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Updating the Cleveland Browns

Updating the Cleveland Browns

The Latest News Coming from Cleveland

Well, there are other things going on in the world of sports – outside of the NBA Finals.  The Browns are making moves both by acquisition and departure, hopefully they were the correct ones.  Meanwhile, a possible issue could be looming for one of the team’s better players.

The Trade (Heard Round the World?)

I am being a tad facetious when I mention the swapping of underachieving athletes between the Browns and the Jets.  The Browns sent linebacker Demario Davis to his former club and agreed to take Calvin Pryor (the former first round safety from the University of Louisville).  I am hoping that Pryor can fill in at the strong safety role for the orange and brown – while rookie Jabril Peppers plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role.  It’s a boom or bust proposition made by the Brown; a gamble I would prefer over Demario Davis.

Potential Contract Dispute?

It will be interesting to determine whether running back Isaiah Crowell will be on the roster for several more years or just though the 2017 campaign.  The veteran signed a restricted free agent tender a couple months ago, guaranteeing his spot on the club this year.  What will happen after this occurs?  The Browns have Duke Johnson and newly acquired Matthew Dayes to compete at the running back position.  I would venture that the team would add another talented runner to this group if they wanted to get rid of Crowell.  I would prefer the team keeps the veteran on this team, but that is the nature of the business – anywhere the team can upgrade, they should do it.

Latest Release

Before he could even put the pads on and get ready for training camp, Tyvis Powell was let go by the orange and brown.  Personally, I would have liked for him to compete on the gridiron to see what will be the best combination of safeties for this franchise.  However, the team did not agree with me and they will go the other direction.  I sincerely hope that Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds step up and provide solid play at that position.  Anything similar to what we saw in 2016 and the Browns are in trouble this fall.

Conclusion:  There were some under the radar rumblings for the Cleveland NFL franchise at this point in the season.  I firmly believe they will be improved from a year ago – but am far from confident that they are making all the correct decisions.  Hopefully the team has taken to the new leadership (especially on defense) and fans will see an up close difference during next month’s practices.

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Browns Game #8 vs. Jets – Breakdown

Browns Game #8 vs. Jets – Breakdown

Browns vs. Jets – Game #8 Preview

Well, for the first time in several weeks the Browns actually have a chance at winning a game on Sunday. Despite winning their last contest, the Jets come to town as an underwhelming bunch with quarterback issues. That being said, the Browns obviously have an bleak outlook at multiple positions on their roster. This game is likely to be a boring one…let’s have a look see.

Offense: 

Quarterback: I’m going to assume that Kevin Hogan will get a majority of snaps in this contest for the Browns (until he gets hurt). At that point, the Browns will have to yield to gimmicks and trick plays – their “traditional” quarterback position has not been spectacular at this point. I actually think that they can win this game without great play from this spot however.

Running Back: Despite being out gained by the backup quarterback, Isaiah Crowell did a solid job of gaining rushing yards. He will continue to get the lion’s share of carries this season, and depending on who is behind center – Crowell can get back to the level he was in the first few games. My weekly rant of getting Duke Johnson more involved continues; the reserve runner has been making the most of his opportunities. It would be nice to see him get an increased workload.

Wide Receiver: It’s extremely hard to evaluate a position group that is primarily based on the quarterback – especially when the team is on its sixth man under center. However, last game saw Andrew Hawkins, Terrelle Pryor, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis all get involved in the passing game. Pryor was not completely healthy, but he did his best to still make plays on the field. I want to see Higgins and Louis excel (while Corey Coleman is out), but the constant injuries to the quarterback makes it a little difficult for that to occur.

Tight End: Surprisingly, Gary Barnidge saw his most targets in quite some time last contest. The veteran did admirably, though his receptions did not produce a tremendous output (in terms of yardage). He can be a security blanket for a young quarterback, I would just prefer that guy under center be Cody Kessler and not Kevin Hogan. Another target outside of Barnidge would be nice, but the Browns can’t seem to find one.

Offensive Line: It appears that Cam Erving will miss more time going forward, thus John Greco will more than likely be the center for a bit. It will be interesting if Jonathan Cooper breaks through and finds an opportunity with this unit, or if Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman will continue to get the repetitions with the offensive line. It’s obvious that this part of the team is the reason why the quarterbacks are getting killed – hopefully the coaching staff can finally find a combination that can prevent a rush and a rash of injuries.

Defense: 

Defensive Line: As mentioned before, (against the Bengals) the run defense for the Browns was good in spurts but surrendered several long runs. I have faith in Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, and Xavier Cooper, but they need to be more consistent in stuffing the run for the opposition. Matt Forte is not nearly as great as Jeremy Hill (at least at this point in his career), but nonetheless the Browns will have a large challenge on their hands. One would expect the Jets to rely heavily on their ground game – the home team must prepare and shut this unit down.

Outside Linebacker: While Emmanuel Ogbah has been getting better and making plays, Joe Schobert has regressed a bit as an outside linebacker. I understand he is a middle round draft pick rookie, but he has not been tremendously involved in the Browns’ defensive highlights. I would like to think that his position group can get to the signal caller on a bad team like the Jets – but the Browns have not proved that they can do that up to this point. 

Inside Linebacker: I thought Chris Kirksey actually made some solid plays in last contest. It would be nice to see this continue, as the defense could use more consistency up the middle. Demario Davis ought to be active in the middle of the defense as well in this game. I’m still waiting on the big play to come from this unit, but that appears to be wishing for too much.

Safety: Tracy Howard is trying his best at the safety spot, but is playing just as well as his predecessors. The undrafted rookie has been invisible in coverage and when trying to stop the run. Not surprisingly, Derrick Kindred has not been any better either. The Jets feature one of the worst tight end situations in the NFL – but that is not any reason for Browns’ fans to breathe a sigh of relief.   All I ask is that this unit does not get burned on multiple occasions. 

Cornerback: I thought Briean Boddy-Calhoun was the best cornerback for the Browns last contest. While he has been ok, an undrafted rookie should not be leading a position group (especially this  early in the campaign). Brandon Marshall is the key option for the opposing team – he could make the Browns pay, given an opportunity. However, I have faith that the Browns will bounce back from last week – as A.J. Green is not on their roster. 

Special Teams: It appears that the special teams for Cleveland has somewhat settled down. They are not great, but also not the reason why they are losing ball games. I would really like to see the orange and brown do something to put the Jets in a bind – though recent history is not on their side.

Coaching: Hue Jackson continues to make play calls based on who he has available to play in contests. I haven’t found reason to second-guess the head coach, but there is a great deal of games remaining. I would like to see him put the offense in spots to beat the visiting team, but executing this is of the utmost importance.

Prediction (My Record: 7 – 0): I think the Browns can actually win this game, but until I see more I am not ready to pick them to succeed. The Jets come away with a 27 – 17 win at First Energy Stadium.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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What Came out from This Loss – Week Four Edition

What Came out from This Loss – Week Four Edition

Four Things I’ve Learned from the Browns

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

#1 – The Defense Needs Improvement 

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

#2 – The Offense Could Use Help

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

#3 – Margin for Error Remains Small 

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

#4 – Players Can Improve

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

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

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

 

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2016 Training Camp: Defensive Competitions

2016 Training Camp: Defensive Competitions

Training Camp Battles:  Defense

In the second part of our two-part series, we switch to the other side of the ball and focus on the defense.  This unit has nowhere to go but up, as they were either ranked last or near last in several categories in 2015.  Thus, the victor in a few competitions for playing time must be head and shoulders above the guy he is replacing from a season ago.

Outside Linebackers:  Armonty Bryant severely cost himself this season, with his four-game suspension to begin this September.  If many guys on the outside linebacker spots perform well in camp, the veteran might be released following his mandated time off.  That said, the Browns have Paul Kruger, Nate Orchard, Barkevious Mingo, and Emmanuel Ogbah as a few worthy members who will man the outside linebacker roles.  Mingo has fallen out of favor (for me and many others), so if the other three can provide a steady rotation – then perhaps this can become a reliable unit for the Browns.

Inside Linebackers:  Christian Kirksey is the lone remaining man in the middle from a season ago.  I would venture to say that he will be a starter once again in 2016, but who will join him?  Free agent acquisition Demario Davis is the likely choice.  Joe Schobert and Scooby Wright will more than likely begin their professional career on special teams (provided they make the final cuts).  However, if one can excel at a single thing (pass coverage, pass rush, etc.), then they might be on the field sooner rather than later.  Justin Tuggle, the free agent pickup appears to be a long shot for playing time.

Safeties:  Turnover was in full force for the safety position after last year’s disappointment.  Ibraheim Campbell is looking to fill the void (left by Whitner and Gipson) at one spot; will Jordan Poyer become the other full-time starter?  Rahim Moore was brought in this offseason – and with his poor 2015 outing, he will have something to prove in Cleveland.  There have also been rumors that former cornerback Pierre Desir could be shuffled to safety this campaign. Coach Horton needs to find guys who can support the run and stay with their man on passing situations (neither of which occurred in 2015).

Defensive Line: John Hughes and Danny Shelton are the favorites as starters for this defensive line.  However, the key decision will be who will be putting in time as a reserve.  Carl Nassib, Jamie Meder, and Xavier Cooper will be attempting to get some opportunities upfront.  I would like to say that the Browns finally have depth at their defensive line – however they must play up to their capabilities in order for this to occur.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2016 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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The Scuttlebutt Before the Draft

The Scuttlebutt Before the Draft

Latest Browns Chatter

We are just under two more weeks until the NFL Draft weekend begins in Chicago. Excitement continues throughout the league and enthusiasm is in the air for all teams and fans alike. I hope the Browns’ front office has their game plan in place (and more importantly their contingencies). I’ve said it once and I’ll say it until the draft kicks off – I’m fine with the team kicking out the veterans who have played poorly last year. However, they MUST hit on their replacements in the pending draft. Outside of this obvious statement, let’s see other news surrounding the Browns.

New Leaders for the Team

There has been turnover from the veteran athletes who will be donning the orange and brown, but will they be upgrades from the guys they replaced? The debate comes down to whether Demario Davis and Rahim Moore could be the veterans that Donte Whitner and Dwayne Bowe were not. I would like to be positive regarding this; however this type of thinking is very uncommon for the Browns and their history in free agency. In addition to good pick ups, the team still needs a solid quarterback, great coaching, as well as a couple of breaks to go their way. I’d like to think that these guys would be solid finds by this front office (we’ll see what happens from there).

Trading Down Talk

The rumors continue to swirl regarding the Browns passing down an earlier pick for more choices and additional opportunities. I remain in the camp that if the Browns do in fact trade down, they do it with at the thirty-second pick (as opposed to the second overall choice). The team must get their signal caller at the second spot. I am positive that they will not be this high in drafting for quite some time (provided they choose a quarterback), so they must get the best signal caller the draft has to offer. Meanwhile, the thirty-second choice has a ton to offer and could result in a tremendous opportunity. Gaining additional second or third round selections could be what the doctor ordered for this team.

Conclusion: The quiet times and anticipation continues prior to the NFL Draft. The Browns introduced several new veterans (including Griffin) – they look to actually hit on a few of these decisions. Meanwhile, the analytics continue to come out that trading down and acquiring additional selections is a wise move. However, I could possibly be on board for this in the second round and beyond (they need a quarterback, in case you didn’t watch them last year). Getting the best value and getting the picks right is what the draft comes down to.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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