Tag Archives: Buster Skrine

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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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”.

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


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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.

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Posted by on November 13, 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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