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More Changes for the Browns

More Changes for the Browns

Out with the Old…

Another offseason and yet another overhaul for the orange and brown.  That is not surprising, considering what the franchise has become over the past few seasons.  I remember a younger version of myself where I used to think “now they have it right with (enter new general manager, head coach, etc)”.  However, I cannot get hyped anymore regarding changes with this team – at least until they can show consistent winning – and deep playoff runs.  Nevertheless, let’s look further into a few tweaks to the members of the franchise.

New Guys in the Front Office

Following the replacement of Sashi Brown for John Dorsey – they also added Alonzo Highsmith (for the role of Vice President of Player Personnel) and Eliot Wolf (as the assistant General Manager).  The Browns are putting together a front office that is full of “football guys” after years of having members without much experience with the league or football in general.  They don’t have to do much to improve upon their predecessors and can trip and fall over that low bar.

Turnover in Coaching Ranks

Looking at the offensive side of the football, Ken Zampese replaces David Lee as the Browns’ quarterback coach.  Zampese has worked multiple years with coach Jackson in Cincinnati – but was ousted as offensive coordinator last season amid a struggling offense.  That position remains open for the orange and brown and many are wondering if coach Jackson is willing to give up play calling duties.  Stayed tuned to see what route the Browns take for their 2018 campaign and beyond.

After spending seven years under multiple coaches and general managers, the special teams will no longer be headed by Chris Tabor.  I wish him the best as he seems like a nice guy and a passionate coach – but they Browns were not winning games because of this aspect of their team.  I would be surprised (and disappointed) if the special teams takes a step back under their new coach.

Next Steps

The new front office will be busy over the next few weeks attending several collegiate all-star games across the country.  It’s well-known about their assets in the upcoming draft; it would be nice to see the men selecting draft picks actually take franchise-changing athletes who can significantly improve this team.  Five selections in the first two rounds does not come around every year, thus the Browns must take advantage.

Conclusion:  The anger, frustration, and parade are fortunately over for the 2017 Browns and I am moving forward.  I look for a strong increase in talent and play next fall, but many correct decisions must be made by John Dorsey and Company before that happens.

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Thoughts on the Loss

Thoughts on the Loss

Browns Lose Again

Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns were defeated once again in the season opener (who has head of that one before – everyone in the last 13 years).  However, there were some positives in this contest played against their rivals wearing black and yellow.

Kizer

Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was far from perfect, but showed a performance that I have not seen from a Browns’ quarterback in quite some time.  Kizer moved the chains and made some plays against one of the best teams in the NFL.  I am eager to see him play going forward and want to see how he improves.

Running Game

Unfortunately, the best plays that I saw Isaiah Crowell make during the game was walling off defenders in the passing game.  That is a great quality to have, but I would like to have him make plays running the football.  I have a feeling that will come in the next few contests.

Wideouts

Kesean Williams burned Joe Haden but ran an improper route, leading to an incompletion.  I have all the faith in the world that Kizer will elevate the play for his targets, which will lead to further developments.  I want to see a guy or two step up (especially with Kenny Britts’ huge drop – which could limit his time going forward) and be a reliable weapon in this offense.

Secondary

The announcers made a big deal about the safeties playing very deep each and every play – the end result was not allowing a long passing play for the other team.  The Browns did collect an interception, and that should be a regular occurrence going forward.  I expected Jabril Peppers and company to switch up their coverage next week – and therefore to be more active in the contest.

Conclusion:  I will never be happy with a Browns loss, but I was encouraged after this matchup.  They competed well against an outstanding opponent and want to see how they perform on the road next week.  I envision a bunch of wins in the coming weeks, but the team has to put it together.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2017 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Cleveland Browns:  What is Going on Prior to their Next Game

Last contest was not pretty, but it was a victory for the Browns nonetheless.  Having said that, in addition to some solid plays made by the team – the first half of the contest was less than stellar.  Can this be blamed on poor play by one guy?  Certainly that is not the case, but a handful of guys should be concerned heading into next Monday’s game against the Giants.

Cam’s Gotta Go

Former first round draft pick Cameron Erving simply is not cutting it; no matter which position he is playing on the offensive line – the athlete has been largely underwhelming.  Committing Penalties, allowing defenders to make plays, and not blocking effectively are three areas of Erving’s game that are alarming and will be the reason why he does not make the 2017 roster.  The sooner, the better (in my opinion) would be a good time to let the guy go and provide an opportunity for another youngster along the line.

Wideouts are a Problem

Kenny Britt could not haul in a touchdown grab on three occasions in the first half of last week.  In addition to that, none of the guys were able to get a reasonable amount of separation from the Saints’ defenders.  I was glad to see Ricardo Louis and company get past the sticks and secure a first down grab on a few occasions, but my hopes are not tremendously high for this group.  I hope that Corey Coleman can turn this group around – but they are currently miles from a solid bunch.  The NFL requires more than chain movers.

Kizer Conundrum

It was just one game, but I have all the faith in the world that rookie DeShone Kizer is the best signal caller on the squad.  I still expect that Brock Osweiler (as Kizer’s inexperience will be the reason) will begin the regular season under center – but how long is the huge question.  The first four regular season contests are far from easy, so the change at quarterback to the rookie could still come rather early.  Ideally, Kizer will dominate the remainder of training camp to force Hue Jackson into giving him the nod on September 10th.  As it stands, Jackson has a tough decision on his hands though.

Sharpening that Saw

I was rather unimpressed with the starting defense last Thursday; Garrett Grayson and Chase Daniels are two quarterbacks who should not have any success against your franchise.  Yet that was the case, and reserve running backs played solidly as well against the Browns.  Gregg Williams has got to wake this sleeping giant of a defensive unit (I will give him credit for building the start of a foundation for this), but so far a handful of good plays is all we have seen.  Hopefully they can improve every week as a whole.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Early Camp Observations

Early Camp Observations

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – What is Going on

Well, their first few practices did not include the players wearing pads – however that does not mean that a few things did not stand out for the orange and brown.  As expected, there were a handful of guys who excelled on the practice field.  From what I am reading, the team looks vastly improved (both by the size of the athletes, as well as in their play) from the 2016 crew.  Let’s delve further into a few areas of note.

Kizer’s Charge

Understandably, this is a time of the year for very positive (fluff) pieces regarding players on a historically struggling franchise.  Enter rookie signal caller Deshone Kizer – who has been receiving praise on his work ethic and study habits of the game.  He still has a large mountain to climb if he wants to become the Browns starting quarterback, but I like hearing good news about his attitude.  Using the past few campaigns as a guide, he will likely see some playing this fall following injuries at the quarterback position.

Offense Making Plays

Another less than shocking statistic is that the Browns’ offense has been moving the football against their defense.  It is hard to judge how well players are performing without pads, but I am glad to hear that Kenny Britt is trying to have fans forget about that guy who sold trinkets in college for tattoos (I’m not bitter though).  It is expected that veterans are stepping up early, but what about the younger receivers?  Going forward, I hope to read about the strides that Ricaro Louis and Rashard Higgins are making in Berea.

Rookies Making Mistakes

This refers to David Njoku succumbing to a pair of strips by defenders, causing the ball to come loose during practice.  The tight end later went on the Jugs machine and was scolded by Hue Jackson after practice was completed.  I am not surprised to hear about this sort of news – but I would prefer to read about Njoku learning from this and eliminating this from his game.  What kind of mistakes will Myles Garrett, Kizer, and Jabril Peppers make – and just as importantly, will they occur in camp or in the fourth quarter of game in December?

Conclusion:  It is extremely early in the 2017 NFL season, but I am hearing positive stories about the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously, the regular (and possibly post) season will not alway go smoothly – but getting out of the gates will be vital for this franchise.  That comes down to great preparation and practice in July and August.  How will putting on the pads change the team as a whole?  We will find out over the next few days.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2017 in NFL Season, Set Up, Training Camp

 

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Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Guys to Keep an Eye on Next Month

Well, the Cleveland Browns are not full of Joe Thomases and Joel Bitionios – therefore several positions are up for grabs as the team gets back on the field in Berea in July.  Outside of the obvious (and annual) quarterback derby that has already been underway, there are a few key spots where one guy who can separate himself from the rest of the pack.  Let’s look further into those position groups.

Right Tackle

It appears that Shon Coleman will have the first crack at the starting lineup for the orange and brown.  He is big, mean, and has a solid track record in college; however the second-year athlete has yet to prove he can make it work (consistently) in the NFL.  I have faith that coach Bob Wylie will work his “magic” (pun intended) with the former Auburn star.  Meanwhile Spencer Drango and Cameron Erving are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I have mixed feelings about Erving, who has been rather underwhelming since joining the team.  Drango had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but getting another training camp under his belt should help his progress.

Tight End

The release of veteran Gary Barnidge opens the door completely for a guy or two to secure the starting position.  The frontrunners are rookie David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who have been impressing the coaching staff up to this point.  Both are receiving threats but could use some work attempting to develop as a run blocker.  Randall Telfair and maybe a wildcard could earn some playing time; however, I would be surprised if the aforementioned duo does not get the lion’s share of snaps.  The question might be, can DeValve hold off the first round rookie?

Wide Receiver

Under the assumption that Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt remain healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Browns will have their top two wide out options.  That still leaves another athlete or two who the team will be counting on to haul in passes for the franchise.  Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Rannell Hall are three options to fill a void that was missing in 2016.  Like some of the tight ends, a young athlete (Louis) has been garnering solid reviews from his supervisors.  However, I am intrigued to see how Hall bounces back from a promising 2016 exhibition season prior to missing the entire year due to a broken leg.

Conclusion:  There is a long way to go until the regular season kicks off in just over two months.  However, the roster must be settled prior to that point in time.  This would include several competitions at position groups, hopefully with the best man winning the gig.  I would like to believe that these include guys who can play in the NFL and not roles just needing to be filled.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Another New Coach for the Browns

Another New Coach for the Browns

On to the Next One – Cleveland Browns’ Coach

Well the next Browns’ head coach has been announced to be Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. I am in “wait and see” mode and am far from excited, but I am willing to give him a chance. I must admit that Hue’s personality comes across much better than his predecessor’s. Jackson appears genuine, friendly, personable, and eager to attack this new opportunity.

Quarterback Whisperer 

A positive that could possibly come with this new coach, is that he actually knows how to groom signal callers. Andy Dalton is a pretty good example; while not one of the most talented athletes in the league, the quarterback has improved over the past few years and was exceptional this season (prior to his hand injury) while leading his team to another divisional crown.

Here in Cleveland, fans are used to quarterback controversies and poor play at this position on an annual basis. I’d like to believe that the Browns will take their franchise quarterback with the second draft pick, provide him with great leadership, and see him bloom into an All Pro and a multi Super Bowl champion.

Chasing Greatness

It’s extremely early but this looks to be the new theme of Hue Jackson and the Browns’ locker room. Is it better than “Play Like a Brown”? I suppose, but like anything else with this franchise – I just want to see some wins first before I get excited about new players, coaches, or mantras.

Maybe the word greatness can rub off on players, which will allow them to fight harder day in and day out – towards excellent output. Heck, we need any sort of hope at this point.

Done it Before

Another thing that Jackson has gone though that Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine have not is prior NFL head coaching experience. Granted it was for only one season and he finished with a modest record, but many feel this will help in 2016 and beyond.

Hopefully the head coach will be able to use what he learned in Oakland and improve upon that in Cleveland. Jackson ought to know that much more goes into being “the man” on the sidelines as opposed to a coordinator position. It all comes down to getting everyone on the same page and executing the way they should be.

Conclusion: Who knows what will happen with the hiring of Hue Jackson in Cleveland. The head coach faces an uphill battle and will encounter many challenges (hopefully none of which are internal) with his job. Yet, it would appear that it was a good hire by Jimmy Haslam – something that has rarely been said since he’s owned the team. Now the Browns need to surround the coach with excellent assistants as well as guys who can play the game at an exceptional level.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Front Office/Coaching, Offseason

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Rams

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Rams

Previewing the Browns @ Rams – Game #7

These tough losses have somewhat hurt my enthusiasm for the Browns, but I am still ready to preview their upcoming matchup.  They travel to visit a well-rested Rams team, who will be another difficult matchup for the orange and brown.  I don’t feel they need a huge overhaul and are very close to finally getting over the hump.  Will they be able to slay the demons and win in St. Louis?

Offense:

Quarterback – The real Josh McCown was (likely) the one on display last week – but here’s hoping he can be better than that this week. Turning the ball over three times is unacceptable; I anticipate the Rams to bring pressure consistently to force the signal caller into the same kind of mistakes.  Not throwing that mind-numbing interception will be vital in this matchup, but that still may not be enough to earn a victory for the Browns.

Running Back – Now the Browns have a stable of three running backs. Robert Turbin’s style would appear that he is best man to run between the tackles.  I would still like to see Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell get carries, but their ability as receivers should be on display more often.  Pairing Turbin with one of the other backs would be an interesting move and could give the Rams’ staff something extra to think about.

Wide Receiver – It would be nice if another wide receiver could step up and be as dependable as Travis Benjamin has been.  Andrew Hawkins has been progressing as of late, but he really needs to take that step forward and display separation on routes.  Brian Hartline is beyond due to get involved in games; hopefully he can secure a few key grabs in this contest.  Having another option in the passing game would be a sage move for this team.

Tight End – What more can you say about Gary Barnidge?  The veteran has been as solid as a rock and a touchdown machine in the process.  I anticipate he will find the end zone once again this week, but I would like to see him with more receptions between the twenty-yard lines. Rob Housler left last game with an injury – perhaps E.J. Bibbs can finally see the field this Sunday.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront got embarrassed on a few pass blocking assignments last contest.  I fear I will see similar results against a Rams’ front that features Chris Long, Aaron Donald, and many other talented athletes.  If John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz continue to get driven back with ease, as well as have their issues at the point of attack – the change to Cameron Erving might be around the corner.

Defense:

Defensive Line – This one could get ugly for the guys upfront – I fully expect Todd Gurley to continue the streak of 100 plus rushing yards against the Browns’ defense.  The coaches and players both know it’s coming – and yet they are still unable to slow down opposing running backs.  I don’t know if there should be personnel changes or if they should bring up an outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage, but the Browns are being the definition of insane in terms to trying to stop the run.

Linebacker – The positives are that Barkevious Mingo has had a knack for defending lob passes.  Other than that, the outside linebackers have been either invisible or unproductive.  They have been extremely distant from opposing signal callers – allowing them to complete passes with ease.  Should Mingo be a pure rusher?  Can Nate Orchard make the transition to an every down linebacker (and soon)?  Something has got to give.  That was one of the best performances by the Browns’ inside linebackers last game – unfortunately it was not enough.  I hope Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey can keep it going, but it won’t be easy.

Secondary – The drops by Demaryus Thomas made the Browns’ secondary look better than they actually were.  The missed tackles and blown coverage are visible on a weekly basis – Nick Foles will take advantage of this inferior part of the defense.  I am not certain of the availability of Tashaun Gipson and Joe Haden – but frankly I don’t even think that will matter in this contest.

Special Teams:  For the first time in a while, the Browns do not have a clear advantage in the matchup between special teams.  The key reason is Tavon Austin; the speedster can change this game in the matter of seconds.  I hope the Browns can limit his return yards – but a long gainer remains possible.

Coaching:  Last week coach Pettine started the game with an aggressive plan and finished with a conservative one.  He should look for the “ground and pound” to start this contest and see how things sort their way out.  Defensively, they know they will get run on – find a way to stop it!

Prediction (My Record: 2 – 4):  Another game, another loss is what I am seeing for the orange and brown.  The Rams hold off the visitors by the score of 27 – 23, and the Browns fall to a 2 – 5 record.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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