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Signings and Trades, Heading Towards the Draft

Signings and Trades, Heading Towards the Draft

Latest from Berea:  What the Browns are Doing

The NFL offseason is in full swing, as free agency kicked off last week.  Guys are signing with new teams and franchises and swapping picks in the NFL Draft.  Let’s review a few things that pertain to the orange and brown.

More Acquisitions

Following the four trades that occurred last weekend, the Browns signed seven (you read that right) free agents.  Some are expected to be starters, while other will simply provide depth and experience on the roster.  Looking at the seven guys, Chris Smith, Terrance Mitchell, and Donald Stephenson are not going to make headlines during contests – perhaps they can overachieve here though.  Darren Fells will be doing the dirty work along the offensive line; the blocking tight end might help the unit move past the Joe Thomas era.  The Browns will more than likely be tipping their hand when he is in games versus David Njoku, but it won’t matter if the offense can perform (regardless of who is in there).

As of now, T.J. Carrie, Chris Hubbard, and Carlos Hyde are slated as game one starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously things can change following the draft, but I see all three as solid selections for the team.  Carrie and Hyde appear to be upgrades from their predecessors and improvement is vital for this franchise.  Hubbard will likely be the starting right tackle, pushing Shon Coleman to take over on the left side.  There will definitely be a drop-off from the past eleven seasons at that position, but you can bet that the players, coaching staff, and management will try to minimize it.

Big Trade Early

The New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts traded picks yesterday; in surrendering three second round picks in the future, the Jets moved up to secure the number three selection.  It goes without saying that this type of move signals a choice for a quarterback early in the draft.  To reset, the Browns are likely to take a quarterback with the first overall selection and now the Jets are all but guaranteed to do the same thing two spots later.  That leaves all eyes on the New York Giants with the second pick – they could take Saquon Barkley (the top running back), the second quarterback of the draft, or trade back with a handful of teams who will likely take a signal caller.

Regardless of what occurs, the Browns will be in a pretty good position with the fourth selection (provided they do not trade away the choice).  I am tired of seeing the team forgo talent in order to get future draft picks, which don’t always pan out.  Therefore, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, and Bradley Chubb are my early three frontrunners for the Browns’ second draft selection.  The only trade down that I could get behind is one for a spot or two – where they can still have the aforementioned trio to choose from.  I would be hesitant to trade the fourth pick to the Bills.  I understand the value of multiple draft picks but I agree with John Dorsey’s assessment that the team needs “real football players”.

Conclusion:  The excitement for the 2018 Cleveland Browns continues to increase as they are completely overhauling a roster that went winless a season ago.  Also, the trade for the third pick makes puts the Browns’ choices more in the spotlight.

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Can We Get a Win?

Can We Get a Win?

Browns vs. Colts – Smells Like 2011

No, this is not Kerry Collins vs. Colt McCoy (it is close, however) – but Sunday’s matchup is between two poor teams playing in Indianapolis.  The Browns might have to call Peyton Hillis for some nice runs (the way he did six years ago), as this part of the franchise has been largely underwhelming.  What can the Browns do to finally win?

Jacoby Brisset

The Browns are facing a mobile signal caller, who does not have a track record of success.  In addition, he will be with this franchise for three weeks now – far be it from an entrenched franchise quarterback.  The Browns have been extremely disappointing in getting pressure on the opposing signal caller – though they are coming off facing a pair of Super Bowl Champions.  Something tells me that things will be different this week, as Gregg Williams will put together a game plan to finally impact the opposing passing game.  Who will emerge for the orange and brown defensive line?

RUN THE BALL!!!!

Sorry for the all caps, but the Browns must not rely so much on the passing attack by DeShone Kizer (and Kevin Hogan).  This is more hope than anything else, but the team must utilize both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson for more than twenty carries this weekend – and the occasional swing pass or two would not be a bad thing.  If the Browns cannot generate a run game in this contest, then I have lost all hope for their offensive output.

Who Steps Up at Wide Receiver

Rashard Higgins had a solid outing last game, now without Corey Coleman – what is next for the Browns’ wide receivers?  Will Duke Johnson go back into the slot role?  Should we anticipate more from Sammie Coates and Kasen Williams?  I’m a little apprehensive about this spot, but Kizer has to throw it to someone.  I can see the team shortening their routes while still generating a bit of success.

Conclusion:  Call me crazy, but I think the Browns get it done on Sunday.  They will bounce back (from last week’s debacle) after the Colts take the Browns lightly.  It will once again be a rough, low scoring contest – but Kizer will top his counterpart and the defense will allow the visitors to leave with a “big” win.  I expect the linebackers to get back on track and Jabril Peppers is overdue for either a turnover recovery or a game-changing return on special teams.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in NFL Season

 

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Hoyer’s Farewell – Thanks for Nothin’

Hoyer’s Farewell – Thanks for Nothin’

A review of Game #12 – Browns vs. Colts

I don’t know what’s worse – horrible quarterback play or the referees being completing biased. Both occurred for the Cleveland Browns, and it was just enough to ensure Andy Luck came away with another win. The Browns were completely the superior team on the field – however some bonehead plays and poor calls made sure the Colts won.

Offense: The red zone interception was all you needed to see from Brian Hoyer. He singled-handedly killed that drive, while stopped a few others with some very off target tosses.   He ended with another contest without throwing a touchdown and heaving two interceptions – his days are (finally) numbered as a starting quarterback in Cleveland. It has been so disappointing it has come to this, but it should be Johnny time next week.

Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West each had fifty-four yards in this contest. The only great play was Crowell’s nifty touchdown run. The team could have utilized the running attack more – but that is becoming a broken record. If they refuse to run it against a poor unit as they did on Sunday, I doubt they will the rest of the way in 2014.

Two catches for fifteen yards for Josh Gordon? Hoyer missed a few throws, but the Browns have mismanaging the wide out terribly. Andrew Hawkins and Jordan Cameron each had four receptions; they were the leaders of a unit that could not get the ball frequently. It all comes down to quarterback play for great numbers for receivers. The Browns didn’t have it and the targets suffered.

Fortunately the offensive line only surrendered one sack. However, they were far from stout in opening up running lanes. When facing a unit they ought to dominate, the gang fell short. Ryan Seymour held his own at the center position – he could be a keeper going forward. It was apparent that Jordan Cameron still cannot block, and should not be put that in that situation to do so.

Defense: So Andy Luck was the leading rusher for the opponent. This would lead to the home team having success, but ultimately it was not. Desmond Bryant, Ahtyba Rubin, and Billy Winn each put a hit on the signal caller and helped the team control the line of scrimmage. The defensive line played relatively well – but they could not make up for the offensive misfortunes.

Paul Kruger had a phenomenal contest – the veteran had a sack and a forced fumble, which was recovered by Craig Robertson for a touchdown. The penalty on his sack was incorrect, and cost the Browns dearly. Instead of a Colts’ punt, they got a field goal in a game they won by a point. Robertson and Mingo each played well for the Browns. The former had twelve stops, while the latter had a sack, a pass deflected, and five quarterback hits.

There’s not much more than the secondary could have done. An interception by Jim Leonhard, a pick six by Justin Gilbert, and great pass breakups by Joe Haden were some of the highlights by the Browns’ secondary. Donte Whitner was in position to win this game, but could not seal the critical stop on fourth and one late.

Special Teams: Billy Cundiff’s miss of a forty-yard field goal was the difference. The veteran is on his was out of Berea and cost this team a win. Otherwise, the Browns dominated in the special teams matchup. They completely shut down Josh Cribbs and any return units.

Coaching: Why didn’t they go to Johnny Football? The coaching staff still believes Brian Hoyer is the guy – and they were clearly wrong. Jim O’Neil had a great game plan for this defense. But it was all for naught as the offense let the team down once again. Bye bye playoffs, the Browns’ steak will now go to (at least) thirteen years since they made the postseason.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Delving into the Browns-Colts Matchup

Delving into the Browns-Colts Matchup

Previewing Game #12 – Browns vs. Colts

This may be the last gasp for the playoffs for the Cleveland Browns this season. They cannot make the same type of mistakes that has riddled them over the past few contests. I understand they are playing at the friendly confines of First Energy Stadium – but they are up against a tough foe who they have only beaten once since 1999 (and that was the year in between Manning and Luck).

Offense: After holding down the fort a majority of this season, Brian Hoyer (after keeping his seat as the starting quarterback) is on a short leash. I would love to see what Johnny Manziel could do for his team from here on out, but that will not be the case as of now.  Hoyer has had two miserable outings the past few weeks – and a November to forget.  I’d like to think he can turn it around, but I doubt it.

Another fumble by Terrance West last week opens up the gate for Isaiah Crowell to be the feature back for this offense. The rookie from Alabama State has held the ball better as of late and has been much more explosive going through the line of scrimmage. What the offense needs are those early bursts to lead to long gainers; similar to the ones in Atlanta.  Could we see some Glenn Winston this week?

After an exceptional first game, Josh Gordon had a setback last week. I would like to believe that starting Manziel would help the veteran out, as his and Hoyer’s timing appeared to be off last week. With the injury to Miles Austin, Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel’s roles could be increased this week. Why can’t get back to a solid passing attack? The home crowd should definitely pump up Gordon for this matchup.

It’s one step forward and two steps backward for this offensive line. Just when you think they are continuing their progress towards respectability – they get manhandled by the Buffalo Bills. This is a more favorable matchup for the guys upfront – including Joe Thomas. The longtime veteran had a rough outing last week, committing a few penalties and allowing defenders to blow by him.

Defense: In theory, the defensive line should be licking its chops for this matchup. Trent Richardson, known around here as a bust, continues to be mediocre. Desmond Bryant, Ahtyba Rubin, and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen will have to corral the former Ohio State back Boom Herron primarily. Putting pressure on Andrew Luck will be difficult task, given the quarterback’s size and mobility. However, if the Browns can succeed here – who’s to say they cannot win.

The injury to Karlos Dansby continues to spell doom for the inside linebackers. Both Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson have neither been able to make game-changing plays with the veteran sidelined. Meanwhile, Paul Kruger is the only man on the outside who has been impactful for the Cleveland Browns. Depth has definitely been tested for this part of the team. I anticipate Luck tormenting this unit on Sunday.

This ought to be another test for the Browns’ secondary. T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, and Coby Fleener are just some of the members who can make defenders pay. Last week, Joe Haden was the only guy who showed up for the orange and brown. A healthy Justin Gilbert can help on Sunday – provided Buster Skrine and K’Waun Williams to their part. I was greatly impressed with Jim Leonhard’s play last week in place of Tashaun Gipson. He needs to keep this up if the secondary wants success.

Special Teams: This might be the second-to-last game at First Energy Stadium for kicker Billy Cundiff. The veteran has now missed four kicks less than fifty yards this season – something not accustomed to NFL kickers. All other phases of the special teams were adequate last week. The only thing that worries me is giving up a huge return to Josh Cribbs (or even a score).

Coaching: With Brian Hoyer at the helm, the offensive play calling should be relatively the same.  No matter who is in the backfield, the Browns have got to hinge their game plan on the running game. Defensively, the game plan must center on forcing the opposing quarterback to feel uncomfortable in the pocket. While this won’t be easy, it is a huge factor in the team’s success.

Prediction (My Record: 7 – 5): It would take a miracle for the Cleveland Browns to win this contest. And although I love their toughness and ability to fight back, they simply do not have what it takes to beat the Colts. The guests come away for a 27 – 17 victory and send the Browns into their first two-game losing streak of 2014.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Ending the Regular Season: The Cleveland Browns in 2014

Ending the Regular Season:  The Cleveland Browns in 2014

Rounding out the Final Four Contests of the 2014 Schedule

Previewing Games 13 – 16:

Assuming the four opponents play to their capabilities, what a difficult way to finish off the regular season for the Cleveland Browns.  In it, they face three teams coming off playoff appearances and the other is a perennial Super Bowl contender.  It’s hard to predict (right now) whether the Browns will need to go 3 – 1 or 4 – 0 here to clinch a spot in the playoffs, or whether these matchups will, once again, be irrelevant.  Nonetheless, let’s see what the squad is up against.

Sunday, December 7th – vs. Indianapolis

Outside of a Peyton Hillis-led drubbing of Kerry Collins and the Colts in 2011, the home team has gone down in defeat each time they faced the Colts since 1999.  Battling Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck are not simple tasks, but the Browns were due for at least one upset, right?  Hopefully 2014 is the year where the team comes together and finally
takes down the blue and white.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, December 14th – vs. Cincinnati

As much as the visiting team struggles in this rivalry, the home team should be attributed to doing its job as well.  Brian Hoyer was the hero last time the Bengals visited First Energy Stadium in 2013.  Should we expect a repeat performance?  I believe that Johnny Manziel will be under center for this contest, but I have been known to be wrong (from time to time).  Again, I might be mistaken, but a win here should be ripe for the picking.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Sunday, December 21st – @ Carolina

A rare matchup between inter-conference foes is the scenario for both the Panthers and Browns.  It’s unlikely that the home squad will repeat their 12 – 4 record from a year ago; but they should still remain a solid bunch.  Cam Newton is a dynamic quarterback who can give defenses fits – especially if they are not properly prepared.  I cannot wait to see what coach Pettine draws up as his game plan for this one.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, December 28th – @ Baltimore

Should the Ravens clinch a berth in the playoffs before kickoff (via wildcard or division crown); do not expect a “let up” for their guests.  The Browns will have to fight tooth and nail in this contest if they want to spur an upset.  Like many away venues, this has been a cruel one over the years.  I can only hope that lady luck is on the side of the orange and brown – the way it was for Phil Dawson’s game-tying kick in 2007.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 2

Conclusion:  Many Browns fans are trained to be pessimistic, largely to the team’s underperformance and overall bad football.  While I have been accustomed to that type of thinking, I sense 2014 can be different.  Despite feeling less than 50/50 in three of these four contests right now, one never knows what can happen when the game is actually played.  I believe the Browns make the leap to the playoff hunt this season and what occurs in December will decide the team’s fate (I’m praying for a miracle).

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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