Tag Archives: Joel Bitonio

Going from Here – Coming off a Win

Going from Here – Coming off a Win

Handling Success:  Next Steps

Now that the Browns have ended their long (long) losing streak, the main question is – how are they going to react to being successful?  With they assume the team has done their jobs and can go into cruise control?  Or is the young club hungry enough to start rattling off multiple victories in a row?  There are three vital areas surrounding the team that could help determine whether the team will win.

Baker’s First Start

Let’s start with the positive; Baker Mayfield will not enter this game with a fourteen point deficit (barring something wildly terrible
happening for the Browns).  On the other hand, this is the first opportunity for another franchise to game plan for the rookie.  I have faith Baker will have a solid performance, likely not as well as he did last Thursday however.  He should put together a winning output that can propel the offense to victory.

Different Stadium

Baseball dirt in a football stadium?  What year is it?  Where are we?  Ah yes, in Oakland we will see this on Sunday (as the Athletics will continue to use the field for some time).  The Browns will have to ensure they will not lose footing in those areas – be it a wide receiver, quarterback, or kicker.  The Raiders are used to this being their home stadium, but I hope it’s not their home field advantage.

Back to Being a Dog

Following being a home favorite for the first time in nearly three years, the Cleveland Browns are back to being underdogs on the road to a winless club.  I have to admit that I was surprised to see the line open up the way that it did – but perhaps that will put a chip on the shoulders of Baker Mayfield and the rest of the club.  I expect Derek Carr to play better than he has been so far this season, but the Browns’ defense should still make some plays.

Conclusion:  Immediately following the win over the Jets, I looked at the schedule and thought “oh, there’s a ton of wins on the horizon”.  After calming down and taking it week by week, I know that this will be a very tough matchup.  They could afford to get two to three more turnovers, as I fear that will lose at least one themselves.  Whether the offense or defense is on the field at the end of the game, I believe the Browns will win.  I shudder to think about this coming down to special teams – as the Browns have not had the upper hand in that department.

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Posted by on September 25, 2018 in NFL Season, Players


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What to Watch for – Preseason Game #1

What to Watch for – Preseason Game #1

Preseason Game #1 – Browns @ Giants

The time is finally here; the Cleveland Browns are hitting the field and are beginning their exhibition season.  What’s done is done from 2017 and the roster has changed dramatically (thanks to John Dorsey).  The end result is a much improved team who should win games in 2018.  Looking forward to Thursday evening’s contest, what should Browns’ fans look forward to seeing in New Jersey?

Wolfpack and Offensive Line Depth

A few days ago, the Browns shifted former University of Nevada lineman Joel Bitonio from left guard to left tackle.  Meanwhile, his college teammate Austin Corbett fills in the vacated starting position across the line.  Will this be an improvement over an offensive line featuring Shon Coleman at left tackle?  At this point, the coaches believe so.  I want to see the five starters (outside of Kevin Zeitler who will be sidelined for a few weeks) play solidly while protecting Tyrod Taylor.  Meanwhile, having a guy or two stand out in the second team would be welcomed.

Stepping Up without Gordon

The wide receiver room took a shot with the departure of Josh Gordon (and his return time is still not know); in his absence Corey Coleman has elevated with Jarvis Landry in the first team.  This is a huge season for the veteran, who can secure his place with this team with a great year.  Rashard Higgins, Jeff Janis, and Antonio Callaway are a trio of wideouts who can carve out roles with this franchise.  I would love to see Callaway excel and become that third starer, but perhaps Higgins will come through in his third season (the way many are hoping Coleman will).

Secondary Spots

The starting spot opposite Denzel Ward remains up for grabs.  Many felt T.J. Carrie would have been this guy, however he is not playing exceptionally well this training camp.  The opportunity is there for Terrance Mitchell – who was a part-time starter last year in Kansas City.  I would like to see him defend Sterling Shepard for the Giants.  E.J. Gaines is another guy who can have a shot to start – how will he perform?

Conclusion:  Football is back!  And while it is very exciting, there is a ton to sort out for the Cleveland Browns.  Hopefully the starters hold their own in limited time.  Following that, one would expect to see multiple reserves pushing for starting jobs (including Baker Mayfield).  Obviously a win is not important – just look at last season; but avoiding sloppy play would be a good start to the exhibition season.

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Posted by on August 4, 2018 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp


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Cleveland Browns Free Agency Takeaways

Cleveland Browns Free Agency Takeaways

Browns and Free Agency

Well, the Cleveland Browns made several moves this offseason – and I feel they made their team much stronger.  Giving up the most sacks in the NFL last year was not acceptable and the front office responded.  I would like to believe the team will now be able to forget about departed Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz from 2016 and have a new cast upfront that can keep the pocket clean, as well as open holes for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  Let’s look further into the acquisitions.

Kevin Zeitler

The highest paid guard in NFL history now resides in Cleveland.  The injury to John Greco at the end of last season might to have helped facilitate this move, as the veteran’s health status remains up in the air.  Zeitler should help the Browns’ running attack tremendously – which will benefit the guy under center (whoever it is).

JC Tretter

He’s had a bit of an injury history, but provided he remains healthy with the orange and brown – they might have found Cam Erving’s replacement.   I would expect Tretter to hold his own in the middle; being surrounded by Zeitler and Joel Bitonio will assist the new acquisition.  This is an under-the-radar pick up, but one I fully support.

Kenny Britt

The Cleveland Browns secured either a number two or three wide out on this roster with the signing of veteran Kenny Britt.  Like Terrelle Pryor, the former L.A. Ram hauled in over 1,000 yards in 2016.  While this is not a high-end signing (as he should average 750 yards and three touchdowns), the wideout should help improve the wide receiving unit more than Andrew Hawkins did.  Britt’s size of 6’3” is something that should not be taken lightly – a large target for a quarterback is a great thing.  More depth should be added at this position in the draft.  I understand he has had his person issues earlier in his career, but he appears now as a better locker room guy than they athlete who departed for Washington DC.

Osweiler Trade

Buying a second round draft pick for $16 Million (or about $8.5 Million after you remove Robert Griffin’s salary – due to his release) makes a ton of sense.  The Browns have a bit more flexibility when it comes to assets to trade and still have a possible guy to trade (in Brock) for additional selections.  It will be interesting to see what comes after this deal – but making this shrewd decision was brilliant.  The Browns are ahead of the curve and this type of transaction is foreign to the sport (but not the NBA).

Conclusion:  I like what the Browns have done to this point – they solidified their offensive line and acquired additional opportunities down the road.  The contract extension for Joe Bitonio was included in this – as he should be back to solid form once he becomes fully healthy.  The biggest question remains is where will they get their quarterback?

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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Season


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Don’t Bring Me Down: Which Brown Should You Pin Your Hopes On (Offense Edition)?

Hope, like rust-based puns, springs eternal in Cleveland. We’re getting close to the real season, which means that fans everywhere must decide who their favorite players will be. Who can you really count on, week after week? Who will you enjoy watching, and who will make you feel like you’re getting your time and money’s worth? Could there actually be a jersey worth purchasing out there? Let’s break it down by position group, starting with the offense.

First, it doesn’t matter if you support Johnny or the Destroyer. They’re both too risky. If you’ve been a Browns fan for more than six weeks, you know why. Quarterbacks don’t just come to Cleveland to die—they come to develop a gross, debilitating illness that requires years of care. That’s the rub of having the Clinic in town. That said, Johnny is the off-the-board favorite to be the most entertaining Brown all season long, on- and off-field. It wouldn’t matter if his left leg fell off tomorrow—I would still watch a 24-hour live feed of his life over any other Brown’s, and it’s not even close. The best-case scenario for the Browns’ actual season would see one of these two becoming a star. But again, if you’ve been a Browns fan for more than six weeks, you know not to hold out too much hope for the best-case scenario. Onward!

Wide receiver? Yikes. If Josh Gordon isn’t suspended, he’s obviously the most exciting pass catcher. But if you decide that he is going to be your guy for the season? Then you have to avoid reading the newspaper internet every morning, because the odds of something awful happening are just too great. Having Josh as your favorite is a bit like having unprotected sex that way. Miles Austin and Nate Burleson are nice enough people, but they’re 30-plus and aren’t worth getting into too much of a froth about. If there is a non-Gordon receiver worth latching on to, it’s Andrew Hawkins. He’s an NFL player who is seriously the size of a middle school student, and he runs a 4.34 40. Dudes look like they’re log rolling when they try to catch that little guy.

Offensive line? God bless Joe Thomas and the gang, but o-line play just isn’t that interesting unless you played it yourself. It’s important, of course, and I love a good block, especially when a pulling lineman gets a shot on a DB. But it probably isn’t something you want to watch every play. Unless Joel Bitonio plays left guard like a feral rhinoceros, you should look elsewhere. This is all coming from the proud owner of a slightly bootleg Joe Thomas jersey.

The running backs are interesting, sort of. Ben Tate could break out and become Arian Foster, north coast edition. Terrance West rushed for 1.42 miles at Towson last year. These two are worth keeping an eye on, but football’s evolution toward the passing game—and the belief that running backs are only slightly less replaceable than flathead screws—limits their potential. Still, Cleveland is Jim Brown territory, and running back play is held in high esteem. This is coming from someone who has the “RUN WILLIAM RUN” YouTube video favorited.

How about tight end? Jordan Cameron was a Pro Bowler last year, and he was in that video with Blake Griffin, so it would seem that he has some juice. Tight end has become a modish position, and Cameron has the size and skills to be the next Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham. Remember, however, the last Browns tight end with this much potential. [Mildly sexist note: If you’re a woman, odds are he’s already your favorite player. And rightly so—he’s a hot dude. Nothing wrong with that.]

There’s one other category to explore: Players with fun or funny names. Think guys like Ben Gay, Chad Mustard, Foswhitt “Fozzy” Whittaker, and Syndric Steptoe. We all like to be hipster fans to some degree, and embracing a lesser-known player can earn you some street cred. On the offensive side of the ball, sadly, there aren’t too many great names to choose from. Mitchell Schwartz opens up a wealth of Spaceballs jokes. Chris Ogbonnaya’s name is unusual, but not really ha-ha material. Kyle Auffray sounds like Pig Latin, but he’s not likely to make the team. Where have you gone, Adimchenobe Echemandu?! Thank heavens for Barkevious Mingo and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen on defense.

So who should be your favorite when the Browns have the ball? It depends on your taste. Here is a TL;DR version for those on the go. Choose wisely, and good luck.

If You Like...(Offense)

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Cleveland Browns Fans, Players


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An early review of the Cleveland Browns’ Draft

An early review of the Cleveland Browns’ Draft

Initial Thoughts on the 2014 NFL Draft:  The Cleveland Browns

It was an up-and-down weekend for the Cleveland Browns franchise (and that’s a huge understatement).  There were trades, draft picks, and the national spotlight given from the media.  Let’s take a look at at what occurred between Thursday and Saturday of last week.

The first two selections:

After a huge trade from the fourth selection, Ray farmer dropped down five spots to ninth overall.  In doing so, the shrewd move allowed his team two additional picks in 2015 – a first rounder and a fourth rounder.  That move alone should merit praise, as the Bills now surrender two picks – their recent history suggest these will be early selections.  The Browns then traded up to the eighth spot (forgoing a fifth rounder) and nabbed cornerback Justin Gilbert.  Many scouts and pundits felt he was the best available athlete at his position.

The twenty-sixth draft position was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-round choice.  Now having the twenty-second pick, the general manager opted for the most polarizing figure in the draft – Johnny Manziel.  While he was not my favorite signal caller of the draft, the Browns got great value for him and may have gotten a steal.  The Browns made several superb decisions and hit a home run during the first round of the draft.

Josh Gordon and the second day:

Just before the second day of the draft began, news broke out that Josh Gordon failed another drug test and will likely be suspended for the entire 2014 season.  The deflating news really took away the positive momentum the franchise built the day before.  Without the services of the top offensive weapon, many felt the Browns would select another athlete at the receiver position.

However, the front office opted to choose Joel Bitonio (an offensive lineman), Christian Kirksey (a linebacker), and Terrance West (a running back).  The latter was following a trade, where the Browns gave up their additional fourth and sixth round selections.  I believe the first two players can be immediate starters with this team, while West can rotate with Ben Tate to carry the load.  I was a bit surprised the Browns passed up talents like Marquise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Jordan Matthews – all could have been solid wide outs for this team.  However, Ray Farmer felt the guys he chose were better overall players – so I can not blame him for that.

The final day

Only two picks remained for the Cleveland Browns on the final day of the draft.  In the fourth round, the team selected Pierre Desir – a cornerback from Lindenwood.  He will likely start on special teams but could possibly start (in nickel packages) down the road.  After no picks in the fifth and sixth rounds, the Browns traded away their seventh round pick to the Ravens for a future sixth rounder.  All in all, they went from ten picks to just six (with three additional choices in 2015).  I still wished they had nabbed a receiver, but I will have to have faith in the quarterback getting the most from his targets.

Conclusion:  I really liked what the Browns’ general manager did with his first draft.  Despite omitting a now obvious weakness, the man in charge made this team better in many aspects.  Maybe a Kenny Shaw (from Florida State), Chandler Jones (San Jose State), or Willie Snead (Ball State) can make the team and produce as a replacement for Josh Gordon.  Initially, I would rate this as a very good draft (or about an 8/10) – which is obviously subject to change.

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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players


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