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A Preview for Browns @ Chiefs – Game #15

A Preview for Browns @ Chiefs – Game #15

Looking into #15 – Browns @ Chiefs

Outside of an incredible opening offensive drive, the Cleveland Browns looked miserable on the road last week. They now face the playoff-hopeful and red-hot Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. In another difficult venue, I (once again) give the Browns little hope that they can come in and earn the victory. Regardless I will take a peek into this match up.

Offense:

Quarterback – The light is starting to come on for Johnny Manziel. He is being smarter in the pocket, getting the ball out quickly, and throwing passes where he needs to. While he is not facing a great defense like the Seahawks – the Browns will go against an opportunistic unit who turns teams over and puts points on the board. Manziel should be able to get at least one score on Sunday; hopefully he avoids giving the ball away to their defense.

Running Back – Being able to utilize Duke Johnson out of the backfield was something to watch last game. I anticipate this will be the norm in this contest; as well as giving the ball to the rookie between the tackles. Isaiah Crowell should have fresh legs against the Chiefs – (he was not used to a great extent last game) and she should still churn out yards. Maybe the threat of Manziel running is actually opening lanes for these backs – why not keep using it (until they get shut down)?

Wide Receiver – The injuries are piling up and apparent – the guys left are doing their best but not scaring any secondary units. Travis Benjamin made a couple nice catches but can still be a downfield threat. Marlon Moore is definitely a special teamer playing offense – he is blocking and running routes as hard as possible, but this position needs athletic guys who can make big plays.  Dwayne Bowe even make some catches last week, maybe he can be inspired to have a big day against his former team.

Tight End – Despite being bottled up for most of the game, veteran tight end Gary Barnidge found the end zone last meeting. I would not be surprised to see him surpass the franchise single season record for touchdowns by a tight end – hopefully he can accomplish this on Sunday. I guess we should not anticipate seeing E.J. Bibbs in action once again. Other than a couple of opportunities for Jim Dray, this position group is a one-man wrecking crew. 

Offensive Line – Cameron Erving is not having a stellar rookie season. A pair of injuries to guards has forced the Florida State alum into the starting lineup. I would like to think that he can get his act together and help out his teammates, but more than likely Manziel will have to evade defenders rather quickly in the “A and B” gaps. I’m not sure he can overcome this for a majority of the matchup and can see at least three or four sacks for the opponent.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I fully expect Charcandrick West to breeze through the Cleveland Browns front seven this Sunday. Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper have both made plays here and there against the run, but neither are consistent enough to shut down the opposition. Randy Starks was at least in the screen a few times last week, but I expect the veteran to disappoint in the game. I would predict that the Browns surrender over 150 yards on the ground. 

Linebacker – Armonty Bryant might be playing the best on the outside for the Browns right now. He is doing a moderate job at setting the edge and has been getting to the quarterback at times. Other than that and a few plays by Paul Kruger, the outside linebackers are not playing up to expectations. Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby have been asked to make open field tackles, which occur on a frequent basis. However, the duo needs to make “impactful plays” (i.e. forcing fumbles) each game. 

Secondary – At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is in a cornerback – the Browns cannot cover their opponent during passing plays. Charles Gaines is at least promising, as the rookie has had a few deflections. But by and large, it’s pitch and catch for the opposition. The safeties have been invisible all season long; I have been really down on Tashaun Gipson and wonder how his play could have fallen off this badly. Jeremy Maclin should have a big game for the Chiefs.

Special Teams: I suppose the Browns somewhat had a respectable game in this department last week. The kick returning game was vastly improved, and if the offense can capitalize with the improved field position – then they might not get blown out. The Browns need to force a turnover by the home team. 

Coaching: There’s not really a ton of changes needed for this offense. John DeFlippo has been making he most with his guys and is putting them in spots to succeed. I have to throw my hands up with this defense; I don’t think anything can be done for them to improve. Jim O’Neil is not doing a good job but the same can be said for the play of the guys on the field.

Prediction (My Record: 9 – 5): After the 49ers win, I thought the Browns had a chance to win in Kansas City. However, I’ve come back to my senses and realized that a victory is not possible. The Chiefs win this game 34 – 17.

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Posted by on December 24, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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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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The Browns lose another opener – call me not surprised

The Browns lose another opener – call me not surprised

Review of Browns @ Jets – Game #1 

Another opening game for the Browns and yet another loss for the orange and brown. It was a gruesome performance, and being there I wish I did not have to witness that performance. Let’s remember the debauchery that ensued in New Jersey.

Offense:

Quarterback – Ever since Josh McCown decided to be a hero and dive like a helicopter – across the goal line, the offense was not the same. The signal caller got hurt (leading to a concussion) and then Johnny Manziel came into to toss a touchdown, an interception, and fumbled twice. This type of performance was not the kind of winning way that is needed by signal callers. Thirteen of twenty-four is not bad passing statistics, but turning the ball over is unacceptable.

Running Back – Well Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson combined for forty-two yards, and both quarterbacks led the team in rushing. This part of the roster really needed to step up and that was simply not the case in this contest. Hopefully the Browns can get back on track next week, but time will tell.

Wide Receiver – One long grab and run for Travis Benjamin was pretty much it for this wide receiving unit. His long touchdown (fifty-four yards) was a thing of beauty, but that was it for the team. Brian Hartline secured two nice grabs, I would have liked to see more plays by the veteran – but that was not in the cards for the team.

Tight End – I suppose Gary Barnidge played well at tight end. He had three receptions for thirty-eight yards, but had a key drop on third down (leading to a punt). I thought the Browns had the edge going into this contest – in regards to the tight end matchup. However, the away squad could not muster any more than one reception for thirteen yards, and the Browns lost this battle once again.

Offensive Line – Multiple false start penalties, issues with pass blocking, and not opening alleys for Crowell and Johnson – that was the summary for the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line. I don’t expect them to be completely dominant in this contest – however there was much more they could have done to excel in this game.

Defense:

Defensive Line – The guys upfront did not really do anything spectacular against the Jets. They surrendered 154 yards on the ground and could not win at the point of attack. Hopefully Randy Starks and Desmond Bryant will do a better job at funneling the action towards the middle of the field. I liked what rookie Danny Shelton did, perhaps he can continue this going forward.

Linebacker – The guys on the outside were expected to make their mark for the Browns. Yet Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo were pretty much invisible in this game, unfortunately for the Browns. They could not get to Ryan Fitzpatrick at all, and that was their Achilles heel. The trio in the middle was not much better either, which was a bit surprising by this unit. I expect them to pick it up next week – but they were miles away from where I wanted them to play.

Secondary – Tashaun Gipson committed the best and worst play of the game. His interception and strip by Brandon Marshall was a huge momentum changer – which cost the Browns greatly in this contest. Neither cornerback stood out, and Donte Whitner was far from great as well. I want to see the Browns’ secondary be exceptional going forward – but I am a bit concerned that will occur.

Special Teams: Andy Lee is good – so there’s that. Having two punts averaging over sixty yards is exceptional, but he’s just a cog in the Browns’ big wheel. Travis Coons belted a field goal and a long extra point; I suppose that is a bonus for the team.

Coaching: It’s hard to say whether Mike Pettine made good coaching decisions in this contest. The lack of execution by the offense and defense really made it hard for him to look smart. Oh well, this game is over and it’s on to the next game.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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What Happened? Browns vs. Bills – Game #2 Review

What Happened?  Browns vs. Bills – Game #2 Review

Analyzing Browns vs. Bills Preseason Game #2

Well this game was what I was expecting. A sloppy, physical contest that featured two defenses that shut down inept offenses. There were some penalties and mistakes made by both teams, which is to be expected at this time of year. It’s now time to break down the final preseason game played at First Energy Stadium in 2015.

Offense:

Quarterback – Well, unfortunately the Josh McCown that many had come to expect this season was on display at First Energy Stadium. His first two drives ended with poor decisions when tossing the ball – leading to interceptions. Overall, the quarterback made some nice plays, but turnovers are killer. Also this offense is not good enough to overcome multiple interceptions and still win games. Hopefully he can get back on track in Tampa.  As a backup, Manziel led a nice touchdown drive – I love seeing his progression, but I’ll wait to excited about his future.

Running Back – There was nowhere to go but up for the Browns’ running attack. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell did not have tremendous performances, but they at least had some nice gainers not seen since about ten months ago. Those eight-yard-and-over rushes should be expected on a regular basis (we just needed to see them first). My faith has increased in this group, but let’s face it – they still have plenty of room to improve until September 13th.

Wide Receivers – This was not a stat-stuffing contest for the Cleveland Browns’ wide receiving corps. Brian Hartline secured a couple of fine grabs, while Andrew Hawkins was targeted on a few occasions. Other than that, the first team unit did not overwhelm by any means. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel did not get involved until Manziel came in the game. I would like to see what Terrelle Pryor and Dwayne Bowe add to this offense, but that looks like I will still have to wait.

Tight End – All three veteran tight ends got into the receiving game for the home team. Gary Barnidge made a nice grab early, but tipped up a McCown pass leading to an interception (while leaving the contest with a possible concussion). In his absence, Jim Dray and Rob Housler were able to snare a few tosses as well. None in this unit will ever have a large yardage or reception output, but I just want them to come down with important grabs.

Defense:

Defensive Line – First, the positives for the group. Danny Shelton and Randy Starks each made a couple of nice plays while forcing the action behind the line of scrimmage. Other than that, there were missed tackles and assignments by the gang upfront. I really hope something can click with this group (and soon) so the line can be a much improved unit. Looking at their counterparts, the Browns still have a way to go until they can replicate the type of performance that the Bills’ defensive line has been displaying.

Linebackers – Paul Kruger was the only visible linebacker – outside or inside – for the Browns in the first half of this contest. He had a sack, a hit on Tyrod Taylor, and a great tackle for loss. Scott Solomon whiffed on a Taylor run and was rather disappointing. I hope some guy can step up soon; the Browns cannot afford to only have one reliable athlete on the outside (Orchard played nicely in the third quarter). It was a quiet evening for the trio in the middle – none really stood out but they were not poor either. I’m content with moving on and reevaluating these guys next week.

Secondary – About a billion injuries to the secondary did not provide a realistic gauge when looking at the back four. Johnson Bademosi is a fine special teams member, but should not be starting in the NFL (at least at this point). Fortunately, he held his own against Buffalo. I hope Jordan Poyer did not have a concussion, but if he did – I look for a quick recovery and for him to be ready to go for the regular season. That, and for Joe Haden, Pierre Desir, K’Waun Williams, Tashaun Gipson, and even Justin Gilbert to be healthy as well.

Special Teams: It would appear that Travis Coons might be the front-runner for the kicking job. He made a nice field goal last week and repeated that performance this contest. I just hope he can continue this all year long. Trading for Andy Lee was a great move by this front office – the Browns need to win the field position battle on a weekly basis, and he certainly helps with that.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Defensive Predictions – Browns’ Team Leaders

Defensive Predictions – Browns’ Team Leaders

Cleveland Browns’ Edition of Guess the Stats

I flip it over to the defensive side of the ball and determine which guys will make their mark on the premier part of this team (at least on paper). Most of the Browns’ wins will be in large part set up by this unit – by holding teams to few points while giving the offense short fields to work with.  Let’s see who the anticipated leaders are for the defense.

Defensive Line

Most tackles – Go to Randy Starks

Analysis: The long-time veteran should get a fair amount of snaps this upcoming season – especially during running plays by the opposition. That will lead to many chances to stop rushers, which Starks will succeed in doing. I expected at least north of sixty tackles by the former Miami Dolphin – setting the tone for this new and improved run defense.

Most sacks – Go to Desmond Bryant

Analysis: The drafting of nose tackle Danny Shelton should help many people, primarily those on the end. He, Phil Taylor, and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen will make it difficult up the middle – forcing teams so employ additional blockers to occupy the nose tackles. The result is a guy like Desmond Bryant coming off the edge and taking down opposing quarterbacks (with little resistance). Look for at least five sacks by him and the leader in this category by the defensive line.

Linebackers

Most tackles – Go to Karlos Dansby

Analysis: This should come as no surprise, as Dansby has a tremendous ability to make stops up the middle. Going through a full season healthy (knock on wood), should elevate his production from last year. I could see him finish the year with upwards of 110 stops.

Most sacks – Go to Nate Orchard

Analysis: I will admit it, but I am taking the bait here. With Barkevious Mingo, Paul Kruger, and Armonty Bryant as solid options at getting the most sacks – I still decided on the rookie. He will have a breakout campaign, much like Kamerion Wimbley did a few years ago. The key will be how he responds to his early success (I envision ten sacks) and whether repetition can occur.

Most interceptions – Go to Craig Robertson

Analysis: A likely candidate for this honor, I see the inside linebacker coming away with at least three passes this fall intended for the other team. Fortunately for this defense, I suspect a few guys will have one or two – posing threats all over the place.

Secondary

Most interceptions – Go to Tashaun Gipson

Analysis: Outperforming his teammates last year (prior to his injury), and wanting to prove his worth in a contract season – it all makes sense that Gipson will excel. The safety ought to come away with seven or so interceptions for this secondary, and I expect he will still contribute in other ways.

Longest interception return – Goes to Trammond Williams

Analysis: One gigantic mistake will occur by an opposing quarterback (who hopefully plays in the AFC North), and Williams will make him pay. I predict that the signal caller will be looking for that out route, only to see the former Packer jump it and return the ball over eighty yards en route to a Browns’ touchdown.

Most tackles – Go to Joe Haden

Analysis: Ever since joining the league, Haden has been viewed as a physical cornerback who is not afraid of contact. I have been very pleased by this part of his game – as he can make the difference between a fourth down and one versus a new set of downs for the opponent. Haden figures to have seventy tackles on the outside, which will lead all defensive backs.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Roster Turnover – Breakdown

Browns Roster Turnover – Breakdown

Free Agency Recap

Well, there were multiple changes to this roster that occurred over the past few weeks. Some veterans were not expected to be back, and that was indeed the case. Meanwhile, the team signed a couple of athletes with experience as well. Are they a better team now than they were to end the 2014 campaign? Time will tell, but let’s review what occurred for the team.

Key Departures 

Offensively there were two impactful guys who departed for other franchises. Those were quarterback Brian Hoyer and tight end Jordan Cameron. The former was far from a surprise, and his play late in 2014 all but guaranteed that the Browns were not going to re-sign him. I wish him all the best in Houston, but have my doubts about his future success. The Cameron thing was a little perturbing, with him signing then not re-signing. However, the team is moving on from the veteran with an injury history. I would have liked him back, but now they must get a stalwart via the draft as his replacement.

On the defensive side, the Browns lost three prominent figures via free agency. These athletes are Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, and Buster Skrine. Inexplicably, both Rubin and Sheard’s production had declined significantly over the past few seasons. I am glad they were here and hold no ill will, but I believe Ray Farmer can find solid members who can pickup right where these guys left off. I really felt Skrine was coming into his own as a nickel cornerback, but his price tag appeared to be too high for the Browns. I would love to see Justin Gilbert play up to his capabilities and have Trammond Williams fill in at the nickel spot.

Veteran Pickups

It was a pair of signal callers and two wide outs who were signed by the Cleveland Browns. Josh McCown and Thaddeus Lewis were brought in to compete for a role with this franchise going forward. I still don’t know if they are going to draft another guy early or not, so I’m holding off my negative slant (at the quarterback position) for the time being. Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe are now members of the orange and brown. I think they can be reliable number two and three options for the offense, and if the team can get a DeVante Parker or Jalen Strong in the first round of the draft – I would really like this improved passing offense.

To supplement this defense, the Browns added Randy Starks and Tramon Williams last week. Both are a little older than the guys they are replacing, but I believe they can still be viable rotational guys. I anticipate at least a defensive lineman to be added by the second round of draft, and maybe a guy in the secondary a few rounds later. Overall, neither areas took a big hit – the scouts must make sure they can make solid improvements in areas where losses occurred.

Conclusion: While the Browns did not get a whole lot better during the free agency period, I am not freaking out the way many fans have. The team got solid veterans at reasonable prices, and lost members who the front office did not feel were “franchise players”. Though we may not know if these decisions are correct or not for a few years – I have a hunch that this part of the NFL season will not make or break this franchise. It will all come down to (finally) getting that little thing called a franchise quarterback.

 
 

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