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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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News for the Browns: The Latest from Berea

News for the Browns:  The Latest from Berea

Browns Before Camp

The time is finally here; Cleveland Browns’ training camp begins in just one week! Hopefully Hue Jackson can run a tight ship and put the team in the best shape possible prior to week one. The news will continue to ramp up in the near future, however for now we take a look into another blow for the club as well as facing a future Hall of Famer.

Desmond’s Injury

In a similar fate to what happened a few years ago to former Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor, veteran Desmond Bryant injured his pectoral muscles lifting weights. This led to surgery to repair this injury, which is expected to shelf the lineman for all of 2016 – something the Browns could ill-afford. Guys like Armonty Bryant (after he serves his four-game suspension) and rookie Carl Nassib will have to step up and fill the void at defensive end. I would not be surprised if the team signs another veteran in the next few weeks that could play this position as well. Bryant’s contract with the Browns runs though this season; it will be interesting to see what happens for both sides in February.

Brady’s Opener

This is lesser of a Browns’ story, but it still impacts the franchise headquartered in Berea. Veteran signal caller Tom Brady has finally waived the white flag and has accepted his four-game suspension to begin the regular season. His team then faces the Browns in week five – which will be in Cleveland. Could Brady be rusty and make mistakes allowing the home team pull the upset? Surely, and the quarterback is not getting any younger as well. However, the Patriots have been great since the turn of the century so my faith in the Browns winning this contest is not extremely strong.

Conclusion: As the Republican National Convention leaves town, it’s time to get back to football. The only benefit to an injury this early is that the Browns have time to react and make roster moves to see who can help along the defensive line. Meanwhile, beating the Patriots is no easy chore – facing their quarterback with a chip on his shoulder will not be an advantage for the orange and brown.

 

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Browns 2016 Schedule Breakdown: Games 1 – 8

Browns 2016 Schedule Breakdown: Games 1 – 8

Cleveland Browns’ 2016 Schedule: First Half Analysis

It’s never too soon to take a peek into the regular season schedule for the Browns, which begins just around four months from now. Some people are (already) predicting doom and gloom and noted that the Browns are underdogs in each contest. However, that was prior to the draft and many things can happen before September – including player development and injuries. Let’s take a gander at the team’s first eight games.

Away Contests: Week 1 @ Philadelphia, Week 3 @ Miami, Week 4 @ Washington, Week 6 @ Tennessee, and Week 7 @ Cincinnati

I have to admit that this stretch is not a murderer’s row as some people are making it out to be. All five contests are winnable; yes even the game against the Bengals. I admittedly am always a Browns optimist (until things crash and burn), but do not envision the type of drubbing that the Browns are accustomed to. Realistically I could see two or three wins coming against this group of foes. If they were against Philadelphia and Tennessee – that would be even sweeter (as the Browns will get their future draft picks, and losses will only help with draft positioning). The team will be turning heads by the way the play well on the road.

Home Contests: Week 2 vs. Baltimore, Week 5 vs. New England, and Week 8 vs. New York (Jets)

Many are in the camp that “the sky is falling”, when previewing the early schedule for games played at First Energy Stadium. The matchup against the Patriots, I will concede that as a loss. This only becomes solidified if Tom Brady’s suspension remains upheld and this is his first game in 2016. The other two contests can be had by the orange and brown though. The Ravens’ drafting has steadily been in decline, and I don’t see a tremendous roster. If this defense can put pressure on Joe Flacco, then a victory is likely for the home team. Who knows what will happen for gang green? Will Christian Hackenburg be their signal caller for this game? If that’s the case, I would feel comfortable penciling in a “W” for the Browns.

Conclusion: The first half of this season’s schedule is not as daunting as several people are leading us to believe. I firmly envision three to five victories during this stretch – any more would be excellent and any fewer would be a disappointment. Sorry, I refuse to believe that the team will go 1 – 15 and be the worst team in the league.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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