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Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

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

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

Cam’s Gotta Go

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

Wideouts are a Problem

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

Kizer Conundrum

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

Sharpening that Saw

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

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

 

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Early Camp Observations

Early Camp Observations

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – What is Going on

Well, their first few practices did not include the players wearing pads – however that does not mean that a few things did not stand out for the orange and brown.  As expected, there were a handful of guys who excelled on the practice field.  From what I am reading, the team looks vastly improved (both by the size of the athletes, as well as in their play) from the 2016 crew.  Let’s delve further into a few areas of note.

Kizer’s Charge

Understandably, this is a time of the year for very positive (fluff) pieces regarding players on a historically struggling franchise.  Enter rookie signal caller Deshone Kizer – who has been receiving praise on his work ethic and study habits of the game.  He still has a large mountain to climb if he wants to become the Browns starting quarterback, but I like hearing good news about his attitude.  Using the past few campaigns as a guide, he will likely see some playing this fall following injuries at the quarterback position.

Offense Making Plays

Another less than shocking statistic is that the Browns’ offense has been moving the football against their defense.  It is hard to judge how well players are performing without pads, but I am glad to hear that Kenny Britt is trying to have fans forget about that guy who sold trinkets in college for tattoos (I’m not bitter though).  It is expected that veterans are stepping up early, but what about the younger receivers?  Going forward, I hope to read about the strides that Ricaro Louis and Rashard Higgins are making in Berea.

Rookies Making Mistakes

This refers to David Njoku succumbing to a pair of strips by defenders, causing the ball to come loose during practice.  The tight end later went on the Jugs machine and was scolded by Hue Jackson after practice was completed.  I am not surprised to hear about this sort of news – but I would prefer to read about Njoku learning from this and eliminating this from his game.  What kind of mistakes will Myles Garrett, Kizer, and Jabril Peppers make – and just as importantly, will they occur in camp or in the fourth quarter of game in December?

Conclusion:  It is extremely early in the 2017 NFL season, but I am hearing positive stories about the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously, the regular (and possibly post) season will not alway go smoothly – but getting out of the gates will be vital for this franchise.  That comes down to great preparation and practice in July and August.  How will putting on the pads change the team as a whole?  We will find out over the next few days.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2017 in NFL Season, Set Up, Training Camp

 

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Defensive Matchups to Watch

Defensive Matchups to Watch

Intriguing Battles on the Defensive Side:  Cleveland Browns Training Camp

In addition to his hard nose (and that’s putting it lightly) mentality, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have to monitor a handful of interesting match-ups among potential starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Being in the business for so long – Williams will be able to identify the right guy; what I would like to see is the coach getting the most of each of the athletes competing for a starting gig.

Logjam at Defensive Tackle

This refers to the three technique spot in the defensive line.  Assuming that Danny Shelton mans the zero/one technique role, and the Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett are the men on the edge – that leaves one spot remaining for the defensive line.  Desmond Bryant, Jamie Meder, Larry Ogunjobi, Caleb Brantley, and Carl Nassib could each be the missing link for this unit.  This is easily the most interesting position group to see who emerges from the Browns.  Bryant should be the front runner, but I would not sleep on one of the youngsters.  Meder has filled a role in run support, but perhaps his new contract has made him a bit more eager to improve as a player overall.

Third Linebacker

People have penned Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey as bona-fide linebackers who should be on the field a majority of the snaps during the upcoming question.  With the recent trade of Demario Davis, the question that comes is – who will be the third linebacker?  In addition, will the Browns utilize Nickel and Dime packages (with an additional secondary member or two on the field and one fewer linebacker) instead?  I would not be surprised with the latter, as the NFL has become a pass-heavy league over the years.  As far as the linebackers are concerned, Tank Carder and Dominique Alexander are two viable options, while second year pro Joe Schobert will get a shot.  I am intrigued with Alexander and Schobert and hope one impresses in training camp.  One thing is certain, the Browns desperately need a reliable guy outside of Collins and Kirksey.

Who Plays Safety

Ibrabheim Campbell, Trey Caldwell, Calvin Pryor, and Jabril Peppers are just four of the names who could possibly sew up roles for the safety spots in the orange and brown.  Toss in a Jason McCourty, and the Browns could have options in the defensive backfield.  The big issue is that none of these guys have a proven track record in the NFL – including Pryor, who was a former first round selection.  The door is wide open for Peppers to come in a take a job day one.  Like with other areas on this roster, the Browns will need a gigantic improvement in this part of the team before they can have a competitive defense.

Conclusion:  The offense should feature several good battles in training camp, but I am looking more towards the defense.  This unit could be above average in this league, but all hands will have to be on deck.  Additionally, the Browns can either utilize veterans or rookies on their squad – it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in NFL Season, Offseason, Players

 

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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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Three Losses Away – The Browns Did Not Win Today

Three Losses Away – The Browns Did Not Win Today

Browns Almost Win Again 

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

Can We See Some Improvement (at Center)?

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

How About a Pass Rusher?

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

Rust is Obvious

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

Still Can’t Stop the Run 

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

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

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

 

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The Calm Before the Storm: Cleveland Browns’ News

The Calm Before the Storm:  Cleveland Browns’ News

More News About the Browns 

There are just two more days until the Browns season finally(unofficially) kicks off! A pair of information nuggets surrounding the orange and brown recently came out; how they affect the team remains to be seen however. Hopefully the team was able to upgrade at one position, will they at another very soon?

Nick Hayden Inked

Well the Browns finally picked up a veteran defensive lineman to replace the injured Desmond Bryant. Free agent Nick Hayden was acquired to provide leadership to a young group upfront. He is not known for his pass rushing ability, so he will largely figure to be a factor on early downs. Hopefully he can prevent longer runs by opponents on the edge. I do not anticipate a great deal from Hayden, however (at least) mediocre play while allowing a rookie to come in and take the reins as the five-technique spot (i.e. Carl Nassib) would easily suffice.

That Gordon Guy 

The wide receiver who had a bunch of yardage three years ago (on a bad team) was recently back in the news – by speaking with the commissioner. On Monday, the suspended star was actually be reinstated into the NFL; under the condition he will still be suspended the first four games of the season.  As a Browns’ fan, I am waiting for his next slip and and am ready to move on. Will Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, and Andrew Hawkins be a feared receiving trio in this league? That is unlikely – especially in 2016 – but one thing is certain; they will be available to play all year long (barring injury). The Browns do not need yet another distraction this upcoming season. Plus isn’t getting kicked out of college, in addition to NFL suspensions in 2013, 2014, and 2015 (and now 2016) enough?  If the Browns can get something in return for the troubled wide out, would be a huge coup (though extremely unlikely).

Third Stringer (or Not?)

A bit has been made about Terrell Watson, the larger running back that coach Hue Jackson signed from his former employer – the Cincinnati Bengals. His upbringing has been documented, being given up by his teenage mother to be raised by his grandparents. It appears that Watson is ok with what happened and persevered though that and with learning disabilities. Last year, the rookie runner was on the practice squad; can he make the leap in 2016? Perhaps his personal over comings can translate onto the football field, but he will have to steal opportunities from either Duke Johnson or Isaiah Crowell. Another option is that he could unseat Malcolm Johnson at the fullback position – while not exactly glamorous, it could lead to the opportunity to stick with an NFL club.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2016 in NFL Season, Training Camp

 

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Possible Ramifications from the Super Bowl to the Browns

Possible Ramifications from the Super Bowl to the Browns

Did Super Bowl Change Browns’ Philosophy?

Everyone knows, by and large, that the NFL is an offense-based league that focuses squarely on the guy under centers.  However after witnessing the biggest game of the season, which was recently completed – some could wonder whether that is still the case.  Can the Browns build a winner as many have done in the league, or is there another way to go?

Discussion for Quarterbacks:  Looking at the Super Bowl from a year ago (and many others in history), teams like the Patriots continue to thrive in the league.  Having a franchise quarterback is vital for success and can turn the tables in tight contests.  Personally, I want the Browns to have the best signal caller possible – and to keep trying to find that guy each and every season.  The final four quarterbacks in this year’s postseason were Tom Brady and three first overall draft selections.

Therefore it only makes sense that they choose the top quarterback with the second overall pick.  The Browns can obtain excellent pass rushers, linebackers, as well as secondary members throughout the draft (provided the team actually chooses the right guys).

Reason for a Defense:  Let me start by saying that this point does not include having a less-than-average signal caller with the franchise. Sure the quarterback might not be a Hall of Famer or even exceptional, however the team would require at least a game manager and one who can make the most of his opportunities.  It’s not easy, but if the Browns’ defense can be the best in the league (in terms of yards and points allowed) – then they will be in line for a championship.

The problem with building franchises this way is that there are so many more moving parts involved than just the quarterback.  I
understand that finding great defenders is easier than a franchise signal caller – but the Browns would have to hit on many choices via the draft and free agency.  Also, they would need to drastically change the poor defensive culture and mindset.

Conclusion:  While Russell Wilson has been a good story of past seasons, and a thirty-nine year old Peyton Manning won a title with a fantastic defense – it is not time to over-think things.  The Cleveland Browns need to find their guy under center for years to come and surround him with talented playmakers.  This not only includes wide outs, but also defenders that can give the ball back to the offense.  Creating a new culture where the Browns are tenacious and believe they can win every single game would go a long way as well.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Offseason

 

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