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News Before Preseason Game #1

News Before Preseason Game #1

What is Going on Just Before the First Game

There has been multiple practices, as well as an intra-squad scrimmage now for the orange and brown.  In that timeframe several members of this franchise have gone through some highs and lows.  The depth chart of this roster is shuffling and some tough decisions will have to be made soon by Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson.  In the meantime, the team is gearing up for the Saints next Thursday – so what has been going on prior to this meeting?

Myles Ahead of the Reserves

Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett is shooting up the depth chart, as the athlete is now in line for a starting role.  While this was expected, it was good to hear that the number one overall selection is actually earning his spot on this starting unit.  I look forward to him competing against guys with different colored uniforms next Thursday.  Additionally, I am eager to see how this allows Emmanuel Ogbah to play more freely – granted that opportunity might not come until September.

Cody’s Issues

There has been ample coverage by the Browns’s media mentioning that quarterback Cody Kessler is not lighting the world on fire in practice (or the team scrimmage).  The second year pro has allowed himself to be sacked on multiple occasions, as well as missing his targets on occasions.  I would not be surprised to see him third on the depth chart for the signal callers (provided all three guys are kept).  Regardless of who starts, I just would like the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns do well this fall – for a change.

Defense Dominating

Outside of a couple of drives in the first practices of camp, the Browns’ defense is showing their counterparts a thing or two.  Again, this was to be expected – but I would have anticipated a bit more resistance from the offensive unit.  Perhaps one of the quarterbacks will step up, take the starting role, and find his rhythm in this offense.  Thus in turn, he would be able to finally excel against this defense.

Conclusion:  While I will not have an analysis against the Saints in the preseason – I am hoping the Browns get their issues out of the way early.  I want them to avoid sloppy plays and to witness some flashes on both sides of the ball.  Seeing a kicker step up in this game wouldn’t be the worst thing either.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Things to Keep an Eye on

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Things to Keep an Eye on

Training Camp 2017 – Cleveland Browns

In just a matter of days now, the orange and brown will put their pads on and head onto the practice field in Berea.  In addition to the many position battles; there is a handful of interesting aspects of this franchise.  Overall, I feel this camp will be much improved from the 2016 one – hopefully that translates into the season.  Let’s look at a few interesting parts of training camp.

Responding to Williams

At this point, Browns’ fans are well aware of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and what he brings to the table.  However, in addition to the yelling and firing up the unit – it will be fascinating to see how the athletes respond to this much different form of coaching.  I anticipate improved play, as athletes attempt to avoid criticism while getting into Williams’s good graces.  Some guys could get defeated mentally by this; however that could be pretty apparent if an athlete or two are released after having tough practices.

Hold the Peppers?

In this day in age, the holding out of rookie Jabril Peppers is simply asinine – and the safety could enter camp in trouble.  Ed Reynolds, Ibraheim Campbell, and Calvin Pryor will all enjoy their reps with the defensive unit, while the unsigned rookie is sitting and waiting.  While not a murder’s row of NFL-caliber defenders, they will be ahead of Peppers.  As Corey Coleman proved last season, missed time definitely hurts one’s development.  I don’t want it to see that happen two years in a row – but that might be what happens to this franchise.

Which Kind of Experience is Better?

Brock Osweiler is the only quarterback on the Browns’ roster who has earned a victory in the NFL – while making some plays for two other franchise prior to being traded to Cleveland.  Meanwhile, Cody Kessler is the only signal caller who has experienced the tutelage of Hue Jackson firsthand.  Will one of those factors matter in the quarterback derby?  I would like to believe that Osweiler’s multiple seasons in the league makes him significantly better than his two competitors, but this position has been unpredictable for decades now.

Testing Depth

I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but one could make an argument that the Browns are quietly building depth on both sides of the ball.  Therefore, seeing Williams shuffling defensive linemen around in certain packages should be expected.  If the coach can lock down how to best utilize these athletes now, the defense will be in good shape come September.  Meanwhile, the offensive side of the ball might feature some rotations to determine who can be counted upon in 2017.  Right tackle, wide receiver, and the running back pecking order are a few areas of this team that Jackson and company would like to sort out over the next few weeks.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Players, Training Camp

 

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Another Debacle for the Browns

Another Debacle for the Browns

The Cleveland Football Team Stumbles

It was the first and only time the orange and brown got to play in front of a national audience and the fared the way they have all season long – poorly.  Outside of collecting a pair of interceptions and witnessing a late touchdown, the Browns were completely embarrassing.  There were a few things I took away in this matchup.

#1 – QB Replacement

I was very surprised the Browns moved away from rookie signal caller Cody Kessler to veteran Josh McCown.  The starter managed the game well and did not make any mistakes, while the backup tossed a pair of interceptions in the second half.  To think that this move would have sparked a win is silly, but the performance was even worse.  The Browns must stick with Kessler the rest of the way – no matter the score.

#2 – What Collins Can Do

The insertion of Jamie Collins was apparent in this defensive performance.  Not only did the linebacker make plays both up the middle and from the edge (against both the run and pass), but he elevated the play of his teammates.  I thought Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, Demario Davis, and Chris Kirksey all had their moments – they are far from great but I was glad to see them starting to get a bit more consistent in their play.

#3 – Offensive Line

The guys upfront did not do their jobs last night, especially when trying to protect Cody Kessler during drop backs.  The quarterback was hurried or sacked from blitzers blowing past Cameron Erving, Spencer Drango, Joe Thomas, etc.  This has pretty much been status quo for the season and the team must upgrade severely.  The Browns are not running the ball well, cannot protect the quarterback, and are not winning at the point of attack.

Conclusion:  Honestly, this game was what I expected – a bad outing by a young team.  The stride to 0 – 16 is very real and no victories seem to be on the horizon.  At least Browns’ fans have an open Sunday afternoon, enjoy it for once!

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

 

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Story Lines Against the Cowboys

Story Lines Against the Cowboys

Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys:  Five Story Lines

The winless Browns face a 6 – 1 Dallas squad that has been cruising through this regular season.  I do not give the Browns much chance to win this contest; however that does not mean this game does not have much interest.  Let’s delve into some talking points about this matchup.  Is there any way the orange and brown can steal this contest?

#1 – What Jamie Collins Means

In case you haven’t heard, the Cleveland Browns traded for the Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins (from the New England Patriots).  It will be interesting to see how he is utilized in a defense that has a knack for missing tackles.  Will either Chris Kirksey move outside (to replace Joe Schobert) and accompany the new guy within the linebacker corps?  Either way, this part of the team improved.  I do not see it being a gigantic improvement, but the Browns have made much worse moves to this point.

#2 – Corey Coleman’s Return

It would appear that the rookie wide out is finally returning to the lineup after breaking his hand following the Ravens game in week two.  Despite being rusty, the athlete should take pressure both off of his (wide receiver) teammates and will give the quarterback another viable option on offense.  I’m hoping that the loss of Morris Claiborne only helps the Browns out more in the passing attack.  They will need all hands on deck in this game, but will it be enough?

#3 – Guy Under Center

Assuming he is all ready to go, the Browns need to stick rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in at quarterback in this contest.  Overall, he has put together better outings than veteran Josh McCown this season.  Additionally, I would like to see him finally paired with Coleman to see if that helps in the quarterback’s development.

#4 – What Will Rookies Do?

This refers more to the tandem of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot; both of which have had phenomenal rookie outings for the visiting squad.  At some point they have to hit the rookie wall, right?  Assuming that is the case, it would not be a bad thing if that occurred within First Energy Stadium.  Fatigue and errors will be to the advantage of the home team, but they must also take advantage of these situations.

#5 – Trap Game

Dallas is coming off of a tremendous win against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football.  They are riding high from a huge win and are now playing the worst team in the league.  That is a recipe for a trap game – one where the guests feel they can just show up and dominate with ease.  I’m hoping them taking the Browns lightly allows Cody Kessler (probably) and company to move the ball over the field, while the defense actually puts the brakes on an opposing offense.

Conclusion:  I still expect the Browns to lose by a fair amount on Sunday, but maybe everything breaks their way in this contest.  Maybe the addition of Coleman, Kessler, and Collins puts them over the top.  Or how that Prescott and Elliot finally take a step back in their rookie development.  I will still predict a Browns defeat by the score of 27 – 17, and for the team to head to 0 – 9.

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

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

Browns @ Bengals – Game #7 Preview

The frustration continues as the Browns head south to face the Bengals in Cincinnati.  For the first time in three seasons, the two will not be playing in Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night – which is a bit of relief for the orange and brown.  I feel a little bit more confident in this game than I did before the season started, but is that enough to predict a win?  Here’s a breakdown of the matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I look for more progression from rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in this contest.  He has been inconsistent at times in contests, but still has been making plays throughout.  Being outmanned basically everywhere makes it hard for the signal caller, but I give him a ton of credit.  I figure he should keep them in this contest with a touchdown or two – hopefully he can limit his mistakes against a tremendous defensive front.

Running Back:  I really do not know what to expect from this position group, as they have been bottled up during the past two contests.  The moving parts (and subsequent poor play) by the five upfront has made running the football rather difficult for both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  More of the same should occur this Sunday – as the Browns will be lucky to eclipse seventy-five yards on the ground.  Maybe some late heroics might help this position group garner some respectable statistics.

Wide Receiver:  I cannot wait to see Corey Coleman return to this lineup, as the receiving corps is missing “something”.  Their M.O. has been Terrelle Pryor having an extremely productive first half, then the defense adjusting, followed by the Browns being shut down in the passing game in the second half.  Ricardo Louis continues to progress as an threat, but his drops are glaring and do not inspire confidence the way Coleman could.  I do not have high hopes for this group, but a touchdown should still be projected.

Tight End:  It would appear that Connor Hamlett’s breakout game a few weeks ago did not convert over into last contest (which is no surprise).  Gary Barnidge continues to be the only viable option at this position, but even his production has been down from a year ago – also expected.  Perhaps he wins on a coverage mismatch and is able to score for the orange and brown in this game.  The offense could sorely use it.

Offensive Line:  Cody Kessler’s health might be of concern in this contest – the guys upfront have not been holding their end of the bargain.  I would not be opposed to moving John Greco back to center and inserting either Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman at right guard to see if that is a better group that one with Cameron Erving at center. I understand it’s a developmental year; thus the Browns ought to find out which lineup works best (for the future).  Not getting their signal caller killed would be welcomed as well.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  What I am seeing from Danny Shelton (and to a lesser extent, Jamie Meder and Stephen Paea) really gives me hope for the future of this defensive line.  They are coming off a contest where they stonewalled one of the best rushing teams in the league.  Jeremy Hill is a feisty back however, and he is eager to embarrass his AFC North foes (as he did in 2014).  I predict a step back for the Browns’ defensive front, but they should not get gashed by Paul Brown’s second professional football club.

Outside Linebacker:  Outside from one sack from Emmanuel Ogbah, the depleted position has not been productive in any way this season.  Joe Schobert dropped an early interception last contest; everything (from the rookie) that followed that was rather mediocre.  Andy Dalton is a bit more mobile that many give him credit for – thus he should evade the pass rush with ease.  Who knows, maybe these guys will generate a coverage sack on Sunday.

Inside Linebacker:  Despite getting moderate play each contest, Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis cannot break through and finish a game-changing play.  Historically, this position group has (occasionally) been able to intercept Dalton.  I would like to see this occur once again, but that is a tall order for this duo.  Preventing any long gains on the ground must be a priority – if the
Browns want to have a chance at victory.

Safety:  Tracy Howard is in line to get the start in this contest at free safety.  The undrafted rookie has not been great by any stretch, but can he be any worse than any other safety for the Browns?  At least Tyler Eifert will not be available for this contest; otherwise the tight end would make the Browns’ defenders pay.  My expectations are extremely low and seeing A.J. Green and other wide outs getting behind safeties will (more than likely) be on display.

Cornerback:  Speaking of Green, he should be putting up big numbers in the contest – regardless of Joe Haden’s availability.  The veteran has missed multiple games due to his groin injury and was less than effective when being out on the field.  More of the same should be predicted, which means Dalton will find open targets early and often in this matchup.

Special Teams:  The blunders, i.e. turnovers, were not apparent last meeting, but the Browns were penalized an exorbitant number of times.  This led to awful field position and the team not being able to dig them out of a tough spot.  I hope they can improve upon this part of their team but it will likely take time, with all of the youngsters on the roster.

Coaching:  So Marvin Lewis says he misses Hue Jackson very much.  I hope that is motivation for Jackson to prove to Mike Brown that being “a head coach in waiting” was not good enough and that he can make his former franchise pay.  I still support Jackson and his play calling decisions; hopefully they can be the difference.

Prediction (My Record: 6 – 0):  I got a blemish-free record, why should I jeopardize that?  The Browns play hard and lose once again by the score of 32 – 20.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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The Aftermath from the Browns/Titans Game

The Aftermath from the Browns/Titans Game

What this Game Told Me about the Browns

An early deficit, several mistakes, and another defeat occurred on Sunday afternoon – what is new for the Cleveland Browns? I still content that the orange and brown are not awful; they are simply young and inexperienced. However, I want to see them win a game and soon. What did the game in Tennessee tell me about the Browns? 

#1 – Their Safeties Might be the Worst

Jordan Poyer (before his injury) and Derrick Kindred were once again invisible in this contest – with a few exceptions. The duo allowed Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews to get behind them for long gains in the contest. Watching a hurt Tashaun Gipson and ineffective Donte Whitner last season was bad, but what the Browns are putting out now is even worse. It should come to no surprise that this position will be improved upon this offseason. 

#2 – They are Prone to Errors 

The numerous penalties were inexcusable, as well as commonplace, for the Cleveland Browns. Be it the offense, defense, or special teams – the Browns committed infractions which sorely hurt the team. I’ve said it before, but am not afraid to reiterate this, the Browns are simply not good enough to overcome these errors and still expect to win. I don’t know what it’s going to take for the Browns to play within the rules, but until they learn this lesson the losses will follow.

#3 – No Depth at Offensive Line 

Clearly Joel Bitonio was the lynch pin for this team’s running attack. Without the services of the third year pro; the five guys upfront struggled mightily to pave running lanes for Isaiah Crowell. The bad news is that Bitionio might be out for the rest of the season, so the Browns might not be churning out running yards in contests. 

#4 – A Tale of Two Second Year Guys

Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving are going their separate ways. The former is rapidly improving and even notched a sack on Sunday. If he can continue to do this, then this could validate his early draft status. Meanwhile, Erving looked abysmal once again in the middle of the offensive line. His opportunities should be scrutinized and if poor play continues, the Browns might have to think about his replacement in the spring. 

#5 – Liking What I am Seeing at QB 

Rookie Cody Kessler is going out there and making plays. I really like seeing him stepping up in the pocket and delivering the ball to a wide-open option. His growth is apparent and I never would have expected it. I still am not ready to call him a franchise quarterback, but I want to see him play on Sundays (and I have not said that about a Browns’ quarterback in quite some time).

Conclusion: It does not get any easier, as the Browns have another difficult one in Cincinnati next Sunday. These defeats are not fun but that’s pretty much what the franchise signed up for.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Game #5 Preview – vs. New England

Browns Game #5 Preview – vs. New England

Browns vs. Patriots – A Look at Game #5

This is the game I truly do not look forward to watch; the Browns have played the Patriots tough the last two times they squared off, but this time is different.  Tom Brady is coming off a suspension and will take his frustration out on our beloved Cleveland Browns.  At least there will a playoff baseball game on later that day – where Cleveland has a great shot to beat a Massachusetts team.  Let’s analyze:

Offense:

Quarterback:  Did Cody Kessler make a rookie mistake last week?  Yes, but overall I would say that he improved from his first start the week prior.  The questions still exist about his arm strength, but I am not ready to make a declarative statement as “he doesn’t have the physical traits to make it in the NFL”.  I look for him to spread the ball around early, so Terrelle Pryor can find his spots later in the game (by avoiding double coverage).  A turnover-free game by Kessler would be exceptional, even if the team is defeated soundly.

Running Back:  The Browns have one of the best stable of running backs in the league.  Isaiah Crowell seems to earn yards in chunks, while Duke Johnson is catching and running (despite getting worked over by poor officiating).  One would imagine that they would continue to utilize this part of the team for two reasons – they are successful at it and puts Kessler in more manageable spots against the opposing defense.  I predict a touchdown or two from this group on Sunday.

Wide Receiver:  This is a contest where I would really like to see Ricado Louis step up and display his speed.  The Browns need another option while Corey Coleman is sidelined – and Louis has been adequate (but could improve).  I understand that is a tall order, but I trust coach Jackson and his staff can assist with this task.  Pryor will be a marked man but still expect him to haul in several grabs.  Meanwhile, Andrew Hawkins has been a chain mover and a first down option.  I anticipate more of the same this week.

Tight End:  The injuries to Seth DeValve and Randall Telfair have all but depleted any depth behind Gary Barnidge.  Nonetheless, the veteran has produced in games – albeit at a lesser level than he did in 2015. That said, he should garner four or five grabs for a modest fifty yards in this matchup.  A touchdown for Barnidge would be excellent, but should not be counted on.

Offensive Line:  Speaking of injuries, the Browns will more than likely return to John Greco at center in this game.  I hope Alvin
Bailey has a chip on his shoulder, as the veteran was held out of last game due to his arrest.  As a whole, the offensive line played much better last week than the game before that.  However, the lineup used in Miami will be on display against the Patriots.  I have a bit of more faith in them against this defensive front – but Kessler needs to be smart when dropping back to pass.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  I have been rather impressed by the guys up front for the Cleveland Browns’ defense, as they have been much better against the run.  However, they could be the beginning of the rush defense that has underwhelmed at this point.  The Browns will have their hands full with LeGarrette Blount running the football.  I would venture to say that this will be a good measuring stick for Danny Shelton and Stephen Paea to see if they continue to progress or if they have been taking advantage of lesser offensive units.

Outside Linebacker:  It was interesting to see the Browns part ways with Armonty Bryant, who recently came off his four-game suspension.  This was due to the fact that pass rusher Nate Orchard was put on IR a few days earlier.  It stands to reason that this coaching staff likes what they see from Joe Schobert, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Corey Lemonier at outside linebacker.  Yes, those guys are young but are still relentless each and every play.  Tom Brady knows what he is doing under center, so it would be unwise to project one of the Browns’ edge rushers finish the game with a forced turnover.

Inside Linebacker:  Chris Kirksey and DeMario Davis have both done a respectable job on the field.  However, tight end Jordan Reed made them look foolish in pass coverage – as he hauled in two early touchdowns last game.  The Patriots have a pretty good tight end themselves, and I am fearful he will have a gigantic day against the orange and brown.  It’s hope at this point, but maybe Kirksey or Davis can make a huge play or two.

Safety:  There is a chance that Ibraheim Campbell returns for this contest, but he is not the weak spot in the safety positions.  The Browns either need to get better coverage from Jordan Poyer or should think about getting someone who can play “center field” at a higher level.  I would imagine that the Patriots will expose this continually – as it should be apparent on film.

Cornerback:  Outside of a handful of plays, Joe Haden is not playing well in 2016.  Meanwhile, the Browns are using Briean Boddy-Calhoun (an undrafted rookie signed last month) is seeing more playing time, following the injury to Tramon Williams.  I give the cornerbacks little chance versus the passing attack from New England – but look forward to being surprised.

Special Teams:  For the first time in weeks, the Browns’ special teams were not the reason why they lost last game.  I expect them not to revert to their erroneous ways and to hang in there in this category. Not surrendering a long return and being successful in field goal attempts is a good start for this unit.

Coaching:  I continue to believe in this coaching staff, despite the lack of talent on the field.  The Browns will not put themselves into positions to fail; hopefully the young players can execute.  It will be intriguing to see what type of game plan is formulated by Hue Jackson.

Prediction (My Record: 4 – 0):  The Browns will try their best in front of the home crowd, but the Patriots will beat them soundly.  The visitors will come away with a 38 – 17 victory and tally a fifth defeat for the orange and brown.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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