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The Hay is in the Barn – NFL Draft

The Hay is in the Barn – NFL Draft

All Ready to Go for April 26 – 28

The Browns have done their homework, talked to prospects in person, and made transactions to both acquire guys who can help this franchise as well as gain value for members who would have likely been released in the coming months.  It appears that they are ready to go for the NFL Draft that is just under three weeks away.  We take a deeper look into their recent activity.

Turning Over the Quarterback Room

A few weeks after former starting quarterback DeShone Kizer was traded away, now the remaining two signal callers met the same fate.  Cody Kessler was shipped to Jacksonville for a conditional seventh round pick next year.  Also, Kevin Hogan is now a member of the Washington Redskins, who agreed to swap sixth round selections later this month.  Looking back at it, the Browns got relatively nothing for either guy.  Clearly John Dorsey saw little value in either guy and was happy to get whatever he could.  Having only two quarterbacks currently on the roster would lead me to believe that they will get a pair more prior to training camp beginning.  Will it be the first overall selection and one in the later rounds?  Or, will the Browns scoop up another veteran in the coming months?  The latter is the more likely option, but one thing is for certain.  Whomever the Browns choose as their franchise quarterback will have a dearth of knowledge to bounce ideas off of and questions to ask in the quarterback room.  This was clearly not the case in 2017 and it showed.

Another Pickup

The Browns recently added wideout Jeff Janis to the roster.  The former Packer is expected to perform well on special teams and might get some opportunities as a wide receiver.  Granted he had Aaron Rodgers throwing to him, but Janis did make some spectacular plays a few seasons ago.  He will not have that luxury here, but perhaps he can still perform well.  I’m tired of seeing poor special teams play by the Browns and expect Janis to help in this area.  Any help on offense would be a bonus.

Draft Talk

All the headlines appear to gravitate towards former college head coaches and announcers not vouching that “their guy” gets selected first overall by the Cleveland Browns.  Whether I am referring to Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold, people appear to have taken their sides (as to whom is better) and are using the aforementioned comments as to reasons why the Browns should take a certain player at number one.  I am still on board with not caring which quarterback the team takes – as long as it is the right guy.

At number four, I simply want to see the team take an outstanding playmaker.  I appreciate what Saquon Barkley can do on a football field, but taking a running back that early would not be my choice.  The Browns have solidified their secondary in free agency, but there are still two great options to choose (Ward and Fitzpatrick).  Meanwhile, the defensive line is still far from set and adding Chubb to the mix would not be a terrible idea either.

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Here Come the Moves!

Here Come the Moves!

Browns are Active in Free Agency

In an eventful Friday evening, the Cleveland Browns made a trio of trades to bring in some talented veteran football players.  Granted, these cannot be made official until the league year begins next Wednesday – but many fans of the organization appear to be excited.  I completely understand this line of thinking for two reasons:  the Browns are getting guys under contract (not simply castoffs) who are still young enough to be productive for many years, and they are the franchise being aggressive and acquiring talent as opposed to letting their own free agents walk.  Let’s look at the three moves.

Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver

What has been the knock on the Cleveland Browns for the last handful of seasons (if not longer)?  The have been ranked at the bottom or close to that, in terms of the wide receivers’ output.  Trading only a fourth and a seventh round draft selection for a productive veteran appears to be a shrewd move, but going the veteran wide receiver route has underwhelmed in the past.  I believe Landry has a better head on his shoulders than Dwayne Bowe and Kenny Britt – so I think the Browns were the winner in this trade.  That said, upon hearing the news I was excited but noted that he needs someone good to throw to him.

Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback

Not much longer after the Landry deal was announced, the Browns gave up their third round draft selection to acquire a playoff signal caller from last season.  In a bit of a surprising move, the team has their bridge quarterback – and in that a guy who has one of the lowest turnover rates at that position over the past two seasons.  This was a huge detriment to the 2017 offense, who frequently gave the ball to the other team (especially in the red zone).  Personally, I am ok with this move – Taylor is not my favorite option as a veteran signal caller but the team could do a lot worse than him.  The only concern is that Taylor might be a different style of player than the guy they draft.  This begs the question, will there be issues with the rookie’s development?

Demarious Randall – Cornerback

The final move of the day left the Browns with a new starting cornerback in exchange for DeShone Kizer and swapping positions in the fourth and fifth round selections.  I hate to see the team give up so quickly on Kizer, but I have to believe John Dorsey knows what he’s doing.  They have already upgraded at that position and will fortify it furthermore in the draft.  Back to the trade – Randall should be familiar to Browns’ fans as he blanketed Josh Gordon last season.  He’s not a lockdown cornerback but at the very least he fills the void left by Joe Haden (who was released last season).  I expect another secondary member to be added to the franchise, but it will be interesting when (in what round of the draft) and whether it’s a safety or cornerback.  I am in full support of this move and hope Randall is a cornerstone of Gregg William’s defense for years to come.

Conclusion:  The Browns got better by a handful of transactions.  I know they have nowhere to go but up from last year, but if this is any indication of John Dorsey – I expect a solid draft.  Next week could further this excitement or be anti-climactic, but this was still a great start for the 2018 Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, NFL Season, Players

 

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Cleveland Browns – Bye Week

Cleveland Browns – Bye Week

The Bye Week Blues:  Cleveland Browns

Another midseason break and the Browns do not have a win to their name – just like the 2016 squad.  Despite not playing a contest this weekend, negative news continued to trickle out around Berea.  Both local and national media continue to pile on the orange and brown (and probably rightly so).  The train has gone off the rails (or further from the rails, depending on who you ask) and the dissension within the ranks is becoming more apparent.  Now, let’s take a look at some of the recent happenings for the team.

Trade that Didn’t Occur

A second and a third round selection for a backup quarterback (who is not named Steve Young)?  That was the apparent asking price for A.J. McCarron by the Cincinnati Bengals – and the Browns were inches from pulling the trigger on the deal.  There have been conflicting reports of who supported the swap and who didn’t, but I am glad the team did not approve the trade.  Honestly I don’t care who did what – but I am concerned that ONCE AGAIN the front office and the coaches appear to not be on the same page.  I am glad the team did not throw away a pair of selections for a mediocre signal caller, but more of the same for this franchise.

Josh Gordon Reinstatement

The second bit of news to hit the news is the suspension being lifted for troubled wide out Josh Gordon.  The Browns’ star had a tremendous campaign in 2013, but has largely been held out of games in his professional career – due to drug and other substance abuse infractions.  Personally, I anticipate he will not play a snap for the orange and brown (and a release might be granted in the near future).  Having said that, my expectations are low if he does appear in a contest for the Browns.  I understand he is only twenty-six years old, but all those games off will keep him ill-prepared for the rigors of the NFL.  Stay tuned, Browns fans.

Where We Go from Here?

The Browns are staring down the barrel of a defeated season with the coach stating that they have to play perfectly to win a game.  Other than that, all is well in Browns town.  I don’t know what the team is planning on doing for the rest of the season or this offseason, but I would just love to witness several wins (more than two is probably asking too much).  Avoiding an 0-16 season would be ideal.

Conclusion:  I’m not going to lie, these past three and a half seasons have taken a toll on me as a Browns’ fan and blogger.  They used to play poor football and would still win a few games – making those Sundays enjoyable.  Now, it’s sheer misery each and every week with this team.  I try not to pile on (like everyone else), but they are making it extremely difficult.  When will things finally improve?

 
 

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Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

What is Going on in Browns’ Town

In the week in between the rookie minicamp practices and the veteran group practices, there were some noteworthy events that occurred for the Cleveland Browns.  The first was an unfortunate injury that happened to a recently signed draft selection, followed by a veteran signing shortly thereafter.  After that was a needed break by the franchise that has not been common for this franchise.

Howard Wilson Injury

It was difficult and unfortunate to see rookie Howard Wilson suffer an injury (especially a non-contact one) so early in the campaign.  Similarly to what happened to Kyrie Irving two seasons ago, Wilson fractured his knee cap – this occurred during the rookie minicamp practices.  The NBA star was out several months following his surgery (in 2015).  It is still not set in stone as to
how he will rehab this injury, though.  Personally, provided Wilson is healthy, I would like to see him participate and gain valuable
experience in 2017.  With the recent news that he will not necessarily need surgery, he could still see a fair amount of action on the Browns’ roster this campaign. .

Jason McCourty Signing

Did the re-signing of Jamie Collins open the floodgates for future veterans to latch on to the Cleveland Browns?  I would not got that far just yet (however some in the media are already declaring this), but acquiring a solid veteran in Jason McCourty was a wise move by Sashi Brown and company.  McCourty will provide another veteran for a thin (in terms of experience) position group – especially following the injury to Howard Wilson.  I do not anticipate the former Tennessee Titan to light the league on fire during his time with the Browns; but he should be competent enough to eliminate the possibility that teams can play catch up-and-down the field against the secondary of the orange and brown.

Update on Caleb Brantley

Caleb Brantley was back in the news earlier this week – it was not negative this time around.  The rookie sixth-round selection entered the draft with battery charges towards a woman during an altercation in a bar.  Those charges were recently dropped, allowing the rookie to perform on the field without the dark cloud hanging over his head.  Assuming he can outperform his lowered expectations (as he fell mightily in the draft) – the Browns will have gotten tremendous value from the former Florida Gator.  I hoping that he is truly 100% innocent and did not escape his charge due to technicality, but there is a great chance that I and many others will never know.

Conclusion:  Following the unlucky injury news, the Browns received a pair of two positive stories regarding their roster.  My optimism in the 2017 season is slowly rising, but there is a long time between now and week one of the regular season.  I am particularly intrigued to see how different training camp is from 2016 one – as result from the infusion of talent.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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Thoughts about the Draft

Thoughts about the Draft

How I Feel about the Browns’ Draft

After several months of reports, smokescreens, and debate – the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books.  The Browns came away with ten selections and have improved their team overall (but all franchises can say that).  Let’s go a little more in depth regarding their selections.

Day 1 Picks:

Myles Garrett was a no brainer selection; I am glad the Browns made him their choice and look for him to play well immediately.  I am eager to see him coming off the edge opposite Emmanuel Ogbah and disrupting opposing quarterbacks.  Jabril Peppers was a bit of a stretch when taken at the twenty-fifth selection, but I will give him a chance.  After thinking about it, Gregg Williams should be able to find a role for Peppers (likely at strong safety).  I have no doubts he can support the run and can make plays with the football in his hands.  However, I still worry about his pass coverage.  David Njoku was a value pick and his athletic ability is unmatched.  He might take a year to develop but he might be a dominant tight end in this league.  At the end of the day, how much better are O.J. Howard and Malik Hooker than the two guys the Browns chose?  If the orange and brown secured a pair of athletes with little drop-off than the two aforementioned players – the trade down was worth it.

Day 2 Picks:

I will admit that I have never been a huge Deshone Kizer fan, but as is the same with Peppers – I will give the signal caller a chance.  The fact that the team waited and did not force the pick for a quarterback speaks volumes about the front office.  If he isn’t the guy, then try it again next year.  At least the team did not mortgage the future in the process of the draft.  Larry Ogunjobi is a guy I really did not whole a ton about prior to the draft.  After hearing his story, I am pulling for the guy and would like to see him line up opposite Danny Shelton at some point.

Day 3 Picks:

Two guys who stand out are Howard Wilson and Caleb Brantley.  The former is a cornerback who, despite being a one year starter, could compete in this secondary.  I do not have tremendous faith in him immediately, but he could surprise me and the coaching staff alike.  Brantley is an enigma; he has a second round talent but his pending misdemeanor for assault is something to worry about.  I hope the team did their homework, as wasting a draft selection is not anything this franchise can afford.

Conclusion:  I would rate the Browns draft as a B overall, but looking at the values (of the players) they got – an A is not out of the question.  I’m already for the group to suit up and begin practicing, but I know I now have to wait several months…

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Next Game – Browns @ Washington

Next Game – Browns @ Washington

Browns @ Washington – Game #4 Preview

The Browns have another road contest against a Washington team that had a huge win against their division rivals.  Once again the orange and brown will be underdogs and are expected to come away with a defeat.  However, will this be a situation where the home team comes in overconfident and plays tight (leading towards a possible upset?) It’s unlikely, but let’s discuss this game anyways.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I thought the coaching job done with Cody Kessler was exceptional last week; Hue Jackson did not put him in any difficult situations and lightened his load with Terrelle Pryor taking several snaps behind center.  I anticipate that the rookie quarterback will have more snaps than he did a week ago – but the play calling should be rather similar (shorter crossing and under routes).  Hopefully this is where Kessler finds his first career passing touchdown in the NFL.

Running Back:  Are we starting to see the Browns actually utilize their two running backs correctly?  Let’s hope that this can continue on Sunday – as they will rely heavily on this with their rookie signal caller.  I am gaining confidence in this unit, despite the struggles with the offensive line.  The big thing missing from Crowell and Johnson last contest was a trip to the end zone (though that feat was accomplished by Pryor).  I would not be surprised to see their fortunes change as they get more comfortable with this offense.

Wide Receiver:  It’s hard to imagine that Terrelle Pryor will duplicate his performance from a week ago; if the Browns can just see an output similar to his receiving numbers that would be a good day.  However, the opposition will more than likely double cover the veteran with one guy preventing a deep pass.  That leaves Andrew Hawkins and a rookie or two to step in and make their mark.  Ricardo Louis is coming off a contest with three grabs for forty yards, which he can definitely build off of.  Rashard Higgins is the wild card; I don’t expect much but perhaps he can make that one “big play” for this offense.

Tight End:  Well Gary Barnidge is doing a yeoman’s work on the field.  The veteran is not showing off, but rather is playing well by securing passes and collecting first downs.  His big play ability has tapered off from 2015, but part of that could be the Browns actually have other good receiving options on their offense.  Rookie Seth DeValve finally saw some playing time last contest; he did not accumulate any statistics though.  Perhaps he can make his first mark against Washington.

Offensive Line:  That was an alarming performance last contest by Austin Pasztor; this might be his last opportunity to hold down his starting job at right tackle.  Rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman ought to be practicing hard to get their shot at hitting the field. The OVI by Alvin Bailey surely did not help the right guard; I would not be surprised to see one of the rookies supplant him in the near future.  One thing is certain; the guys upfront must win consistently at the point of attack if they want to see their first win.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  Whether you want to admit it or not, Danny Shelton continues to be a force in the middle of this defensive line.  He is not tallying seven tackles for losses and three sacks, but the second year pro is making it difficult for opponents to run up the middle of the field.   I am not completely worried about shutting down Matt Jones this week but there’s always a possibility of a few long runs.  It would be nice to have Carl Nassib return for this contest, but his status remains undetermined as of this point.

Outside Linebacker:  Coach Jackson confirmed that Nate Orchard’s ankle injury will cause him to miss time at outside linebacker.  Thus Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert will continue to see nearly all of the snaps at the edge on Sunday.  There’s a shot that Corey Lemonier sees ample action as well; it would really be a boost if this unit could take down Kirk Cousins multiple times in this matchup.

Inside Linebacker:  In addition to corralling the opposing rushers, the duo of Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis will have their hands full with tight end Jordan Reed.  The veteran is reliable and can make teams pay who do not focus on him during their game plan.  Kirksey is coming off a game with nine stops – he has been relentless but is still searching for those big hits behind the line of scrimmage.

Safety:  I have been extremely impressed with both Derrick Kindred and Jordan Poyer’s play as of late.  The former was a late round draft pick who is making big hits on a regular basis.  Poyer has improved significantly against the pass from a year ago – I am holding out hope for an interception (or two) against Cousins.  A pair of safeties who can alter opposing game plans is something not seen by the Browns in quite some time.  They are not there yet but are inching ever closer each week.

Cornerback:  Getting Joe Haden back should be a boost for the cornerback spot, but the real question is about Briean Boddy-Calhoun.  Was the rookie simply in the right place at the right time (last game)?  Or can he be a staple in the Browns’ secondary.  The Browns are supporting the youth movement, so Boddy-Calhoun might be seeing more opportunities to collect interceptions.

Special Teams:  One could argue that special teams lost the Browns their last two contests (and that person would win that
argument).  Fans just have to hope and pray for the worst not to happen when attempting field goals.  Perhaps coach Jackson will be more aggressive and try for touchdowns  rather than kicking it on fourth down.

Coaching:  This is by far the best coaching staff the Browns have had for many years.  I know that is not saying a ton – but it is
refreshing to see talent finally being utilized.  The coaches are not perfect and are subject to mistakes – but I would rather have Jackson and company than Jay Gruden and his staff.  I am pulling for the home team to  commit a coaching blunder that proves costly.

Prediction (My Record: 3 – 0):  Until the Browns show they can win a game, I will not predict them to win.  They will come close again this week, but will fall for the fourth time this year by the score of 24 – 20.  At that point they will be accompanied by a couple suspendedplayers (provided they are activated).

 
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Posted by on September 28, 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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