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Where to Turn Now?

Where to Turn Now?

Bummin’ After a Bad Loss

The Browns are coming off a pathetic first half but managed to keep it close last week (however it’s debatable as to whether the Colts were loosening up their defense).  The constant mistakes are maddening and who knows if they finally curb this beginning Sunday.  Additionally, the play calling for this offense is a bit head scratching – especially with personnel at wide out.  What can be done for win number one?

Hope for a Healed Garrett

Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett practiced today but his status remains uncertain as he is still fighting off a high ankle sprain.  The fact that this front four has been so underwhelming in getting to the quarterback leads me to believe that Myles might finally see the field in the limited role.  However, the staff will be careful with the first overall draft selection – to prevent further injury.  If Garrett finally plays for the Browns, I would not be surprised to see him make a big play or two.

Switch up the Routes

The Browns are running the most downfield routes (fades, streaks, fly patterns, etc.) in the NFL by a wide margin.  It is nearly double the next franchise – I understand doing this if you have Randy Moss, Terrelle Owens, or another tremendous receiver who could help an offense.  Sadly, Rashard Higgins, Kenny Britt, and Ricardo Louis have nowhere near this ability to create separation during longer routes.  Meanwhile, DeShone Kizer has to hold the ball longer – putting him in the spot to take shots from defenders.  The offensive line must maintain their blocks for several additional seconds, which could be asking a lot after several attempts.  A simple adjustment is the finally utilize shorter routes – in theory is should help the the three facets of the offense (listed earlier in this section).  This will also set up the deep passing attempts.

Don’t Put Jamar Taylor on an Island

Prior to the beginning of the season, many felt that Jamar Taylor was the de facto top cornerback for the team (with the release of veteran Joe Haden).  The result is that Taylor has had his issues against Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton, two of the better wide outs in the league.  I’m not saying that Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jason McCourty are definitely better – but they have not been exposed on film in recent weeks.  Also, the Browns might be able to use safety help with coverage of A.J. Green.

Final Word:  I expect yet another loss by the Browns this Sunday, but I’ll still watch and be hopeful.  Who knows, maybe Hue Jackson actually calls a game that allows his players to produce yards, first downs, then points.  I worry about this defense, but perhaps either the addition of a player or the change in scheme can seal a win.

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Posted by on September 28, 2017 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Pittsburgh – Game #16

Browns @ Pittsburgh – Game #16

The Last Game of the Season – Cleveland Browns

Well, the Browns finally broke though and pulled out a win last week; thankfully there will not be a parade to celebrate losing.  Their game at Pittsburgh marks the last contest this campaign but not one where the team in orange and brown is expected to win.   Nonetheless, let’s review a few key aspects of this matchup.

Little to Gain

Once again, the Steelers have already clinched a playoff berth and are locked in their spot as a divisional winner.  Thus, there is not a ton to play for in this matchup (as they cannot obtain a first round bye) – at least on their end.  I would expect Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell (to name a few) to participate in this matchup but not for the entire contest.  Will their backups be able to overtake the Browns’ starters?  Outside of Landry Jones – I would not be surprised to see other reserves still making plays.

Any Sort of Confidence?

The Browns are coming off a victory; something that was over a year in the making.  That said, will the taste of a win carry over into this contest?  It is unlikely as they are facing a sound football team; however the Browns have not been in this spot under Hue Jackson.  I am interested to see how the athletes respond and come out on Sunday.  I feel this could be a close contest at Heinz Field.

Kessler Under Center

The concussion of Robert Griffin in last week’s contest paved the way for Cody Kessler to return to the lineup.  The rookie will more than likely get the nod in this contest.  In my estimation, he is the only signal caller on the roster who will be returning onto the 2017 squad.  To what capacity might be determined by how he fares in this game.  I expect Cody to revert back to his conservative style, in order to limit his potential mistakes.  Perhaps he can come out throwing and hitting his targets in stride.

Conclusion:  For the first time all season, the Browns were winners while I predicted them to lose.  I would love for a repeat scenario on Sunday, but still expect the black and yellow to propel to victory.  They appear to be an organization that wants to have positive momentum for the playoffs.  Meanwhile, the Browns’ draft (and free agency) talk will continue to heat up in the coming months.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Vs. Chargers

San Diego at Cleveland 

Well the Browns will trot out on the field yet again this week.  However, they will be playing on a Saturday (and Christmas Eve).  I am fortunate there are other things going on except watching the putrid team.  Nonetheless, what is going on in this game?

Hunting the Browns

Rookie tight end Hunter Henry figures to have a solid outing against the Browns.  Philip Rivers should find the weapon multiple times, including in the red zone.  The Browns will not be able to limit the tight end.

The Running Back Spot

It will likely be Kenneth Farrow, but there’s a chance that Melvin Gordon could return from injury in this matchup.  At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is in the back field – he will be successful against the orange and brown.

Griffins Last Chance?

For some odd reason, Hue Jackson is sticking with Robert Griffin as his quarterback in this game.  The veteran has no business playing, as rookie Cody Kessler looks like an upgrade at this point. I do not have high hopes for the Browns’ offense.

Conclusion:  Outside of a mammoth outing by Isaiah Crowell and a turnover-filled day by the Chargers’ offense, there are few scenarios where I could witness a Browns victory.  The team will fall at home and will be one defeat from embarrassment.  If those idiots actually do put on a parade, then that would be a bigger embarrassment.  Go Browns!

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Cleveland Browns Fans, NFL Season

 

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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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Browns Preseason Game #2 – Breakdown

Browns Preseason Game #2 – Breakdown

Review of Browns vs. Falcons Contest 

Regardless of the final score, the Browns held a halftime lead (when it mattered). The Falcons are not the best team in the league, but the home squad more than held their own against a playoff-hopeful franchise. Let’s look at a couple key highs and lows for this contest.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Good – Well, Robert Griffin definitely stepped his game up significantly from the preseason opener. His touchdown passes to Pryor and Barnidge were excellent; I don’t know how much the team can rely on it during the season – but for now I will take it.

Bad – I suppose what went wrong for the starter is that he took a few sacks. It’s not the end of the world, but this offense is not good enough to overcome these and sustain scoring drives (at least at this point).

Ugly – I hope I continue this trend, but I cannot think of something in this category for Griffin. He threw the ball away when he knew nothing was available. His jump from game one to game two was huge.

Running Back – Good – I think Isaiah Crowell took a step ahead of Duke Johnson for the starting gig. The veteran was crisper in hitting the hole and gained yards at a much better rate than his counter part. Granted most were option (give/pull) reads, but I feel better about him gaining those tough yards.

Bad – Duke Johnson’s output was less than great. The athlete touched the ball on multiple occasions but was only able to garner a few yards here or there. Toss in a key drop on third down, and the feeling is magnified. I know he will improve over time, but this was not an inspiring performance.

Ugly – Nothing too ugly for this group either. I guess you could count Malcolm Johnson’s whiff on a block (leading to a sack) as a horrendous display of keeping away defenders.

Wide Receiver – Good – I liked the tenacity that Terrelle Pryor displayed in this contest. He jostled pretty good with Isaiah Trufant (which was a bad penalty), and he caught a deep touchdown early. This was desperately needed for this position group. I don’t have a tight end group listed in preseason, but Barnidge’s catch warrants a “good” rating as well.

Bad – I guess you could say that outside of Pryor, the wide outs were not explosive. However, this is taken with a grain of salt as the players can only run the routes that were drawn up by the coaches.

Ugly – I can’t even fake an example (like I just did in the “Bad” group) here. This unit pleasantly surprised me; even rookie Rashard Higgins made a nice grab in the first half. I feel this position group will be the biggest surprise of the team in 2016.

Offensive Line – Good – Against the starting defense, the Browns were respectable upfront. It was fairly obvious that Joe Thomas was held out of this game, and the combination of Spencer Drango and Dan France did not surrender pressures and/or sacks. Is depth actually being built for this offensive line?

Bad – Following a touchdown drive and a good stop on defense, the Browns definitely had momentum. However, a silly holding penalty by Joel Bitonio (called on Dan France) ultimately stopped the drive. It’s just the exhibition, but the team cannot afford these types of costly mistakes.

Ugly – That Cameron Erving awful snap in the second quarter (that went over Griffin’s head). The team was fortunate to get a face mask infraction on the play, but that mistake is unacceptable.  I wonder if the team will refrain or limit long snaps in the regular season, provided Erving is the center.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Good – Carl Nassib continues to impress upfront for the orange and brown. The rookie had a tipped pass and a sack (nullified by an unnecessary penalty) in his first series on the field. He definitely is earning more playing time as this season continues.

Bad – Danny Shelton lost at the point of attack again in this game. The only time he got up field was on a screen play, which insists on him being out of position. I want to see him improve and quickly, but am extremely concerned at the first-rounder’s play up to this point.

Ugly – The stretch or off-tackle running plays against the Browns were highly successful in this contest. The front seven desperately needs to work on their pursuit angles and close in on the ball carrier a few seconds earlier. If this trend continues, it will be a long year for this run defense.

Linebackers – Good – I’ll be nice and fill this category. Chris Kirksey made a few solid stops early on in this contest – one of them being on special teams. He was ok in his play, but the best of this underperforming bunch.

Bad – Pretty much all other starting linebackers for the Cleveland Browns in the game; were they even playing? The unit could not cover, tackle, or get to the quarterback – especially against the starters.

Ugly – Just hammering home the point that the group as a whole could not hold up their end of the bargain. Perhaps the best play made by a linebacker in the first half was the stop by Tank Carder on a toss sweep.

Secondary – Good – No one really stood out (positively) in this position group, but Jamar Taylor was decent in coverage. The nickel back made a key pass breakup early in the contest; and while not spectacular in coverage – he was always surrounding the ball.

Bad – The second string cornerbacks made Matt Schaub look like a decent NFL player. I will get over this, but this cannot happen. The secondary must step up; especially against subpar signal callers in this league.

Ugly – Justin Gilbert just does not get it. The veteran was out of position and committed a dumb penalty in the second quarter. The Browns have little to no use for the guy and are giving him every opportunity. I don’t think he has what it takes to make this final roster.

Conclusion: I thought the Browns had their up and downs in this contest. The defense still needs a great deal of work, but the coverage was a bit better. If they cannot stop the run – their chances to win games remains extremely low. The offense improved greatly; perhaps they will actually resemble an actual professional unit this season.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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