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What Have I Missed?

What Have I Missed?

Latest Happenings from the Browns

It’s been a bit since I have shared my feelings regarding the multiple situations surrounding the Cleveland Browns since the end of September.  In that time, the Browns have dropped a few contests, the head coach and offensive coordinator were fired, and a handful of players went down via injury.  Also, it’s never too early to discuss the 2019 NFL Draft – let’s break it down:

The Losing Continues

In competing with the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the past few games – the orange and brown were matching up with one of the best passing attacks in the league.  They went 0-4 in that stretch (though the Bucs game was very winnable for a multitude of reasons).  Alas, that was not the case and the team is now 2-6-1 and is staring down another ten loss season plus in 2018.  It appears that there will not be much of a let up in the coming weeks, as the team faces the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Carolina Panthers in the near future.  Maybe I should just focus on the development by the younger players as opposed to wins and losses in 2018.  The new coaches are appearing to putting the team in a spot to win, however.

Bye Hue

I cannot buy into the argument that Hue Jackson did not have the players to win games in his two-and-a-half years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns.  The Dolphins won games with Brock Osweiler and Nick Mullens is winning in San Francisco this year.  I liked the Jackson hire in 2016, but his time was an unmitigated disaster with apparent infighting with both Sashi Brown and Todd Haley.  This is not the first time this has occurred within the organization and I am looking for the next guy to be on the same page as both John Dorsey as well as his coaching staff (I cannot believe that the bar is so low at coach that this is the hope).

Unfortunate Injuries

Linebacker Joe Schobert missed multiple weeks, safety Demarious Randle has been in and out of the lineup via injury, cornerback Terrance Mitchell went on injured reserve in week four, and linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback E.J. Gaines joined the injured reserve last week.  If you had not noticed, all of these players are on the defensive side of the football – where the team’s lack of depth is rearing its head.  At full strength this is a solid unit that forces many turnovers each contests.  Now at the midway point, the defense is featuring reserve players and guys recently picked up off the waiver wire.  It will be tough sledding against some of the league’s best offenses going forward.

Filling Holes

Where should the Browns focus their resources in next April’s draft?  It would appear that they are ok in a few position groups (quarterback, running back, and tight end) – but they could always be supplemented.  Continuing to bolster the front seven should be a priority; a rotational defensive lineman would be welcomed to spell Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah in games.  The linebackers’ depth is not great and the Browns could use one or two speedy guys who could chase down quarterbacks and receivers cutting across the field.  Despite some solid play opposite Denzel Ward, I would not be upset if the Browns found another lockdown cornerback in the draft as well.

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Posted by on November 10, 2018 in NFL Draft, NFL Season, Players

 

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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.

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

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in NFL Season

 

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Defensive Matchups to Watch

Defensive Matchups to Watch

Intriguing Battles on the Defensive Side:  Cleveland Browns Training Camp

In addition to his hard nose (and that’s putting it lightly) mentality, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have to monitor a handful of interesting match-ups among potential starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Being in the business for so long – Williams will be able to identify the right guy; what I would like to see is the coach getting the most of each of the athletes competing for a starting gig.

Logjam at Defensive Tackle

This refers to the three technique spot in the defensive line.  Assuming that Danny Shelton mans the zero/one technique role, and the Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett are the men on the edge – that leaves one spot remaining for the defensive line.  Desmond Bryant, Jamie Meder, Larry Ogunjobi, Caleb Brantley, and Carl Nassib could each be the missing link for this unit.  This is easily the most interesting position group to see who emerges from the Browns.  Bryant should be the front runner, but I would not sleep on one of the youngsters.  Meder has filled a role in run support, but perhaps his new contract has made him a bit more eager to improve as a player overall.

Third Linebacker

People have penned Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey as bona-fide linebackers who should be on the field a majority of the snaps during the upcoming question.  With the recent trade of Demario Davis, the question that comes is – who will be the third linebacker?  In addition, will the Browns utilize Nickel and Dime packages (with an additional secondary member or two on the field and one fewer linebacker) instead?  I would not be surprised with the latter, as the NFL has become a pass-heavy league over the years.  As far as the linebackers are concerned, Tank Carder and Dominique Alexander are two viable options, while second year pro Joe Schobert will get a shot.  I am intrigued with Alexander and Schobert and hope one impresses in training camp.  One thing is certain, the Browns desperately need a reliable guy outside of Collins and Kirksey.

Who Plays Safety

Ibrabheim Campbell, Trey Caldwell, Calvin Pryor, and Jabril Peppers are just four of the names who could possibly sew up roles for the safety spots in the orange and brown.  Toss in a Jason McCourty, and the Browns could have options in the defensive backfield.  The big issue is that none of these guys have a proven track record in the NFL – including Pryor, who was a former first round selection.  The door is wide open for Peppers to come in a take a job day one.  Like with other areas on this roster, the Browns will need a gigantic improvement in this part of the team before they can have a competitive defense.

Conclusion:  The offense should feature several good battles in training camp, but I am looking more towards the defense.  This unit could be above average in this league, but all hands will have to be on deck.  Additionally, the Browns can either utilize veterans or rookies on their squad – it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in NFL Season, Offseason, Players

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

Browns @ Bengals – Game #7 Preview

The frustration continues as the Browns head south to face the Bengals in Cincinnati.  For the first time in three seasons, the two will not be playing in Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night – which is a bit of relief for the orange and brown.  I feel a little bit more confident in this game than I did before the season started, but is that enough to predict a win?  Here’s a breakdown of the matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I look for more progression from rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in this contest.  He has been inconsistent at times in contests, but still has been making plays throughout.  Being outmanned basically everywhere makes it hard for the signal caller, but I give him a ton of credit.  I figure he should keep them in this contest with a touchdown or two – hopefully he can limit his mistakes against a tremendous defensive front.

Running Back:  I really do not know what to expect from this position group, as they have been bottled up during the past two contests.  The moving parts (and subsequent poor play) by the five upfront has made running the football rather difficult for both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  More of the same should occur this Sunday – as the Browns will be lucky to eclipse seventy-five yards on the ground.  Maybe some late heroics might help this position group garner some respectable statistics.

Wide Receiver:  I cannot wait to see Corey Coleman return to this lineup, as the receiving corps is missing “something”.  Their M.O. has been Terrelle Pryor having an extremely productive first half, then the defense adjusting, followed by the Browns being shut down in the passing game in the second half.  Ricardo Louis continues to progress as an threat, but his drops are glaring and do not inspire confidence the way Coleman could.  I do not have high hopes for this group, but a touchdown should still be projected.

Tight End:  It would appear that Connor Hamlett’s breakout game a few weeks ago did not convert over into last contest (which is no surprise).  Gary Barnidge continues to be the only viable option at this position, but even his production has been down from a year ago – also expected.  Perhaps he wins on a coverage mismatch and is able to score for the orange and brown in this game.  The offense could sorely use it.

Offensive Line:  Cody Kessler’s health might be of concern in this contest – the guys upfront have not been holding their end of the bargain.  I would not be opposed to moving John Greco back to center and inserting either Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman at right guard to see if that is a better group that one with Cameron Erving at center. I understand it’s a developmental year; thus the Browns ought to find out which lineup works best (for the future).  Not getting their signal caller killed would be welcomed as well.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  What I am seeing from Danny Shelton (and to a lesser extent, Jamie Meder and Stephen Paea) really gives me hope for the future of this defensive line.  They are coming off a contest where they stonewalled one of the best rushing teams in the league.  Jeremy Hill is a feisty back however, and he is eager to embarrass his AFC North foes (as he did in 2014).  I predict a step back for the Browns’ defensive front, but they should not get gashed by Paul Brown’s second professional football club.

Outside Linebacker:  Outside from one sack from Emmanuel Ogbah, the depleted position has not been productive in any way this season.  Joe Schobert dropped an early interception last contest; everything (from the rookie) that followed that was rather mediocre.  Andy Dalton is a bit more mobile that many give him credit for – thus he should evade the pass rush with ease.  Who knows, maybe these guys will generate a coverage sack on Sunday.

Inside Linebacker:  Despite getting moderate play each contest, Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis cannot break through and finish a game-changing play.  Historically, this position group has (occasionally) been able to intercept Dalton.  I would like to see this occur once again, but that is a tall order for this duo.  Preventing any long gains on the ground must be a priority – if the
Browns want to have a chance at victory.

Safety:  Tracy Howard is in line to get the start in this contest at free safety.  The undrafted rookie has not been great by any stretch, but can he be any worse than any other safety for the Browns?  At least Tyler Eifert will not be available for this contest; otherwise the tight end would make the Browns’ defenders pay.  My expectations are extremely low and seeing A.J. Green and other wide outs getting behind safeties will (more than likely) be on display.

Cornerback:  Speaking of Green, he should be putting up big numbers in the contest – regardless of Joe Haden’s availability.  The veteran has missed multiple games due to his groin injury and was less than effective when being out on the field.  More of the same should be predicted, which means Dalton will find open targets early and often in this matchup.

Special Teams:  The blunders, i.e. turnovers, were not apparent last meeting, but the Browns were penalized an exorbitant number of times.  This led to awful field position and the team not being able to dig them out of a tough spot.  I hope they can improve upon this part of their team but it will likely take time, with all of the youngsters on the roster.

Coaching:  So Marvin Lewis says he misses Hue Jackson very much.  I hope that is motivation for Jackson to prove to Mike Brown that being “a head coach in waiting” was not good enough and that he can make his former franchise pay.  I still support Jackson and his play calling decisions; hopefully they can be the difference.

Prediction (My Record: 6 – 0):  I got a blemish-free record, why should I jeopardize that?  The Browns play hard and lose once again by the score of 32 – 20.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Next Game: Browns @ Titans – Game #6 Preview

Next Game: Browns @ Titans – Game #6 Preview

A Glance into Game #6 – Browns @ Titans 

After another dismal performance, the Browns dust themselves off and travel south to Tennessee to face the Titans. Prior to the beginning of the regular season, I strongly considered this as a potential victory for the Browns. However the injuries are piling up and the team’s play has been less than inspiring. Let’s look into this matchup regardless.

Offense:

Quarterback – I got to be honest, I was going to wait to share my thoughts about this position after the team named their starter for this game. But does it really matter? The starter will probably get hurt and the backup might also go down with an injury. What a dismal season for Browns’ quarterbacks – they cannot do anything right.

Running Back – Isaiah Crowell was not effective when a team focused on stopping him (last game). Was the lack of yardage an aberration, or should fans not expect the runner to be extremely effective anymore. I envision a middle ground, where Crowell puts up decent yardage but is far from perfect. Hopefully Duke Johnson can find touches (and more importantly) yards in this game. Regardless of who is under center – they need a reliable running attack to help out the offense.

Wide Receiver – The Browns could really use the services of rookie Corey Coleman, as the franchise is still looking for another reliable target opposite Terrelle Pryor. Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis have had a few opportunities – but it will take time for them to hit their stride. Andrew Hawkins is making the most of his targets; perhaps he can usher a respectable game for the starting signal caller. However, I do not anticipate a great deal from this unit.

Tight End – Is Connor Hamlett a one-hit wonder, or could he be a fixture for this offense for years to come? Last week was a solid start, but he’s got a ways to go to be a consistent option. I do like the physical tools the youngster brings, but doing the little things will be extremely important (i.e. blocking, finding the soft spot in defenses, etc.) in his development. Gary Barnidge continues to haul in tosses for moderate gains; he is playing with a new signal caller every week but still helps out the Browns’ offense. I could possibly see a touchdown come from this duo. 

Offensive Line – How about the goal of this game is to not get a quarterback hurt? The line has allowed defenders to breeze through the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions. The Titans do not present a tremendous defensive front, but that does not mean the Browns will have an easy time upfront. Alvin Bailey was adequate after being re-inserted into this lineup; hopefully he will play with a chip on his shoulder after getting a second chance. I would like to see a clean pocket on drop backs and running lanes for Crowell and Johnson – but I have some reservations.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Danny Shelton continues to play pretty well in the middle. I understand that he is not filling the stat sheet in tackles and sacks; but he is disruptive against opposing running backs. The Titans bring a tremendous running attack (which includes their quarterback) in this game. This should be a great challenge for the guys upfront, and I believe they can hold their own. After missing a few games, Carl Nassib came back last contest. Despite not being extremely effective, I anticipate he will improve and make a handful of plays in this contest. 

Outside Linebacker – The duo of Emmanuel Ogbah and Joe Schobert were pretty much invisible in last week’s game. They did not put pressure on the quarterback nor did they enforce the edge on runs. I hope the pair of rookies play better, but these are some of the growing pains that accompany rookies. Marcus Mariota is very mobile, so both guys will have to keep their head on a swivel or the Browns could see large gains from the opponent. I do not expect a lot from this bunch so I hope I am surprised. 

Inside Linebacker – Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis must be very good to great in this contest, in order for the Browns to have a chance. They will see plenty of carries between the tackles, as well as crossing routes by pass catchers. I can count on both of these guys for solid play on a consistent basis, but I fear that one big play (or two) will occur when the inside linebackers are out of position. Defending tight ends has been a nightmare for the orange and brown, so if you have Delaine Walker on your Fantasy Football team you might want to start him.

Safety – The disappointment train continues to roll on at the safety positions. Did Jordan Poyer and Derrick Kindred even play last game? The ineffective duo has made a play here or there, but overall they have to improve. I am worried that the Titans will carve up the safeties in the passing game. The only saving grace is that Kindred might be useful in creeping up and stopping the opposing running game. 

Cornerback – Ah, the weakest of weak spots for the Cleveland Browns. I have no hope or faith that Joe Haden, Jamar Taylor, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun can slow down the trio of Tajae Sharpe, Andre Johnson, and Kendall Wright. The home team should collect three or four passing touchdowns in this contest and give Browns’ fans more headaches on Sunday. Any good plays by the cornerbacks would be greatly welcomed but should not be expected.

Special Teams: This part of the team was respectable last contest. If the Browns can force their opponent to punt on more of a regular basis, then perhaps they can have an advantage over their counterparts. After a brutal first game, Cody Parkey is coming into his own and is making kicks. The Browns could use a big play by their special teams, a la a long return or a forced turnover. 

Coaching: I mean, it’s hard to fault the coaching staff with this roster. Coach Jackson is still putting the team in the best spot to win – he can’t help it that his players keep on getting hurt. I would like to see Ray Horton do something to help out this secondary, but I do not know what can be done to actually see positive results. 

Prediction (My Record: 5 – 0): Another game and another loss is on the horizon. The Browns lose this one by the score of 31 – 17 and the team will suffer their sixth defeat of the 2016 campaign.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Defeat #2 – Browns vs. Ravens and Refs

Defeat #2 – Browns vs. Ravens and Refs

A Last Second Loss for the Browns

Clearly the zebras did not want the home team to win on Sunday – and a pair of suspect calls ensured that the team in purple got to steal a victory.  In the game, there were some encouraging things – but at the end of the day they did not pull out a win (despite leading 20 – 0 at one point).  Let’s look back:

Offense:

Quarterback:  Despite Baltimore’s best efforts to injure the signal caller, Josh McCown finished the contest.  He played well (outside of two poorly thrown passes) and was an improvement over Robert Griffin.  However, McCown will definitely not finish this season looking at the way he plays.  However, the quarterback was not a liability for the Browns in this contest – as he his Corey Coleman twice in the first quarter.  We’ll see his availability going forward.

Running Back:  Isaiah Crowell had a tremendous touchdown early in this game.  The runner has improved significantly from his 2015 form and I expect this to continue all season long.  He has been hitting open holes with authority and finding yards on the ground.  It would appear that Duke Johnson’s role is limited to occasional receptions – the back has breakaway speed, Perhaps he will see more touches down the road, but the opponent might dictate that.

Wide Receiver:  Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor are growing in this offense.  Each made multiple receptions and moved the ball well from the quarterback’s hand.  What was great to see was Pryor excelling at crossing routes – something not seen in the preseason.  I expect more big things from this duo.  Meanwhile Andrew Hawkins has been a guy who can move chains and is a key for this offense.  Hopefully the other rookies can find their roles in this offense as well.

Tight End:  Gary Barnidge has reemerged back into this offense; the veteran made some plays in this contest and is contributing to this unit.  I figure McCown (or Kessler) will be looking his way a fair amount the rest of the campaign.  I don’t know if Seth DeValve will be inserted into this lineup following the injury to Randall Telfair – but the Browns would be wise to carry two active members at this position group.

Offensive Line:  Overall, the offensive line improved significantly from week one.  Cameron Erving made a critical error in the third quarter, but it still was not as bad as his high snap.  Sacks and pressures are going to happen agains the Ravens, but I felt that the guys upfront did their job to limit the number of these occasions.  They have another tough test next Sunday on the road.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  Carl Nassib continues to play well upfront, and I saw a fair amount of him coming off the edge.  The guys upfront played exceptionally against the run; hopefully this is a building block where they can improve upon this performance.  There were no long gashes, and the team did not surrender several consecutive long gainers.  Danny Shelton did not stand out either positively or negatively in this matchup; I feel he is starting to settle in the middle of the defense.  I can’t wait to see them play next week.

Linebackers:  On the outside, Emmanuel Ogbah was all over the field both against the run and the pass.  The rookie was not dominant, however he continues to be solid in his production.  Nate Orchard tallied three tackles and could have been more involved in this matchup.  Meanwhile, Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey combined for sixteen stops and were around the ball consistently.  Dennis Pitta made too many receptions to my liking, but the linebackers cannot be perfect.  I would really like to see these guys take down quarterbacks more often; the came close multiple times, but Flacco was able to squirm away with little to no damage.

Secondary:  Amid much criticism, Joe Haden returned to form on Sunday.  The veteran hauled in two interceptions and kept Steve Smith in check (despite several passes headed his way).  It will be difficult to replicate this type of output, but I would not be surprised to see Haden play more like this than he did in Philadelphia.  As far as the safeties are concerned, Derrick Kindred showed he is an upgrade over Ibraheim Campbell.  The rookie was extremely active and his physicality was infectious.  He nearly had an interception as well – the Browns’ defense needs more players like him on this roster.

Special Teams:  Here is a spot where the Browns might have lost this game.  A blocked extra point, which was returned for two points by the opposition, and another field goal was tipped and sailed wide.  The Browns are not good enough (at this point) to surrender points these ways and still come out ahead.  Hopefully this will get cleaned up immediately.

Coaching:  It’s easy for some to blame Hue Jackson for the play calling after the first quarter.  However, the Browns had two third down conversions in the second half wiped out by penalties (which could have led to points).  Jackson knows what he’s doing and talked some sense into Coleman after his penalty.  The Browns are in good hands for the future, but there will be growing pains (which we saw on Sunday).

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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