.J. Bibbs to emerge as a reliable option for this group, but the coaching staff still wants Rob Housler to play.

Offensive Line – The continued improvement that I was hoping for did not happen for the guys upfront. I suppose they were ok in opening up holes for Isaiah Crowell, but they did not give Josh McCown plenty of time to throw (especially in the first half). I do not know what it’s going to take to get these guys back on track, but the Browns better fix it soon.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Putting zero pressure on the opposing signal caller will not get you wins in the NFL – I do not care if you are facing Peyton Manning or JaMarcus Russell. For the second time in three weeks, the Browns front three did not breathe on the opponent and it cost them dearly. I guess Armonty Bryant and Randy Starks made a few nice plays in this contest, but surrendering yet another rusher over 100 yards simply is not going to cut it.

Linebacker – Thirteen more games until Barkevious Mingo will no longer roam these sidelines. The former first round draft choice has been a huge bust and has not nearly lived up to his capabilities. I feel back for Paul Kruger, as he is the only guy who can make an impact on the edge. If Craig Robertson is injured for some time, I worry about the depth in the middle. Kirksey and Dansby are fine athletes but not shut down stars.

Secondary – Amari Cooper simply punked Joe Haden in this contest – the rookie got separation and embarrassed the veteran cornerback. Donte Whitner was not good either, and he appeared to be a step slow when in coverage. I am disappointed in the play of Tashaun Gipson – the free safety has not recovered from his injury last season. The only guy who is reliable (at this point) in the secondary appears to be Trammon Williams – maybe Jim O’Neil should put him against the number one wide out going forward.

Special Teams: Let’s look at the positives, Andy Lee is a solid punter and Travis Benjamin should still be a reliable punt returner. Travis Coons appears to have been the right choice at kicker as well. Let’s face it, the Browns did not lose this game due to poor special teams – hopefully they are able to be the reason for a win down the line.

Coaching: Keep Josh McCown at the helm is just delaying the inevitable. Mike Pettine must know that the veteran does not give the team the best opportunity to win an NFL game. Can Johnny Manziel be the guy going forward? Who knows, but the coaching staff has got to find out what they have with the first round draft pick. It will likely happen in a few weeks, but Browns’ fans are impatient (and deservedly so).

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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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A Glance into Game #3 – Raiders @ Browns

A Glance into Game #3 – Raiders @ Browns

Raiders @ Browns – Game #3 Preview

It’s not every week that both the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders are coming off victories; however that is the case headed into the third week of the 2015 season.  Getting off to a 2 – 1 start is huge for both of these clubs – and will give them an edge at the playoffs (provided many wins follow this Sunday).  There will be a few critical factors in this matchup that can decide the outcome, like last week I hope they go the Browns’ way.  For a further look at the game, below is the breakdown.

Offense

Quarterback:  Johnny Manziel made great strides last week and capped off an efficient contest with an excellent score down the field.  For that reason, I want to see him under center this Sunday – but it appears that the coaching staff might feel otherwise.  Regardless of who is the signal caller, the game plan looks to be the same.  Get an early lead, primarily run the ball, pass when you have to, and prevent any turnovers.  This matchup is another game where the Browns can win with this formula; it all comes down to execution.

Running Back:  Was last week a mirage, or a sign of greater things to come?  I would like to think the latter, as both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson got the ground game going.  They have still yet to break out on that long run, or consistently pick up large chunks of yards – but growth was evident last week.  I envision this will continue against the Raiders, including another score by one of the backs.  A rusher in this game will lose a turnover, but he will be donning the silver and black.

Wide Receiver:  It’s all but a given that Travis Benjamin will be game planned against going forward.  The speedster has accounted for all receiving touchdowns for the team in the first two weeks; now opponents will make sure they do not get beat deep.  Taylor Gabriel, Andrew Hawkins, and Brian Hartline are the next three in line to garner receptions in this offense.  As of now, they have not done anything to prove they can be trusted though.  That must change on Sunday, if the Browns expect to come out ahead.  The veterans have a chance to prove Ray Farmer correct in implying that this unit was good enough to forgo a wide out in the early rounds of the 2015 draft.

Tight End:  If Gary Barnidge can make a huge grab or two like he did against the Titans, I will feel pretty good about the tight end group. There were some fine blocks by Jim Dray – but other than that, these guys are pretty much invisible.  Is it time to see E.J. Bibbs?  I think so; Rob Housler has not done one thing to warrant playing time
over the undrafted rookie, and I feel the younger guy can catch and run better than his veteran counterpart.  Maybe the coaching staff is waiting to unleash this apparent wildcard?

Offensive Line:  Unfortunately, it looks like Alex Mack is still not where was athletically before his broken leg (in 2014).  The result is an underachieving offensive line, but improvement is still not out of the cards.  I am confident in this team’s pass protection, as the quarterback’s evasiveness has assisted with that part of the offense.
The run blocking has been lacking, but looked well against the Titans – the jumbo packages with Cameron Erving might be the trick in making holes for runners to go through.

Defense

Defensive Line:  From zero to seven sacks in one week, what a difference consistent pressure makes!  Jamie Meder, John Hughes, and Randy Starks all got into the action a week ago.  The eight hundred pound elephant in the room continues to be the run defense and its inability to stop opponents.  Latavius Murray is no slouch, and can make life frustrating for Jim O’Neil and the Browns’ defenders if their offensive line provides alleys to run through.  I predict this is the week where they put it all together, funneling the opposition to the middle of the field where Danny Shelton can work his magic.

Linebacker:  During Scott Solomon’s loss of playing time from his injured ankle, another athlete would have to fill in opposite Paul Kruger at outside linebacker.  With Barkevious Mingo displaying his usual lackluster ability, Armonty Bryant came out on top.  The veteran crashed on the edge pretty well and looked like a viable starter in
this defense.  His transition from defensive line to linebacker is far from complete, but if last week is any indication – I am all for him getting a majority of reps on Sunday.  On the inside, it is status quo (once again) for the trio of linebackers.  They continue to be a strength of this defense, now they need a few of those impactful plays.

Secondary:  Overall the unit has grown, but the secondary is still a ways from there they would like to be.  Joe Haden recovered a fumble, while Trammon Williams was stout in coverage all game long.  However, the opposing tight ends were playing pitch and catch with the quarterback at will.  That cannot occur on a weekly basis, otherwise games could get ugly.  Tashaun Gipson needs to return to his 2014 form of jumping routes and taking interceptions back for many yards.  I thought K’Waun Williams held his own last contest – he will be expected to step up against a wide receiving corps that features Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.

Special Teams:  Not a lot to complain about here – the kicking and coverage units have been solid while the return games have been excellent.  Winning in this matchup could be the decider between a win and a loss, and I like the Browns in the special teams’ battle.

Coaching:  I would expect a similar blueprint to last week by both the Browns’ offensive and defensive coaching staffs.  Maintain a lead and play conservatively, with the quarterback making some throws here and there.  Meanwhile, the defense will be relentless and will make Derek Carr nervous on every drop back.

Prediction (My Record: 0 – 2):  Well, I have been wrong so far – and would love to pick against the Browns every week (assuming they can always prove me wrong).  However, with the Raiders traveling east and coming off a huge win over the Ravens – I see a big letdown and do see the Browns actually winning 27 – 17.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Bears – A Glimpse into Preseason Game #4

Browns @ Bears – A Glimpse into Preseason Game #4

Looking Ahead to Browns @ Bears – Preseason Game #4 

Well, the last preseason game is finally upon us. A rather boring contest, but it is key for many guys fighting for their jobs. The analysis will be much more difficult as most of the key starters will either be on the sidelines or in for a few series. Nonetheless, let’s delve into this matchup. 

Offense: 

Quarterback – It’s going to be the Thaddeus Lewis show on Thursday night. The third-year pro is not expected to make this roster but with McCown resting and Johnny Manziel sitting out, the team has to turn to their third string signal caller. If he does not make this final roster – hopefully he can play well enough to get a call from another NFL club. I liked his play last week, so that’s a good start.

Running Backs – All I want from this unit in this matchup is to avoid injuries. I would anticipate that West, Crowell, and possibly Johnson see a little bit of time on the field – but Timothy Flanders and Jalen Parmalee will likely see some touches against the Bears. Shaun Draughn would normally get an opportunity – but his hand injury will prevent him from carrying the football. 

Wide Receivers – Will Terrelle Pryor make the Cleveland Browns regular season roster? This game might be the answer to this question, as it will be the only exhibition contest for the veteran. I want to see him on this squad, but if he cannot prove himself – I understand him not making the cut. I want to see what rookie Vincent Mayle can do; he has had drop issues, but his size and speed give him an opportunity to secure his spot with the club.

Tight Ends – Seeing E.J. Bibbs in extended time is the primary thing I look forward to from the team’s offense in this matchup. The undrafted rookie has been shakin’ and bakin’ defenders after securing grabs this preseason. I expect to see him make the final squad, but he first must prove that he belongs.

Offensive Line – Outside of Cameron Erving, who appears to be reliable reserve offensive linemen? One would have thought that Michael Bowie was one of those guys, but he has been extremely disappointing thus far. Hopefully a guy or two can step up and show that they can come in relief this regular season (in a short stint, unlike last year).

Defense:

Defensive Line – Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, and Xavier Coops are just a few guys who will be evaluated heavily in this contest. The Browns are deep at this position group, and some difficult decisions will have to be made in the coming days. I want to see these athletes not only set the edge, but get a great push on the edge – forcing Jimmy Clausen to make a quick decision behind center. 

Linebackers – Who has the leg up in the battle between Tank Carder and Hayes Pullard? Thursday’s matchup might be a telling affair, as both are inside linebackers and special teamers. Hopefully one guy can make it easy for Ray Farmer and his final cuts. I want to see dominance from Nate Orchard when facing backup offensive linemen. The rookie is expected to excel, as he face better competition from guys in practice (on a daily basis).

Secondary – Here’s where it gets really interesting; as there are many jobs up for grabs. Guys like Justin Gilbert and Robert Nelson have either been hurt or ineffective this year. Will they make an impact in this contest, or play their way off the roster? I want to see K’Waun Williams get some playing time, as he is expected to see the field once the regular season gets underway (and has missed the past few contests). Ibraheim Campbell will be the primary strong safety – hopefully he can continue to grow in his rookie season. 

Special Teams: Pretty much the only thing that is left for this group is the final decision for the kicking duties. Honestly, I have no horse in this race – but as long as either Carey Spear or Travis Coons are accurate and consistent then I will be content.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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