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The New Guy – Gregg Williams

The New Guy – Gregg Williams

Gregg Williams Press Conference

The Browns have had a history of coaches with exemplary opening press conferences, only to be followed by disappointments on the field – leading to the coach being fired.  New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams recently had a tremendous opening conference; I understand this will mean little if the Browns start out 1 -10 next year but there were some solid takeaways from his time with the media.

Pulling Back the Curtain

Williams spoke about many parts of the job that his predecessors have not disclosed.  He mentioned (on several occasions) how others are willing to come in and steal an incumbent’s job on a daily basis – be it a player or coach.  Coach Williams also let us in to his psyche, that he is extremely organized (to the brink of O.C.D.) and each day is a brand new one.  By which, this means that evaluations will occur for players daily and no one is able to rest on past successes.  I believe his style of motivating will be a huge positive for this defense.  I anticipate a jump in performance, but there are many variables that can determine how large of rise from 2015.

Knowledge and Experience

The defensive coordinate mentioned all the stops that he has been to (in the NFL) over the past few decades.  He also referenced how he was able to turn our defensive units in as little as one year.  Personally, if Gregg can bring his usual tenacity his players play with – then he will have done his job.  No matter whether it was against the Tennessee Titans (in the early 2000s), the New Orleans Saints (in the late 2000s), or the Saint Louis/Los Angeles Rams (in the middle 2010s) it was always a long day against a Gregg Williams led defense.

Effort, Effort, Effort

There was a tremendous amount of references to players working hard each and every day for its entirety.  Fighting through pain or fatigue in the fourth quarter appears to be a foreign concept to the Cleveland Browns over the past few seasons.  Hopefully this mentality will be altered – as the coach noted that he wants all of his players to be in shape and ready to go in spring practices.  The Browns’ youth should surely help with this, as fresh legs late in contests appears to not be a problem.

Conclusion:  The ultra competitive coach sounds like a smart hire for the Cleveland Browns.  The defense (and the franchise as a whole) is in desperate need of an attitude adjustment; the Browns must be mean and nasty and not willing to put up with poor performances.  I am eager for the 2017 already but there are many more things that must occur prior to this.

 

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Browns Preseason Game #2 – Breakdown

Browns Preseason Game #2 – Breakdown

Review of Browns vs. Falcons Contest 

Regardless of the final score, the Browns held a halftime lead (when it mattered). The Falcons are not the best team in the league, but the home squad more than held their own against a playoff-hopeful franchise. Let’s look at a couple key highs and lows for this contest.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Good – Well, Robert Griffin definitely stepped his game up significantly from the preseason opener. His touchdown passes to Pryor and Barnidge were excellent; I don’t know how much the team can rely on it during the season – but for now I will take it.

Bad – I suppose what went wrong for the starter is that he took a few sacks. It’s not the end of the world, but this offense is not good enough to overcome these and sustain scoring drives (at least at this point).

Ugly – I hope I continue this trend, but I cannot think of something in this category for Griffin. He threw the ball away when he knew nothing was available. His jump from game one to game two was huge.

Running Back – Good – I think Isaiah Crowell took a step ahead of Duke Johnson for the starting gig. The veteran was crisper in hitting the hole and gained yards at a much better rate than his counter part. Granted most were option (give/pull) reads, but I feel better about him gaining those tough yards.

Bad – Duke Johnson’s output was less than great. The athlete touched the ball on multiple occasions but was only able to garner a few yards here or there. Toss in a key drop on third down, and the feeling is magnified. I know he will improve over time, but this was not an inspiring performance.

Ugly – Nothing too ugly for this group either. I guess you could count Malcolm Johnson’s whiff on a block (leading to a sack) as a horrendous display of keeping away defenders.

Wide Receiver – Good – I liked the tenacity that Terrelle Pryor displayed in this contest. He jostled pretty good with Isaiah Trufant (which was a bad penalty), and he caught a deep touchdown early. This was desperately needed for this position group. I don’t have a tight end group listed in preseason, but Barnidge’s catch warrants a “good” rating as well.

Bad – I guess you could say that outside of Pryor, the wide outs were not explosive. However, this is taken with a grain of salt as the players can only run the routes that were drawn up by the coaches.

Ugly – I can’t even fake an example (like I just did in the “Bad” group) here. This unit pleasantly surprised me; even rookie Rashard Higgins made a nice grab in the first half. I feel this position group will be the biggest surprise of the team in 2016.

Offensive Line – Good – Against the starting defense, the Browns were respectable upfront. It was fairly obvious that Joe Thomas was held out of this game, and the combination of Spencer Drango and Dan France did not surrender pressures and/or sacks. Is depth actually being built for this offensive line?

Bad – Following a touchdown drive and a good stop on defense, the Browns definitely had momentum. However, a silly holding penalty by Joel Bitonio (called on Dan France) ultimately stopped the drive. It’s just the exhibition, but the team cannot afford these types of costly mistakes.

Ugly – That Cameron Erving awful snap in the second quarter (that went over Griffin’s head). The team was fortunate to get a face mask infraction on the play, but that mistake is unacceptable.  I wonder if the team will refrain or limit long snaps in the regular season, provided Erving is the center.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Good – Carl Nassib continues to impress upfront for the orange and brown. The rookie had a tipped pass and a sack (nullified by an unnecessary penalty) in his first series on the field. He definitely is earning more playing time as this season continues.

Bad – Danny Shelton lost at the point of attack again in this game. The only time he got up field was on a screen play, which insists on him being out of position. I want to see him improve and quickly, but am extremely concerned at the first-rounder’s play up to this point.

Ugly – The stretch or off-tackle running plays against the Browns were highly successful in this contest. The front seven desperately needs to work on their pursuit angles and close in on the ball carrier a few seconds earlier. If this trend continues, it will be a long year for this run defense.

Linebackers – Good – I’ll be nice and fill this category. Chris Kirksey made a few solid stops early on in this contest – one of them being on special teams. He was ok in his play, but the best of this underperforming bunch.

Bad – Pretty much all other starting linebackers for the Cleveland Browns in the game; were they even playing? The unit could not cover, tackle, or get to the quarterback – especially against the starters.

Ugly – Just hammering home the point that the group as a whole could not hold up their end of the bargain. Perhaps the best play made by a linebacker in the first half was the stop by Tank Carder on a toss sweep.

Secondary – Good – No one really stood out (positively) in this position group, but Jamar Taylor was decent in coverage. The nickel back made a key pass breakup early in the contest; and while not spectacular in coverage – he was always surrounding the ball.

Bad – The second string cornerbacks made Matt Schaub look like a decent NFL player. I will get over this, but this cannot happen. The secondary must step up; especially against subpar signal callers in this league.

Ugly – Justin Gilbert just does not get it. The veteran was out of position and committed a dumb penalty in the second quarter. The Browns have little to no use for the guy and are giving him every opportunity. I don’t think he has what it takes to make this final roster.

Conclusion: I thought the Browns had their up and downs in this contest. The defense still needs a great deal of work, but the coverage was a bit better. If they cannot stop the run – their chances to win games remains extremely low. The offense improved greatly; perhaps they will actually resemble an actual professional unit this season.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns vs. Pittsburgh – Game #16 Preview

Browns vs. Pittsburgh – Game #16 Preview

The Final Game of the 2015 Season – Browns vs. Steelers

It’s finally here; after many months of bad football the Browns will finally end the campaign at home against the black and yellow. I have (painfully) witnessed fifteen contests for this franchise over the past few months, so I will fight though one more. Can they win? Sure. Will they compete and actually come out ahead of a playoff-hopeful team? We will discuss below.

Offense:

Quarterback – Since the last time Johnny Manziel faced the Steelers, the quarterback has had some highs and lows (both on and off the field) – but more importantly he has gained vital experience. He reverted more to running last game, but I anticipate he will stick primarily in the pocket and tossing passes to his targets. He will find the end zone in this game, and I do not see a bad interception like his past two contests.

Running Back – Both backs have continued to improve this season; why can’t this continue against the black and yellow? Isaiah Crowell will not get more than seventy-yards on the ground, but should be able to get into the end zone. I would like to think that Duke Johnson could both help in the passing game (as a receiver) as well as providing a decoy on designed runs for Manziel. Hopefully the rookie can do his job exceptionally this week. 

Wide Receiver – Once again, I do not foresee a tremendous amount of output from Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, and company, as that appears to be the norm since Brian Hartline’s injury. The wide outs should be able to haul in passes and move the chains – but that’s all one should anticipate. A score would be icing on the cake in this matchup, but don’t hold your breath. 

Tight End – Gary Barnidge continues to display an ability to be a reliable weapon for this offense. However staying on nine touchdowns should give him (and the team as a whole) a desire to break the franchise’s single season record for touchdowns caught by a tight end. I would be disappointed if he was unable to score a touchdown, but the defense he will face is a stingy one. Perhaps Jim Dray can possibly get involved and help this offense as well.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront continue to look respectable, despite looking lost early and succumbing to injuries late. Even Cam Erving was not terrible last game – I would like to believe he is working through rookie issues but this game will be a tremendous test for the guard. Will this be Alex Mack’s final game as a Cleveland Brown? This would not surprise me, and I hope he goes out a winner and does a fine job during this contest.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Can the Browns make it two games in a row, in terms of limiting opposing running backs from rushing for a great deal of yards? The way things are going; the odds are against this from happening. Danny Shelton is making a play or two but still is not consistent enough to be a force in the middle of the defensive line. Perhaps Desmond Bryant can fill gaps on the edge and meet DeAngelo Williams in the hole – prompting to shorter running plays.

Linebacker – As usual both Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby will be able to provide their services in run support, however struggle in pass coverage. On the outside, I have no idea what to expect from any of the guys. Paul Kruger can still rush the quarterback well, but he is asked to do that only a portion of the time. Rookie Nate Orchard is coming along; maybe he can be the wildcard if the Browns want to score the upset. Getting sacks and securing turnovers would be a reason why the team can earn this victory. 

Secondary – Hopefully K’Waun Williams and Charles Gaines can take their next step improving as professional cornerbacks. They (along with Tramon Williams) had their issues at Heinz Field, but were able to keep up with receivers over the past few games. I really hope both can keep it up, as the opposition will try its hardest to embarrass the secondary. I would be all for Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner being active in this matchup and making an impact – but do not envision this occurring yet again.

Special Teams: I look for fakes on punts; onsides kicks, and changes to blocking in the field goal unit for the Browns this week. This could actually be a part of the game that the Browns can win in – however they must be smart when punting to Antonio Brown.  A winning kick would be a great way to end the season, but many other positives must occur first.

Coaching: I hope John DeFilippo continues to call plays they way he has been the last few games. The offense has not been clicking on all cylinders, but they have been executing more as of late (especially via the running game). Defensively, the Browns pitched a shut out in the second half last week. Whatever Jim O’Neil did needs to be replicated for all four quarters in this game.

Prediction (My Record: 10 – 5): The Browns keep this contest close in the first half, but the Steelers blow it wide open in the third quarter. That leads to a defeat of 30 – 14 and the end to this bad year of Cleveland Browns football.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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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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Browns vs. Redskins – Review of Game #1

Browns vs. Redskins – Review of Game #1

Review of Game #1 – Browns vs. Redskins

It was nothing flashy, but a respectable outing by the Cleveland Browns. The starting units held their own against the visitors and were beneficiaries of a few costly mistakes early. Overall it was a solid starting point for the 2015 campaign. Let’s review what went down at First Energy Stadium.

Offense:

Quarterback – The game plan for the offense appeared to be, “take what the defense gives you”. No matter if it was Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel under center; the Browns were content in dumping shorter routes as opposed to attempting longer throws. McCown ushered a seventy-five yard touchdown, while Manziel ran in a score as well. There’s quite a bit of room to grow, but not a terrible start for this duo.

Running Back – I believe this position will be extremely deemphasized during all of this exhibition season. This is probably for the best, as there is little to gain, while the threat of injuries loom large. That said, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West had a pedestrian performance in this contest (Crowell’s biggest play might have been a tackle on special teams). I am not too concerned about this group right now – but improvement will be needed in the coming weeks.

Wide Receivers – McCown hit a few of his targets early on – that was the hightlight of the receiving game for the Browns. Brian Hartline made some nice moves in open field, while Travis Benjamin got open and advanced the ball. The duo combined for five grabs, tops for all guys in the first half. I would still like to see the whole group be available (including Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor) but that might not come for some time.

Tight End – Not a tremendous amount of output by the tight ends. Gary Barnidge, Jim Dray, and Rob Housler could not secure a catch with the first and second units. However, rookie E.J. Bibbs had one reception for five yards – leading the group when most of the starters were playing. I expect the team to utilize this position group in the regular season, which athletes and how many targets is the question.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Danny Shelton led the unit that held the Redskins in check when rushing the football. It was not until the backups went in when the orange and brown struggled in stopping their opponents on the ground. Other that that, it was a quiet night for this group (which is not surprising). There were zero designed edge rushers and nothing to confuse their opponents. Hopefully we will get more of a look at this group next Thursday.

Linebackers – It was somewhat quiet by this unit as well, at least early on. The trio in the inside was solid in making plays when given the opportunities. All three had key stops in the first half of this contest. Only Paul Kruger’s hit on Robert Griffin III was noteworthy by the outside linebackers – the rest was forgettable. Without Barkevious Mingo available, Scott Solomon could not stand out as a viable replacement. However, next week is another opportunity for the veteran to make his mark.

Secondary – The absences of Joe Haden and Pierre Desir were felt early and often. Justin Gilbert was picked on during the first two drives of the Redskins. Aside from Pierre Garcon getting behind him and dropping an easy pass – Gilbert looked decent in coverage. He’s got to improve tremendously (and fast), but I suppose this game can be a stepping-stone for the second year pro. Tashaun Gipson made a few nice plays at safety; I am glad he picked up where he left off in 2014.

Special Teams: Forcing a pair of turnovers early, successfully making a field goal, and having decent returns on kickoffs and punts all occurred by the orange and brown. That’s about all you can ask for in the first game of the preseason. I envision necessary growth by this unit during the regular season.

Overall, I am content that the Browns can build from this performance. They were not great, but much better than they have been in years past in exhibition openers – and ahead of their counterparts (at least when the starters were playing).

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Preseason Game #1 – Washington @ Cleveland – Preview

Preseason Game #1 – Washington @ Cleveland – Preview

Preview of Preseason Game #1 – Browns vs. Redskins

Finally!  After months of waiting, the NFL Draft, Free Agency, and multiple practices – the Cleveland Browns get to take the field against another opponent.  This is an NFC East foe who is not too familiar with the orange and brown, despite a Monday Night Football matchup last exhibition.  Let’s hope the Browns’ offense plays better in 2015 against these guys.  (As usual, I omit coaching from my preview as this is a very vanilla time and they will not tip their hands with play calls.)

Offense:

Quarterback – It’s Josh McCown’s opportunity with this team’s offense.  He has excelled for the most part in practice and has helped his teammates both in the huddle and on the sideline.  I would like him to complete a few passes of different lengths and finish off at least one drive with a touchdown.  As far as backups go, improvement, improvement, improvement is extremely vital.  I know it’s not regular season speed, but Manziel must look a ton better than last fall.

Running Back
– The hamstring injuries to Terrance West and Duke Johnson sort of took the air out of this position group.  My feelings remain the same for this exhibition year as any other – don’t risk any injuries to running backs that will play this fall.  Therefore, maybe Isaiah Crowell should play one series in this contest.  Other than that, it should be Luke Lundy, Shaun Draughn, and one of the new additions shouldering the load against Washington.

Wide Receiver – Here is where things get interesting.  Depending on the type of offense this team will employ on Thursday, I am eager to see which guys are put into certain scenarios.  Bowe and Hartline should each have a grab for a modest gain, while I hope to see Taylor Gabriel attempt a long reception.  The next battle I am eager for is Vince Mayle against Terrelle Pryor and Travis Benjamin.  This trio has gained a lot of positive marks thus far – who will take the first step in securing a final roster spot?

Tight End – It appears that three guys will make this team among four candidates.  The question is whether rookie free agent E.J. Bibbs can knock Rob Housler, Jim Dray, or Gary Barnidge from this roster.  I believe he can steal a spot – but he must make an immediate impact when joining this contest.  He will likely enter in the latter stages, so he ought to excel against guys who probably will not start this fall.  Other than that, I would like to see a couple nice grabs from this group against Washington.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Coach Jim O’Neil has said repeatedly this offseason that “we will stop the run”.  Well, it’s not the regular season – but limiting the opposition on the ground should be the defensive game plan for the Browns.  Danny Shelton, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and John Hughes must be able to hold their own.  On the outside, I would like to see different combinations to determine which guys work best with each other.  It might be a pair of veterans like Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks. Perhaps a speedy rookie (i.e. Xavier Cooper) and a strong veteran might be a solid fit.

Linebacker – Not a whole lot to focus on up the middle, as it might be Tank Carder versus Hayes Pullard for the fourth inside linebacker role.  The other three (Dansby, Kirksey, and Robertson) might play sparingly and I already know what they can do.  The outside is where we can finally get some answers.  Will Scott Solomon get the
nod opposite Paul Kruger?  Can Barkevious Mingo finally live up to the first round hype?  What should we expect from rookie Nate Orchard? Thursday night can be telling.

Secondary – Touted as one of the best in the league, the Browns’ secondary should be hitting on all cylinders; it just might not happen until September.  The fight among K’Waun Williams, Pierre Desir, and Justin Gilbert for the third and fourth cornerback jobs will continue – perhaps one guy will step up tremendously.  I do not expect the safeties to be too active in the exhibition season but I will still keep my eye on Ibraheim Campbell to track the rookie’s development.

Special Teams:

Some modest punt and kick returns would be a welcomed sight for this Cleveland Browns fan.  Both were missing in 2014, and that needs to be a part of this team if they want any chance of offensive success. Travis Benjamin might get the first shot, getting back to his old form is vital if he wants to resume his role as a returner.  I also would like to see what Justin Gilbert, Shane Wynn and Taylor Gabriel bring to the table (as Duke Johnson won’t suit up).

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Prior to Training Camp – Defensive Outlook

Prior to Training Camp – Defensive Outlook

Part II of Where We Stand – the Cleveland Browns

In continuing our look of position groups prior to the commencement of training camp, we turn to the defensive side of the football. I understand there is a bit of speculation when breaking down players at this point of a campaign, but until the athletes are putting themselves on game film – that’s all we got at this point. Let’s take a gander at the guys on defense.

Defensive Line: Depth, depth, and more depth – all the Browns need is to keep away from disastrous injuries. Phil Taylor, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and Danny Shelton man the interior of the group. I figure they should put up more of a resistance against running backs than their counterparts did a year ago. Meanwhile the outside linemen include Desmond Bryant, Randy Starks, John Hughes, Billy Winn, and Xavier Cooper. Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil stated he might employ more four-men fronts as he has an arsenal of talent at that position. That appears to be a wise move, especially if Cooper shows his first-step burst he displayed in college. At that point, it’s as almost as if there’s an outside linebacker (speed-wise) playing on the defensive line. 

Outside Linebackers: Here is an interesting group for the Cleveland Browns. Barkevious Mingo will be fighting for his job, while Armonty Bryant will do his best to transition from his defensive end spot from a year ago. What should the Browns expect from Nate Orchard? That remains to be seen, but if he can compile tackles and sacks, and either Mingo or Bryant can shine – then Paul Kruger will finally have the company he was hoping for when he signed his free agent deal a few years ago.

Inside Linebackers: This needs to be the year where the Browns go from having a group of serviceable inside linebackers to one where they possess relentless ones who alter game plans. Should the team expect Chris Kirksey, Craig Robertson, and Karlos Dansby to make tackles, excel in coverage, and instill fear? The two youngsters must add to their repertoire beginning in training camp, if they want to become an elite unit. Robertson bettered his coverage skills tremendously in 2014, now he ought to focus on getting to the quarterback and disrupting offenses. I would like to see a fourth member step up in the summer months, will it be veteran Tank Carder or an unsuspecting rookie (i.e. Hayes Pullard)?

Safeties: Not a ton of concern in this group, as the position featured a duo that went to the Pro Bowl. Toss in an improving Jordan Poyer and promising rookie Ibraheim Campbell, and that’s one exceptional gang of safeties. I understand that Donte Whitner is getting long in the tooth and expect to see Poyer (and possibly Campbell) more in passing situations, but the veteran still remains capable on every play. In camp, I will keep an eye on the non-starters to see how they push Whitner and Tashaun Gipson.

Cornerbacks: Another area where the Browns appear to have a dearth of talent. Losing Buster Skrine might have hurt, until they grabbed Tramon Williams in free agency. The group should prevent the big play, but I desire to see what Justin Gilbert, K’Waun Williams, and Pierre Desir can do against Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins (to name a few). If the youngsters appear to pick up this defense, coach O’Neil might have some difficult decisions to make. The talent at cornerback is a plenty, and for the first time in awhile – I think the Browns can actually slow down opposing wide receiving units.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2015 in Players, Training Camp

 

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