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Browns Next Game vs. San Francisco

Browns Next Game vs. San Francisco

Another Game for the Browns – vs. the 49ers

Apathy is setting in; sadness appears to be a distant memory for Cleveland Browns’ fans.  People are over this franchise and many don’t care to see, hear, or know anything about the orange and brown (at least right now).  It looks like the players feel the same way – there’s no passion and they do not care how badly they are beaten. However, this game on Sunday looks like it’s the final winnable one in 2015.  Below is some analysis:

Offense:

Quarterback – Well now Johnny is back in the saddle; after sitting out the past two contests the party boy gets another shot at being the starting quarterback.  The 49ers stink just as much as the Browns do (well maybe a little more maybe a little less); so I would expect the second year athlete to have some success even with a depleted roster.  Johnny should toss a touchdown or two against a mediocre defense, but at least one turnover would not be surprising.  That said, the quarterback is expected to play well enough to get a win.

Running Back – I expect Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell to combine for about fifty yards on the ground in this contest – about status quo for this bunch.  Perhaps Crowell can bust a longer run or two, but I would not hold my breath.  Johnson should be used as a receiver, and I can see him moving the chains with the ball in his hands.  Johnny continues to improve and (on blind faith) the guys behind him should perform better as well.  The Browns have only a pair of rushing touchdowns this season; I am predicting number three on Sunday.

Wide Receiver – The top three targets for Manziel at the wide receiver position might be Terrelle Pryor, Dwayne Bowe, and Darius Jennings.  Everyone else on the roster is hurt for one reason or another – they could come back for this contest, but they will likely not be effective. Travis Benjamin is Manziel’s top target, so if he can return for this matchup it would be a huge bonus for the passing attack.  I am pulling for at least one receiving touchdown against the 49ers.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge is a solid athlete, but is only so good.  He cannot transform a passing unit by himself (as evidenced by last week’s contest).  I anticipate he will come away with a handful of grabs and move the ball on a few occasions.  A touchdown would be nice for the veteran, but I do not foresee this coming.

Offensive Line – Again, I know Cameron Erving is playing out of position – but his performance is downright embarrassing.  The guys upfront are getting pushed back and blown by on multiple occasions, which is killing this offense.  Manziel will likely be hurried all game long and will succumb to pressure leading to sacks.  This offensive line has underperformed so much I am feeling so many negative emotions – and am looking forward to next year already.

Defense:

Defensive Line – So it looks like former Browns’ running back Shaun Draughn will carry the load for the visiting squad.  Let’s review, a player not good enough to don the orange and brown faces his former team.  He’ll probably come away with at least 115 yards and will continue to make the Browns’ run defense look timid and pathetic.  Danny Shelton is trying his best and is looking to pushing the pile backwards.  However, when he does this a nearby hole opens up and allows the rusher to pick up yards in large chunks.  Maybe the unthinkable can happen and the front can actually stop an opposing runner; but we should all expect to see large rushing totals for the 49ers.

Linebacker – Can Chris Kirksey channel his anger and his aggression from last week into a solid performance?  I would love to see it – and am not ready to dismiss this.  Couple this with the fact that Karlos Dansby occasionally makes a huge play, and maybe the inside linebackers can actually help in this contest.  The issue continues to be the guys on the outside, as Paul Kruger can secure a sack once in a while – but everyone else is clueless when it comes to being a reliable NFL linebacker.  A mistake made by Gabbert leading to an accidental sack or two is ideal for the Browns’ defense.

Secondary – Even with Blaine Gabbert under center, the opposing quarterback should make the Browns’ secondary look foolish.  Two reasons for this are Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin – the veteran wide outs should find openings and make plays against Charles Gaines, Tramon Williams, and the rest of the Browns’ defenders.  Somehow they will force an interception, as they are playing against Blaine Gabbert.  Still the unit will be far from great in this contest.

Special Teams:  The field goal unit is now prone to blocks, after seeing this occur the past two weeks.  Knowing that this contest might come down to a field goal; I have little to no faith that the Browns can pull the game out late.  Andy Lee was less than stellar last week as well – everyone playing poorly around him has finally rubbed off on the veteran.  The 49ers should win this match up (by consolation).

Coaching:  If the coaches enter the contest with a similar offensive game plan to the one they had at Pittsburgh, then they actually might move the ball on a consistent basis.  It will come down to getting into the red zone (something that didn’t happen last week) and scoring touchdowns.  I don’t know about the defense anymore – maybe all-out blitz on every single play?  Could that be worse then what is currently going on?

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 4):  I struggle with this one, as the Browns have mailed it in and it appears that everyone will be fired not name Jimmy Haslam.  On the other hand, the Browns typically win a game that will kill their draft position (which is at #1 for the moment).  I am feeling a 20 – 17 final, with the victors being the 49ers.

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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Yet Another Crushing Loss for the Browns

Yet Another Crushing Loss for the Browns

Browns vs. Broncos – Analyzing Game #6

Another game against the Broncos, and yet another heartbreaking loss against the orange and blue team. It’s beyond maddening that the Browns cannot get it done versus a team that is not superior in any way, but here we are. On Sunday, the home squad was unable to do what it takes to get the victory. Let’s review what when down at First Energy Stadium. 

Offense:

Quarterback – Two costly mistakes cost Josh McCown from winning this contest. The signal caller threw an interception to Aquib Talib for a touchdown in the first half, and tossed one late in the fourth quarter nullifying a possibility of a late victory. The team has been so close to winning for so long; it’s disappointing that they cannot get over the hump and Josh McCown has not been able to be the guy to do it.

Running Back – The rushing attacking of Robert Turbin, Isaiah Crowell, and Duke Johnson was not extremely effective on the ground (totaling just under 100 yards) but they gave the Broncos’ defense something to think about. I was intrigued with the play of Turbin, as he looked to pick up steam late in the contest, but he was not the difference in this contest – maybe next week.

Wide Receiver – It really looks like Travis Benjamin is the main (and only) wide out option for this football team. Garnering nine grabs for over 100 yards is exceptional, but it would be nice if another target is able to get open and secure grabs for this offense. Brian Hartline has been a disappointment over the past few contests – and the veteran did not make a single catch in this game. The Browns need as many hands on deck during each contest, but it seems like they are unable to get it done. 

Tight End – It was a slow start, but tight end Gary Barnidge did enough to have a solid effort on Sunday. He only came away came away with three grabs, but two were for touchdowns. This has been very pleasant to see the veteran continue to put up great numbers on a weekly basis, but it was not good enough to win the game.

Offensive Line – Four sacks surrendered and less than 100 yards by Browns’ running backs means a losing grade for this offensive line. I understand the opponent is a very good one, but I could count multiple times were the right side of the line lost on a consistent basis (and that is without the services of DeMarcus Ware). Clearly Cameron Erving was not good enough to play in this game, but perhaps that can change down the road. 

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Going against the thirtieth ranked rushing offense, and the Browns gave up 111 yards to Ronnie Hillman. It has been disappointing to say the least, but it is also been extremely consistent by this unit to make their opponent look exceptional. Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks combined for nine tackles but that was not good enough to win at the point of attack. Danny Shelton was not a factor in this matchup – it’s beyond frustrating and Jim O’Neil must figure out some adjustments before it’s too late.

Linebacker – I was pretty pleased with the output by Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey at the linebacker position. The former had a pair of interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the latter made a couple of nice key stops on third down leading to Broncos punting the ball. Barkevious Mingo even had an interception – but two forced turnovers led to zero points for the Browns (and that was the difference in the game).

Secondary – If it weren’t for a few of dropped passes by Demaryus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, then this secondary would have been embarrassed. Peyton Manning was off target most of the game, while his targets did not help most of the time as well. Pierre Desir gave a huge cushion consistently and was less than stellar. At the safety spot, Donte Whitner missed a few key tackles early and never recovered. The Browns need a solid safety who can make plays, but currently do not have that guy on their roster.

Special Teams: Clearly the team was not ready to give Travis Coons the shot to kick a fifty-yard field goal an opportunity. The offense turned the ball over on downs early in the contest and it was a blown chance for points. Other than that, the special teams were reliable as usual for the home team. The big play was not there – but not giving Travis Benjamin a shot to return punts was a part of the opponent’s game plan. 

Coaching: The game plan was good enough to get a win for the orange and brown but it simply was not executed to the point where they could get the victory. The offense either made one too many mistakes or did not make the most out of what they were given. Meanwhile, the defense could not capitalize on an aging Peyton Manning and his erratic passing. Alas, another loss for the Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Competitions Among the Browns in Training Camp – Defense

Competitions Among the Browns in Training Camp – Defense

Defensive/Special Teams Top Training Camp Battles

In part two of our series, we continue tobreak down matchups between athletes at the same position spots for the Cleveland Browns.  When camp commences in a few weeks, guys will go all out to prove they are the best man for the job.  Some battles are for a potential starting spot, while others are for a guaranteed place on the roster.  Who are the players that figure into exciting competitions?

Defensive Line:  Phil Taylor vs. Billy Winn vs. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen

The fact that Taylor and Winn are entering their final year of their rookie contracts adds a little spice to this matchup.  Last year, I would have thought that both would be safe and with the team for years to come, but the signing of Randy Starks and drafting of Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper all but changed that.  Being able to display an ability to play all three positions will be critical for these defensive linemen – as only one guy from this trio might be suiting up for the orange and brown in September.

Linebacker:  Scott Solomon vs. Barkevious Mingo

On the outside, this is a battle of opposites.  On one hand, there is a top-ten draft pick with both a pass rushing ability and a knack for covering opposing receivers.  Mingo’s main downfall has been his injuries and not being able to perform to elevated expectations that come with being a top draft choice.  In the other corner is an undrafted free agent who came out of nowhere to have a few nice games for the Browns in 2014. Solomon entered the team with low expectations and has easily exceeded those.  Not known for his coverage skills, he will be facing an uphill battle against Mingo.  Both should get playing time this season, but only one will be lining up with Paul Kruger in the first quarter – whom will it be?

Safety:  Jordan Poyer vs. Tashaun Gipson

Whilst holding out of minicamp and OTAs, Tashaun Gipson opened an opportunity for others to start at free safety.  The main beneficiary of that was Jordan Poyer, who filled in admirably during the June practices.  Can that continue for the coming months?  I suspect that Gipson will be able to fend off his counterpart for a majority of the year, but if Poyer can prove to be a reliable reserve safety in this defense – that could be a victory in itself.

Cornerback:  Justin Gilbert vs. K’Waun Williams vs. Pierre Desir

It would appear that veterans Joe Haden and Tramon Williams will be holding down the starting (outside) cornerback spots.  Therefore, in order to crack into this lineup – the trio listed above must compete at nickel and dime spots (at least initially).  Gilbert was the early draft pick, while the other two have proven more on the field – despite being taken in the later rounds or not being drafted at all. I anticipate this being the fiercest competition in camp; as the stakes are very high and there is plenty of talent among the three.

Kicker:  Travis Coons vs. Carey Spear vs. Free Agent?

Well, somebody’s got to kick all of those extra points, right?  Both Billy Cundiff and Garrett Hartley are neither on the roster; so a new guy will have to take over in 2015.  Spear is the local kid who provided a few punishing tackles on kickoffs (in college) – other than that I have to admit I am pretty green in terms of knowledge between the duo.  Hopefully one guy can come out in camp, show (near) perfection, and maintain that in the regular season.  It especially won’t be easy during the tail end of the year with the cold, wind, and snow, but the last thing this team needs is another question mark.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in NFL Season, Training Camp

 

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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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