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Where to Turn Now?

Where to Turn Now?

Bummin’ After a Bad Loss

The Browns are coming off a pathetic first half but managed to keep it close last week (however it’s debatable as to whether the Colts were loosening up their defense).  The constant mistakes are maddening and who knows if they finally curb this beginning Sunday.  Additionally, the play calling for this offense is a bit head scratching – especially with personnel at wide out.  What can be done for win number one?

Hope for a Healed Garrett

Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett practiced today but his status remains uncertain as he is still fighting off a high ankle sprain.  The fact that this front four has been so underwhelming in getting to the quarterback leads me to believe that Myles might finally see the field in the limited role.  However, the staff will be careful with the first overall draft selection – to prevent further injury.  If Garrett finally plays for the Browns, I would not be surprised to see him make a big play or two.

Switch up the Routes

The Browns are running the most downfield routes (fades, streaks, fly patterns, etc.) in the NFL by a wide margin.  It is nearly double the next franchise – I understand doing this if you have Randy Moss, Terrelle Owens, or another tremendous receiver who could help an offense.  Sadly, Rashard Higgins, Kenny Britt, and Ricardo Louis have nowhere near this ability to create separation during longer routes.  Meanwhile, DeShone Kizer has to hold the ball longer – putting him in the spot to take shots from defenders.  The offensive line must maintain their blocks for several additional seconds, which could be asking a lot after several attempts.  A simple adjustment is the finally utilize shorter routes – in theory is should help the the three facets of the offense (listed earlier in this section).  This will also set up the deep passing attempts.

Don’t Put Jamar Taylor on an Island

Prior to the beginning of the season, many felt that Jamar Taylor was the de facto top cornerback for the team (with the release of veteran Joe Haden).  The result is that Taylor has had his issues against Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton, two of the better wide outs in the league.  I’m not saying that Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jason McCourty are definitely better – but they have not been exposed on film in recent weeks.  Also, the Browns might be able to use safety help with coverage of A.J. Green.

Final Word:  I expect yet another loss by the Browns this Sunday, but I’ll still watch and be hopeful.  Who knows, maybe Hue Jackson actually calls a game that allows his players to produce yards, first downs, then points.  I worry about this defense, but perhaps either the addition of a player or the change in scheme can seal a win.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in NFL Season

 

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Three Losses Away – The Browns Did Not Win Today

Three Losses Away – The Browns Did Not Win Today

Browns Almost Win Again 

At a point early in the fourth quarter, I felt the Browns had an opportunity to come back and pull this one out. However, that was not the case and the orange and brown were defeated once again at home.

Can We See Some Improvement (at Center)?

He was far from perfect, but center Cameron Erving actually pushed back defenders a time or two on Sunday. Worst-case scenario is that he has shown an ability to play in this league. Hopefully, he will actually prove that he is worth of being a starter in the NFL. His remaining three contests will be huge for his future with this franchise; if he makes plays the way he did against the Bengals, perhaps the Browns will keep him.

How About a Pass Rusher?

Rookie Emmanuel Ogbah has had his issues this season, however the defender was solid at putting pressure on Andy Dalton – including notching several sacks. Everyone has been stating that the second round selection is improving, but it is finally showing on the field. I hope this production continues, as he can be a key figure for the Browns’ defense for years to come.

Rust is Obvious

It was glaringly apparent that Robert Griffin was out of synch in the first half of this contest. Looking at his timing and rhythm, he was unable to connect with his targets. Griffin improved in the second half, but it was not enough to garner a victory. I sure hope that he will be much better in the final three contests as the team has to make a decision about his future in the near future.

Still Can’t Stop the Run 

I will give the Brown credit, as they were not gashed the same way in the first meeting against the Bengals. However, the opponent ran whenever they needed to pick up easy yards on Sunday. Yes, the Browns appear to be better in this area but still cannot be a force in stopping the run. NFL teams will continue to exploit this until the Browns can change.

Conclusion: It was another defeat for the Cleveland Browns and no one was surprised. If they continue to improve, maybe they will actually win a game – but today was not that day.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Any Signs of Life?

Any Signs of Life?

Browns vs. Bengals – Will there be a Way for Victory?

After the much needed bye week, the Browns host their division rival who also resides in the state of Ohio.  The first contest was not too kind to the orange and brown, but perhaps the second matchup will be different.  The lifeless organization is 0 -12 and it would appear that there is little hope.  Can this game be different?  Possibly, but let’s delve into why.

Back to the Starter at QB

While not official, it is possible that Robert Griffin will be back in the saddle for the Browns in this contest.  The quarterback has only participated in one regular season contest in 2016, but will now secure his opportunity to show the coaching staff that he can hold down the position going forward.  My hope for Griffin (and the offense) is that the threat of the deep ball opens up running lanes as well as the play book.  The key for any chance at a win is zero turnovers by the Browns’ quarterback.

Weapons Missing for Cincy

This relates to A.J. Green and Gio Bernard for the away squad – who will be out of action in this contest.  While that is fine and good for the Browns, but the opponent still has several other weapons.  Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead lead the running stable – and will more than likely see ample receiving opportunities.  On the outside, Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd have been stepping up at the wide receiver position.  Long story short, the some may feel the Browns will dodge a bullet on Sunday – but there are capable athletes waiting in the wings to make them pay.

Hope for another Jump

The Browns’ defense has taken steps forward (albeit not huge) the past few weeks, even with the young athletes on the field.  Guys like Danny Shelton and Chris Kirksey continue to improve upon their 2015 campaign.  Meanwhile, Emmanuel Ogbah and Briean Boddy-Calhoun are a pair of rookies who are getting better, despite making mistakes here and there.  At some point the unit has to put it all together, right?  That is my hope, as it is one thing to play well individually – however knowing each person’s responsibility and performing as one is something this franchise has not seen for quite some time.

Taking the Browns Lightly

The Bengals dispatched Carson Wentz and the Eagles rather easily (last Sunday) now travel to face a winless Browns team.  Many believe this will be another beat down for the guests, but will they buy into the hype?  Since this is a divisional contest, I anticipate Marvin Lewis having his club fully prepared and ready to play up to their capabilities.  For some reason, I could see the Bengals starting out a bit sluggish in this matchup.  It will be up to them whether they pick it up for succumb the rest of the way.

Conclusion:  While I feel this might be a close contest, I still cannot pick the Browns to win this game.  The Bengals are a better football team in all three phases of the game (well, kicker might be a toss up).  I would love to be wrong one of these times, because they cannot afford to end the season winless.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

Browns @ Bengals – Game #7 Preview

The frustration continues as the Browns head south to face the Bengals in Cincinnati.  For the first time in three seasons, the two will not be playing in Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night – which is a bit of relief for the orange and brown.  I feel a little bit more confident in this game than I did before the season started, but is that enough to predict a win?  Here’s a breakdown of the matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I look for more progression from rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in this contest.  He has been inconsistent at times in contests, but still has been making plays throughout.  Being outmanned basically everywhere makes it hard for the signal caller, but I give him a ton of credit.  I figure he should keep them in this contest with a touchdown or two – hopefully he can limit his mistakes against a tremendous defensive front.

Running Back:  I really do not know what to expect from this position group, as they have been bottled up during the past two contests.  The moving parts (and subsequent poor play) by the five upfront has made running the football rather difficult for both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  More of the same should occur this Sunday – as the Browns will be lucky to eclipse seventy-five yards on the ground.  Maybe some late heroics might help this position group garner some respectable statistics.

Wide Receiver:  I cannot wait to see Corey Coleman return to this lineup, as the receiving corps is missing “something”.  Their M.O. has been Terrelle Pryor having an extremely productive first half, then the defense adjusting, followed by the Browns being shut down in the passing game in the second half.  Ricardo Louis continues to progress as an threat, but his drops are glaring and do not inspire confidence the way Coleman could.  I do not have high hopes for this group, but a touchdown should still be projected.

Tight End:  It would appear that Connor Hamlett’s breakout game a few weeks ago did not convert over into last contest (which is no surprise).  Gary Barnidge continues to be the only viable option at this position, but even his production has been down from a year ago – also expected.  Perhaps he wins on a coverage mismatch and is able to score for the orange and brown in this game.  The offense could sorely use it.

Offensive Line:  Cody Kessler’s health might be of concern in this contest – the guys upfront have not been holding their end of the bargain.  I would not be opposed to moving John Greco back to center and inserting either Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman at right guard to see if that is a better group that one with Cameron Erving at center. I understand it’s a developmental year; thus the Browns ought to find out which lineup works best (for the future).  Not getting their signal caller killed would be welcomed as well.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  What I am seeing from Danny Shelton (and to a lesser extent, Jamie Meder and Stephen Paea) really gives me hope for the future of this defensive line.  They are coming off a contest where they stonewalled one of the best rushing teams in the league.  Jeremy Hill is a feisty back however, and he is eager to embarrass his AFC North foes (as he did in 2014).  I predict a step back for the Browns’ defensive front, but they should not get gashed by Paul Brown’s second professional football club.

Outside Linebacker:  Outside from one sack from Emmanuel Ogbah, the depleted position has not been productive in any way this season.  Joe Schobert dropped an early interception last contest; everything (from the rookie) that followed that was rather mediocre.  Andy Dalton is a bit more mobile that many give him credit for – thus he should evade the pass rush with ease.  Who knows, maybe these guys will generate a coverage sack on Sunday.

Inside Linebacker:  Despite getting moderate play each contest, Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis cannot break through and finish a game-changing play.  Historically, this position group has (occasionally) been able to intercept Dalton.  I would like to see this occur once again, but that is a tall order for this duo.  Preventing any long gains on the ground must be a priority – if the
Browns want to have a chance at victory.

Safety:  Tracy Howard is in line to get the start in this contest at free safety.  The undrafted rookie has not been great by any stretch, but can he be any worse than any other safety for the Browns?  At least Tyler Eifert will not be available for this contest; otherwise the tight end would make the Browns’ defenders pay.  My expectations are extremely low and seeing A.J. Green and other wide outs getting behind safeties will (more than likely) be on display.

Cornerback:  Speaking of Green, he should be putting up big numbers in the contest – regardless of Joe Haden’s availability.  The veteran has missed multiple games due to his groin injury and was less than effective when being out on the field.  More of the same should be predicted, which means Dalton will find open targets early and often in this matchup.

Special Teams:  The blunders, i.e. turnovers, were not apparent last meeting, but the Browns were penalized an exorbitant number of times.  This led to awful field position and the team not being able to dig them out of a tough spot.  I hope they can improve upon this part of their team but it will likely take time, with all of the youngsters on the roster.

Coaching:  So Marvin Lewis says he misses Hue Jackson very much.  I hope that is motivation for Jackson to prove to Mike Brown that being “a head coach in waiting” was not good enough and that he can make his former franchise pay.  I still support Jackson and his play calling decisions; hopefully they can be the difference.

Prediction (My Record: 6 – 0):  I got a blemish-free record, why should I jeopardize that?  The Browns play hard and lose once again by the score of 32 – 20.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Games 9 – 16: Cleveland Browns’ Schedule Analysis

Games 9 – 16:  Cleveland Browns’ Schedule Analysis

Cleveland Browns’ 2016 Schedule: Second Half Breakdown

The second portion of the campaign for the Cleveland Browns features much more AFC North foes on it. Everyone knows that will lead to hard-nosed battles, with possible scuffles and injuries. I would not be surprised if they came away with some victories in these contests. Meanwhile, some traditional powerhouse teams could stumble if they overlook Hue Jackson’s club.

Away Contests: Week 10 @ Baltimore, Week 15 @ Buffalo, and Week 17 @ Pittsburgh 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this; the away stretch of the second half of the regular season will be difficult. All three venues are tough places to play, and the Browns have had little success at each of these stadiums. Honestly, one win out of these three contests should be welcomed (but that is still unlikely). If somehow the Browns can win more than one, it will be a miracle. I suppose the greatest possibility would be at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. 

Home Contests: Week 9 vs. Dallas, Week 11 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 12 vs. New York (Giants), Week 14 vs. Cincinnati, and Week 16 vs. San Diego

On the other side of the coin, this home slate is not as terrible as it could have been a few seasons ago. The Chargers are aging and far from a complete team, while the Giants will not be as tough as they have been under Tom Coughlin. This can tip the scales to the home squad, who needs to prove they are no longer pushovers.

Meanwhile, Dallas is a crapshoot – and I have no idea what to expect from them (especially looking at who their signal caller might be for the matchup). I still have faith the Browns can win divisional games at home. That said, another two or three wins should be anticipated by the orange and brown in these meetings.

Conclusion: Looking back at the schedule and putting realistic expectations on outcomes – five to seven wins feels about right. I would be content with this; the Browns will have greatly improved upon their record in 2015 and will be building towards the future. Finishing the campaign relatively healthy and on an uptick, and I would be finally happy at the end of a Cleveland Browns’ season.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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Another New Coach for the Browns

Another New Coach for the Browns

On to the Next One – Cleveland Browns’ Coach

Well the next Browns’ head coach has been announced to be Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. I am in “wait and see” mode and am far from excited, but I am willing to give him a chance. I must admit that Hue’s personality comes across much better than his predecessor’s. Jackson appears genuine, friendly, personable, and eager to attack this new opportunity.

Quarterback Whisperer 

A positive that could possibly come with this new coach, is that he actually knows how to groom signal callers. Andy Dalton is a pretty good example; while not one of the most talented athletes in the league, the quarterback has improved over the past few years and was exceptional this season (prior to his hand injury) while leading his team to another divisional crown.

Here in Cleveland, fans are used to quarterback controversies and poor play at this position on an annual basis. I’d like to believe that the Browns will take their franchise quarterback with the second draft pick, provide him with great leadership, and see him bloom into an All Pro and a multi Super Bowl champion.

Chasing Greatness

It’s extremely early but this looks to be the new theme of Hue Jackson and the Browns’ locker room. Is it better than “Play Like a Brown”? I suppose, but like anything else with this franchise – I just want to see some wins first before I get excited about new players, coaches, or mantras.

Maybe the word greatness can rub off on players, which will allow them to fight harder day in and day out – towards excellent output. Heck, we need any sort of hope at this point.

Done it Before

Another thing that Jackson has gone though that Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine have not is prior NFL head coaching experience. Granted it was for only one season and he finished with a modest record, but many feel this will help in 2016 and beyond.

Hopefully the head coach will be able to use what he learned in Oakland and improve upon that in Cleveland. Jackson ought to know that much more goes into being “the man” on the sidelines as opposed to a coordinator position. It all comes down to getting everyone on the same page and executing the way they should be.

Conclusion: Who knows what will happen with the hiring of Hue Jackson in Cleveland. The head coach faces an uphill battle and will encounter many challenges (hopefully none of which are internal) with his job. Yet, it would appear that it was a good hire by Jimmy Haslam – something that has rarely been said since he’s owned the team. Now the Browns need to surround the coach with excellent assistants as well as guys who can play the game at an exceptional level.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Front Office/Coaching, Offseason

 

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Browns Game #12 Preview – Kinda Need a Win

Browns Game #12 Preview – Kinda Need a Win

Lookin’ at the Next One – Browns vs. Bengals – Game #12 Preview

This game looks ugly on paper and will probably be even worse on the field.  The Browns are an absolute disaster, while their counterparts sit comfortably in first place in the AFC North.  I don’t anticipate a competitive contest – at least in the second half of this matchup.  However, let’s look at a few of the guys who will take the field for the orange and brown.

Offense:

Quarterback – Now that Josh McCown will not be playing for the rest of the season, the Browns have two choices at quarterback (in this contest).  I am done with the Johnny Manziel experiment, so I would prefer to see if giving Austin Davis a shot to remain with this team going forward.  My expectations are low, but the veteran signal caller looked somewhat poised when pressed into action.  Hopefully he can find the end zone once or twice on Sunday, with zero turnovers.

Running Back – I’m also over this team’s running game; the Browns should only use Duke Johnson as a receiver (either in the slot or out of the backfield).  Other than that, the rookie and Isaiah Crowell cannot get more than three yards at a time when rushing the football.  Granted, the line has been putrid – but it appears that Crowell cannot find any possible cut back lanes (which some of the better backs can do).  Expect to see a low total of rushing yards for the Browns.

Wide Receiver – Can Brian Hartline build upon his success of last week?  The veteran was solid when teaming up with Josh McCown; so it will be interesting to see how he performs with a different guy under center.  Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel have both missed time due to concussions, however there is a chance we can finally see them back on the field.  Catching and running with the ball would be a nice change this week for anyone not named Travis Benjamin; maybe Terrelle Pryor can even do it.

Tight End – I expect a bit of a drop-off in production from Gary Barnidge.  Like Hartline, the veteran seems to work best with McCown – so the switch in signal callers will more than likely hurt the tight end’s output.  One touchdown or several big catches would suffice, but I do not believe that will occur in this game.  I don’t expect rookie E.J. Bibbs to get any opportunities at tight end either.

Offensive Line – It appears that the professional game is too big for Cameron Erving, at least at this moment.  While filling in for Joel Bitonio, the rookie has been driven back on a consistent basis – leading to sacks and negative gains by rushers.  Perhaps he is out of place at left guard, but winning at the point of attack is critical in the NFL.  The Bengals’ defensive line will likely feast up the middle and on Mitchell Schwartz’s side all game long.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I would be floored if the Browns can somewhat limit Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard in this contest.  Jon Gruden pointed out how out of position the defensive front was on national television and the ease at which opponents can pick up yards.  Danny Shelton has been a part of the problem and not the solution up to this point.  I believe he can improve, but it’s looking like it will take time.  I would like to believe the same can be said for Xavier Cooper.

Linebacker – This is easily one of the most maddening parts of the Browns’ roster. Veteran linebackers are out of place and routinely miss tackles.  Barkevious Mingo is invisible and will likely be on another team’s roster in 2016.  The only reliable member appears to be Paul Kruger, and he is only productive in spurts.  Andy Dalton will likely find his backs and receivers down the seam and via crossing patterns – and should exploit the Browns in coverage.

Secondary – Each of the guys in the secondary has been beaten badly in coverage this year.  Whether it has been Tramon Williams, Charles Gaines, or Pierre Desir (to name a few) – wide outs have gotten behind and torched the Browns’ cornerbacks.  The safeties have not been excellent either, outside of a few fine tackles by Ibraheim Campbell and Donte Whitner (but those are few and far between).  Expect a big game from Marvin Jones and A.J. Green against this secondary.

Special Teams:  Well, it can’t be any worse than last week, right?  The special teams single-handedly lost the contest for the Browns last Monday.  I’d like to believe these units will be improved, but not nearly good enough to overcome the shortcomings by the offense and defense.

Coaching:  I’m at the point where the defensive coaches should just throw guys out there and see what they’ve got.  Those on the field are not performing for a multitude of reasons, and the staff has got to find a way to be better on this side of the ball.  The offense knows their limitations and is doing its best; the defense is clearly not on the same page with each other.

Prediction (My Record: 7 – 4):  I’m not going to go back and forth with this one; the Bengals come in and beat the Browns by the score of 30 – 13 – thus keeping the long losing streak alive for the orange and brown.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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So the Browns Can be Worse

So the Browns Can be Worse

A Look Back – Game #13 – Browns vs. Bengals 

Awful, horrible, embarrassing – use whatever adjective you want to describe that game. Horrible offense, bad defense, and little to no contribution on special teams was the name of the game for the Cleveland Browns. I was deeply surprised and saddened by this outcome. Without further ado, let’s review this rotten mess.

Offense: Johnny Manziel passed for only eighty yards and heaved a pair of interceptions into his rookie debut. The Bengals crowded the line of scrimmage early and often, and the Browns’ signal caller succumbed to pressure before he could complete a pass. I know he will bounce bad – frankly, he has to. There are a ton of adjustments that he and Kyle Shanahan have to make before success comes.

Seventeen carries for fifty-three yards for the Browns’ running game? None of the rushers stood out and were very underwhelming. That said, it might have been due to the defenders crowded the line of scrimmage all game long. Perhaps Crowell and/or West could bust a huge gainer with Manziel as their quarterback – but I felt a five-yard dash was an achievement today.

Poor quarterback play leads to bad statistics for wide receivers. Andrew Hawkins and Jim Dray each had huge drops, while Josh Gordon’s thirty-two yard reception was the only impressive passing play for the Browns. I will be under the belief that he can at least be like Brian Hoyer and get many guys involved in the passing game; the only problem is that he has to be accurate for that to happen.

Wow, what a miserable game by the offensive line. Mitchell Schwartz got beat multiple times of the right edge by Carlos Dunlap, while Ryan Seymour invited Geno Atkins into the backfield a few times. Joe Thomas’s streak of mental errors is appalling. The veteran is committing false start and holding infractions at an alarming rate. I am looking forward to Ray Farmer overhauling this group in the offseason.

Defense: Is surrendering 244 rushing yards a good thing for an NFL defense? Despite the facetious question, how can the front four look this badly? They got blown off the football regularly and outside of Desmond Bryant (four tackles and one sack), all defensive linemen were greatly underwhelming. The Bengals took the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands, and the Browns’ defense could not do anything to stop their opponent.

Two of the best performances by Browns players were Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson. The duo combined for eighteen tackles and the veteran hauled in a big interception. When the other seven are playing well, this group can be an effective one. On the outside, Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger had their moments – but they were far from effective. Kruger has been the only consistent pass rusher all season, the Browns must add a complement or two this offseason.

The injuries to Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert did not help a secondary that was already missing K’Waun Williams. Fortunately, Andy Dalton did not try to find A.J. Green too frequently, and when he did Buster Skrine was draped all over the wide out. Jim Leonhard did not make his signature play, was around the ball from time to time, and got beat a few times. Pretty much sums up the day for this defense – no one could step up and make a play.

Special Teams: Well Garrett Hartley still has not missed a kick in his Cleveland Browns career. The team was so bad; he did not even get an attempt. Spencer Lanning will likely have to take an ice bath tonight; the punter had seven attempts and averaged just less than fifty yards. The coverage units were adequate, but there were way too many of those today.

Coaching: When the Bengals were crowding the line of scrimmage, why didn’t the Browns try something to go downfield? Kyle Shanahan never attempted this; the offense was predictable and horrible. Defensively, they should have been focused on stopping the run. That was not the case and they suffered as a result. Time to flush this mess and move on to Carolina.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Battle of Ohio Part II – Looking into the Matchup

The Battle of Ohio Part II – Looking into the Matchup

Game #13 – Browns vs. Bengals – A Preview

For the final time this season, the Browns will be playing in front of a home crowd at First Energy Stadium. What was once a promising season has now become a mediocre (at best) club struggling mightily. If nothing else, perhaps they can influence the AFC North race, in terms of the division winner and possible wildcard spots. It seems like a lifetime ago the Browns stomped down the Bengals in Cincinnati – but that’s the NFL for ya. Let’s break down this matchup.

Offense: Finally, Johnny Manziel will be under center for this contest. As much as I love Brian Hoyer – change was necessary. I had zero confidence in this offense the past few games; and this cannot occur in the NFL. Look for a ton of runs to the edge by the signal caller with a run/pass option following that. It would not surprise me to see Manziel account for three touchdowns in this contest; two passing and one rushing.

Run, run, run, and run some more – that should be the game plan for this offense. Isaiah Crowell continues to show his bursts going through the line of scrimmage, while Terrance West can still pick up the tough yards. Straying away from a run-first offense has cost the team several contests this year. They cannot afford to let another victory slip away.

There have been reports about Josh Gordon not being on the same page as his offense, as well as the wide out not finishing routes. Whatever the issue, the talented athlete must shake off whatever his issues are. Perhaps the switch at quarterback will help out the fledgling star. How will Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Travis Benjamin respond to Johnny Manziel? That is a huge question, but one I am looking forward to the answer.

In the passing game, the mobility of Manziel could make the offensive line’s job more difficult on Sunday. All five must keep their eyes open and look to see where number two is at on the field. This could lead to large losses and potentially turnovers. On the positive side, I figure his running will open rushing lanes for West and Crowell. It will definitely be an adjustment for the guys upfront, but hopefully less of one than the defense will to have to do (despite Marvin Lewis’s belief).

Defense: Facing a duo that features Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill will be a tough task for this run defense. Fortunately, this part of the squad has been picking it up as of late – but they cannot afford a setback on Sunday. Desmond Bryant and Ahtyba Rubin have been the standouts as of late; personally, I would like to see them lead the way in stuffing the run and getting to Andy Dalton. Being disruptive is key , much like it was during last meeting, why can’t Desmond Bryant replicate his output?

Paul Kruger, and yes (even) Barkevious Mingo, found the offensive backfield a few times against the Colts. This was the type of performance the Browns were expecting from their first round pick from a year ago. It would be a pleasant surprise should this be the norm, but we shall find out in due time. The inside linebackers have been playing solidly during the absence of Karlos Dansby. I would love to see Chris Kirksey make some impactful plays for this defense; there is a great deal of untapped potential from the rookie.

The Browns’ secondary is coming off probably their best performance in quite some time. Buster Skrine was the only guy who made a mistake or two; he should be able to recover nicely against the Bengals. Can Joe Haden shut down A.J. Green once again? That is a huge uncertainty that could determine the contest’s outcome. Jim Leonhard’s insertion into this defense has been nothing short of exceptional. Two consecutive games with an interception were unexpected from the team’s punt catcher. I’m pulling for three games in a row for the veteran.

Special Teams: Outside of a blunder of a field goal attempt – the Browns’ could not have played any better on special teams last week. Obviously, that will not be the case this Sunday. The Browns cannot lose this matchup decidedly if they want to win the contest. Billy Cundiff and Spencer Lanning must make every kick and punt count.

Coaching: Kyle Shanahan will have his mobile signal caller for this contest. I am eager to see the tricks he pulls out of the bag for this contest. Defensively should be status quo from last week – beat up the quarterback while still focusing on the run. Coach Pettine could have one huge decision to make in this matchup; I hope he chooses wisely.

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 5): Despite the optimism, I think the season is still over for the Browns. They are not going to the postseason, and there have reports of locker room dissention. The defense played their hearts out last week and still lost. I see a similar fate this week, the deflated gang helps Manziel and the Browns score early and lead – only to fall to the Bengals by the score of 27 – 21 and lose their third game in a row.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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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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