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Another Great Win! A Solid Browns’ Win

Another Great Win!  A Solid Browns’ Win

A Review of Game #9 – Browns @ Bengals

What a total team performance by the Cleveland Browns! All three phases played extremely well, and the elements were not an obstacle for the visiting club. I was really proud to be a Browns fan in the stadium – we were loud, obnoxious, and took control of Paul Brown Stadium. Let’s take a gander at what went down…

Offense: Brian Hoyer was very efficient in this contest; the quarterback did not toss a touchdown but he led three touchdown drives and did not turn the ball over. If going fifteen for twenty-eight for 198 yards is good enough to get wins in the NFL – then I’m all for the way Hoyer is being utilized in this offense. The Browns’ offense has the formula for success, and the leadership by the man under center spearheads this.

It’s not often that three running backs all carry the ball into the end zone. However, that was the case as Terrance West (ninety-four yards), Isaiah Crowell (forty-one yards), and Ben Tate (thirty-four yards) each scored touchdowns. The Browns tallied 170 yards on the ground on fifty-two carries; I liked the game plan by this offense and, more importantly, their execution. It now comes down to repeating this type of performance.

No Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, or Andrew Hawkins – no problem for this receiving corps. The ball was spread around to five different targets, all of which had more than one reception. Miles Austin continues to be a consistent chain mover, especially on third downs. I was glad to see Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin get into the action – totaling five grabs for ninety-two yards. I cannot wait for this group to be completely healthy, but for now this performance will do.

The offensive line definitely stepped its game up Thursday night. In addition to opening holes in the running game, they kept Brian Hoyer clean in the pocket. Granted Nick McDonald got beat badly by Geno Atkins, but those things happen. I am really pulling for this game being a stepping-stone for solid play by the offensive line going forward. If it is, then the sky is the limit for his offense.

Defense: Desmond Bryant was the star of the defensive line; he finished with six tackles and two sacks – and looked dominant in the process. It was a welcomed sight by a guy who has not been consistent since signing with the Browns. Billy Winn and Phil Taylor each put in solid performances; they did not excel but were good enough in limiting Jeremy Hill to just fifty-five yards on twelve carries.

It was status quo for linebacker Paul Kruger; the veteran notched another sack this season. I have enjoyed his transformation from an underachieving free agent acquisition to a defensive leader. After a quiet season, Jabaal Sheard finally came to play. He had five tackles and was swarming to ball regularly. The only disappointment was Barkevious Mingo, who did not register any stats for this game. Craig Robertson’s interception set the tone for the game; he and Chris Kirksey are holding it down next to Karlos Dansby. The former Cardinal had a team-high eight stops and continues to show his leadership.

Buster Skrine had a pair of interceptions and three tackles. I was a bit surprised to see him play this well, but I will gladly take it. Joe Haden shut down A.J. Green to the tune of three catches for twenty-three yards. Both safeties performed well, but I was disappointed to see Tashaun Gipson drop an easy interception (his forced fumble on Hill made up for it though). Whitner had four stops and was great in run support. This secondary is finally coming around, and I believe they can win tight games with this group.

Special Teams: The only blunder for the Browns was the fumble by Jim Leonhard early in the contest. I guarantee he will only be catching punts from now on, but the Browns have to have faith that a guy can bring back punts. Other than that, the special teams were once again spectacular.

Coaching: An all-around great coaching job by the Cleveland Browns. They ran it down the Bengals throats, made Andy Dalton make plays, and let the weather dictate play calls. I hope they bottle this game plan up and use it later in the season (and maybe the postseason). But for now, I’m going to enjoy this win and the Sunday off without the Browns.

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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Lookin’ Ahead – Browns vs. Bucs – Game #8

Lookin’ Ahead – Browns vs. Bucs – Game #8

Browns vs. Buccaneers – A Preview of Game #8

The Browns have another home contest after a sloppy victory over the winless Raiders. Will they have a letdown, similar to the Ravens defeat after the win over the Saints? Hopefully that is not the case – especially because many feel this week’s opponent is far from exceptional. All that said, the Browns still have to go out there and make plays. Let’s delve further into this winnable contest.

Offense: It has not been pretty for parts of the season, but Brian Hoyer is getting it done. He is leading this offense to a 4 – 3 record with a good shot of a long winning streak. The quarterback feeds off the energy at First Energy Stadium, and why shouldn’t this continue. The signal caller should find the end zone on at least two occasions this Sunday and put his team in spots where they can succeed. If he can eliminate the mental mistakes again, I like the home team’s chances in winning this contest.

I hope the players and coaches study last week’s game film over and over. They must make a joint effort in fixing their running attack. Not only will it make third downs more manageable, play-action passes open up much easier with a noticable threat of a run. How are carries going to be divvied up this week? Once again, I could not care less – provided the Browns’ backs perform well. My favorite tandem is Tate getting carries early to soften up the defense, while Crowell breezes by a tired bunch. None of that can happen without early success – that will be the key.

Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel have displayed abilities to haul in long passes, as well as turning hitches into lengthy gainers. Jordan Cameron will likely miss this contest with a concussion, so Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge will have a shot to make their mark. Will Travis Benjamin be employed more at wide out in this contest? I can see that occurring, as he gives this offense great speed outside. Miles Austin is left as the possession receiver; I want to see him secure a few huge receptions (similar to the ones last week).

Defense: The injury brigade continues for the defensive line; John Hughes is the latest guy who will miss significant time. Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant, and Billy Winn must hold down the fort on Sunday. Additionally, they may need an under-the-radar guy or two to fill in and make critical stops (Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Sione Fua come to mind). They are finally getting better as a unit – but all the injuries are stunting their development. Trying to take down Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey will not be an easy task; early stops in the first quarter might dictate the opposing play calls later on.

I have been rather content with the solid play by veteran Paul Kruger. The linebacker surpassed his sack total from last year already, and has been excellent in setting the edge against running plays. Barkevious Mingo has been disappointing to this point, but perhaps his fumble recovery last week will spark a run of improved play. Karlos Dansby continues to show veteran leadership, while Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey have been getting better over the past few weeks. Now, the guys on the inside need to make a play that stands out in this contest – be it a pick-six, fumble recovery, or huge sack.

In the continued theme of improvement, the secondary has been standing out in various ways. Tashaun Gipson is an interception machine, while Donte Whitner’s forceful tackles have been impactful for this defense. Will Buster Skrine and Justin Gilbert continue on their way to becoming viable NFL cornerbacks? This week should be one where they can lock down targets like Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Louis Murphy. Bottom line is they can and should intercept Mike Glennon and refrain from allowing long passing plays.

Special Teams: Who will be returning punts for the Cleveland Browns? I wouldn’t mind seeing what Justin Gilbert, Taylor Gabriel, or even Johnson Bademosi could do back there. Jim Leonhard should be used sparingly, but there has been a need to see him full-time. All other units have been fine, and I am pulling for that to continue on Sunday.

Coaching: Offensively, the Browns must use the run to set up the pass. If it’s not effective early, I still want them to go back to it for moderate stretches of the game. Defensively, they must find a way to get heat on Glennon and disrupt the pocket. When they were finally able to do that last week, Derek Carr either got sacked or turned over the football. It appears for a recipe for success.

Prediction (My Record: 5 – 2): I foresee a similar type of game against the Buccaneers (as last week). It will look ugly early, and then the Browns finally pull away late. The home team earns a 23 – 16 win and heads into a short week for a huge divisional contest.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Breaking it Down – Browns @ Jaguars – Game #6

Breaking it Down – Browns @ Jaguars – Game #6

Browns @ Jaguars – Game #6 Preview

Heading down to Florida, the Browns have their third shot to put a complete game together on the road. They have failed in their first two attempts so far, but are still 1 – 1 away from First Energy Stadium. Nothing surprises me in this league, but this could be the first time in awhile where the Browns can finally flex their muscles. Let’s lean in to see the matchup between the two squads.

Offense:  Brian Hoyer will complete more than eight passes in this contest – that is for sure. Every week is something new; the veteran is winning contests in many different ways. I anticipate both shorter and longer tosses both to wide outs and tight ends. That being said, one should anticipate the quarterback to spread it around routinely to guys like Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins. I want to see at least two passing scores by Hoyer, and a smart game plan once again.

It’s becoming a question less of how many yards the Browns will get on the ground, and more of who will do it. Ben Tate appears to be the leader of the group and gets the tough yardage – especially in the red zone. However, Isaiah Crowell covers ground very easily (and recklessly) and warrants touches as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing Terrance West back in the fold, provided he is active. He appears to be the best pass catcher of the group – and will make it even harder on the Jaguars’ defense.

Who will step up in this contest? Is Jordan Cameron the guy once again, or should Andrew Hawkins haul in several grabs for a handful of yards. The Browns’ offense has been magical in their passing game, no matter who is securing the football. Brian Hoyer shares his tosses with multiple guys and I enjoy seeing that, because it will make it that more challenging on the opposing secondary.

Next man up, it’s time to go for John Greco and Paul McQuistan. Both played well in their new roles last week, but will that continue the rest of the season? Will Nick McDonald be groomed to be the next center for this team? It’s tough to say, but if the Browns can garner a large lead – look for the team to see if they can put the youngster in the middle of the line while keeping McQuistan available as a reserve guard.

Defense: More shuffling will continue for the Browns’ defensive front. They desperately need Ahtyba Rubin to return to this contest as they have been decimated by injuries to Armonty Bryant, Phil Taylor, and Billy Winn already. This group should stop the opposing rushing attack – their leading runner last week was Bortles with thirty-eight yards. Perhaps a young athlete can come out of nowhere and make some big plays for the Browns. It would be a welcomed and comforting sight for both fans and coaches.

I am not sure what to think about the outside linebackers for this team. Barkevious Mingo has been very underwhelming, while Paul Kruger is playing through tremendous pain. Can Jabaal Sheard and Eric Martin be the two staples on the edge? I’d like to see depth at this spot, as well as production. The Browns must find a way to utilize Mingo better. On the inside, Karlos Dansby has been rather consistent and been solid in pass coverage, while it looks like Chris Kirksey is starting to figure out the NFL. If the rookie can excel on the inside, I really like the chances that this defense will be one of the better ones in the league.

I hope Joe Haden’s hip gets better before this game begins. He could have been picked on nearly every play last week. The Jaguars have looked at Cecil Shorts as their main pass catcher; the veteran beat Haden last year for the winning score, now you have to believe the Browns’ cornerback will have revenge on his mind. Buster Skrine and K’Waun Williams (if he is healthy) should hold their own with rookies Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee. All I ask from the safeties is to do their jobs; Donte Whitner to be the enforcer against the run and Tashaun Gipson to collect an interception in pass coverage.

Special Teams: The Browns put it all together last week in the special teams; I foresee status quo by these guys. I hope Spencer Lanning only comes onto the fields as a holder, but that’s not probably realistic. Forcing turnovers and winning the field position has been huge by the Browns in the past two weeks – why shouldn’t this continue?

Coaching: There’s not a whole lot you could criticize about the coaching staff from last week’s contest. Shanahan put the offense in the best spot to win, while Pettine and O’Neil made sure the defense did not give up a touchdown (when it mattered). I want to see the coaches continue down this road; attacking the opposition on both sides of the ball.

Prediction (My Record: 4 – 1): I look for this to be a close contest early, only for the Browns to finally pull away in the second half. The Browns leave Jacksonville with a 31 – 21 win and come home after a hard fought victory.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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How Sweet it is…Another Glorious Win!

How Sweet it is…Another Glorious Win!

Game #5 – Steelers @ Browns Review

Phew, I definitely did not see that victory coming – but I am very grateful for it. The Browns fell behind 3 – 0, scored a touchdown, and never looked back. There are no arguments that should occur by the fans – with the exception of a few injuries (but those obviously happen in the NFL). Let’s remember what that sweet victory tasted like…

Offense:  Only completing eight of seventeen attempts, and one would think Brian Hoyer had a poor day. Quite the opposite, actually, as the veteran passed for 218 yards and a touchdown – Hoyer did a tremendous job leading his unit. He did not turn the football over either, I am so glad to see his confidence keep on growing. The Steelers we going all out to stop the Browns’ running attack, but it did not hurt the quarterback’s play one bit.

I was a bit surprised to see Terrance West inactive for this contest, however Isaiah Crowell and Ben Tate shouldered the load exceptionally. The duo combined for over 150 yards on the ground and finished with three touchdowns. The rushing attack continues to roll, and my faith in them builds every week. I’ll forgive Crowell’s fumble as it was in garbage time – but he’s got to be ready for those big hits down the road.

Jordan Cameron was the only consistent receiving option for the Browns. He hauled in three passes for 102 yards and a score. Veteran Brett Keisel caught him from behind, or it would have been a pair of touchdowns. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel only had a reception each, but they were at least for twenty-four yards. Andrew Hawkins, disappointingly, did not have a catch in this contest. I expect him to rebound next week, but that was a disappointing effort today.

The offensive line had a gem of a game; even with the loss of Alex Mack. The center broke his leg, and the team huddled around the veteran and provided him with words of encouragement. John Greco filled in admirably at center – he will be relied upon for a while to be that anchor in the middle. I thought Paul McQuistan did a good job at guard, and have faith he will do a respectable job there going forward.

Defense: The revolving door at defensive line did not matter – the unit surrendered gave up 138 yards on the ground but kept the opponent from running into the end zone. Desmond Bryant and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen were two forces upfront that should be applauded. They combined for nine tackles and three hits on the quarterback. Armonty Bryant’s injury hurts a bit, but hopefully either he or Billy Winn can get back on the field next week and make some solid plays.

Barkevious Mingo is the only linebacker who continues to disappoint. He has not been impactful versus the run or pass so far – and Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard are the better of the outside linebackers at this point. I want him to improve quickly, but I am worrying. Karlos Dansby made some great plays in coverage – he nearly had a pair of interceptions but I’ll take what he did at face value (which included eleven stops). Rookie Chris Kirksey emerged to finally have a good game this season. He finished with six tackles and had a pass defended.

All the credit goes to Joe Haden, who played in obvious pain all game long. He did not have a tremendous outing, but was good enough to prevent Antonio Brown from finding the end zone. I hope K’Waun Williams is ok from his concussion; he has a chance to be a stalwart in this secondary. On the other side, Buster Skrine also made some nice plays – including four passes defended. The secondary upped its game in this contest; I want to see more of this going forward.

Special Teams: Jordan Poyer is not a flashy returner, but he gets the job done. Overall, the special teams units did a fine job and I am glad they righted their wrongs (at least for now). Christian Yount appears to have gotten rid of his “yips” while long snapping. Assuming that is status quo, then special teams should be of little concern going forward.

Coaching: It was great coaching and great execution by the Browns. They were run-heavy and allowed Hoyer to make the Steelers pay via the pass. On the other side of the ball, the defense prevented the big play and made it very difficult on their opponent to move the ball. This was such a great a win, and a team-win nonetheless. I cannot wait to see them take the field again next week.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Envisioning the Big Game – Browns vs. Steelers

Envisioning the Big Game – Browns vs. Steelers

Looking Ahead to Game #5 – Steelers @ Browns

Who would have thought that this contest is a big one for the Cleveland Browns?  Well it sure is, and the team can make up a bit for the two earlier division losses.  Will a win give the Browns the inside track for the playoffs?  Certainly no, but they might continue to be relevant over the course of the 2014 season.  Let’s break down this matchup between the Browns and the Steelers…

Offense:  There, Brian Hoyer finally got that turnover out of his system.  All joking aside, I predict another flawless outing for the quarterback – in terms of protecting the football.  One thing that the signal caller is not getting enough credit for; is trusting all of his teammates and allowing them to make plays.  The first two guys who come to mind (from last week’s contest) are Jim Dray and Travis Benjamin.  The tight end is perceived to be an afterthought in this league, while the wide out has had a tough season so far and some wanted him off the team.  However, Hoyer found both for scores in Nashville – having a leader who finds the open guy (no matter who it is) is huge for the Browns.

Heavy on Ben Tate and light on the rookies appears to be a good formula for the Browns’ running attack.  The veteran eclipsed the 120-yard mark last week, while both rookies made the most of their opportunities.  It was refreshing to see Tate carry it a few times in a row, get a breather, see Crowell garner a six-yard scamper, and have Tate back for the next play.  I would still like to see this part of the roster be more active in the receiving game – perhaps the fifth game is where it begins.  Doing so would give defensive coordinators yet another thing to think about and it would provide another advantage for the Browns.

Can Taylor Gabriel become the number two wide out for Browns’ offense?  Were the last two contests aberrations?  I am eager to find out; the undrafted rookie has made some long receptions this year.  He’s no Josh Gordon but is filling one aspect the suspended
star possesses.  Andrew Hawkins took a step back last week (three receptions for twenty-seven yards), but I look for him to get back on track in this contest.  As far as predicting the off-the-radar guy (who impresses) this week, I feel that Gary Barnidge could secure a few touchdowns in the red zone.

The offensive line surrendered a sack early on against the Titans; they ratcheted up their play the rest of the way – keeping Hoyer clean on drop backs.  They paved wide-open running lanes as well, why shouldn’t this continue at home?  I love watching the offensive line play, and many only notice them when a guy is getting either knocked backwards or is easily getting beat by a defender.  This is a contest where the Browns must come out, flex their muscles upfront, and impose their will on the defensive front seven – it can be done.

Defense: It’s safe to say the defensive front faces a major challenge on Sunday. Le’Veon Bell made them look foolish in the season opener, and it was a sign for things to come for the guys up front for the Browns. I’m starting to lose faith that Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor (if he’s healthy), and Billy Winn can corral opposing rushers at all. These guys have been stellar for no more than two quarters of a contest. Sunday would be an excellent opportunity to see the defensive front shut down the opposing rushers.

Big Ben has feasted on Browns’ linebackers missing tackles, giving the quarterback more time to heave it downfield (that was on display in the opener). Barkevious Mingo has been very underwhelming this season, if he could use his speed to at least force the quarterback into a sack by a defensive teammate – then it will have been a job well done. Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard have been much more reliable, they will be counted upon this Sunday. On the inside, is Chris Kirksey’s play warranting more playing time? He was been more active last week (just ask Jake Locker); I want to see him build upon that.

The poor play of Joe Haden and Buster Skine, as well as the demoting of rookie Justin Gilbert leaves me befuddled when it comes to the Browns’ secondary. Is K’Waun Williams a diamond in the rough at cornerback? The undrafted rookie made some plays last contest – both in defending the pass and getting to the quarterback. I don’t know if he alone can improve the secondary, but Pettine and his staff must figure out a way to get that part of the team better – and fast.

Special Teams: It took a negated muffed punt to remove Travis Benjamin from his returning duties. Jordan Poyer filled in well, and I would be content if he remained there the rest of the season. All other units were ho-hum and that was what I was hoping for. The blocked punt was a game-changer, it will not happen this week but maybe the Browns can do something else in the special teams to tilt the scales.

Coaching: The two failed fourth down attempts cannot occur in this contest. I do not envision the Browns being capable of shutting down the Steelers’ offense, giving the ball back to the offense, and driving the ball down the field for a score – multiple times. Pettine will have a small margin for error when it comes to making the right decisions.

Prediction (My Record: 3 – 1): I got a good feeling about this one and see the Browns breaking this loss-win-loss streak they are on. Some early scores and some late, efficient game of keep-away will turn into a Browns 27 – 23 victory.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Where do the Browns Go from Here?

Where do the Browns Go from Here?

Browns’ Bye Week: To Do List

It’s an early one, but the Browns get their bye week and do not return to action until October.  Being 1-2 proves they are far from great, but what steps can be taken to transform this bunch to habitual losers into (at least) a better-than-average bunch?  I thought of a couple, hopefully the locker room is reading this…

#1 – Figure out the Special Teams

There have been a multitude of errors occurring by the special team units in the first three contests.  Bad coverage on punts, horrible execution by the field goal team and negative yardage during punt returns.  I could see some personnel changes (mainly Christian Yount and Travis Benjamin) made for the Titans game.  Should the coaching staff stick with the same guys, Chris Tabor better be certain that those athletes can get it right going forward.

#2 – Determine the Pecking Order at Running Back

With Ben Tate likely back in the fold, the large question will be – who is getting the rushing attempts?  Will the veteran steal a bulk of the carries from the two rookies?  The situation appears up in the air, as Pettine hinted that West and Crowell “made it difficult” to re-insert Ben Tate as the starter.  Like the quarterback position, I could not care who is on the field – as long as they perform.  It’s up to Shanahan and Pettine to figure out who works best and when.

#3 – Find Out Why the Run Defense is Poor and Fix it

On paper, this was one of the best defensive fronts for the Cleveland Browns in some time.  However, they certainly are not playing like it and have been surrendering a great deal of yards on the ground.  Are guys out of shape and getting tired?  Are opponents blocking exceptionally, yielding a solid running attack?  Whatever the reason, the Browns must diagnose the issue via film study and find solutions (players, schemes, etc.) to improve upon a part of the game few felt there would be problems.

#4 – Get Guys Who Can Defend the Pass

Joe Haden and the number eighth overall draft pick as starting cornerbacks; so all is well, correct?  The corners have let the Browns’ defense down in each of the first three contests.  Stars like Antonio Brown, Jimmy Graham, and Steve Smith Sr. have hauled in tosses when it matters most – and with relative ease.  To quote Vince Lombardi, “What the hell is going on here?”  The duo on the outside must lock down opposing targets or the Browns will have another four or five win season.  Granted the rules have made defending wide outs difficult, but a player of Joe Haden’s caliber must outperform his current play.

#5 – Don’t Stay “Down”

I’ll admit being guilty of this, but the Browns must not hang their heads over two tough division losses.  Will they win the AFC North this year?  No, but can they compete for a Wildcard spot?  Perhaps – assuming they can forget about weeks one through three and focus on the next opponent.  The Tennessee Titans appear to be a squad the Browns can get back on track against, via both the win column and confidence within the organization.

Conclusion:  The two losses have been a huge punch to the gut, and moral victories are for losers (as well as “looking better” and “improving”).  The NFL is, and has been for a while, a results-driven league. The Browns have had one of the worst win/loss records almost every year since 1999.  It’s time for these near misses to stop and win some games.  The Browns have at least thirteen more contests in 2014 – they better come out preparing to win every single one.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Don’t Bring Me Down: Which Brown Should You Pin Your Hopes On (Offense Edition)?

Hope, like rust-based puns, springs eternal in Cleveland. We’re getting close to the real season, which means that fans everywhere must decide who their favorite players will be. Who can you really count on, week after week? Who will you enjoy watching, and who will make you feel like you’re getting your time and money’s worth? Could there actually be a jersey worth purchasing out there? Let’s break it down by position group, starting with the offense.

First, it doesn’t matter if you support Johnny or the Destroyer. They’re both too risky. If you’ve been a Browns fan for more than six weeks, you know why. Quarterbacks don’t just come to Cleveland to die—they come to develop a gross, debilitating illness that requires years of care. That’s the rub of having the Clinic in town. That said, Johnny is the off-the-board favorite to be the most entertaining Brown all season long, on- and off-field. It wouldn’t matter if his left leg fell off tomorrow—I would still watch a 24-hour live feed of his life over any other Brown’s, and it’s not even close. The best-case scenario for the Browns’ actual season would see one of these two becoming a star. But again, if you’ve been a Browns fan for more than six weeks, you know not to hold out too much hope for the best-case scenario. Onward!

Wide receiver? Yikes. If Josh Gordon isn’t suspended, he’s obviously the most exciting pass catcher. But if you decide that he is going to be your guy for the season? Then you have to avoid reading the newspaper internet every morning, because the odds of something awful happening are just too great. Having Josh as your favorite is a bit like having unprotected sex that way. Miles Austin and Nate Burleson are nice enough people, but they’re 30-plus and aren’t worth getting into too much of a froth about. If there is a non-Gordon receiver worth latching on to, it’s Andrew Hawkins. He’s an NFL player who is seriously the size of a middle school student, and he runs a 4.34 40. Dudes look like they’re log rolling when they try to catch that little guy.

Offensive line? God bless Joe Thomas and the gang, but o-line play just isn’t that interesting unless you played it yourself. It’s important, of course, and I love a good block, especially when a pulling lineman gets a shot on a DB. But it probably isn’t something you want to watch every play. Unless Joel Bitonio plays left guard like a feral rhinoceros, you should look elsewhere. This is all coming from the proud owner of a slightly bootleg Joe Thomas jersey.

The running backs are interesting, sort of. Ben Tate could break out and become Arian Foster, north coast edition. Terrance West rushed for 1.42 miles at Towson last year. These two are worth keeping an eye on, but football’s evolution toward the passing game—and the belief that running backs are only slightly less replaceable than flathead screws—limits their potential. Still, Cleveland is Jim Brown territory, and running back play is held in high esteem. This is coming from someone who has the “RUN WILLIAM RUN” YouTube video favorited.

How about tight end? Jordan Cameron was a Pro Bowler last year, and he was in that video with Blake Griffin, so it would seem that he has some juice. Tight end has become a modish position, and Cameron has the size and skills to be the next Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham. Remember, however, the last Browns tight end with this much potential. [Mildly sexist note: If you’re a woman, odds are he’s already your favorite player. And rightly so—he’s a hot dude. Nothing wrong with that.]

There’s one other category to explore: Players with fun or funny names. Think guys like Ben Gay, Chad Mustard, Foswhitt “Fozzy” Whittaker, and Syndric Steptoe. We all like to be hipster fans to some degree, and embracing a lesser-known player can earn you some street cred. On the offensive side of the ball, sadly, there aren’t too many great names to choose from. Mitchell Schwartz opens up a wealth of Spaceballs jokes. Chris Ogbonnaya’s name is unusual, but not really ha-ha material. Kyle Auffray sounds like Pig Latin, but he’s not likely to make the team. Where have you gone, Adimchenobe Echemandu?! Thank heavens for Barkevious Mingo and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen on defense.

So who should be your favorite when the Browns have the ball? It depends on your taste. Here is a TL;DR version for those on the go. Choose wisely, and good luck.

If You Like...(Offense)

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Cleveland Browns Fans, Players

 

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