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Blueprint for that First Win

Blueprint for that First Win

What’s it Going to Take to Finally Win?

Well, it does not get much easier for the Browns as they head east to play on Thursday night against the Ravens.  They are not expected to win, but that does not mean that an upset is impossible.  It will not be an easy contest, but if a few things break their way – who knows?  Let’s take a deeper look into what it will take:

#1 – Do You Job

This refers on the defense as a whole.  Sometimes they are keen on stopping the run, while at other times the unit is selling out to get to the quarterback.  Meanwhile, the opposing offense is gashing the Browns via the opposite way of moving the football.  The defense has got to get out of that mindset and refrain from beating itself.  Do I think they can be an excellent defense in this league?  No but perhaps they can be somewhat respectable for one night – which might be enough to win this matchup.

#2 – Be Smart, Play Smart

The Browns cannot afford to make mental mistakes and still anticipate a victory.  Whether it is critical penalties or simply not executing is costing this team severely.  The special teams are being penalized nearly every play, and the Browns’ offense is starting out in a hole.  The tables must be turned this week and the Browns must be the franchise putting their opponent in difficult positions.

#3 – Work in the Rookie

Corey Coleman had his only productive contest of the season last time they faced the Ravens.  He then hurt himself and is still working his way back into the swing of things.  I would like to see him featured in this offense, to both see if he can handle the workload and to also watch Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge find openings in the defense.  A touchdown (or two, or more) by Coleman surely wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Browns’ offense.

#4 – Steal the Ball

I certainly do not see this one happening, but if the Browns can actually force turnovers by the Ravens’ offense – they will have a good shot at winning.  Not being at the right place at the right time would certainly not be a good recipe for the defense, but maybe Jamie Collins or Briean Boddy-Calhoun can swing the momentum by making a play for this defense.

Conclusion:  I will once again pick against the Browns in this contest, but feel they might not get blown out this time.  They are only a few players away from being decent – but that is not helping with the win-loss record.  I’m hoping for a miracle but we will find out shortly.

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Posted by on November 8, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Preseason Game #3 – An Early Look

Browns Preseason Game #3 – An Early Look

Browns @ Buccaneers – Preseason Game #3 Preview

After a few joint practices in Florida, the Browns and Buccaneers hit the field on Friday for the ever-important third preseason game of the 2016 schedule.  I expect the heat and humidity help with the Browns’ conditioning for the regular season.  Last year, this contest was one of the few highlights of the orange and brown’s season; as they made Jameis Winston look like the rookie he was.  However, they have improved vastly since then – will a new man in charge (in Tampa) help or hinder this development?

Offense:

Quarterback:  It’s time for Robert Griffin to take what he did last week and continue to grow in the Hue Jackson offense.  He should see time under center from the start into the third quarter; I figure we should witness a majority of the route tree on display.  Hitting those receivers either on point or in stride is vital at this point of the year – which he has excelled at thusfar.  As far as the reserves are concerned, I just want to see Cody Kessler continue to improve (he has a long ways to go).  Josh McCown is a reliable veteran and needs minimal participation to be prepared for the regular season.

Running Back:  Will the running game feature Isaiah Crowell with a dash of Duke Johnson mixed in?  Will it be vice versa, or should Browns’ fans expect another guy (a.k.a. Raheem Mostert) to join this stable and knock off one of the incumbents for playing time?  Consistent, long gainers ought to be goal for the Cleveland Browns – as this part of the team performed better against Atlanta, but still needs work to get to its capabilities.  I really feel that Mostert will continue to push for playing time and would not be surprised to see him make the most of his opportunity in Tampa.

Wide Receiver:  Terrelle Pryor continues to be the darling of this season’s exhibition season at wide out.  I would feel a bit more
comfortable if Corey Coleman can throw his hat in the ring for this honor – as the rookie has been battling an injury for a few weeks.  I anticipate he will see a few opportunities and should come down with multiple receptions in this contest.  This is Rashard Higgins’s chance to really push for playing time this fall.  The rookie has more upside than some veterans, and he has shown an ability to pluck the ball in mid-air and make a move or two on defenders.

Tight End:  This contest could be the decider among Connor Hamlett, Randall Telfair, and E.J. Bibbs to see who makes it at tight end (behind veteran Gary Barnidge).  They each bring something different to the table; Telfair appears to have a leg up as he is the only guy who is willing block defenders.  With the fullback position far from locked down (especially with Malcolm Johnson disappointing) – would Bibbs get the nod over Hamlett as he has lined up in the backfield more than his counterpart?  I anticipate a few nice receptions by this group in Tampa.

Offensive Line:  Well, the starting rotations could come to an end after this matchup – or Hue Jackson could continue to tinker with the five up front.  Cameron Erving is slated as the starter at center; he has been inconsistent in his play but showed improvement last contest.  Meanwhile, Austin Pasztor still appears to have an edge over Spencer Drango at right tackle (however Drango was no slouch when on the field).  I would be overjoyed if Pastzor can wall off defenders crashing off their left edge – as it means that he is keeping the signal caller’s right side clean.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  I’m all for Ray Horton putting the three best guys upfront – regardless of how they joined this franchise.  Jamie Meder has been exceeding expectations and the undrafted veteran might have found his way to becoming a starter.  Would it be at the expense of Danny Shelton or Xavier Cooper?  That is a big question, as Meder (as well as all defensive linemen) appears to perform better against the run as opposed to being a pass rusher.

I don’t really have a gauge at this point for Nick Hayden and hope he can come out in this contest and prove his worth.  Stopping the run has been an obvious weakness for this franchise for the last couple of seasons (and this year so far).  Changing this starts now; as the “new” attitude (and willingness) must be apparent by all watching this game against the Buccaneers.

Linebackers:  Ok, how are the Browns going to get to opposing signal callers this year?  Nate Orchard and Paul Kruger are expected to get a majority of blitzes off the edge this campaign, but what should we anticipate from the two rookies?  Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib have flashed this preseason the way a former first-rounder was expected to (who shall remain nameless).  Provided this continues, I would like to see Horton utilize these athletes to confuse quarterbacks – a sneak
peek in this game would be welcomed.

Stopping runners from getting to the third level should be a key focal point for the inside linebackers of the Cleveland Browns.  It would appear that this is not a great challenge for Chris Kirksey, Demario Davis, and the other guys as the Bucs do not feature a fearsome rushing attack.  Therefore, actually stopping running backs would be nice and building off of his would be excellent.

Secondary:  I do not feel great about the cornerbacks for this team. Joe Haden is the only reliable one, but recent injuries leave me wondering.  I want someone (whether it’s a young guy like Charles Gaines or Tracy Howard or a veteran like Tramon Williams) to blanket Mike Evans Friday night.  Jameis is young and still learning; the Browns might want to bait him into mistakes.

Is Jordan Poyer the center fielder (at free safety) that many feel he is capable of being?  The youngster has not had many chances at intercepting passes nor making plays in the middle of the field, but something tells me this could change during this meeting.  It would appear that the nickel back role is Jamar Taylor’s to lose – it would be a great story to see the Browns rehab the career of a perceived disappointment.  He ought to be standing out, for all the right reasons.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Monday Night Misery – Browns Blow Another One

Monday Night Misery – Browns Blow Another One

Breaking Down Game #11 – Ravens @ Browns

A back and forth between battle two of the worst teams in the NFL ended with a special teams touchdown for the visitors. Once again the Browns stole a defeat from the jaws of victory on Monday Night Football. There are fortunately only five more of these guys left in the 2015 season, but let’s review the most recent one.

Offense: 

Quarterback – After a slow start, Josh McCown looked somewhat solid in this contest. His elusive touchdown was somewhat magical in the first half, however his injury late opened the door for Austin Davis. With the starter’s availability in doubt, it is sad that we might not see him continue to perform at a level higher than many have expected. 

Running Back – It was status quo for both running backs, with Duke Johnson leading the way with around fifty total yards. Isaiah Crowell had a mind-numbing total of just seven rushing yards. The team has scrapped the running of the football and rightly so; this part of the team has been embarrassing all year long.

Wide Receiver – Travis Benjamin caught a touchdown and several quick routes, in getting back to where he was earlier in the campaign. I was glad to see Brian Hartline also productive in this matchup. He only had seventy-four yards, but eight grabs were pleasantly surprising.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge was yet again the leading receiver for this football team with ninety-one. He made several nice receptions down the seam and galloped towards the end zone. I hope the Browns keep him for next year; he may not be the youngest guy on the team but someone to build around.

Offensive Line – Cameron Erving’s struggles continued in the primetime matchup. He struggled all night with the pass rush at his gap, and running lanes were hard to come by. Overall the guys upfront were extremely porous and Elvis Dumerville made Mitchell Schwartz appear slow and out of place as well. 

Defense: 

Defensive Line – I guess you could say the Browns’ run defense improved in this contest. They were not facing a difficult task, as Justin Forsett was out with an injury. However, when facing guys off of the street, they looked somewhat respectable. A feather in their cap, I suppose – we’ll see a real challenge next Sunday.

Linebacker – Outside of Karlos Dansby’s interception returned for a touchdown, once again the linebackers underperformed greatly. Chris Kirksey’s whiff in the first half allowed a touchdown, while the guys on the outside would occasionally bring pressure on passing downs. This position group looks to need work for the 2016 campaign.

Secondary – Tramon Williams had quite the up and down game; the veteran surrendered a long reception to castoff Chris Givens but also intercepted a Matt Schaub pass late. This would have been the turning point of the game, but we all know what happened afterward. Justin Gilbert started at cornerback in this game – he was not embarrassed but did not excel (again) either.

Special Teams: A returned punt and a blocked field goal both for touchdowns went against the Browns way. Other than that, thing were even. Unfortunately special teams lost this game, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. 

Coaching: Offensively, the play calling was conservative with Josh McCown under center – which was somewhat effective. This team is not as talented as many others, so they played to their strengths (Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge). Defensively, they were better against a depleted bunch. However, a loss is still a loss and this was a bad one.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns Win – Game #5

Browns Win – Game #5

Review of Game #5 – Browns @ Ravens

Wow, I still cannot believe the Browns pulled out that victory this afternoon. It was very close, but the offense pulled it out during the tough contest. I am very excited about parts of this team and disappointed about the other – it was a win but it could be a lot worse. Let’s see what happened.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Yep, Josh McCown picked up right where he left off – I am glad he was able to continue to attack defenses at a regular pace.   He dominated for a majority of the contest – including hitting for over 400 yards passing. He was stable in the pocket and pulled out a win; I am very complacent that the signal caller will continue this type of play going forward.

Running Back – Both guys appeared to have dominated in this contest, but it was Duke Johnson who made it count for this franchise. I was surprised to see this unit play extremely well, however the dump off to running backs was key to this offensive unit. Both guys were solid in this contest and I am confident that they will produce going forward. Hopefully the team can continue this type of play going forward. 

Wide Receiver –Everyone got it going for the wide receiving unit, it didn’t matter if it was Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin, or Andrew Hawkins but the guys got it done during the 2015 campaign. Every guy appeared to have got it done and I am very glad that the group did what they needed to do. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel are two guys who really took advantage of the situation they were presented – I expect this type of performance to continue. 

Tight End – Is that Gronk or Gary Barnidge?   Seriously, the tight end for the Cleveland Browns is making things happen. His acrobatic catch was huge in this contest, and that’s now a pair of important grabs for this athlete. Barnidge was gigantic in the victory; I anticipate he will keep it up going forward. Jim Dray had a catch as well; I’d still like to see E.J. Bibbs but that will have to wait for the Browns.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront finally played up to their capabilities and the Browns’ offense line was stout in this contest. No one got outplayed, including Michell Schwartz – the offensive line was stout was and was solid in this contest. I’d still like to see what the team can do – but would not be surprised if the athletes can dominate upfront.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I guess that the guys upfront finally played solidly in this contest. They did not surrender a great deal of yardage on the ground but there was still 30 points given up by the team. Fortunately the team was able to overcome this, and Jamie Meder and Desmond Bryant did their best to dominate in this contest. This must continue to occur going forward.

Linebacker – I would like to believe that the linebackers corps played up to their capabilities in this matchup. However, that was not the case and the unit still played solid in this matchup. The outside linebackers where not visible in this contest, hopefully they can continue to improve going forward. Karlos Dansby made some nice plays, but he was far from effective in this matchup. If the linebackers can finally get their act together, the Browns will win many games.

Secondary – Not a solid job by the Browns’ secondary, but the team did enough to get by. Tramon Williams, K’Waun Williams (when available), and Jordan Poyer have proved that this defense can be good enough to win in matchups. I would like to see if Ibraheim Campbell could step up in this matchup, perhaps that will come down the road. 

Special Teams: No turnovers and not bad penalties were apparent for the Cleveland Browns’ special teams. They played well and moved the sticks in this matchup, and I believed the special teams were good enough to win this contest.

Coaching: Mike Pettine got paid today – he and his staff did their best to put the team in the best spot possible to win this matchup. However it worked out, the Browns still do the win and scored at the best point possible. I am happy they won and look forward to next week’s game.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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The Browns lose another opener – call me not surprised

The Browns lose another opener – call me not surprised

Review of Browns @ Jets – Game #1 

Another opening game for the Browns and yet another loss for the orange and brown. It was a gruesome performance, and being there I wish I did not have to witness that performance. Let’s remember the debauchery that ensued in New Jersey.

Offense:

Quarterback – Ever since Josh McCown decided to be a hero and dive like a helicopter – across the goal line, the offense was not the same. The signal caller got hurt (leading to a concussion) and then Johnny Manziel came into to toss a touchdown, an interception, and fumbled twice. This type of performance was not the kind of winning way that is needed by signal callers. Thirteen of twenty-four is not bad passing statistics, but turning the ball over is unacceptable.

Running Back – Well Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson combined for forty-two yards, and both quarterbacks led the team in rushing. This part of the roster really needed to step up and that was simply not the case in this contest. Hopefully the Browns can get back on track next week, but time will tell.

Wide Receiver – One long grab and run for Travis Benjamin was pretty much it for this wide receiving unit. His long touchdown (fifty-four yards) was a thing of beauty, but that was it for the team. Brian Hartline secured two nice grabs, I would have liked to see more plays by the veteran – but that was not in the cards for the team.

Tight End – I suppose Gary Barnidge played well at tight end. He had three receptions for thirty-eight yards, but had a key drop on third down (leading to a punt). I thought the Browns had the edge going into this contest – in regards to the tight end matchup. However, the away squad could not muster any more than one reception for thirteen yards, and the Browns lost this battle once again.

Offensive Line – Multiple false start penalties, issues with pass blocking, and not opening alleys for Crowell and Johnson – that was the summary for the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line. I don’t expect them to be completely dominant in this contest – however there was much more they could have done to excel in this game.

Defense:

Defensive Line – The guys upfront did not really do anything spectacular against the Jets. They surrendered 154 yards on the ground and could not win at the point of attack. Hopefully Randy Starks and Desmond Bryant will do a better job at funneling the action towards the middle of the field. I liked what rookie Danny Shelton did, perhaps he can continue this going forward.

Linebacker – The guys on the outside were expected to make their mark for the Browns. Yet Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo were pretty much invisible in this game, unfortunately for the Browns. They could not get to Ryan Fitzpatrick at all, and that was their Achilles heel. The trio in the middle was not much better either, which was a bit surprising by this unit. I expect them to pick it up next week – but they were miles away from where I wanted them to play.

Secondary – Tashaun Gipson committed the best and worst play of the game. His interception and strip by Brandon Marshall was a huge momentum changer – which cost the Browns greatly in this contest. Neither cornerback stood out, and Donte Whitner was far from great as well. I want to see the Browns’ secondary be exceptional going forward – but I am a bit concerned that will occur.

Special Teams: Andy Lee is good – so there’s that. Having two punts averaging over sixty yards is exceptional, but he’s just a cog in the Browns’ big wheel. Travis Coons belted a field goal and a long extra point; I suppose that is a bonus for the team.

Coaching: It’s hard to say whether Mike Pettine made good coaching decisions in this contest. The lack of execution by the offense and defense really made it hard for him to look smart. Oh well, this game is over and it’s on to the next game.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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