RSS

Tag Archives: Duke Johnson

OTA News: Cleveland Browns

OTA News: Cleveland Browns

Organized Team Activities – What’s the Latest?

Despite being bombarded in the local and national news for who is not at voluntary practice, the Cleveland Browns actually held team activities over the past few weeks.  This is last time the guys will be together until training camp starts in late July.  There were headlines coming out for multiple position groups, which could make for interesting competitions this summer.  Let’s look further into what is going on in Berea.

Elephant in the Room

Odell Beckham Jr. has not been a participant in every OTA practice – just to put it out there for the millionth time.  Would I like to see him there every day?  Yes, of course – I want to see camaraderie within the wide receiver room as well as between that group and the quarterbacks.  However, I know he will be a solid (putting it mildly) player this regular season and hopefully postseason.  Making the most of his time at practices is all I am looking for at this point by OBJ.

Duke Johnson has also a been a no-show for the Browns’ practices.  His situation has been different, as he (with help from his agent) is looking forward to moving on to a situation where he is more predominantly featured in the team’s offense.  I don’t really know what I would say to Johnson and his representatives other than the team does not appear to want to trade you and you will have a role in this offense (at least for the first half of the season).  Duke has a right to not show up, but I expect Kitchens will make sure he and all the running backs get a ton of work during training camp.

Linebacker Room

In a not surprising move, Genard Avery has been spending time at both outside linebacker as well as defensive end.  I would love for him to be this team’s Swiss Army Knife, as he would provide depth to a group featuring Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon and could be another great pass rusher on third downs.  Meanwhile, keeping him at linebacker at times will limit the Browns having to employ either a rookie for a career backup as a starter.

Speaking of rookies, Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson have been working with the second units at the Mike (middle) and Will (weak side) linebacker spots, respectively.  This is how things should work in the NFL; for so long the Browns had no talent and depth so rookies came in and had to be the “guy” immediately.  Can one or both jump into the starting roles this season?  Of course, but I would rather them prove it day in and day out on the field first.

Adarius Taylor is the veteran who has been getting first team reps at the Sam (strong side) linebacker spot.  I would be a little surprised if he holds on to that job for the season (at least full-time) but a part-time role would not be a bad move by the club.  I am very eager to see what he, Avery, Takitaki, and Wison do in camp this summer and how the linebacker position group shakes out.

Waiting in the Wings

Highlights have been prominently displayed featuring good plays made by wide receiver Rashard Higgins.  The fourth year target for Baker Mayfield had a slow start to his career, but came on strong to end the 2018 campaign.  Couple that with the fact he will likely see opponent’s fourth best defensive back at any given time, and Higgins has a real shot to make some plays for this offense.  I would be surprised to see him eclipse Antonio Callaway as the team’s third wide out, but knowing (and owning) his role can help himself (via future contract possibilities) in addition to the team.

The Browns’ coaching staff are really liking what Kareem Hunt has been doing on and off the field since becoming a member of the team.  Staying healthy, making wise decisions off the field, and maintaining an appetite for football that can wait until November are three vital traits that Hunt will need this offseason.  I hope he slides right in and looks like the 2017 version of the guy running the ball, but many things need to go right in the next five months prior to that occurring.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Work Done

Getting Work Done

John Dorsey Putting in Work

The Browns announced a pair of signings earlier this week, which was music to my ears.  Following the overhaul of the roster a few months ago – general manager John Dorsey acquired a solid free agent and re-signed a reliable pass catching running back.  Not to belabor the point (but I will) – I am finally glad to see a front office acquiring and keeping talent as opposed to letting them walk out the door.  Let’s look into these signings a bit more.

Mychael Kendricks

The Browns added a fourth member to the linebacker corps and a good one at that.  Coming off a Super Bowl championship, Kendricks should help this franchise with his pass rushing ability.  I am eager to see how the rotation will go for this unit.  Will the newcomer supplant the team’s lone Pro Bowler from a season ago (in Joe Schobert)?  Could the Browns put all four linebackers on the field at the same time?  One thing is certain – depth was much needed for this group, and it was the only spot of the team that this was previously not the case.  It’s a shame to see Tank Carder being released as a result, as he was a tremendous special teams’ athlete.  However, upgrading the roster is the name of the game.

Duke Johnson

It was announced that running back Duke Johnson signed a three year contract extension, keeping him on the roster in a short-term window.  While the Browns have Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde already in the running back room (a pair of capable backs), nothing is given at this position.  Injuries and underperformance should be accounted for – thus by having three options here, the team is hedging their bets that at least one guy will work out.  Historically, offensive coordinator Todd Haley utilizes a single back a.k.a. “bell cow” in his offense to carry (and catch) the load.  I am not sure this will be the case in 2018, as Johnson ought to be on the field as a receiver, while either Chubb or Hyde will be getting carries.  Whether that is the actual scenario or not, I am excited to see how the team’s offense shakes out.

Conclusion:  The signings continue for the team, and still might not be over (as there is over a month until training camp).  However, the infusion of talent and the reports that the locker room is drastically better than it was a year ago continue to give me faith that I will enjoy games in the fall.  I hope to make it out for camp next month, but more importantly to not hear about player X getting arrested or suspended for something avoidable.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 9, 2018 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 19, 2017 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Glance into Browns @ Bills

A Glance into Browns @ Bills

Browns @ Buffalo:  Game Number Fourteen

I cannot sugar coat this season, it was been painful to watch and the positives are few and far between.  However, this is another contest I feel the Browns will have a slight opportunity to secure a victory.  The odds are stacked against them as they travel east and face a rather solid football team – who is expected to win by double digits.  There are four reasons why the orange and brown could still strike the upset, let’s take a further look into these.

Distention in the Ranks

There have been rumors surrounding the future of Bills’ coach Rex Ryan as he navigates his way to another losing season.  Have there been talks between management and the coaching staff?  Will this affect the way the coaches call this game plan on Sunday?  It might be all for naught, as Ryan was in a similar situation in 2013 (with the Jets) and defeated the Browns in a contest late in the season – en route to saving his job that year.

(Actually) Scouting the Opponent

Le’Veon Bell is undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the NFL and plays like it week in and week out.  He had a historic performance last week in Buffalo; I would have to imagine that coach Jackson and the Browns will attempt to stick the run themselves.  I know Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are nowhere near the level of Bell, but maybe they can find holes in the defense and can make things much easier for the offense.

Quarterback Question Mark

Along the lines of the head coach, the guy under center has come under much scrutiny and could be replaced in the near future.  However, Tyrod Taylor will be the starting quarterback for the opposition in this matchup.  I have never understood what the Bills saw in him and felt he was mediocre at best.  One way the Browns could win this game, is due to Taylor succumbing to the pressure of being benched and trying to make plays that simply aren’t there.  Forcing turnovers and getting points is something the Browns’ defense desperately needs.

Negative Momentum

Losing five of its last seven meetings, the team in Buffalo is getting antsy.  (I understand that it is not as bad as it is here, but our front office is ok with losing this year).  This is further pressure placed on the organization and everyone who is responsible for their success.  It will be interesting to see how the home team responds to this; hopefully they are not up to the challenge.

Conclusion:  I really want to pick the Browns to win this contest, but I would rather be correct.  The Browns will not fall behind the way they did a week ago but might find themselves in a hole late in this game.  I anticipate a steady dose of LeSean McCoy early, leading to a play action touchdown or two.  Robert will try to rally the troops but come up just short as the Browns fall 27 – 20.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 14, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Browns vs. Giants Preview

Browns vs. Giants Preview

Browns – Giants Matchup

It’s another contest for the orange and brown and the red-hot Giants come to town.  Once again, expectations for success should be low – but let’s review why.

Locker Room Chatter

Following last week’s horrid performance, Browns players finally sounded off about the state of the franchise.  I can’t imagine everyone shaking that off and coming together for a victory.  What is more likely is continued frustration and finger pointing at others.

McCown Back

Again, I respect Josh McCown and the type of guy he is, but he will not win a game for the Browns.  Anticipate a costly turnover or two – maybe with a touchdown in there too.  Bottom line is that it will not be good enough for the orange and brown.

The Giants are Good

Let’s not forget who the Cleveland Browns are facing.  Eli Manning does have a history of throwing multiple interceptions, while the opponent does not feature a stout rushing attack.  However, Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard will likely see handfuls of attempts, yardage, and possibly touchdowns.

That Offensive Line

Let’s not forget about the unit upfront who has been ill-equipped to either run block or not kill the guy under center.  Jason Pierre-Paul and company should feast on their counterparts at First Energy Stadium.

Conclusion:  I’m predicting the Browns to lose again on Sunday – by at least two touchdowns.  The good news is that the team finally hits their bye week after this matchup.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2016 in NFL Season, Players, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Where Have I Seen This Before?

Where Have I Seen This Before?

Browns Blownout Again by New England

There was an awful outing by the offense and defense, and another quarterback got injured.  Just another Sunday for the Cleveland Browns, as they now have an 0 – 5 record and look less than excellent.  Let’s look more into what came about from this loss.

#1 – Kessler Can Play

Prior to his injury, quarterback Cody Kessler displayed signs that he can be a serviceable signal caller in the NFL.  He made smart decisions and tossed a touchdown pass in the first quarter.  We’ll see how he plays once he returns to this lineup, but I remain confident in the rookie up to this point.

 #2 – Secondary Needs Work

This is an obvious statement, as the Browns could not stop any receiving option for the away squad.  It did not matter who was in coverage, the home team allowed Tom Brady to play pitch and catch down the field.  They must address this part of the roster in the offseason – until that happens, we will witness the same awful play.

#3 – Can’t Match Opponent’s Blueprint

It was widely known that the Patriots were going to game plan against the Browns by taking away the Browns’ running attack.  Did Cleveland figure out a way to counter this?  No, and the running offense was very lethargic when the game was still in doubt.  A sign of good teams is to find ways to overcome when opponents limit them; it is apparent that the Browns are not there yet.

#4 – Tight End Troubles

The terror of not being able opposing tight ends continued, as Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett made the Browns look silly.  Bennett had three touchdowns – and they all seemed to come with ease.  Meanwhile, Gronkowski had a reception early in game and the Browns looked like children trying to tackle a grown man.  It’s great that this game finally ended for the Browns.

Conclusion:  I fully expected a pummeling by the Patriots and that was exactly the case at First Energy Stadium.  Outside of a few nice plays made by Terrelle Pryor, there was little to no positives for the orange and brown.  Hopefully they can come back next week and try to get a victory on the road.  But until that happens, the struggles continue.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 9, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Who Didn’t See that Coming – Browns Lose

Who Didn’t See that Coming – Browns Lose

A Recap of Game #14 – Browns @ Seahawks 

Well it was a great start to this game, but after that it was all downhill for the orange and Brown. Johnny Manziel and the offense were decent but the defense was once again awful. In the end, I came away thinking less of the Seahawks. I don’t believe they are a great team – they simply feasted on a weak team. Let’s look more into this game.

Offense:

Quarterback – Johnny Manziel made several plays and avoided a few key sacks. I did not expect the signal caller to excel in this contest (and he didn’t) but figured he would be respectable. That was pretty much the case in this matchup. If the Browns want to keep the quarterback and pair him with playmakers, the franchise might actually have something under center. That is a long ways a way, however.

Running Back – The more productive back in this contest was Duke Johnson. The rookie had a couple decent runs between the tackles, but he was also able to catch and run as a receiver. I was not surprised to see the running game struggle mightily, but the fact that DeFilippo was able to still utilize the backs was something that was sorely needed. Hopefully they can improve upon this output next game. 

Wide Receiver – Drops, drops, and more drops for the wide outs – that’s what happens when you have a depleted unit. Terrelle Pryor, Marlon Moore, and Travis Benjamin each missed on great opportunities in this contest. It is beyond obvious that this team needs a top-flight target for their quarterback who can command double teams and haul in passes in traffic.

Tight End – It was Gary Barnidge doing Gary Barnidge things in this game. The tight end hauled in a touchdown (his ninth of the year, tied for the most in franchise history) and made a tremendous play to pick up a third down. Once again, he was only guy within this group to make a play – unless you could Jim Dray breaking up a possible interception in the first quarter. No E.J. Bibbs in this game, and I continue to be disappointed.

Offensive Line – John Greco got hurt early and left the game in the first quarter. Filling in, rookie Cameron Erving continued to look rough and was dominated consistently. I hope he is just learning the tricks of the trade and will pick up the professional game – but I do not have a lot of confidence at this point. The other guys held up their end of the bargain; which is a tall order against the Seattle defense.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Facing a third (or fourth) string running back, I would like to believe that the Browns were decent against the running game. They did allow a fair amount of yardage to several backs (including the quarterback) – but it could have been a ton worse. Danny Shelton made some nice tackles, and Xavier Cooper was active upfront. Meanwhile Desmond Bryant did his best to be around the football all contest long. However that was not the reason why the defense failed today.

Linebacker – Once again the outside linebackers were invisible and could not take the shrimpy quarterback down with a sack. Maybe Nate Orchard can be a solid linebacker, but this coaching staff is putting him in spots to stop the run. Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo never rushed the signal caller and could not help in run support. On the inside, Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey had some tackles but there were far from disruptive. 

Secondary – I don’t care if it was Charles Gaines, Pierre Desir, or Johnson Bademosi – the cornerbacks were awful in all aspects of coverage. They simply could not cover Doug Baldwin – who is apparently Jerry Rice. It’s pathetic to see a little guy hit less than talented guys for multiple scores, especially when the Browns cannot do this. There needs to be some changes next year – I don’t care if it’s coaching or personnel but this is just sad. 

Special Teams: Raheem Moestert might have been the best player for the Browns in this game. The new returner made the most of his opportunities and actually returned kicks past the twenty-yard line. Realistically, this part of the roster was not why the team was defeated handily.

Coaching: I’m tired of defending this coaching staff (especially for the defense) – they are putting guys in bad spots and making them make plays they simply are not able to. I like DeFilippo and what he has done but the defensive game plans are terrible. Two more games of this garbage and then there’s more time off from watching bad football.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 20, 2015 in NFL Season

 

Tags: , , , , , ,