RSS

Tag Archives: Brian Hoyer

Why aren’t the Browns Trying?!?

Why aren’t the Browns Trying?!?

It’s Annual Freak-Out Time!

Ah, yes – it’s that time of year where fans and media are vilifying the Cleveland Browns for not making every transaction during the open free agency period.  I understand that free agency is a part of the NFL season, and all thirty-two teams use it.  But to what degree each franchise utilizes this period is what is important.  Let’s review what is causing many to display obvious signs of petulance.

No “Big Name” Guys Signed on Day One

Perish the thought that the Cleveland Browns did not acquire Ndamukong Suh or Darrelle Revis, let alone trade for the oft-injured Sam Bradford.  I will agree that both of the defenders are tremendous talents; however they will be the highest paid athletes at their position in NFL history.  That’s just not smart football – I look
forward to the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets to be extremely financially strapped to make additional moves.  The Browns are wise to improve at these spots using diligence.

Yes, Sam Bradford would immediately be an upgrade at the signal caller spot, but I don’t even want to think about what the Browns would have had to surrender to get a guy who will not likely finish the campaign healthy.  More than likely, the team will draft a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft – and work with Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel.  Simply put, the risk was too high and the reward was likely not worth it.

Didn’t the Team Prepare Us for this?

Ray Farmer and Jimmy Haslam both said weeks ago that the team was not going to be major players in free agency.  So far, they have not – I do not understand the miscommunication by some Browns’ fans and media.

Additionally, what do the Packers, Steelers, Giants, and Ravens all have in common?  They are all perennial winners – and they don’t spend like crazy in free agency.

Now what do the Dolphins, Redskins, and Raiders have in common.  They tend to lose more than win, and none have made a deep run in the playoffs in decades.  Oh yea, and they all spend top dollar in free agency.

Granted the first group has franchise quarterbacks associated with them, while the second does not.  The Browns currently are in the second group in terms of not possessing a great signal caller. Therefore, I am content in the team not throwing away gobs of cash at guys who are very expensive and will only make the team marginally better.  Until they get their guy under center, the team has little to no shot at success.  So why throw away money at other spots, when they can get cheaper players of relatively equal value?

Conclusion:  This microwave society is getting out of hand – everyone wants the Browns to get the best guys in the league (who are available) and now.  I thought last year’s free agency was excellent – two viable starters were acquired on defense and played well, and I anticipate those types of signings to occur again in 2015.

As far as losing free agents Brian Hoyer, Buster Skrine, Ahtyba Rubin, and possibly Jabaal Sheard and Jordan Cameron – the front office simply did not value them high enough to lock them up long-term. Farmer believes each is not the caliber of athlete as are Joe Haden and Joe Thomas.  Could the team be wrong?  Of course, but I would like to see some youth brought in during the draft – players with upside who can help the Browns for many years.  As far as free agency goes, remember the quote a friend named Aaron once said; “R-E-L-A-X”.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Part II – A Review of 2014 – Cleveland Browns

Part II – A Review of 2014 – Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns – 2014 Season in Review – Part II

Now that the team was largely assembled, it was time for the group to finally hit the field. At this point, many national pundits felt the Browns would win just a handful of games and be a large disappointment. However, with the recent draft – they would be the center of the NFL during the summer months.

Training Camp: You could not turn on any television from the months of June or July and miss coverage of the Cleveland Browns. The commentators focused primarily on the duo of quarterbacks – the hometown guy in Brian Hoyer and the rookie icon Johnny Manziel. Who looked better? Who would start the season? Both players’ actions were dissected and discussed – even the press conferences were scrutinized heavily. While it was entertaining to finally get recognition nationally, many knew it was no guarantee of future success.

2014 Regular Season: It all started in Pittsburgh, where the Browns fell behind three touchdowns to their rival in the first half. The season felt to be over already, but Brian Hoyer led a furious comeback, only to fall short. It was disappointing to say the least, but it gave many fans and players alike confidence that the Browns can hang with the best of them.

The next three contests came down to the last play of the game, two of which the orange and brown came out ahead. Hoyer led a game-winning drive, which ended on a Billy Cundiff field goal to beat the Saints. After leading much of the contest, Joe Flacco hit Steve Smith over Joe Haden, and a Justin Tucker kick sent the Browns to a 1-2 record. Another great comeback at Nashville culminated on a Travis Benjamin touchdown, and magically the Browns beat the Titans by a point to get back to an even record.

Then came the high point of the season, where the orange and brown collected five wins in six matchups. They dominated the Steelers at home, and Brian Hoyer led a 31-10 rout. Inexplicably, the team faltered at Jacksonville and gave the Jaguars their first win of the season. Unfortunately, this was a sign for things to come – not playing well against a physical defense.

Following this was the Browns’ three-game winning streak against the Raiders and Buccaneers at home and versus the Bengals at Cincinnati. The two victories at First Energy Stadium were a bit closer than expected, and the Browns were far from dominant against the lesser completion – but nonetheless they left the field as winners. For the second consecutive year, the Thursday night battle was the highlight of the year. The Browns trounced the Bengals 24-3 and took control of first place in the division a few days later. It was a great feeling, but things unraveled quickly thereafter.

A physical beat down by J.J. Watt and the Texans really hurt the psyche of the Cleveland Browns. Hoyer tossed a club-record thirty incompletions and was hit in the backfield repeatedly. A week later, the quarterback tossed three interceptions but managed to narrowly escape the Falcons – after directing another game-winning drive capped by a Cundiff field goal. This would be the final victory of the 2014 season for the team.

The Bills and Colts would defeat the Browns in successive weeks – and the play of the signal caller continued to worsen. The defense did their best to humiliate Andrew Luck, but the opponent was able to guide a game-winning score late and leave with a win. Following four underwhelming efforts, coach Pettine decided to turn to the rookie at quarterback.

Johnny Manziel was an embarrassment in his two starts; he did not find the end zone, had multiple turnovers, and inspired zero confidence that he can be a competent NFL quarterback. After an injury in the second quarter in Carolina, veteran Brian Hoyer was re-inserted into the lineup. There, he tossed the team’s only touchdown – but the Browns still fell to the Panthers.

Over the next few days, both quarterbacks were injured and unable to play in the final matchup of the campaign. Rookie Connor Shaw started the final game in Baltimore. This included a couple of decent throws, some turnovers, and another loss. The season was over and the situation at quarterback appeared to still be up in the air.

Conclusion: It ended on a sour note, but I still take away a few positives of this season. They won some games I did not expect, finished with a much better record, and have a more talented roster overall. Do they have work to do in the next couple of months? You better believe it – but the Browns are a lot closer to where they want to be than they were in January 2014.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 11, 2015 in NFL Season, Offseason, Training Camp

 

Tags: , , , , ,

What an Embarrassment by the Browns

What an Embarrassment by the Browns

Review of Browns vs. Texans – Game #10

I believe this one falls into the “same ol’ Browns” category, have a huge, winnable game at home – only to lay a giant egg. If it were not for a questionable personal foul on J.J. Watt, this contest would have been a shutout. Pretty much every aspect was pitiful for the Browns, and an embarrassment from their recent performance. Should Browns fans have been surprised? Not entirely, but let’s review the horrible outcome…

Offense: It’s a good thing that the Browns didn’t sign a wide out named broad side of a barn, because Brian Hoyer would have not been able to hit him. The quarterback easily had his worst game of the season, completing only twenty of his fifty tosses including an interception. Several throws were nowhere near an intended target. It was rather disappointing for the home crowd, and I expect the veteran to play better – but the calls for Manziel were deafening.

The fumble by Isaiah Crowell was the play of the game for the visitors. Tied at seven, the Browns were in the red zone ready to take the lead. The turnover by the home team led to a score by the guests, who never looked back. The unit compiled just fifty-eight yards on the ground, but veteran Ben Tate had only two carries for negative nine yards (not a misprint).   The run game must get better if the team wants a shot at the playoffs.

Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel put up respectable numbers on a combined twenty-six targets. Hauling in a total of eleven grabs for 189 yards and a score is not terrible, but when the quarterback is throwing it fifty times – better production is expected. Both targets and Miles Austin had some drops, something unaccustomed to this unit. I hope they do not have issues in the cold weather, or this could be a rough remaining six contests.

As expected, the guys upfront struggled in all facets of blocking. J.J. Watt dictated the play calling, and Mitchell Schwartz had trouble blocking the defensive end. The result was a pair of sacks allowed and an ineffective running attack. The offensive line in this contest beyond disappointed me – they took a giant step back from last Thursday. We shall see what goes down next week, but this was a pathetic performance.

Defense: No Phil Taylor, no Armonty Bryant, and no John Hughes – and it showed. The Browns allowed some dude named Blue to run for 156 yards on thirty-six carries. They were lucky Arian Foster did not play, or he could have eclipsed 200 yards on the ground. I believe the attrition has finally caught up to this part of the team. The Browns have been getting by all year long, and they will struggle from here on out with all these injuries.

The injury to veteran Karlos Dansby was a killer for the linebacking corps. They had issues covering and stopping the opponent running the football, after the veteran left the contest. I really like Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson but am not sure they are ready to both play full-time. Barkevious Mingo was surprisingly the best outside linebacker (statistically) for the Browns. He had seven stops and was there on a few big plays. Paul Kruger nearly had an interception, but that was the story for the defense – just close enough but could not make the big play.

Where was the secondary? Joe Haden and Buster Skrine made Andre Johnson look like he was 23 years old again – providing cushion and room to easily catch Ryan Mallet’s passes. I was embarrassed to see the Tom Brady backup look good in this contest, and the secondary did not do anything to make it hard on him. All goodwill that was give to this group has now been taken away. Back to the drawing board, before they play an actual good quarterback in Matt Ryan next week.

Special Teams: A missed thirty-eight yarder and a near fumble in a kickoff return was the story for the Browns’ special teams. They did nothing to stand out, and I hope they can get much better. The unit has a giant task next week, but this game was a head-dropper.

Coaching: For the first time all season, I was surprised the Browns strayed from the running game. They put the ball in Brian Hoyer’s hands, and it failed them miserably. Could they have won the game by sticking to the run? I doubt it, but would have liked their chances a bit more. It was the most disappointing game by the Browns since the Jaguars clunker – and proof they are far from a good team.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 16, 2014 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Peeking into the Browns vs. Texans – Game #10

Peeking into the Browns vs. Texans – Game #10

Game #10 Preview – Browns vs. Texans 

Following an emotional victory on national television, and a bit more rest, the Browns take on a Texans squad who is looking for an upset. As with all NFL games, this will be far from an easy victory for the Browns, but if they can play team football (performing well in all three phases) then the sky is the limit. Let’s delve more into this key matchup for the orange and brown.

Offense: With all the talk of Brian Hoyer not finding the end zone in the most recent victory, anticipate Kyle Shanahan to dial up passing plays in the red zone. The quarterback should toss for a couple scores in this contest – to a tight end and a wide receiver. An important part of this week’s game plan is to avoid a horrendous decision or injury. J.J. Watt will be in the backfield a few times, but I can guarantee that the quarterback will avoid tossing a dumb interception or being on the receiving end of a bone-crushing hit.

Who will take the carries for the Browns’ offense? Will Terrance West be the workhorse from here on out? Some of those questions may be answered on Sunday – but I have a hunch that the pair of rookies will have multiple attempts in the backfield. The running game has been improving slowly and steadily since the Mack injury. Sunday is a great opportunity to keep it going and flex their muscles on their opponents. That includes salting away a contest late, when the team has the lead.

With the return of Jordan Cameron and Andrew Hawkins – the offense will likely test their opponent’s limits downfield. Additionally, the role of Miles Austin cannot be undersold. The veteran has caught several huge tosses on third downs, and moved the chains as a result. This receiving unit is far from flashy, but they and Hoyer are getting it done. The return of Josh Gordon next week should give defenses another worry – but for now Hawkins, Gabriel, and Benjamin will have to continue to do their jobs well against the Texans.

I’d like to believe the five guys upfront for the Browns would continue to improve over time. Last week, they dominated the line of scrimmage but this week features a very tough task. In addition to Watt, Whitney Mercilius has been great at stopping the run and making tackles. The Browns’ will have their hands full – but I know they can get it done. Besides getting better overall, what I would like from Nick McDonald is to eliminate the one “blowup” play. This is when a defender drives the center back and takes down Hoyer in the backfield. Cleaning this up is huge for the line.

Defense: To steal a cliché phrase in the NFL – the defensive front of the Browns’ should pin their ears back and force pressure upon Ryan Mallett. Desmond Bryant is coming off of a breakout performance (with a pair of sacks), while Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are pushing back the point of attack. Worst-case scenario, assuming they’re performing their jobs, is that the guys behind him take down whoever has the ball for the Texans – behind the line of scrimmage.   As far as defending the run goes, Arian Foster is not playing the way he has several years ago – but should still be keyed upon on most plays.

It would be great if Barkevious Mingo could join the party that Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard are already at. This refers to getting sacks and making offensive linemen nervous when seeing them on the outside. Something’s got to click for the LSU standout, and Sunday would be an excellent opportunity for him to finally prove his worth. Both Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey saw some snaps at inside linebacker opposite Karlos Dansby. I’ve enjoyed seeing them making plays over the course of the season – be it against the run or pass. I envision one of these guys make a huge one again on Sunday.

The Browns’ secondary is finally coming around – almost every guy is doing his part for this defense. Once Justin Gilbert determines his role better, look out. Buster Skrine and Tashaun Gipson have been picking off tosses, while Joe Haden and Donte Whitner have been excellent in defending the run. K’Waun Williams continues to be the wild card for the unit. Facing a guy like Mallett (who has not started a game in the NFL), I would figure the secondary can steal two passes or more – it is just a matter of who will do it.

Special Teams: Should Browns’ fans expect only fair catches from here on out? Perhaps the elements could dictate that, but it’s becoming evident that Jim Leonhard is the only guy the coaching staff trusts right now. I wouldn’t mind that during the extra few days, the staff had a tryout for other returners but time will tell. Not a whole lot to say about other special team units – they have been reliable and consistent. I do not see why that should not continue.

Coaching: The visiting team will likely utilize a more conservative game plan with their new quarterback. Thus the run defense must be focused on by Pettine and O’Neil – taking that away from their opponent is critical. Offensively, it should be more ground and pound to set up deeper heaves.

Prediction (My Record: 6 – 3): I like the Browns to come out strong, falter a bit, but regain the lead and hold on against the Texans. The running game ices a huge win, and the Browns go 7 – 3 following a 27 – 20 victory.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2014 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2014 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 30, 2014 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sneakin’ an Early Peek – Raiders @ Browns

Sneakin’ an Early Peek – Raiders @ Browns

Previewing Game #7 – Raiders @ Browns

What better way for the Browns to get over last week’s dismal performance?  The answer is to go out there and play exceptionally against the Oakland Raiders.  They have their only late afternoon
contest of the season, so hopefully the team’s body clocks are not out of synch.  Win or lose, however, that will not be an acceptable excuse for the fan base.  They expect the Browns to get back on track and dominate the rookie-led franchise with an interim coach.  Let’s look deeper into this matchup.

Offense:  It was one of those days last week in Jacksonville.  Nothing went right for the Cleveland offense and most of the issues were due to the ineptitude of Brian Hoyer.  Will this type of output continue the rest of the 2014 campaign?  That is unlikely, and he should be completing the same types of throws he was just two weeks earlier against the Steelers.  A fumble and an interception were definitely out of character, but Hoyer will succeed in protecting the ball in this contest.  I also expect to see him to complete two touchdown passes, which isn’t much, but it positive momentum for the veteran.

Where does the running game go from here?  Will they continue go with three runners, the way they did last week (which was unsuccessful)?  I foresee a steady dose of Ben Tate primarily between the tackles, and several outside runs for Isaiah Crowell.  That has been the formula for proven efficiency and yardage for this offense.  Even if they have issues running early, I want to see them sticking to the run.  The only way play action passing can work is with the threat of a run; that was non-existent last week and thus they had troubles passing as well.

Andrew Hawkins came back with a fury of a game last week, but it was all for naught.  I loved seeing him record over 100 yards receiving, including a haul of sixty-five yards.  Hopefully he does it again as a part of a victory – he continues to show he can make all sorts of different plays.  Is Jordan Cameron’s injured shoulder still lingering?  Were the Jaguars scheming to take him out of the Browns’ game plan?  Whatever the reason, the tight end is not getting involved in contests.  Like Hawkins’ last outing, I would enjoy seeing an outburst of yards and scores by the free agent to-be this offseason.

Alex Mack is not walking through that door folks (at least as a healthy player).  The offensive line was horrendous last matchup, and Paul McQuistan and John Greco underwhelmed in their first full game starting in new positions.  It might be time to see whether Nick McDonald is ready to play center and slide Greco back to guard; the unit cannot keep getting stuffed up the middle.  My eyes will be focused on this group during the first offensive drive – it may be telling to see whether they can fuel a solid win or if it’s going to be another long day.

Defense:  Despite all the injuries, there is zero excuse (that is reasonable) to explain the Browns’ run defense.  They are still very porous and are letting opponents (both larger and smaller backs)
breeze through open holes.  Will Ahtyba Rubin and/or Billy Winn finally get back on the field this week?  I desperately hope so, as those veterans might be the difference between respectable and despicable.  Garnering an early lead will limit opposing running attempts as well, as Tony Sparano would be forced to utilize the pass to try to catch up.

The three outside linebackers were nowhere to be found – Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, and Jabaal Sheard had a combined six stops and zero impactful plays.  The defense can get by if other athletes step up in their absence, but having little to no outside pressure has been
killing the Browns.  On the flip side, Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby tallied fifteen tackles, two sacks, and a pair of hits on Blake Bortles.  This week, the coaching staff must figure out a way to have the outside linebackers play more like the guys on the inside.  The linebackers have the potential to become a dominant unit, but it all has to come together (which is very easy to be said).

Right place, right time continues to be the motto for Tashaun Gipson. I would not be surprised to see him collect another interception this contest.  Buster Skrine has been inconsistent most of this year but I have confidence he can be solid against a James Jones or Denarius Moore.  Will Joe Haden be invisible once again?  Teams might think twice to pick on him, as the veteran is recovering well from his hip injury.  I hope K’Waun Williams returns this week as his play had added another dimension to this secondary.  The bottom line is, they must force rookie Derek Carr into mistakes – and more importantly capitalize on those with touchdowns.

Special Teams:  That’s now two returners who have mishandled punts for the Browns.  Will they use Jim Leonhard more in this role?  Should they go back to Travis Benjamin?  Chris Tabor’s only huge issue is this part of the game, but it is glaring.  The team is not good enough to overcome large mistakes like the one that occurred last week.

Coaching:  It seems like Mike Pettine has a very aggressive coaching style, some times to his detriment.  I’m always for attempting touchdowns over field goals but sometimes he has to read the situation better.  He’s got to get some of these tough decisions right – I know he has all the confidence in the world in this offense, but if they don’t execute it comes back to Pettine.

Prediction (My Record: 4-2):  Last week’s game was garbage, so let’s toss it out and forget about it.  I think the Browns play the way they should have in Jacksonville and win a game by a decent margin at home. They finish out ahead of the visitors by the score of 24 – 16.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 23, 2014 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , ,