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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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Next Game: Browns @ Titans – Game #6 Preview

Next Game: Browns @ Titans – Game #6 Preview

A Glance into Game #6 – Browns @ Titans 

After another dismal performance, the Browns dust themselves off and travel south to Tennessee to face the Titans. Prior to the beginning of the regular season, I strongly considered this as a potential victory for the Browns. However the injuries are piling up and the team’s play has been less than inspiring. Let’s look into this matchup regardless.

Offense:

Quarterback – I got to be honest, I was going to wait to share my thoughts about this position after the team named their starter for this game. But does it really matter? The starter will probably get hurt and the backup might also go down with an injury. What a dismal season for Browns’ quarterbacks – they cannot do anything right.

Running Back – Isaiah Crowell was not effective when a team focused on stopping him (last game). Was the lack of yardage an aberration, or should fans not expect the runner to be extremely effective anymore. I envision a middle ground, where Crowell puts up decent yardage but is far from perfect. Hopefully Duke Johnson can find touches (and more importantly) yards in this game. Regardless of who is under center – they need a reliable running attack to help out the offense.

Wide Receiver – The Browns could really use the services of rookie Corey Coleman, as the franchise is still looking for another reliable target opposite Terrelle Pryor. Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis have had a few opportunities – but it will take time for them to hit their stride. Andrew Hawkins is making the most of his targets; perhaps he can usher a respectable game for the starting signal caller. However, I do not anticipate a great deal from this unit.

Tight End – Is Connor Hamlett a one-hit wonder, or could he be a fixture for this offense for years to come? Last week was a solid start, but he’s got a ways to go to be a consistent option. I do like the physical tools the youngster brings, but doing the little things will be extremely important (i.e. blocking, finding the soft spot in defenses, etc.) in his development. Gary Barnidge continues to haul in tosses for moderate gains; he is playing with a new signal caller every week but still helps out the Browns’ offense. I could possibly see a touchdown come from this duo. 

Offensive Line – How about the goal of this game is to not get a quarterback hurt? The line has allowed defenders to breeze through the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions. The Titans do not present a tremendous defensive front, but that does not mean the Browns will have an easy time upfront. Alvin Bailey was adequate after being re-inserted into this lineup; hopefully he will play with a chip on his shoulder after getting a second chance. I would like to see a clean pocket on drop backs and running lanes for Crowell and Johnson – but I have some reservations.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Danny Shelton continues to play pretty well in the middle. I understand that he is not filling the stat sheet in tackles and sacks; but he is disruptive against opposing running backs. The Titans bring a tremendous running attack (which includes their quarterback) in this game. This should be a great challenge for the guys upfront, and I believe they can hold their own. After missing a few games, Carl Nassib came back last contest. Despite not being extremely effective, I anticipate he will improve and make a handful of plays in this contest. 

Outside Linebacker – The duo of Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert were pretty much invisible in last week’s game. They did not put pressure on the quarterback nor did they enforce the edge on runs. I hope the pair of rookies play better, but these are some of the growing pains that accompany rookies. Marcus Mariota is very mobile, so both guys will have to keep their head on a swivel or the Browns could see large gains from the opponent. I do not expect a lot from this bunch so I hope I am surprised. 

Inside Linebacker – Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis must be very good to great in this contest, in order for the Browns to have a chance. They will see plenty of carries between the tackles, as well as crossing routes by pass catchers. I can count on both of these guys for solid play on a consistent basis, but I fear that one big play (or two) will occur when the inside linebackers are out of position. Defending tight ends has been a nightmare for the orange and brown, so if you have Delaine Walker on your Fantasy Football team you might want to start him.

Safety – The disappointment train continues to roll on at the safety positions. Did Jordan Poyer and Derrick Kindred even play last game? The ineffective duo has made a play here or there, but overall they have to improve. I am worried that the Titans will carve up the safeties in the passing game. The only saving grace is that Kindred might be useful in creeping up and stopping the opposing running game. 

Cornerback – Ah, the weakest of weak spots for the Cleveland Browns. I have no hope or faith that Joe Haden, Jamar Taylor, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun can slow down the trio of Tajae Sharpe, Andre Johnson, and Kendall Wright. The home team should collect three or four passing touchdowns in this contest and give Browns’ fans more headaches on Sunday. Any good plays by the cornerbacks would be greatly welcomed but should not be expected.

Special Teams: This part of the team was respectable last contest. If the Browns can force their opponent to punt on more of a regular basis, then perhaps they can have an advantage over their counterparts. After a brutal first game, Cody Parkey is coming into his own and is making kicks. The Browns could use a big play by their special teams, a la a long return or a forced turnover. 

Coaching: I mean, it’s hard to fault the coaching staff with this roster. Coach Jackson is still putting the team in the best spot to win – he can’t help it that his players keep on getting hurt. I would like to see Ray Horton do something to help out this secondary, but I do not know what can be done to actually see positive results. 

Prediction (My Record: 5 – 0): Another game and another loss is on the horizon. The Browns lose this one by the score of 31 – 17 and the team will suffer their sixth defeat of the 2016 campaign.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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What Came out from This Loss – Week Four Edition

What Came out from This Loss – Week Four Edition

Four Things I’ve Learned from the Browns

Another difficult loss was dealt to the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. They once again took the lead in the forth quarter and yet again came up shorthanded. I took several things away from this contest, but what were they exactly?

#1 – The Defense Needs Improvement 

Kirk Cousins carved up the secondary in the first quarter; it did not help that a pass rush was non-existent for the Browns. Strides have been made, but the team still has miles to go until they are a stout defense (which is where they want to go). The team will not fix it all in 2016, so it still remains frustrating to watch. 

#2 – The Offense Could Use Help

Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge are two solid receiving options, but the team needs to get another one or two to stabilize this offense. I have faith in Corey Coleman, but his return will not occur for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Ricardo Lewis continues to improve and could be a secret weapon. Like other areas of the team, they will be good (just not right now). 

#3 – Margin for Error Remains Small 

Leading late in the third quarter, the Browns cannot afford to turn the football over three times and still expect to win a game. That was what occurred and the outcome was a defeat by eleven. Being young and inexperienced lends itself to making mistakes and that was the case on Sunday. The Browns need to clean this up if they ever want to come out ahead on the scoreboard. 

#4 – Players Can Improve

This was a foreign concept to Hue Jackson’s predecessors – not all athletes will excel, but some are actually playing better. The goat of last week’s game (Cody Parkey) made some longer field goals, while Jamar Taylor is intercepting passes. Ricardo Lewis is starting to become a reliable weapon for this offense, and Cody Kessler tossed a bad throw late but is playing much better than I would expect.

Conclusion: At the end of the day it was another tough loss for the Cleveland Browns. They looked improved at times but still made you pull your hair out. Next week’s not looking any brighter, but let’s pull for that continued improvement.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Next Game vs. San Francisco

Browns Next Game vs. San Francisco

Another Game for the Browns – vs. the 49ers

Apathy is setting in; sadness appears to be a distant memory for Cleveland Browns’ fans.  People are over this franchise and many don’t care to see, hear, or know anything about the orange and brown (at least right now).  It looks like the players feel the same way – there’s no passion and they do not care how badly they are beaten. However, this game on Sunday looks like it’s the final winnable one in 2015.  Below is some analysis:

Offense:

Quarterback – Well now Johnny is back in the saddle; after sitting out the past two contests the party boy gets another shot at being the starting quarterback.  The 49ers stink just as much as the Browns do (well maybe a little more maybe a little less); so I would expect the second year athlete to have some success even with a depleted roster.  Johnny should toss a touchdown or two against a mediocre defense, but at least one turnover would not be surprising.  That said, the quarterback is expected to play well enough to get a win.

Running Back – I expect Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell to combine for about fifty yards on the ground in this contest – about status quo for this bunch.  Perhaps Crowell can bust a longer run or two, but I would not hold my breath.  Johnson should be used as a receiver, and I can see him moving the chains with the ball in his hands.  Johnny continues to improve and (on blind faith) the guys behind him should perform better as well.  The Browns have only a pair of rushing touchdowns this season; I am predicting number three on Sunday.

Wide Receiver – The top three targets for Manziel at the wide receiver position might be Terrelle Pryor, Dwayne Bowe, and Darius Jennings.  Everyone else on the roster is hurt for one reason or another – they could come back for this contest, but they will likely not be effective. Travis Benjamin is Manziel’s top target, so if he can return for this matchup it would be a huge bonus for the passing attack.  I am pulling for at least one receiving touchdown against the 49ers.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge is a solid athlete, but is only so good.  He cannot transform a passing unit by himself (as evidenced by last week’s contest).  I anticipate he will come away with a handful of grabs and move the ball on a few occasions.  A touchdown would be nice for the veteran, but I do not foresee this coming.

Offensive Line – Again, I know Cameron Erving is playing out of position – but his performance is downright embarrassing.  The guys upfront are getting pushed back and blown by on multiple occasions, which is killing this offense.  Manziel will likely be hurried all game long and will succumb to pressure leading to sacks.  This offensive line has underperformed so much I am feeling so many negative emotions – and am looking forward to next year already.

Defense:

Defensive Line – So it looks like former Browns’ running back Shaun Draughn will carry the load for the visiting squad.  Let’s review, a player not good enough to don the orange and brown faces his former team.  He’ll probably come away with at least 115 yards and will continue to make the Browns’ run defense look timid and pathetic.  Danny Shelton is trying his best and is looking to pushing the pile backwards.  However, when he does this a nearby hole opens up and allows the rusher to pick up yards in large chunks.  Maybe the unthinkable can happen and the front can actually stop an opposing runner; but we should all expect to see large rushing totals for the 49ers.

Linebacker – Can Chris Kirksey channel his anger and his aggression from last week into a solid performance?  I would love to see it – and am not ready to dismiss this.  Couple this with the fact that Karlos Dansby occasionally makes a huge play, and maybe the inside linebackers can actually help in this contest.  The issue continues to be the guys on the outside, as Paul Kruger can secure a sack once in a while – but everyone else is clueless when it comes to being a reliable NFL linebacker.  A mistake made by Gabbert leading to an accidental sack or two is ideal for the Browns’ defense.

Secondary – Even with Blaine Gabbert under center, the opposing quarterback should make the Browns’ secondary look foolish.  Two reasons for this are Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin – the veteran wide outs should find openings and make plays against Charles Gaines, Tramon Williams, and the rest of the Browns’ defenders.  Somehow they will force an interception, as they are playing against Blaine Gabbert.  Still the unit will be far from great in this contest.

Special Teams:  The field goal unit is now prone to blocks, after seeing this occur the past two weeks.  Knowing that this contest might come down to a field goal; I have little to no faith that the Browns can pull the game out late.  Andy Lee was less than stellar last week as well – everyone playing poorly around him has finally rubbed off on the veteran.  The 49ers should win this match up (by consolation).

Coaching:  If the coaches enter the contest with a similar offensive game plan to the one they had at Pittsburgh, then they actually might move the ball on a consistent basis.  It will come down to getting into the red zone (something that didn’t happen last week) and scoring touchdowns.  I don’t know about the defense anymore – maybe all-out blitz on every single play?  Could that be worse then what is currently going on?

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 4):  I struggle with this one, as the Browns have mailed it in and it appears that everyone will be fired not name Jimmy Haslam.  On the other hand, the Browns typically win a game that will kill their draft position (which is at #1 for the moment).  I am feeling a 20 – 17 final, with the victors being the 49ers.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Monday Night Misery – Browns Blow Another One

Monday Night Misery – Browns Blow Another One

Breaking Down Game #11 – Ravens @ Browns

A back and forth between battle two of the worst teams in the NFL ended with a special teams touchdown for the visitors. Once again the Browns stole a defeat from the jaws of victory on Monday Night Football. There are fortunately only five more of these guys left in the 2015 season, but let’s review the most recent one.

Offense: 

Quarterback – After a slow start, Josh McCown looked somewhat solid in this contest. His elusive touchdown was somewhat magical in the first half, however his injury late opened the door for Austin Davis. With the starter’s availability in doubt, it is sad that we might not see him continue to perform at a level higher than many have expected. 

Running Back – It was status quo for both running backs, with Duke Johnson leading the way with around fifty total yards. Isaiah Crowell had a mind-numbing total of just seven rushing yards. The team has scrapped the running of the football and rightly so; this part of the team has been embarrassing all year long.

Wide Receiver – Travis Benjamin caught a touchdown and several quick routes, in getting back to where he was earlier in the campaign. I was glad to see Brian Hartline also productive in this matchup. He only had seventy-four yards, but eight grabs were pleasantly surprising.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge was yet again the leading receiver for this football team with ninety-one. He made several nice receptions down the seam and galloped towards the end zone. I hope the Browns keep him for next year; he may not be the youngest guy on the team but someone to build around.

Offensive Line – Cameron Erving’s struggles continued in the primetime matchup. He struggled all night with the pass rush at his gap, and running lanes were hard to come by. Overall the guys upfront were extremely porous and Elvis Dumerville made Mitchell Schwartz appear slow and out of place as well. 

Defense: 

Defensive Line – I guess you could say the Browns’ run defense improved in this contest. They were not facing a difficult task, as Justin Forsett was out with an injury. However, when facing guys off of the street, they looked somewhat respectable. A feather in their cap, I suppose – we’ll see a real challenge next Sunday.

Linebacker – Outside of Karlos Dansby’s interception returned for a touchdown, once again the linebackers underperformed greatly. Chris Kirksey’s whiff in the first half allowed a touchdown, while the guys on the outside would occasionally bring pressure on passing downs. This position group looks to need work for the 2016 campaign.

Secondary – Tramon Williams had quite the up and down game; the veteran surrendered a long reception to castoff Chris Givens but also intercepted a Matt Schaub pass late. This would have been the turning point of the game, but we all know what happened afterward. Justin Gilbert started at cornerback in this game – he was not embarrassed but did not excel (again) either.

Special Teams: A returned punt and a blocked field goal both for touchdowns went against the Browns way. Other than that, thing were even. Unfortunately special teams lost this game, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. 

Coaching: Offensively, the play calling was conservative with Josh McCown under center – which was somewhat effective. This team is not as talented as many others, so they played to their strengths (Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge). Defensively, they were better against a depleted bunch. However, a loss is still a loss and this was a bad one.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Did the Browns win? Oh….

Did the Browns win? Oh….

A Look Back at Game #10 – Browns @ Steelers 

Well, did anyone think the Browns would win once Big Ben returned in this contest? I surely did not and apparently neither did the Browns – the final score bore that out. It was another sloppy, embarrassing, and awful performance for the orange and brown. Let’s review the poor outing at Heinz Field. 

Offense:

Quarterback – On the positive side, Johnny Manziel tossed for over three hundred yards and was only hampered by a few drops of his teammates. He should have had at least three touchdowns in this matchup, but mistakes erased two opportunities. It appeared that there was a bit of improvement by the signal caller – I would like to see what he could do after the bye.

Running Back – The running attack of Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell was non-existent, but what else is new. At least the Browns had the foresight to get away from this part of their offense and tried to move the ball though the air. I would have like to have seen Duke Johnson more involved in the passing game, but that was not the case.

Wide Receiver – Travis Benjamin and Brian Hartline each made a few grabs in this matchup but that was far from enough for the Cleveland Browns. It’s obvious that the team needs another guy to take some pressure off both the quarterback and other wide outs – but they strayed away from good receivers in the draft. Outside of some long tosses, the team cannot expect to move the ball to their receivers (at this point).

Tight End – Gary Barnidge found the end zone and was solid in this contest, once again the rest of the offense did not follow suit. I am sorry to see that he was the only guy (yet again) who could actually produce for this offense, but that was the way this matchup went. E.J. Bibbs was not good enough to play in this matchup, and my personal frustration mounts. 

Offensive Line – I suppose the offensive line played better than they have in other games, but they still displayed ample deficiencies. The pass rush was on display consistently, as well as the run game not working. I would attribute most of this to the play of Mitchell Schwartz – as he had issues walling off defenders all game long. Cameron Erving was not terrible filling in at right guard, but he simply committed stupid penalties.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – I guess the defense did not allow over one hundred yards to an opposing rusher in this game. However, they did not do anything else right for the Cleveland Browns. No one did anything good in this contest, whether it was a nose tackle or either of the defensive ends. I am sick thinking about this unit, but they are still bad and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We’ll see what happens next contest.

Linebacker – I guess Chis Kirksey was nice a few times in coverage and Paul Kruger made some tackles, but other than that the linebackers were far from good in this matchup. They could not cover anyone or tackle in open field – but other than that they were reliable. This is another area where the Browns need to upgrade in the offseason, but that will not occur in a few months. 

Secondary – Pathetic, awful, terrible – the Browns’ secondary was not good at all in this game. Charles Gaines forced a fumble after surrendering a long completion. The team made Antonio Brown look like Jerry Rice in this matchup, they could not cover the wide out at all and it was simply bad. Using all of these resources in the secondary is maddening, as all or most are bad at football in the NFL. 

Special Teams: This part of the game did not really matter; both teams were decent in this department and missed an extra point. There’s not a whole lot else I can say, I wish the Browns can be good enough to see a winning field goal made by Travis Coons, but that’s simply not the case.

Coaching: The team’s performance was terrible and the coaching staff did not do the team any favors. Offensively, they were conservative yet that was not good enough in this meeting. Defensively, I would have liked the front seven to be more aggressive, but they did not and it was an injured Big Ben who tore up the Browns’ secondary. Alas, another loss and it’s finally the bye.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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