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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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A Look into Browns vs. Falcons – Preseason Game #2

A Look into Browns vs. Falcons – Preseason Game #2

A Look at Preseason Game #2 – Browns vs. Falcons

Following their first road trip (and defeat) of the exhibition season, the Browns will finally get a game in front of their home crowd.  Hopefully they are be able to build upon some positives that occurred last week, as well as see some action from a few guys who were held out of the opener.  I don’t expect to see a huge jump in performance by the whole team, but just what can Browns’ fans expect?

Offense: 

Quarterback: I would really like to see two things in this contest. One is Robert Griffin leading the offense to a touchdown (more than one would be great). The other is to see how Cody Kessler can take what happened from last contest and build upon it. He tossed a touchdown but also made several mistakes. With Austin Davis suffering a concussion last week, Kessler might see a majority of playing time in the second half of this contest.

Running Back: I envision Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson getting limited playing time in this contest, so the battle between Raheem Mostert and Terrell Watson rages on. Provided the coaches agree, I would like to see Watson get the lion’s share of repetitions in this matchup. It’s likely that only one of these two will make the final roster – I feel we already know what we are getting with Mostert. 

Wide Receiver: Will we see Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins complement this offense? I surely hope so, as they can make this passing offense more formidable. I expect big things from the rookie, while the veteran might end up as the starter in the slot. Rashard Higgins took an early lead to see which of the other three rookies will step up. He warrants playing time earlier in the contest; I expect to see him make a play or two Friday night. 

Tight End: We all know what we got with Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge, but what about the guys behind him (on the depth chart)? E.J. Bibbs made a nice grab last week, while Connor Hamlett had a touchdown – which was disallowed following a Josh McCown penalty. I’m starting to feel that the Browns actually have depth at this position and one of the unexpected younger guys might make his mark with this club.

Offensive Line: There are two key spot on the offensive line I will be focusing on during this contest. At right tackle, will Spencer Drango fortify the starting right tackle job? Or will a veteran like Austin Pasztor or Alvin Bailey be the man on the right edge? Meanwhile, is Cameron Erving the heir apparent (after many years of Alex Mack) at center? I want to see some solid-to-dominating play by the second year athlete, but that might be asking for a big much at his point.

Defense:

Defensive Line: I really enjoyed the way Carl Nassib and Jamie Meder played in last week’s contest. Was this a one-time thing, or will both be able to be reliable upon this season? Assuming Danny Shelton can up his play, Meder appears to be a solid reserve nose tackle. While Desmond Bryant’s injury appears to still loom large – I’m still holding out that Nassib and fellow rookie Emmanuel Ogbah can soften the blow by playing well. Meanwhile I am eager to watch John Hughes return back to this club and potentially grab a starting role at one of the defensive end spots.

Linebacker: Where is the Browns’ pass rush? That is the question, but I am not sure whether we will see an answer prior to the regular season opener. Paul Kruger and Nate Orchard are in line as starting linebackers; the team still needs another reliable guy or two to help in situations. Barkevious Mingo might be on his last shot with this team; meanwhile Armonty Bryant is suspended for the first four games of the regular season. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far out of the inside linebackers – progression out of the three rookies should help to solidify my hope for this position group. 

Secondary: This unit continues to be a huge question mark for the Cleveland Browns. I am worried that no one has really stepped up in the cornerback group, but with Joe Haden’s return perhaps we are closer to a stable unit. Tramon Williams is not instilling a great deal of confidence, but I am not sure whether another guy (including Jamar Taylor and Justin Gilbert) can help with this. There are two new starting safeties from last year’s underperforming unit. I would like to believe that Jordan Poyer and Ibraheim Campbell can continue to progress, but seeing Rahim Moore and Pierre Desir perform well would surely help.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 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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Ugh…Another Browns Loss

Ugh…Another Browns Loss

Browns @ Panthers – A Look Back at Game #15

Well, what we learned again on Sunday is that Brian Hoyer is a better professional quarterback (right now) than Johnny Manziel. Overall, the team was dysfunctional, and they made their poor opponents look good.   When it was all said and done, it was another loss by the Browns. Let’s take a look back at the fourth loss in a row for the orange and brown…

Offense: The injury to Johnny Manziel was probably the best thing that could have happened to the Browns’ offense. The unit actually got their stuff together, and the signal caller hit Jordan Cameron for a long touchdown. Personally, I would like to see Hoyer back with this team next season, but that will likely not occur. Manziel has been horrific in 2014, if he is on the bench next season with Hoyer at the helm – then I could be complacent.

Isaiah Crowell got a few carries in this contest, and he was the only running back who got a shot at running the ball. He finished with just fifty-five yards on sixteen carries and gave the only glimpse of a running attack for the Browns. I was surprised that Terrance West did not get a carry – and the running game was not utilized at all. This is another area where the Browns can excel; it just takes a tremendous effort by the line and the backs.

Once Hoyer was re-inserted into the lineup, the wide outs finally got involved into this contest. This includes Andrew Hawkins, Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron. The latter had a tremendous touchdown – something a veteran signal caller would only see.   Gordon dropped an easy play on third down early and caught a few tough from Hoyer. I just want to see the veteran under center – he gets the most from the wide outs.

The injury to Ryan Seymour led to Nick McDonald playing back at center. The offensive line was less than stellar, but the guys upfront were less than consistent. At least Joe Thomas didn’t commit any penalties in this contest – the left tackle held his own reasonably well. I would still like to see the team draft a guy up the middle to help with blocking. We shall see, but that could really be huge for the Browns going forward.

Defense: Well, at least this game ended. The run defense got smoked in this contest, and gave up a fair amount of yards on the ground. Jonathan Stewart ran easily and had more than 100 yards in the first half alone. None of the guys upfront had success with great ease. The Browns’ defensive has been miserable recently; I’d like to believe they will get better going forward. The team needs to find some reliable guys upfront and soon.

So Solomon was the only guy who put a big of a pass rush against the Panthers. I was completely impressed with the play of the new member of the Browns on the edge, but no one else was very impressive in this contest. The inside backers played adequately in this contest – unfortunately if was not good enough to win this contest. Neither guy inside played well, but it was decent enough if the offense was good enough.

The secondary played good enough just to win, but they had to cover Kelvin Benjamin. The rookie tore up the defensive group, and converted against the secondary against the secondary. Buster Skrine played his best, but was unable to shut down the offensive unit. It was a respectable effort, but they will need a great effort to win on Sundays.

Special Teams: Garrett Harttley made a pair of a field goals, that was the best for the Browns’ special teams. The coverage team did not hold their own, but the offense did not give them a great opportunity to succeed.

Coaching: They let Johnny Football be himself, and it did not work. I was disappointed to see the lack of execution by his part. Granted, he is still a rookie, but he did himself no favors going forward. I always wanted Teddy Bridgewater last spring, and this game cemented this, hopefully Hoyer can play well the last game and the team makes a wise decision going forward.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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On to Carolina – Previewing the Browns Next Opponent

On to Carolina – Previewing the Browns Next Opponent

Turning the Page to – Game #14 – Browns @ Panthers

I still cannot believe the Browns played that poorly last week; however, they must forge on and get ready for a Carolina Panthers squad coming off a narrow (and critical) win. Although the playoffs are out of reach, the Browns must continue to improve – especially the offense (who has miles to grow). Despite their most recent effort, I feel they have a shot in this contest. Let’s break down the matchup.

Offense: So game number two must be better for Johnny Manziel than the first one, right? Granted, he was put in some poor situations (play-call wise) – but he could not move the football down the field at all. I figure Kyle Shanahan will revert to more of a traditional shotgun look, and temper the zone read option. Additionally, I would like to see some longer routes run by Josh Gordon, Andrew Hawkins, and Travis Benjamin. Do I expect Manziel to hit these athletes for deeper gains? I hope so, but worst-case scenario is that he finds the open man underneath consistently.

Put back in the quick toss and off tackle plays already! The option plays killed any momentum for Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. The aforementioned calls can get the athletes in space and actually allow them to pick up yards (provided there’s room to run). Additionally, I would hope the team looks for a quick handoff or a toss on third down and short – as opposed to a designed quarterback draw. The success of the running attack is highly dependent on the five guys upfront and their ability to do their jobs.

The Browns have not thrown a touchdown pass since Josh Gordon was reinstated to this team. I’m hoping this streak ends on Sunday; the wide outs are too talented to not be able to make a big play. I understand there was several three-step and five-step drop backs last week, but each receiver has the speed to bust a long gainer. And when Manziel actually has a seven-step drop, look for a guy or two to get behind an unsuspecting defender.

I really had no idea what was going on with the offensive line last week. If the Browns don’t fix what ailed them, then they won’t be able to beat anyone in the NFL. Penalties, missed assignments, and overall poor play are inexcusable – and this was not the preseason. The main problem is see is on right tackle, where Mitchell Schwartz has been struggling. Manziel must get the ball out early on several occasions, as he has been under pressure and looking for defenders to avoid. If Schwartz can get some help, maybe this offense has a chance.

Defense: The Browns’ defense better put a (figurative) target on the chest of Jonathan Stewart after that dismal performance against Jeremy Hill. Their goal should be realistic – hold the Panthers to under 100 yards on the ground. Anything better than that would be icing on the cake. The bottom line is that Desmond Bryant cannot do it all himself – the defensive end has been exceptional but has also been the only reliable guy upfront. Ahtyba Rubin and Billy Winn should be playing better – this week would be a good time to do so.

For the first time in awhile, someone outside of Paul Kruger is making plays at outside linebacker. Barkevious Mingo has been improving his play when getting to the edge on passing plays. The problem might come when the Panthers are handing it off a majority of the time – neutralizing Mingo’s effectiveness. I have liked what I have seen from Chris Kirksey and Craig Robertson recently. Both have been stout against the run and the pass. I anticipate at least three key plays from this duo; whether it’s a forcing of a turnover or causing the defense to get off the field in a key spot.

It will be interesting to see who lines up at cornerback and how often for the Browns this week. Both cornerbacks Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert left last week’s contest (with minor injuries), while K’Waun Williams did not participate at all. On the flip side, rookie Kelvin Benjamin has used his height and length to make opponents look foolish this year. I expect the wide out to have at least one score, but the Browns’ secondary to have a good performance otherwise. Tashaun Gipson’s possible return could be huge for the visitors.

Special Teams: Kicker Garrett Hartley never got his shot to kick last week – hopefully he can put some points on the board in Charlotte. The special teams overall have been resilient and consistent over the past few games. What I want to see in this contest is one huge break; a turnover forced or a very long return.

Coaching: My, oh my, the offensive staff must throw out last week’s playbook and put Manziel in spots to make plays. The quarterback cannot afford to be pegged in certain situations that will not lead to success. Defensively, aggression is the key – you better bet the Panthers will try to run it consistently. Stop it early and the whole complexion of this matchup changes. 

Prediction (My Record: 9 – 5): I envision a multitude of improvements by the Browns in this contest and can see them actually scoring points. However, the home team will make one more play and will pull this one out to the tune of

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Battle of Ohio Part II – Looking into the Matchup

The Battle of Ohio Part II – Looking into the Matchup

Game #13 – Browns vs. Bengals – A Preview

For the final time this season, the Browns will be playing in front of a home crowd at First Energy Stadium. What was once a promising season has now become a mediocre (at best) club struggling mightily. If nothing else, perhaps they can influence the AFC North race, in terms of the division winner and possible wildcard spots. It seems like a lifetime ago the Browns stomped down the Bengals in Cincinnati – but that’s the NFL for ya. Let’s break down this matchup.

Offense: Finally, Johnny Manziel will be under center for this contest. As much as I love Brian Hoyer – change was necessary. I had zero confidence in this offense the past few games; and this cannot occur in the NFL. Look for a ton of runs to the edge by the signal caller with a run/pass option following that. It would not surprise me to see Manziel account for three touchdowns in this contest; two passing and one rushing.

Run, run, run, and run some more – that should be the game plan for this offense. Isaiah Crowell continues to show his bursts going through the line of scrimmage, while Terrance West can still pick up the tough yards. Straying away from a run-first offense has cost the team several contests this year. They cannot afford to let another victory slip away.

There have been reports about Josh Gordon not being on the same page as his offense, as well as the wide out not finishing routes. Whatever the issue, the talented athlete must shake off whatever his issues are. Perhaps the switch at quarterback will help out the fledgling star. How will Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Travis Benjamin respond to Johnny Manziel? That is a huge question, but one I am looking forward to the answer.

In the passing game, the mobility of Manziel could make the offensive line’s job more difficult on Sunday. All five must keep their eyes open and look to see where number two is at on the field. This could lead to large losses and potentially turnovers. On the positive side, I figure his running will open rushing lanes for West and Crowell. It will definitely be an adjustment for the guys upfront, but hopefully less of one than the defense will to have to do (despite Marvin Lewis’s belief).

Defense: Facing a duo that features Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill will be a tough task for this run defense. Fortunately, this part of the squad has been picking it up as of late – but they cannot afford a setback on Sunday. Desmond Bryant and Ahtyba Rubin have been the standouts as of late; personally, I would like to see them lead the way in stuffing the run and getting to Andy Dalton. Being disruptive is key , much like it was during last meeting, why can’t Desmond Bryant replicate his output?

Paul Kruger, and yes (even) Barkevious Mingo, found the offensive backfield a few times against the Colts. This was the type of performance the Browns were expecting from their first round pick from a year ago. It would be a pleasant surprise should this be the norm, but we shall find out in due time. The inside linebackers have been playing solidly during the absence of Karlos Dansby. I would love to see Chris Kirksey make some impactful plays for this defense; there is a great deal of untapped potential from the rookie.

The Browns’ secondary is coming off probably their best performance in quite some time. Buster Skrine was the only guy who made a mistake or two; he should be able to recover nicely against the Bengals. Can Joe Haden shut down A.J. Green once again? That is a huge uncertainty that could determine the contest’s outcome. Jim Leonhard’s insertion into this defense has been nothing short of exceptional. Two consecutive games with an interception were unexpected from the team’s punt catcher. I’m pulling for three games in a row for the veteran.

Special Teams: Outside of a blunder of a field goal attempt – the Browns’ could not have played any better on special teams last week. Obviously, that will not be the case this Sunday. The Browns cannot lose this matchup decidedly if they want to win the contest. Billy Cundiff and Spencer Lanning must make every kick and punt count.

Coaching: Kyle Shanahan will have his mobile signal caller for this contest. I am eager to see the tricks he pulls out of the bag for this contest. Defensively should be status quo from last week – beat up the quarterback while still focusing on the run. Coach Pettine could have one huge decision to make in this matchup; I hope he chooses wisely.

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 5): Despite the optimism, I think the season is still over for the Browns. They are not going to the postseason, and there have reports of locker room dissention. The defense played their hearts out last week and still lost. I see a similar fate this week, the deflated gang helps Manziel and the Browns score early and lead – only to fall to the Bengals by the score of 27 – 21 and lose their third game in a row.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Yet Another Gritty Victory

Yet Another Gritty Victory

Browns @ Falcons – Review of Game #11 

Phew, some bad plays by the Browns were overcome by turnovers and the Browns coming out on top. They ability to come back was amazing, but the time before that was less than adequate. I am fortunate the Browns got the win, let’s review what happened at the Georgia Dome.

Offense: Well it was a game that Brian Hoyer won. The quarterback played poorly, but won the game on the final drive. Three interceptions and multiple poor passes are not going to cut it – the coaching staff must make sure he is in the best spot to excel. He has shown an ability to hit his guys in stride but not consistently – I would love for that to continue but we shall see in the next few games.

Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West appear to be a solid duo – West is getting the targets outside the red zone while Crowell is getting it done near the end zone. The touchdown run by Crowell was exceptional – I was amazed at his tremendous touchdown. The running attack has been pleasantly surprising; the addition by subtraction has been good thus far. Look for this to continue going forward.

Wow, what a difference that Josh Gordon makes. The wide out led the offense with eight grabs for 120 yards and was solid in his contest. Andrew Hawkins was a huge beneficiary of Gordon returning. This receiving unit was much improved and I would expect this to continue. A long toss to Taylor Gabriel or two is huge for the Browns.

I was rather surprised by the production of the offensive line. The unit opened up holes for both rookie running backs, while giving Hoyer time to throw. Football is game of timing, and fortunately the Browns were exceptional in giving their seconds to throw. Additionally, the tackle of Devin Hester at the end of the first half by Joel Bitonio was large – not getting him down could have equaled a loss for Cleveland.

Defense: I was surprised to see that the defensive front play pretty well. With all their injuries, the guys definitely did their job against the running attack of Steven Jackson and Jaquizz Rodgers. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Ahtyba Rubin did their job up the middle. Allowing sixty-three yards on the ground is awesome, I am very proud of the run defense. I understand that this type of performance will not occur every week, but it was still encouraging.

The loss of Karlos Dansby was definitely felt by the defensive unit. Craig Robertson and Chris Kirksey were solid, but I would have liked to see the veteran out there. Outside of a tremendous strip by Paul Kruger, the outside linebackers were not very effective. They will have their shot to get better (especially with Jabaal Sheard’s health improving), but they were still good enough to get it done.

Although Joe Haden and Buster Skrine did their best and made some plays, they surrendered some large completions to Julio Jones and Roddy White. Overall, they did their job very well – Haden securing an interception. The drops of Donte Whitner and Buster Srkine could have been huge – but fortunately the Browns were good enough to overcome them.

Special Teams: The second quarter missed field goal may have been the play of the game for the Browns. While they missed it, they stopped Devin Hester from returning the ball for a touchdown. Other than that, the Browns were adequate in the special teams units. I would like for them to keep this up going forward.

Coaching: I cannot fathom the coaching at the end of the first half; however the end of the game clearly made up for it. Getting the ball to Gordon consistently was huge, while sticking to the run was important. Overall, the Browns won a tough game, and should prepare for another tough matchup with the Bills next week.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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