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Officially the Worst – The Cleveland Browns

Officially the Worst – The Cleveland Browns

Finishing Dead Last

Congratulations Cleveland Browns, you did it!  They completed their horrific campaign not only ending with the worst record in all of the NFL (first time since 1999 in doing that), but also ending with the worst regular season record in franchise history.  It wasn’t easy, but the Browns managed to lose a contest that was easily winnable.  Let’s look at a few reasons why the Browns blew it.

Fumblerooski in the Fourth

Driving for the go ahead score in this contest (tied game with just over one minute to play), the Browns gave the ball to Isaiah Crowell inside the five yard line.  The running back coughed it up and the Steelers avoided a defeat.  It’s hard to fault the play call, as Crowell had a long gainer earlier in the contest and was doing exceptionally all game.  Nonetheless, the back put the ball on the ground and a game winning field goal never materialized.

First and Goal

In overtime, the Browns reached the two yard line following a facemask penalty on a pass play to Corey Coleman.  Instead of utilizing their workhorse to run for two yards (and win the game), the offense threw three passes and did not score a touchdown.  The end result was a missed block by Terrelle Pryor, a huge loss, and a field goal.  We all know what happened when the Steelers got the ball in overtime.

One Yard Away

Briean Boddy-Calhoun had a tough day in the cornerback position.  The rookie got torched a few times in this game (both in regulation and in overtime), but what hurt most was his costly mistake.  Boddy-Calhoun intercepted Landry Jones and retuned the football over sixty yards and was running it in for a touchdown.  Instead of getting tackled at the one yard line, the cornerback stretched the ball out for a touchdown – only to fumble it back to the opponent.  Instead of having a fourteen point lead, the Steelers would take advantage of the gift and score the game-tying touchdown.

Conclusion:  I have never been happier for a Browns season to conclude.  I cannot count how many times they got in their own way to avoid any sort of success.  At least they defeated one squad to avoid a winless season, but outside of that it was awful and embarrassing.  I hope the front office can make the right decisions and drastically improve over the next few months.

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Posted by on January 1, 2017 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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What to Make of This One?

What to Make of This One?

Browns Fall to Giants on Sunday

In an ending that surprised no one, the Cleveland Browns dropped their twelfth contest of the season handily to the New York Giants.  The offense was stagnant and the defense could not force the critical turnover for most of the contest.  So, was it all bad for the orange and brown?  Or are there any sort of bright spots for this franchise which is now sitting at 0 – 12.

Hue Recognizing Tendencies

The Browns have not been running the football in contests; at least the coach is understanding this and is trying to incorporate this on Sunday.  Yes, the team only tried twenty-one attempts, but that is up from the past few contests.  The issue is that the backs are getting three yards then losing two – that type of inconsistency will kill an offense.  I will put the blame more on the guys upfront, but Crowell was not doing them any favors either.  The bottom line is that watching the Browns try to run is frustrating.

Need more Wide Outs

Terrelle Pryor was targeted early and often, and produced 131 yards on six grabs (via twelve passes intended for the receiver).  This was a solid outing for the veteran, but the Browns are not having anyone else step up to move the football down the field.  Corey Coleman made one decent play; the same could be said for Gary Barnidge.  I really hope this team re-signs Pryor and drafts another wide receiver early in next spring’s draft.  The NFL is all about offensive weapons and the Browns are in desperate need of them.

Defense Starting Up?

The Browns’ defense actually forced a turnover in this contest.  Meanwhile, the defenders were winning at the point of attack and were pushing back Rashad Jennings from time to time.  Granted, they are not one of the best defenses in the league – however I am finally seeing some sort of improvement (there was ample room to grow).  It will be interested to see if this trend will continue or if this was just a decent outing in a season filled will bad defense.

Conclusion:  The Cleveland Browns are now headed to their bye week, which is much needed for both the team as well as the fans.  My faith and enthusiasm might be at an all-time low, as nothing appears to be going right for this franchise.  At least the year is almost over and another chance to improve looms large.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Blueprint for that First Win

Blueprint for that First Win

What’s it Going to Take to Finally Win?

Well, it does not get much easier for the Browns as they head east to play on Thursday night against the Ravens.  They are not expected to win, but that does not mean that an upset is impossible.  It will not be an easy contest, but if a few things break their way – who knows?  Let’s take a deeper look into what it will take:

#1 – Do You Job

This refers on the defense as a whole.  Sometimes they are keen on stopping the run, while at other times the unit is selling out to get to the quarterback.  Meanwhile, the opposing offense is gashing the Browns via the opposite way of moving the football.  The defense has got to get out of that mindset and refrain from beating itself.  Do I think they can be an excellent defense in this league?  No but perhaps they can be somewhat respectable for one night – which might be enough to win this matchup.

#2 – Be Smart, Play Smart

The Browns cannot afford to make mental mistakes and still anticipate a victory.  Whether it is critical penalties or simply not executing is costing this team severely.  The special teams are being penalized nearly every play, and the Browns’ offense is starting out in a hole.  The tables must be turned this week and the Browns must be the franchise putting their opponent in difficult positions.

#3 – Work in the Rookie

Corey Coleman had his only productive contest of the season last time they faced the Ravens.  He then hurt himself and is still working his way back into the swing of things.  I would like to see him featured in this offense, to both see if he can handle the workload and to also watch Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge find openings in the defense.  A touchdown (or two, or more) by Coleman surely wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Browns’ offense.

#4 – Steal the Ball

I certainly do not see this one happening, but if the Browns can actually force turnovers by the Ravens’ offense – they will have a good shot at winning.  Not being at the right place at the right time would certainly not be a good recipe for the defense, but maybe Jamie Collins or Briean Boddy-Calhoun can swing the momentum by making a play for this defense.

Conclusion:  I will once again pick against the Browns in this contest, but feel they might not get blown out this time.  They are only a few players away from being decent – but that is not helping with the win-loss record.  I’m hoping for a miracle but we will find out shortly.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Looking Back at Another Defeat

Looking Back at Another Defeat

The Browns Lost to Dallas – What Does it Mean?

This contest between the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys was a brutal one (which was to be expected).  The home squad got physically dominated at the point of attack all game long.  The orange and brown were in no way competitive in this matchup, outside of two respectable drives.  Let’s delve a little bit further into the takeaways.

#1 – Another Strike for Erving

Outside of not playing too terrifically well, there is not a whole lot that can be said about second year veteran Cameron Erving.  He got ejected during the first offensive drive in this contest – surely that will not help his standing on the team with coach Jackson (who does not take kindly to those sort of actions).  I am not sure where he goes from here, but unless he performs magnificently the rest of the campaign – the Browns might be shipping him out of town next spring.

#2 – Awful Defense

I understand that Ray Horton’s defense got walled off and could not stop Ezekiel Elliot – as that appears to be the norm against the rookie of the year candidate.  However, witnessing defenders lining offsides on multiple occasions is unacceptable in the NFL.  I don’t have a reasonable excuse as to why these issues are present, but they still remain.  It would be nice if they can somewhat turn it around, but I do not see that happening any time soon.

#3 – What’s so Special?

I’m pretty sure the Browns committed a penalty on each and every return in this contest.  With an offense that is vertically challenged, they can ill afford to start deep in their own territory for most of contests.  It should be easy to not block an opponent in the back or hold during a run back, however the home squad still fell into pitfalls.  Like the defense, this must be cleaned up as soon as possible – but I am realistic.

#4 – Leaning about Kessler

Right now, Cody Kessler is a better signal caller than Josh McCown; he is refraining from making the big mistakes during contests.  However, he is not finding his targets on deeper tosses – which was a knock against him coming out of college.  Kessler is staring to show signs that he might not be the franchise quarterback many had hoped.  I’m not ready to give up hope just yet, but a signal caller might be chosen by the team early in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Conclusion:  This was just another pathetic output by a downtrodden football team.  I’m not seeing the weekly improvement that coach Jackson has been mentioning; maybe they can put it all together in the near future.  Now, it’s time for a short week and a trip to Baltimore.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Lamenting this Loss for the Browns

Lamenting this Loss for the Browns

What I Learned from this Defeat: Cleveland Browns

I really thought the orange and brown would secure their first victory in the season this afternoon. It wasn’t meant to be and another clunker was the outcome for the Cleveland Browns. The team led early in this contest but they could not hold on and their furious rally came short. There are a few things I took from this game:

#1 – Second Half Adjustments

This point is rather simple, the Browns took a 20 – 7 lead into the second half and was beaten up pretty well in the second half. Matt Forte was running up and down the field with ease. Meanwhile, the Browns’ offense was stagnant (which is generous to say) after intermission. They scored a meaningless touchdown late but that was not enough to help with this comeback. I am scratching my head about this one, as this comes down to coaching – I would have thought that the Browns were better than this.

#2 – Too Young for Pressure

Every single time the Jets were facing a third down and a sizable amount to gain, Ryan Fitzpatrick dropped back and had time to complete a pass long enough to move the chains. Carl Nassib had three passes deflected, but other than him – no one was able to make it difficult on the veteran signal caller. The team desperately needs a guy who can knife through the defense and disrupt the opposing quarterback’s timing.

#3 – McCown’s Opportunity and Kessler 

I felt that Josh McCown would have gotten some kind of spark for this offense. The veteran signal caller has actually gotten the most from this unit, but he was the cause of this lethargic output that came out in the second half. I’m ready to move on to Cody Kessler, once the rookie clears the concussion protocol. Perhaps he will be able to actually win a game for this franchise. 

#4 – No Heart or Passion

I did not see any fiery emotions or excitement coming from this team. Maybe it is their record or the fact that about half of the stadium is full, but the Browns look like a defeated bunch. I honestly don’t know how they will rally to get their first win of the season – they are clearly fighting an uphill battle.

Conclusion: Halfway through the season and the Browns still have not produced a victory. I am very sad and disappointed in this bunch, but I did not have high hopes to begin with. Hopefully they can get on the winning track next week, but I would not expect that to occur.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Where Have I Seen This Before?

Where Have I Seen This Before?

Browns Blownout Again by New England

There was an awful outing by the offense and defense, and another quarterback got injured.  Just another Sunday for the Cleveland Browns, as they now have an 0 – 5 record and look less than excellent.  Let’s look more into what came about from this loss.

#1 – Kessler Can Play

Prior to his injury, quarterback Cody Kessler displayed signs that he can be a serviceable signal caller in the NFL.  He made smart decisions and tossed a touchdown pass in the first quarter.  We’ll see how he plays once he returns to this lineup, but I remain confident in the rookie up to this point.

 #2 – Secondary Needs Work

This is an obvious statement, as the Browns could not stop any receiving option for the away squad.  It did not matter who was in coverage, the home team allowed Tom Brady to play pitch and catch down the field.  They must address this part of the roster in the offseason – until that happens, we will witness the same awful play.

#3 – Can’t Match Opponent’s Blueprint

It was widely known that the Patriots were going to game plan against the Browns by taking away the Browns’ running attack.  Did Cleveland figure out a way to counter this?  No, and the running offense was very lethargic when the game was still in doubt.  A sign of good teams is to find ways to overcome when opponents limit them; it is apparent that the Browns are not there yet.

#4 – Tight End Troubles

The terror of not being able opposing tight ends continued, as Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett made the Browns look silly.  Bennett had three touchdowns – and they all seemed to come with ease.  Meanwhile, Gronkowski had a reception early in game and the Browns looked like children trying to tackle a grown man.  It’s great that this game finally ended for the Browns.

Conclusion:  I fully expected a pummeling by the Patriots and that was exactly the case at First Energy Stadium.  Outside of a few nice plays made by Terrelle Pryor, there was little to no positives for the orange and brown.  Hopefully they can come back next week and try to get a victory on the road.  But until that happens, the struggles continue.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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