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Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Cleveland Browns:  What is Going on Prior to their Next Game

Last contest was not pretty, but it was a victory for the Browns nonetheless.  Having said that, in addition to some solid plays made by the team – the first half of the contest was less than stellar.  Can this be blamed on poor play by one guy?  Certainly that is not the case, but a handful of guys should be concerned heading into next Monday’s game against the Giants.

Cam’s Gotta Go

Former first round draft pick Cameron Erving simply is not cutting it; no matter which position he is playing on the offensive line – the athlete has been largely underwhelming.  Committing Penalties, allowing defenders to make plays, and not blocking effectively are three areas of Erving’s game that are alarming and will be the reason why he does not make the 2017 roster.  The sooner, the better (in my opinion) would be a good time to let the guy go and provide an opportunity for another youngster along the line.

Wideouts are a Problem

Kenny Britt could not haul in a touchdown grab on three occasions in the first half of last week.  In addition to that, none of the guys were able to get a reasonable amount of separation from the Saints’ defenders.  I was glad to see Ricardo Louis and company get past the sticks and secure a first down grab on a few occasions, but my hopes are not tremendously high for this group.  I hope that Corey Coleman can turn this group around – but they are currently miles from a solid bunch.  The NFL requires more than chain movers.

Kizer Conundrum

It was just one game, but I have all the faith in the world that rookie DeShone Kizer is the best signal caller on the squad.  I still expect that Brock Osweiler (as Kizer’s inexperience will be the reason) will begin the regular season under center – but how long is the huge question.  The first four regular season contests are far from easy, so the change at quarterback to the rookie could still come rather early.  Ideally, Kizer will dominate the remainder of training camp to force Hue Jackson into giving him the nod on September 10th.  As it stands, Jackson has a tough decision on his hands though.

Sharpening that Saw

I was rather unimpressed with the starting defense last Thursday; Garrett Grayson and Chase Daniels are two quarterbacks who should not have any success against your franchise.  Yet that was the case, and reserve running backs played solidly as well against the Browns.  Gregg Williams has got to wake this sleeping giant of a defensive unit (I will give him credit for building the start of a foundation for this), but so far a handful of good plays is all we have seen.  Hopefully they can improve every week as a whole.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Guys to Keep an Eye on Next Month

Well, the Cleveland Browns are not full of Joe Thomases and Joel Bitionios – therefore several positions are up for grabs as the team gets back on the field in Berea in July.  Outside of the obvious (and annual) quarterback derby that has already been underway, there are a few key spots where one guy who can separate himself from the rest of the pack.  Let’s look further into those position groups.

Right Tackle

It appears that Shon Coleman will have the first crack at the starting lineup for the orange and brown.  He is big, mean, and has a solid track record in college; however the second-year athlete has yet to prove he can make it work (consistently) in the NFL.  I have faith that coach Bob Wylie will work his “magic” (pun intended) with the former Auburn star.  Meanwhile Spencer Drango and Cameron Erving are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I have mixed feelings about Erving, who has been rather underwhelming since joining the team.  Drango had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but getting another training camp under his belt should help his progress.

Tight End

The release of veteran Gary Barnidge opens the door completely for a guy or two to secure the starting position.  The frontrunners are rookie David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who have been impressing the coaching staff up to this point.  Both are receiving threats but could use some work attempting to develop as a run blocker.  Randall Telfair and maybe a wildcard could earn some playing time; however, I would be surprised if the aforementioned duo does not get the lion’s share of snaps.  The question might be, can DeValve hold off the first round rookie?

Wide Receiver

Under the assumption that Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt remain healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Browns will have their top two wide out options.  That still leaves another athlete or two who the team will be counting on to haul in passes for the franchise.  Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Rannell Hall are three options to fill a void that was missing in 2016.  Like some of the tight ends, a young athlete (Louis) has been garnering solid reviews from his supervisors.  However, I am intrigued to see how Hall bounces back from a promising 2016 exhibition season prior to missing the entire year due to a broken leg.

Conclusion:  There is a long way to go until the regular season kicks off in just over two months.  However, the roster must be settled prior to that point in time.  This would include several competitions at position groups, hopefully with the best man winning the gig.  I would like to believe that these include guys who can play in the NFL and not roles just needing to be filled.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Browns @ Pittsburgh – Game #16

Browns @ Pittsburgh – Game #16

The Last Game of the Season – Cleveland Browns

Well, the Browns finally broke though and pulled out a win last week; thankfully there will not be a parade to celebrate losing.  Their game at Pittsburgh marks the last contest this campaign but not one where the team in orange and brown is expected to win.   Nonetheless, let’s review a few key aspects of this matchup.

Little to Gain

Once again, the Steelers have already clinched a playoff berth and are locked in their spot as a divisional winner.  Thus, there is not a ton to play for in this matchup (as they cannot obtain a first round bye) – at least on their end.  I would expect Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell (to name a few) to participate in this matchup but not for the entire contest.  Will their backups be able to overtake the Browns’ starters?  Outside of Landry Jones – I would not be surprised to see other reserves still making plays.

Any Sort of Confidence?

The Browns are coming off a victory; something that was over a year in the making.  That said, will the taste of a win carry over into this contest?  It is unlikely as they are facing a sound football team; however the Browns have not been in this spot under Hue Jackson.  I am interested to see how the athletes respond and come out on Sunday.  I feel this could be a close contest at Heinz Field.

Kessler Under Center

The concussion of Robert Griffin in last week’s contest paved the way for Cody Kessler to return to the lineup.  The rookie will more than likely get the nod in this contest.  In my estimation, he is the only signal caller on the roster who will be returning onto the 2017 squad.  To what capacity might be determined by how he fares in this game.  I expect Cody to revert back to his conservative style, in order to limit his potential mistakes.  Perhaps he can come out throwing and hitting his targets in stride.

Conclusion:  For the first time all season, the Browns were winners while I predicted them to lose.  I would love for a repeat scenario on Sunday, but still expect the black and yellow to propel to victory.  They appear to be an organization that wants to have positive momentum for the playoffs.  Meanwhile, the Browns’ draft (and free agency) talk will continue to heat up in the coming months.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Three Losses Away – The Browns Did Not Win Today

Three Losses Away – The Browns Did Not Win Today

Browns Almost Win Again 

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

Can We See Some Improvement (at Center)?

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

How About a Pass Rusher?

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

Rust is Obvious

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

Still Can’t Stop the Run 

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

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

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

 

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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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Browns Game #12 Preview – Kinda Need a Win

Browns Game #12 Preview – Kinda Need a Win

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

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

Offense:

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

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

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

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

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

Defense:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Bears – A Glimpse into Preseason Game #4

Browns @ Bears – A Glimpse into Preseason Game #4

Looking Ahead to Browns @ Bears – Preseason Game #4 

Well, the last preseason game is finally upon us. A rather boring contest, but it is key for many guys fighting for their jobs. The analysis will be much more difficult as most of the key starters will either be on the sidelines or in for a few series. Nonetheless, let’s delve into this matchup. 

Offense: 

Quarterback – It’s going to be the Thaddeus Lewis show on Thursday night. The third-year pro is not expected to make this roster but with McCown resting and Johnny Manziel sitting out, the team has to turn to their third string signal caller. If he does not make this final roster – hopefully he can play well enough to get a call from another NFL club. I liked his play last week, so that’s a good start.

Running Backs – All I want from this unit in this matchup is to avoid injuries. I would anticipate that West, Crowell, and possibly Johnson see a little bit of time on the field – but Timothy Flanders and Jalen Parmalee will likely see some touches against the Bears. Shaun Draughn would normally get an opportunity – but his hand injury will prevent him from carrying the football. 

Wide Receivers – Will Terrelle Pryor make the Cleveland Browns regular season roster? This game might be the answer to this question, as it will be the only exhibition contest for the veteran. I want to see him on this squad, but if he cannot prove himself – I understand him not making the cut. I want to see what rookie Vincent Mayle can do; he has had drop issues, but his size and speed give him an opportunity to secure his spot with the club.

Tight Ends – Seeing E.J. Bibbs in extended time is the primary thing I look forward to from the team’s offense in this matchup. The undrafted rookie has been shakin’ and bakin’ defenders after securing grabs this preseason. I expect to see him make the final squad, but he first must prove that he belongs.

Offensive Line – Outside of Cameron Erving, who appears to be reliable reserve offensive linemen? One would have thought that Michael Bowie was one of those guys, but he has been extremely disappointing thus far. Hopefully a guy or two can step up and show that they can come in relief this regular season (in a short stint, unlike last year).

Defense:

Defensive Line – Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, and Xavier Coops are just a few guys who will be evaluated heavily in this contest. The Browns are deep at this position group, and some difficult decisions will have to be made in the coming days. I want to see these athletes not only set the edge, but get a great push on the edge – forcing Jimmy Clausen to make a quick decision behind center. 

Linebackers – Who has the leg up in the battle between Tank Carder and Hayes Pullard? Thursday’s matchup might be a telling affair, as both are inside linebackers and special teamers. Hopefully one guy can make it easy for Ray Farmer and his final cuts. I want to see dominance from Nate Orchard when facing backup offensive linemen. The rookie is expected to excel, as he face better competition from guys in practice (on a daily basis).

Secondary – Here’s where it gets really interesting; as there are many jobs up for grabs. Guys like Justin Gilbert and Robert Nelson have either been hurt or ineffective this year. Will they make an impact in this contest, or play their way off the roster? I want to see K’Waun Williams get some playing time, as he is expected to see the field once the regular season gets underway (and has missed the past few contests). Ibraheim Campbell will be the primary strong safety – hopefully he can continue to grow in his rookie season. 

Special Teams: Pretty much the only thing that is left for this group is the final decision for the kicking duties. Honestly, I have no horse in this race – but as long as either Carey Spear or Travis Coons are accurate and consistent then I will be content.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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