Tag Archives: Brian Hartline

What Now for the Browns?

What Now for the Browns?

Latest Updates from Berea

The news cycle continues to go on during this period of OTAs for the Cleveland Browns.  The transactions persist for the team, much to the chagrin of some veterans.  However, when a team laden with older players fails miserably – it should come to no surprise that younger athletes will likely be brought in as replacements the following season. Speaking of which, it would appear that getting to know their predecessors is a good thing for these young men. This is especially the case, as those elder athletes got to the playoffs and performed at a high level game in and game out.

Release of Hartline

Veteran wide receiver Brian Hartline was let go by the Cleveland Browns last week in a move that was not completely surprising. Looking at what the team has been doing over the past few months – youth has been a big factor (especially at skilled positions).  Brian simply did not fit that mold with this team, and the fact that the Browns drafted four wide outs did not help things either.  Could his veteran leadership have helped out the wide receiving unit?  Sure, but more production on the field was needed from the athlete as well.  Like many other guys who are moving on from the orange and brown – I wish him good luck and have no ill will towards the athlete.

Alumni on Hand

It was a solid move to have former players on hand during the OTAs for the Cleveland Browns. Hanford Dixon, Felix Wright, and (gasp) Bernie Kosar were in attendance talking to today’s team. For about thirty-one franchises, doing this is not a big deal and a typical thing done by squads in the NFL. However, it seems to be a problem for the Browns, especially with their frosty relationship with their former quarterback in the 1980s and 90s. Perhaps this is the olive branch that was needed to link the old teams (the ones who actually had success) to the current crop. Will it lead to future success for the orange and brown? Who knows, but I will take whatever positive karma is out there for this club.

Time off for Thomas

The veteran days off for Joe Thomas appear to be a hot button for the Cleveland media. I frankly do not have a problem with it, but I understand where it could cause problems within the locker room.  Face it, everyone would like some time off once in a while.  Maybe if the team is in a playoff push (I understand that’s unlikely, but I can dream) – perhaps Thomas can put on a good face and give his all each and every practice. At the end of the day, having Thomas available and reliable (each game) is what matters for this franchise, however.

Conclusion: It’s almost the down time for the Browns; that period between mini camps and training camps. Hopefully the team is getting up to speed and learning what Hue Jackson is all about. Rookies like Jordan Payton (still in classes) have been hurt by not practicing, but they can still make up for that in the coming months. Not hearing about idiots failing drug tests or going on benders in Las Vegas the next few months will be refreshing this season.

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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Offseason, Players, Training Camp


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Looking at Game #14 – Browns @ Seahawks

Looking at Game #14 – Browns @ Seahawks

Browns @ Seahawks – Game #14 Preview

For the first time in many weeks, the Browns are coming off of a victory.  These have obviously been few and far between this campaign, and many odds makers feel that this will not continue in Seattle.  The orange and brown are expected to be defeated handily to a solid football team that appears to be heading once again to the postseason.  However, if the Browns can dominate the way they did last week (which is extremely unlikely) – there is a shot at an enormous upset.  Let’s take a peek into this contest.


Quarterback – This game can be a huge litmus test to see how far along Johnny Manziel’s progression is coming.  The second year signal caller is getting much better each time he takes the field; however this Sunday he will more than likely face his stiffest test in the league.  If the quarterback can eliminate the dumb passes over the middle of the field and continue to play smart football – then the Browns will not get blown out.  It will come down to Manziel running and hitting open targets at a high rate to determine whether they can actually have a chance at victory.

Running Back – I highly doubt that Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson will perform as well as they did in their previous outing.  Maybe that gave them the confidence to find running lanes and move the ball with ease between the tackles.  The short dump offs and screen plays also worked pretty well – perhaps John DeFilippo should continue this trend in Seattle.  If the Browns can rush for over 100 yards then a victory could be had by the guests.

Wide Receiver – Once again, another veteran wide out is now injured for the Browns.  I was disappointed to see Brian Hartline’s season over following a broken collarbone.  That means the other guys (outside of Travis Benjamin) will have to step up in his absence.  One receiver who saw playing time but did not amount to any output was Terrelle Pryor.  I would like to see him involved in this contest; will he be great against the Seahawks’ secondary?  That is highly unlikely, but seeing if he should remain with team is a necessary objective.

Tight End – What should be expected other than great things for Gary Barnidge?  I do not envision the tight end hauling in a touchdown in this game, but could see a handful of catches for many yards.  I am very glad he re-signed for three years after this campaign ends and look forward to many fine plays down the road.  E.J. Bibbs saw some time in the backfield as a blocker – I wouldn’t mind seeing the rookie as a route runner (especially with the Hartline injury).  Hopefully he can add something to an offense that needs firepower.

Offensive Line – Is it the personnel, the scheme, or did the Browns just play a terrible team?  Austin Paszor had his issues, but filled in nicely at left guard.  I am intrigued to find out if the Browns can continue to give Johnny time to stay in the pocket and find open receivers, as well as open running lanes for both Crowell and Johnson. This will not be an easy task – but the guys upfront could be inspired by guy under center.  I fear this week’s game could be an ugly one but keeping the quarterback clean can surely help.


Defensive Line – This should be an interesting challenge for the guys up front for the Browns’ defense.  Thomas Rawls left last week’s game and could be replaced by Bryce Brown – therefore the team might have an opportunity to slow down an opposing rusher.  Xavier Cooper is coming off a decent game and I am looking forward to the rookie helping both against the run and passing game of the Seahawks.  Danny Shelton has to “get it” at some point – the nose tackle has displayed strength but has yet to be disruptive when facing opposing running plays.  I would love to see the light turn on for the youngster.

Linebacker – Chris Kirksey and Nate Orchard finally made some plays last week – I hope they both see significant playing time to figure out if they can continue with this trend.  Orchard did what he was drafted to do – get to the quarterback.  Russell Wilson will be much harder to sack, but it would be a good opportunity to witness the rookie from Utah running down the signal caller.  The guys in the middle were (shockingly) making open field tackles versus the 49ers!  This is a must if the defense wants to somewhat limit the opposition.

Secondary – I am fearful that Charles Gaines will have to be asked to do a substantial amount in this contest.  The rookie has been beaten repeatedly in coverage when given playing time.  Fortunately it has usually been for ten yards (or so) at a time.  However, Wilson could unleash the long ball on Sunday at the rookie’s expense.  Tramon Williams has improved at being around opposing wide outs while the football is in the air.  This could possibly take a step back when facing a guy like Doug Baldwin, but I am pulling that the veteran will be up to the challenge.

Special Teams:  This part of the Browns has been awful over the past few games.  Three consecutive contests giving up a blocked field goal?  That is unacceptable and changes need to be made to this unit.  I am not confident that the visiting team could matchup with Seattle in this department.  Hopefully this is not the reason why the Browns fall on Sunday.

Coaching:  Limiting Johnny’s mistakes and getting the ball out quickly was visible last game and should continue to be the blueprint for this offense.  The quarterback continues to make plays and is helping out his team.  On the other side of the ball, being physical at the point of attack should be a primary goal.  Making the opposing signal caller work extra hard can help – so can having the correct guys in coverage (Nate Orchard cannot be defending a team’s top receiver).

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 5):  I first thought that this game would be a beat down, then changed my mind to a close finish, then went back to a sizeable margin.  I believe the Browns will be in the contest early, but the Seahawks will pull away in a 34 – 20 final.

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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in NFL Season


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Browns Win – Game #5

Browns Win – Game #5

Review of Game #5 – Browns @ Ravens

Wow, I still cannot believe the Browns pulled out that victory this afternoon. It was very close, but the offense pulled it out during the tough contest. I am very excited about parts of this team and disappointed about the other – it was a win but it could be a lot worse. Let’s see what happened.


Quarterback – Yep, Josh McCown picked up right where he left off – I am glad he was able to continue to attack defenses at a regular pace.   He dominated for a majority of the contest – including hitting for over 400 yards passing. He was stable in the pocket and pulled out a win; I am very complacent that the signal caller will continue this type of play going forward.

Running Back – Both guys appeared to have dominated in this contest, but it was Duke Johnson who made it count for this franchise. I was surprised to see this unit play extremely well, however the dump off to running backs was key to this offensive unit. Both guys were solid in this contest and I am confident that they will produce going forward. Hopefully the team can continue this type of play going forward. 

Wide Receiver –Everyone got it going for the wide receiving unit, it didn’t matter if it was Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin, or Andrew Hawkins but the guys got it done during the 2015 campaign. Every guy appeared to have got it done and I am very glad that the group did what they needed to do. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel are two guys who really took advantage of the situation they were presented – I expect this type of performance to continue. 

Tight End – Is that Gronk or Gary Barnidge?   Seriously, the tight end for the Cleveland Browns is making things happen. His acrobatic catch was huge in this contest, and that’s now a pair of important grabs for this athlete. Barnidge was gigantic in the victory; I anticipate he will keep it up going forward. Jim Dray had a catch as well; I’d still like to see E.J. Bibbs but that will have to wait for the Browns.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront finally played up to their capabilities and the Browns’ offense line was stout in this contest. No one got outplayed, including Michell Schwartz – the offensive line was stout was and was solid in this contest. I’d still like to see what the team can do – but would not be surprised if the athletes can dominate upfront.


Defensive Line – I guess that the guys upfront finally played solidly in this contest. They did not surrender a great deal of yardage on the ground but there was still 30 points given up by the team. Fortunately the team was able to overcome this, and Jamie Meder and Desmond Bryant did their best to dominate in this contest. This must continue to occur going forward.

Linebacker – I would like to believe that the linebackers corps played up to their capabilities in this matchup. However, that was not the case and the unit still played solid in this matchup. The outside linebackers where not visible in this contest, hopefully they can continue to improve going forward. Karlos Dansby made some nice plays, but he was far from effective in this matchup. If the linebackers can finally get their act together, the Browns will win many games.

Secondary – Not a solid job by the Browns’ secondary, but the team did enough to get by. Tramon Williams, K’Waun Williams (when available), and Jordan Poyer have proved that this defense can be good enough to win in matchups. I would like to see if Ibraheim Campbell could step up in this matchup, perhaps that will come down the road. 

Special Teams: No turnovers and not bad penalties were apparent for the Cleveland Browns’ special teams. They played well and moved the sticks in this matchup, and I believed the special teams were good enough to win this contest.

Coaching: Mike Pettine got paid today – he and his staff did their best to put the team in the best spot possible to win this matchup. However it worked out, the Browns still do the win and scored at the best point possible. I am happy they won and look forward to next week’s game.

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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in NFL Season


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What Happened? Browns vs. Bills – Game #2 Review

What Happened?  Browns vs. Bills – Game #2 Review

Analyzing Browns vs. Bills Preseason Game #2

Well this game was what I was expecting. A sloppy, physical contest that featured two defenses that shut down inept offenses. There were some penalties and mistakes made by both teams, which is to be expected at this time of year. It’s now time to break down the final preseason game played at First Energy Stadium in 2015.


Quarterback – Well, unfortunately the Josh McCown that many had come to expect this season was on display at First Energy Stadium. His first two drives ended with poor decisions when tossing the ball – leading to interceptions. Overall, the quarterback made some nice plays, but turnovers are killer. Also this offense is not good enough to overcome multiple interceptions and still win games. Hopefully he can get back on track in Tampa.  As a backup, Manziel led a nice touchdown drive – I love seeing his progression, but I’ll wait to excited about his future.

Running Back – There was nowhere to go but up for the Browns’ running attack. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell did not have tremendous performances, but they at least had some nice gainers not seen since about ten months ago. Those eight-yard-and-over rushes should be expected on a regular basis (we just needed to see them first). My faith has increased in this group, but let’s face it – they still have plenty of room to improve until September 13th.

Wide Receivers – This was not a stat-stuffing contest for the Cleveland Browns’ wide receiving corps. Brian Hartline secured a couple of fine grabs, while Andrew Hawkins was targeted on a few occasions. Other than that, the first team unit did not overwhelm by any means. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel did not get involved until Manziel came in the game. I would like to see what Terrelle Pryor and Dwayne Bowe add to this offense, but that looks like I will still have to wait.

Tight End – All three veteran tight ends got into the receiving game for the home team. Gary Barnidge made a nice grab early, but tipped up a McCown pass leading to an interception (while leaving the contest with a possible concussion). In his absence, Jim Dray and Rob Housler were able to snare a few tosses as well. None in this unit will ever have a large yardage or reception output, but I just want them to come down with important grabs.


Defensive Line – First, the positives for the group. Danny Shelton and Randy Starks each made a couple of nice plays while forcing the action behind the line of scrimmage. Other than that, there were missed tackles and assignments by the gang upfront. I really hope something can click with this group (and soon) so the line can be a much improved unit. Looking at their counterparts, the Browns still have a way to go until they can replicate the type of performance that the Bills’ defensive line has been displaying.

Linebackers – Paul Kruger was the only visible linebacker – outside or inside – for the Browns in the first half of this contest. He had a sack, a hit on Tyrod Taylor, and a great tackle for loss. Scott Solomon whiffed on a Taylor run and was rather disappointing. I hope some guy can step up soon; the Browns cannot afford to only have one reliable athlete on the outside (Orchard played nicely in the third quarter). It was a quiet evening for the trio in the middle – none really stood out but they were not poor either. I’m content with moving on and reevaluating these guys next week.

Secondary – About a billion injuries to the secondary did not provide a realistic gauge when looking at the back four. Johnson Bademosi is a fine special teams member, but should not be starting in the NFL (at least at this point). Fortunately, he held his own against Buffalo. I hope Jordan Poyer did not have a concussion, but if he did – I look for a quick recovery and for him to be ready to go for the regular season. That, and for Joe Haden, Pierre Desir, K’Waun Williams, Tashaun Gipson, and even Justin Gilbert to be healthy as well.

Special Teams: It would appear that Travis Coons might be the front-runner for the kicking job. He made a nice field goal last week and repeated that performance this contest. I just hope he can continue this all year long. Trading for Andy Lee was a great move by this front office – the Browns need to win the field position battle on a weekly basis, and he certainly helps with that.

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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in NFL Season


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Browns vs. Redskins – Review of Game #1

Browns vs. Redskins – Review of Game #1

Review of Game #1 – Browns vs. Redskins

It was nothing flashy, but a respectable outing by the Cleveland Browns. The starting units held their own against the visitors and were beneficiaries of a few costly mistakes early. Overall it was a solid starting point for the 2015 campaign. Let’s review what went down at First Energy Stadium.


Quarterback – The game plan for the offense appeared to be, “take what the defense gives you”. No matter if it was Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel under center; the Browns were content in dumping shorter routes as opposed to attempting longer throws. McCown ushered a seventy-five yard touchdown, while Manziel ran in a score as well. There’s quite a bit of room to grow, but not a terrible start for this duo.

Running Back – I believe this position will be extremely deemphasized during all of this exhibition season. This is probably for the best, as there is little to gain, while the threat of injuries loom large. That said, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West had a pedestrian performance in this contest (Crowell’s biggest play might have been a tackle on special teams). I am not too concerned about this group right now – but improvement will be needed in the coming weeks.

Wide Receivers – McCown hit a few of his targets early on – that was the hightlight of the receiving game for the Browns. Brian Hartline made some nice moves in open field, while Travis Benjamin got open and advanced the ball. The duo combined for five grabs, tops for all guys in the first half. I would still like to see the whole group be available (including Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor) but that might not come for some time.

Tight End – Not a tremendous amount of output by the tight ends. Gary Barnidge, Jim Dray, and Rob Housler could not secure a catch with the first and second units. However, rookie E.J. Bibbs had one reception for five yards – leading the group when most of the starters were playing. I expect the team to utilize this position group in the regular season, which athletes and how many targets is the question.


Defensive Line – Danny Shelton led the unit that held the Redskins in check when rushing the football. It was not until the backups went in when the orange and brown struggled in stopping their opponents on the ground. Other that that, it was a quiet night for this group (which is not surprising). There were zero designed edge rushers and nothing to confuse their opponents. Hopefully we will get more of a look at this group next Thursday.

Linebackers – It was somewhat quiet by this unit as well, at least early on. The trio in the inside was solid in making plays when given the opportunities. All three had key stops in the first half of this contest. Only Paul Kruger’s hit on Robert Griffin III was noteworthy by the outside linebackers – the rest was forgettable. Without Barkevious Mingo available, Scott Solomon could not stand out as a viable replacement. However, next week is another opportunity for the veteran to make his mark.

Secondary – The absences of Joe Haden and Pierre Desir were felt early and often. Justin Gilbert was picked on during the first two drives of the Redskins. Aside from Pierre Garcon getting behind him and dropping an easy pass – Gilbert looked decent in coverage. He’s got to improve tremendously (and fast), but I suppose this game can be a stepping-stone for the second year pro. Tashaun Gipson made a few nice plays at safety; I am glad he picked up where he left off in 2014.

Special Teams: Forcing a pair of turnovers early, successfully making a field goal, and having decent returns on kickoffs and punts all occurred by the orange and brown. That’s about all you can ask for in the first game of the preseason. I envision necessary growth by this unit during the regular season.

Overall, I am content that the Browns can build from this performance. They were not great, but much better than they have been in years past in exhibition openers – and ahead of their counterparts (at least when the starters were playing).

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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Browns Roster Turnover – Breakdown

Browns Roster Turnover – Breakdown

Free Agency Recap

Well, there were multiple changes to this roster that occurred over the past few weeks. Some veterans were not expected to be back, and that was indeed the case. Meanwhile, the team signed a couple of athletes with experience as well. Are they a better team now than they were to end the 2014 campaign? Time will tell, but let’s review what occurred for the team.

Key Departures 

Offensively there were two impactful guys who departed for other franchises. Those were quarterback Brian Hoyer and tight end Jordan Cameron. The former was far from a surprise, and his play late in 2014 all but guaranteed that the Browns were not going to re-sign him. I wish him all the best in Houston, but have my doubts about his future success. The Cameron thing was a little perturbing, with him signing then not re-signing. However, the team is moving on from the veteran with an injury history. I would have liked him back, but now they must get a stalwart via the draft as his replacement.

On the defensive side, the Browns lost three prominent figures via free agency. These athletes are Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, and Buster Skrine. Inexplicably, both Rubin and Sheard’s production had declined significantly over the past few seasons. I am glad they were here and hold no ill will, but I believe Ray Farmer can find solid members who can pickup right where these guys left off. I really felt Skrine was coming into his own as a nickel cornerback, but his price tag appeared to be too high for the Browns. I would love to see Justin Gilbert play up to his capabilities and have Trammond Williams fill in at the nickel spot.

Veteran Pickups

It was a pair of signal callers and two wide outs who were signed by the Cleveland Browns. Josh McCown and Thaddeus Lewis were brought in to compete for a role with this franchise going forward. I still don’t know if they are going to draft another guy early or not, so I’m holding off my negative slant (at the quarterback position) for the time being. Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe are now members of the orange and brown. I think they can be reliable number two and three options for the offense, and if the team can get a DeVante Parker or Jalen Strong in the first round of the draft – I would really like this improved passing offense.

To supplement this defense, the Browns added Randy Starks and Tramon Williams last week. Both are a little older than the guys they are replacing, but I believe they can still be viable rotational guys. I anticipate at least a defensive lineman to be added by the second round of draft, and maybe a guy in the secondary a few rounds later. Overall, neither areas took a big hit – the scouts must make sure they can make solid improvements in areas where losses occurred.

Conclusion: While the Browns did not get a whole lot better during the free agency period, I am not freaking out the way many fans have. The team got solid veterans at reasonable prices, and lost members who the front office did not feel were “franchise players”. Though we may not know if these decisions are correct or not for a few years – I have a hunch that this part of the NFL season will not make or break this franchise. It will all come down to (finally) getting that little thing called a franchise quarterback.


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The Roster Changes Being – 2015 Edition

The Roster Changes Being – 2015 Edition

Latest Free Agency Chatter

The ball has begun rolling for the Cleveland Browns, who are beginning to re-tool their roster (and hopefully improve it). The first move was an acquisition, and a difficult decision, at the quarterback spot. The next was bringing in a veteran wide out to bolster this team’s corps – provided he signs on the dotted line. While I may not agree with all their personnel decisions, I give the front office credit for being proactive and not sitting on their hands.

Josh McCown Signing

Ultimately it came down to whether the Cleveland Browns chose between veterans Brian Hoyer or Josh McCown. In a stunning move, the team took a guy who was six years older and was less-than-successful on the field (winning one contest in eleven attempts last year). Going head-to-head, I would be in the camp that would prefer to have Hoyer on my roster – but I can understand what the team was thinking.

McCown is a veteran who should be a better teacher to the younger signal callers (Manziel, Shaw, and whomever else), as he has been in the league for over twelve years. He also will be content with starting or supporting the starter from the sideline – the same cannot be said for Hoyer. Whether he is right or not, it appears that this type of attitude might not be the best thing for the Browns’ locker room. I wish Brian Hoyer all the best, but I am not sure there is a place where he will be a guaranteed starter in 2015.

I am very eager to see the team’s next move at quarterback now – as I would not expect them to only have McCown, Manziel, and Shaw on their opening day roster. Will it be Brett Hundley, Garrett Grayson, or Bryce Petty? I am hopeful the Browns can get their guy in the middle rounds of the draft, have McCown show him the ropes, and figure out if he or Manziel can be the quarterback past 2015.

Brian Hartline in Town

The former Miami Dolphin (and local product) was in for a visit this week, after he was released by his former team a few days prior. All local connections aside, I would be content to see him sign a contract with the Browns. He would provide a viable option as a number two wide out, and give whoever is under center a dependable target to throw to.

Regardless of if he signs, the team must still find their top receiver in April’s draft. I want one of the “top three” – but it would likely only be DeVante Parker with the twelfth selection. Hartline and Parker would really improve the passing offense next season, and it might not be that hard to accomplish that feat.

Conclusion: The offseason continues to be the most exciting part of the year for the Cleveland Browns. The quarterback carousel continues to turn, and it’s likely to turn some more in the next few months. Additionally, an area of weakness could be improved significantly in the near future. There are still many athletes that need to be acquired to make this franchise a title contender – but my hope is that the wheels are in motion to improve this team from their 2014 unit.

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Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players


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