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Browns Win – Game #5

Browns Win – Game #5

Review of Game #5 – Browns @ Ravens

Wow, I still cannot believe the Browns pulled out that victory this afternoon. It was very close, but the offense pulled it out during the tough contest. I am very excited about parts of this team and disappointed about the other – it was a win but it could be a lot worse. Let’s see what happened.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Yep, Josh McCown picked up right where he left off – I am glad he was able to continue to attack defenses at a regular pace.   He dominated for a majority of the contest – including hitting for over 400 yards passing. He was stable in the pocket and pulled out a win; I am very complacent that the signal caller will continue this type of play going forward.

Running Back – Both guys appeared to have dominated in this contest, but it was Duke Johnson who made it count for this franchise. I was surprised to see this unit play extremely well, however the dump off to running backs was key to this offensive unit. Both guys were solid in this contest and I am confident that they will produce going forward. Hopefully the team can continue this type of play going forward. 

Wide Receiver –Everyone got it going for the wide receiving unit, it didn’t matter if it was Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin, or Andrew Hawkins but the guys got it done during the 2015 campaign. Every guy appeared to have got it done and I am very glad that the group did what they needed to do. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel are two guys who really took advantage of the situation they were presented – I expect this type of performance to continue. 

Tight End – Is that Gronk or Gary Barnidge?   Seriously, the tight end for the Cleveland Browns is making things happen. His acrobatic catch was huge in this contest, and that’s now a pair of important grabs for this athlete. Barnidge was gigantic in the victory; I anticipate he will keep it up going forward. Jim Dray had a catch as well; I’d still like to see E.J. Bibbs but that will have to wait for the Browns.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront finally played up to their capabilities and the Browns’ offense line was stout in this contest. No one got outplayed, including Michell Schwartz – the offensive line was stout was and was solid in this contest. I’d still like to see what the team can do – but would not be surprised if the athletes can dominate upfront.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I guess that the guys upfront finally played solidly in this contest. They did not surrender a great deal of yardage on the ground but there was still 30 points given up by the team. Fortunately the team was able to overcome this, and Jamie Meder and Desmond Bryant did their best to dominate in this contest. This must continue to occur going forward.

Linebacker – I would like to believe that the linebackers corps played up to their capabilities in this matchup. However, that was not the case and the unit still played solid in this matchup. The outside linebackers where not visible in this contest, hopefully they can continue to improve going forward. Karlos Dansby made some nice plays, but he was far from effective in this matchup. If the linebackers can finally get their act together, the Browns will win many games.

Secondary – Not a solid job by the Browns’ secondary, but the team did enough to get by. Tramon Williams, K’Waun Williams (when available), and Jordan Poyer have proved that this defense can be good enough to win in matchups. I would like to see if Ibraheim Campbell could step up in this matchup, perhaps that will come down the road. 

Special Teams: No turnovers and not bad penalties were apparent for the Cleveland Browns’ special teams. They played well and moved the sticks in this matchup, and I believed the special teams were good enough to win this contest.

Coaching: Mike Pettine got paid today – he and his staff did their best to put the team in the best spot possible to win this matchup. However it worked out, the Browns still do the win and scored at the best point possible. I am happy they won and look forward to next week’s game.

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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Breaking Down Browns @ Ravens – Game #5

Breaking Down Browns @ Ravens – Game #5

Game #5 Preview – Browns @ Ravens

A rested team coming off a big win ten days ago goes against a team that lost a heartbreaker and has its second consecutive road game – that is this week’s storyline.  From that alone, the Browns’ odds of winning are not great; toss in the fact this contest is in Baltimore and another loss appears obvious.  However, the team will still go out there and compete this Sunday; can they actually pull out a victory?

Offense

Quarterback:  Can Josh McCown make it three games in a row, in terms of surpassing the 300-yard mark through the air?  The odds are not in his favor, but I am intrigued to see if he can get many guys involved the way he has been doing.  This, in turn, has led to the defense being off-balance and McCown being able to attack all over the field.  I have a bad feeling about him turning the football over in this matchup.  Last week, he had one fumble but the defense rose up to prevent any points being surrendered.  I feel that the Ravens’ defense will be a bit more opportunistic.

Running Back:  Hopefully the duo of Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell can continue to work their magic.  Two capable backs who are weapons in both the run and passing game?  We have not seen that in Cleveland for quite some time – and that should give defenses enough to think about on a consistent basis.  Like last week, I would expect to see at least one score out of this unit and do not care how it comes about. A key will be playing keep-away if the Browns have the lead late and want to work the clock while still moving the chains.

Wide Receiver:  Will Brian Hartline return to the lineup this week (after exiting following the first series with an injury)?  Will that mean a lot to this offense and receiving unit?  Travis Benjamin continued where he left off a few weeks earlier, while Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins were frequently involved last contest.  Ideally Hartline will continue to play the role of chain mover on third down. I would like to see at least one touchdown from a wide out in this meeting.  I get a sense that Dwayne Bowe’s time in Cleveland is nearing a close – as the disappointing veteran has yet to record a reception.

Tight End:  The roles for Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge are pretty much pronounced – the former is the blocker, while the latter is the pass catcher (and is doing a fine job at that).  Barnidge has already surpassed his season-high in receptions and has a pair of touchdowns. Rob Housler has been useless, so now is the portion of the blog where
I insert my weekly plea to insert rookie E.J. Bibbs into the active lineup and deactivate Housler.  Who knows, maybe he can be another playmaker for this offense – there’s only one way to find out.

Offensive Line:  Improvement was finally on display last contest, but the offensive line is still a ways from where many expected them to perform.  Mitchell Schwartz is clearly getting beat on pass rushes, but at least the number of times is reducing.  I guarantee that the home squad will throw the kitchen sink at the guys upfront – and I would love to see them rise to the challenge.  It has not occurred many times this campaign, but the Browns have utilized a lineup with Cameron Erving as an additional blocker.  This should be witnessed on Sunday; if they can get a result like the touchdown versus the Titans (or even close to that) then using it will have been a brilliant call.

Defense

Defensive Line:  Up to this point, the first three things I think about this defensive line are slow, out of place, and uninspired. They have picked up where the 2014 defensive line left off – and that is worst in the league.  Danny Shelton was drafted to help
tremendously in this department, but that has not been the case over the first quarter of the season.  I hope he can find his way and quickly, as the unit needs a leader to rally around.  Having Desmond Bryant return from injury would not hurt this group either; of course he still has got to make plays once he gets back on the field.

Linebacker:  There’s a chance that Scott Solomon can be active for this contest – the outside linebacker group seriously needs some good news.  Paul Kruger is in coverage (not his strength), and the guy opposite of him (be it Mingo, Orchard, or Armonty Bryant) was nowhere to be found in San Diego.  A 3-4 Defense is predicated on their linebackers; they must help in the run game, perform in pass coverage, and (most importantly) get to and sack the quarterback.  None of the three are currently happening for the Cleveland Browns.  The guys on the inside were of little help as well last week.  Karlos Dansby made a couple nice plays early on, but that was it for the inside linebackers.  Jim O’Neil has his hands full with trying to make this unit a productive one.

Secondary:  The performance the secondary put forward (in San Diego) was appalling – they could not stop or cover anyone.  Joe Haden being inactive was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps he can return and somewhat resemble a solid cornerback this matchup.  I would have thought that this group would be one of the better parts of the team, but the opposite has been true.  People want to see Ibraheim Campbell, and it’s only two more weeks until Charles Gaines comes off the PUP list.  Unless K’Waun Williams can return this game and really help out in stopping the pass – it could be another long day for the Browns’ defensive backs.

Special Teams:  I don’t expect to see much of a difference between these two franchises’ special teams.  Both have solid kicking and return units.  It might be one great return or costly turnover that could tip the scales between the Browns and Ravens’ units.  I am pulling that the visitors come out on top.

Coaching:  All eyes are (and have been) on defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil – will Mike Pettine assist his protégé in the game plan and play calling?  I don’t care how it happens, just fix the defense please.  The Browns will not win another game if their defense continues to be a sieve against the run and out of position against the pass.

Prediction (My Record 1 -3):  I expect another loss by the Browns this week, this time by more of a wider margin.  The Ravens beat up the orange and brown to the tune of 26 – 13 and leave the Browns limping home at 1 – 4.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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NFL Season Opener – Browns @ Jets Preview

NFL Season Opener – Browns @ Jets Preview

Preview of Browns @ Jets – Game #1 

After many months of waiting, the 2015 NFL regular season is finally here! I’m not going to display the Browns’ opening day record since re-joining the league in 1999, but let’s just say it is not good. However, this year features another winnable contest for the orange and brown. Let’s take a look into the contest in New Jersey.

Offense 

Quarterback – Josh McCown had a bad exhibition game (Bills), a good one (Buccaneers), and a decent one (Redskins). All of those do not matter once the regular season starts, however. I anticipate him to be on the lower end of risk-taking, which might excite Browns’ fans. Still a few lengthy tosses should be expected – McCown just make sure to drop them in where only his teammates can catch them.

Running Back – Will Duke Johnson be available in this contest? He will provide the Jets’ coaching staff with something extra to game play for. However, if he does not recover from his concussion yet – I have faith that Isaiah Crowell can earn those tough yards between the tackles. Granted, the Jets have a formidable defensive front – but I have a feeling that the best is yet to come for the Browns’ backs. 

Wide Receiver – Here is the wildcard spot for the away squad. Expectations appear to be low (at least listening to the media), but should this unit perform to their capabilities; they can tip the scales towards a victory. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel ought to continue with their under and drag routes, while Brian Hartline remains a possession receiver and a touchdown threat in the red zone. I foresee one or two scores from this group on Sunday.

Tight End – Making the tough catch in traffic and picking up key first downs is where my expectations lie for the team’s tight ends. Gary Barnidge always seems to come up with a huge grab, and this contest should be no different for the veteran. There might be one huge block by Jim Dray or a great play by Rob Housler in this game as well. 

Offensive Line – I hope the unit upfront picked their game up during this week of practice. They were a far cry from the guys who paved wide alleys and gave the quarterback time to throw last season. I anticipate they will not be that good yet, but will improve from their display in the preseason. As usual, the right side of the line will get the most attention – call it homerism, but I expect John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz to get it done.

Defense:

Defensive Line – It’s finally put-up-or-shut-up time for the Browns’ defensive line. Are they actually improved at stopping the run, or are they just as miserable as they were last season? A steady improvement should occur on a weekly basis; they will not be great but not horrific either on Sunday (Chris Ivory and Zac Stacy totaling just under 100 rushing yards combined). I look for leadership on the edge by veterans Randy Starks and Desmond Bryant.

Linebackers – I really hope that Scott Solomon can be a trusted outside linebacker opposite of Paul Kruger. Besides being the guy who sets the edge, he will be expected to rush Fitzpatrick on occasions. I’m not as high on him as I used to be, but I hope he proves me wrong. On the inside, the trio is expected to be stout – Kirksey, Robertson, and Dansby should have everything under control. An interception would not be surprising from this position group.

Secondary – We all know that Joe Haden struggles against taller wide receivers. Therefore, I figure Tramon Williams will line up more against Brandon Marshall. That would leave Haden covering Eric Decker – who is no slouch either. As we all know, how well the quarterback can get the ball to his targets is of vital importance. This Browns’ defense should make it difficult (via the rush and coverage) to see consistent completions.

Special Teams: I am pulling for the strong performance of the preseason to carry over for the Browns. Travis Benjamin will likely not have a punt return for a score, but he figures to flip the field a few times. Hopefully Travis Coons can remain perfect, as points are huge in this contest.  Andy Lee will have a prominent role as well.

Coaching: Ground and pound will be the blueprint for Pettine and the Browns’ offense. Should that work early, look for some play-action and longer passes later in the contest.   A completion or two can be a backbreaker for the home squad – but many things have to go right before the coaching staff deviates from a conservative game plan.

Prediction (My Record 0-0): It’s the opener once again, and it’s a winnable contest this season. This game will come down to special teams, limiting mistakes, and converting on third down. I give the Browns the advantage in the first two and the last category is a toss up – that provides enough confidence in giving the team a 24 – 20 win over the Jets.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Buccaneers – Breaking Down Game #3

Browns @ Buccaneers – Breaking Down Game #3

Review of Browns @ Buccaneers – Preseason Game #3 

I must admit I did not what to expect from the Cleveland Browns in this contest. They faced an apparent inferior team, and the starters dominated the home team. Outside of a few possible concussions, this was a tremendous outing for the club. I cannot wait to see what they can do in the coming weeks. However, let’s look at last night’s contest first.

Offense:

Quarterback – Facing pressure or not, the Josh McCown displayed a great ability to get the football out of his hand quickly. His passes were not always on target, but they were close enough were only the receiver could secure the grab. It was mostly dink-and-dunk play calls, but if they work and the end result is a score – keep ‘em coming. I loved seeing McCown’s competitiveness during this contest, but diving headfirst is something that I wish he would not do (especially during the preseason – and on multiple occasions). 

Running Backs – It would appear that the three-headed monster was finally unveiled in Tampa. Whether it was West, Johnson, or Crowell – the guy behind the quarterback was effective in this contest. In addition to some solid rushes by the second-year pro, watching Isaiah Crowell catch and run was a sight to see. This part of the offense was sorely needed in 2014; this only makes the unit even more dynamic. That was a scary moment seeing Johnson leave his feet (and getting drilled) during a pass reception. That cannot occur this year, and could lead to a possible huge injury. 

Wide Receivers – Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel each hauled in nice gainers early in this contest. Instead of a sideline fade (like last week), the Browns tossed some quick hitters and under routes for the speedy targets. That’s all I wanted to see in this contest – seeing McCown put his guys in the best position possible to succeed. Brian Hartline’s touchdown was a thing of beauty; the wily veteran knew where to be in the end zone and got both feet down before going out of bounds. My confidence in this unit continues to build, and executing in their proper role is key for the upcoming season.

Tight Ends – An extremely quiet outing for this position group; as Jim Dray’s two short receptions were the only noteworthy play from the starters. I have a feeling that consistency from the tight ends (receiving-wise) will not occur this year. Some of this is due to the game plan, which is to be expected in this chess game known as the NFL. However, if the wide receivers and running backs can pick up the slack, then there should be few worries. 

Offensive Line – For the most part, the five guys upfront dominated their counterparts. McCown stayed relatively clean, and holes were available for all three running backs. Avoiding infractions and free rushers to blow by them is a must – and fortunately that is what the Browns’ line achieved. The incorrect penalty called on John Greco (for a chop block) killed a potential scoring drive; hopefully the calls will go more to the team’s favor during the regular season.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – There’s the run defense that Browns’ fans and coaches were looking for. Winning the point of attack is critical in this league; hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the orange and brown. I really liked what I saw from veteran Desmond Bryant. The defensive end had a pair of sacks during the first quarter, as well as multiple pressures on Jameis Winston. It was not all rosy for this group, as Doug Martin scored on a large rush in the second quarter. That should give the group enough fire to resist complacency. 

Linebackers – Just another game for veteran linebacker Paul Kruger – it seemed that he was always around the signal called once the team dialed up a blitz. Scott Solomon was relegated to more of a run stopping role, which he did an excellent job of doing the dirty work. The key stop of the third and one was amazing, and it all started with Solomon pushing through the Buccaneers’ offensive line. It was a relatively quiet game for the guys on the inside, they were not exceptional but they were not blown off the ball either.

Secondary – Charles Gaines playing in the first quarter – and intercepting Jameis Winston (along with several nice pass break ups)? With K’Waun Williams and Justin Gilbert injured, the rookie made his case to be included with the first team defense. I was encouraged from what I saw, and want to see what he can do early in the contest next week. I noticed one play where Joe Haden came crashing off the edge during a corner blitz. It was unsuccessful, but those types of plays should work (as I have faith that the remaining secondary can cover opposing wide outs).

Special Teams: Now, that wasn’t so hard – was it? Travis Benjamin channeled his 2013 self, by taking the first punt of the game back for a touchdown. I don’t expect to see this on a regular basis, but long gains and threats of a touchdown can finally give this unit the respectability that was missing last year. Now Carey Spear got a shot to shine for the kicking gig – and made the most of his opportunity (with a nice field goal and solid kickoffs). Hopefully the coaching staff can choose the correct kicker for this team.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns vs. Bills – Preseason Game #2 Preview

Browns vs. Bills – Preseason Game #2 Preview

A Preview of Game #2 – Browns vs. Bills

Following a few joint practices, the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills do battle at First Energy Stadium. Both teams are built similarly, physical upfront and reliant on their running attack (and putting less emphasis on the quarterback). This will be a good litmus test for each squad, being a Browns fan I hope the team makes their mark early on in this contest. Let’s take a gander at this matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback – Keep those good times rolling for both Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel. Both signal callers were excellent in hitting receivers last week (which should be expected given the base defense they went against). I would like to see a few longer attempts by both guys in this contest. Keeping away from turnovers is a must, but not the end of the world (as I have faith in this defense).

Running Back – Wilbert Montgomery has tried his best to fire up his part of the Browns’ roster, but up to this point it appears to be fruitless. West and Crowell might want to find holes and squeeze through them, if they do not want to be teammates with Ray Rice. I want to see Duke Johnson finally hit the gridiron, but it may not come in this contest. The ceiling and expectations are extremely high for this unit – Thursday is a giant opportunity to prove they will be ready for the regular season opener.

Wide Receivers – I must admit, a few weeks ago I had Travis Benjamin pegged as a definite cut by the Browns; however his play as of late has changed my opinion significantly. At this point, I would like to see him continue to improve in all facets (including as a returner). Terrelle Pryor is practicing this week, and I expect him to be in the lineup against the Bills. I am pulling for the former Buckeye to make the team, but he’s got a ways to go before he earns his spot.

Tight End – The rise of E.J. Bibbs is not surprising (and something I felt would occur).   The undrafted rookie is slated to grab a roster spot, and it looks like Rob Housler will be the guy out of a job. I am looking for what his contributions are in the blocking game; it may not be pretty, but the coaches need a gauge. Gary Barnidge has had a couple of nice catch and runs during training camp and the team scrimmage – why not show off one of these against the Bills?

Defense: 

Defensive Line – It would be nice if a couple of guys not named Danny Shelton show up in this contest. I know what the two veterans (Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks) can do – but the progression of Xavier Cooper will be something to watch. Billy Winn (when he is recovered from his injury) and John Hughes are two guys who can be options for this run defense. Slowing LeSean McCoy will not be easy, but this is a solid test to see if improvement has occurred.

Linebackers – I liked the play of all three inside linebackers last week and am content they will continue to improve all season long. Therefore, Hayes Pullard is another rookie who had a strong opener and can swipe a roster spot away from a veteran. I want to see what he can do against some first-teamers. On the outside, it appears that Kruger and Solomon might be the two starters – but what does the depth chart look like after these guys? Nate Orchard had an uneven performance last week, but the rookie will get better over time. With Barkevious Mingo on the sidelines, I would not complain if Armonty Bryant makes his case to push out the former first round draft choice.

Secondary – Is this Justin Gilbert’s last stand? The second year pro’s poor assessment last week was a downer. He obviously was not flawless, and no one in the NFL is (even the best know they must improve – i.e. Tom Brady). I don’t expect him to make great plays, but would glad if they happened. The duo I am eager to see is K’Waun Williams and Pierre Desir; they should make Browns fans forget about Buster Skrine. At safety, Ibraheim Campbell was decent against Washington – if he can replicate that against better competition, I would feel better about a potential successor to Donte Whitner.

Special Teams: Making the only field goal last week, it would appear that Travis Coon has a slight advantage in becoming the kicker. After the starters score a few touchdowns (hopefully), I want to see the reserves give these guys shots at nailing some longer kicks. More scoring means more kickoffs – another part of the game that can decide who makes the team. The punt returner position is still not secure, but Benjamin could remove doubt with some excellent gains.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Preseason Game #1 – Washington @ Cleveland – Preview

Preseason Game #1 – Washington @ Cleveland – Preview

Preview of Preseason Game #1 – Browns vs. Redskins

Finally!  After months of waiting, the NFL Draft, Free Agency, and multiple practices – the Cleveland Browns get to take the field against another opponent.  This is an NFC East foe who is not too familiar with the orange and brown, despite a Monday Night Football matchup last exhibition.  Let’s hope the Browns’ offense plays better in 2015 against these guys.  (As usual, I omit coaching from my preview as this is a very vanilla time and they will not tip their hands with play calls.)

Offense:

Quarterback – It’s Josh McCown’s opportunity with this team’s offense.  He has excelled for the most part in practice and has helped his teammates both in the huddle and on the sideline.  I would like him to complete a few passes of different lengths and finish off at least one drive with a touchdown.  As far as backups go, improvement, improvement, improvement is extremely vital.  I know it’s not regular season speed, but Manziel must look a ton better than last fall.

Running Back
– The hamstring injuries to Terrance West and Duke Johnson sort of took the air out of this position group.  My feelings remain the same for this exhibition year as any other – don’t risk any injuries to running backs that will play this fall.  Therefore, maybe Isaiah Crowell should play one series in this contest.  Other than that, it should be Luke Lundy, Shaun Draughn, and one of the new additions shouldering the load against Washington.

Wide Receiver – Here is where things get interesting.  Depending on the type of offense this team will employ on Thursday, I am eager to see which guys are put into certain scenarios.  Bowe and Hartline should each have a grab for a modest gain, while I hope to see Taylor Gabriel attempt a long reception.  The next battle I am eager for is Vince Mayle against Terrelle Pryor and Travis Benjamin.  This trio has gained a lot of positive marks thus far – who will take the first step in securing a final roster spot?

Tight End – It appears that three guys will make this team among four candidates.  The question is whether rookie free agent E.J. Bibbs can knock Rob Housler, Jim Dray, or Gary Barnidge from this roster.  I believe he can steal a spot – but he must make an immediate impact when joining this contest.  He will likely enter in the latter stages, so he ought to excel against guys who probably will not start this fall.  Other than that, I would like to see a couple nice grabs from this group against Washington.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Coach Jim O’Neil has said repeatedly this offseason that “we will stop the run”.  Well, it’s not the regular season – but limiting the opposition on the ground should be the defensive game plan for the Browns.  Danny Shelton, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and John Hughes must be able to hold their own.  On the outside, I would like to see different combinations to determine which guys work best with each other.  It might be a pair of veterans like Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks. Perhaps a speedy rookie (i.e. Xavier Cooper) and a strong veteran might be a solid fit.

Linebacker – Not a whole lot to focus on up the middle, as it might be Tank Carder versus Hayes Pullard for the fourth inside linebacker role.  The other three (Dansby, Kirksey, and Robertson) might play sparingly and I already know what they can do.  The outside is where we can finally get some answers.  Will Scott Solomon get the
nod opposite Paul Kruger?  Can Barkevious Mingo finally live up to the first round hype?  What should we expect from rookie Nate Orchard? Thursday night can be telling.

Secondary – Touted as one of the best in the league, the Browns’ secondary should be hitting on all cylinders; it just might not happen until September.  The fight among K’Waun Williams, Pierre Desir, and Justin Gilbert for the third and fourth cornerback jobs will continue – perhaps one guy will step up tremendously.  I do not expect the safeties to be too active in the exhibition season but I will still keep my eye on Ibraheim Campbell to track the rookie’s development.

Special Teams:

Some modest punt and kick returns would be a welcomed sight for this Cleveland Browns fan.  Both were missing in 2014, and that needs to be a part of this team if they want any chance of offensive success. Travis Benjamin might get the first shot, getting back to his old form is vital if he wants to resume his role as a returner.  I also would like to see what Justin Gilbert, Shane Wynn and Taylor Gabriel bring to the table (as Duke Johnson won’t suit up).

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Offensive Outlook – Browns before Training Camp

Offensive Outlook – Browns before Training Camp

Where We Stand – the Cleveland Browns – Part I

Now come the multiple weeks in between the Browns holding minicamp and training camp, and our opportunity to analyze the many assets on the roster. Granted, fans have only been able to see the players participate in shorts, but that hasn’t stopped my breakdown before. Training camp and the preseason will be extremely telling for all members of the team – I am hopeful many can continue to improve during that period. First, we look at the offensive side of the ball and thoughts about those athletes.

Quarterbacks: Right now it appears that it is Josh McCown and then a bunch of other guys. I am happy to hear he is looking very well in practice, but he has not been facing pressure and complex defensive schemes. I am reluctant to completely buy in, I just want a quarterback who can keep the team in games and do what it takes to achieve victories. I have no expectations for Johnny Manziel, but if he is able to act like a pro and limit his mistakes this summer – maybe he will get his shot down the road.

Running Backs: I really want to see what this group can do in 2015. Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell, and Terrance West each possess unique traits and abilities. The Browns were expected to have a solid running attack unit last year, but the wheels fell off mid-season what Ben Tate lost his mind (not literally). Throwing more to these guys will be a critical part of the offense, and welcomed by me as the Browns have strayed away from this aspect for many years. Each of these three bring something different to the table, and I anticipate weekly offensive game plans to revolve around the team grinding out many yards with the running backs.

Wide Receivers: The lightning rod of the offense, this group has been debated frequent by both local and nation media. Are they the worst group in the NFL, or are they underrated? Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, while not flashy, will run proper routes and secure catches when given an opportunity. I am very excited to see the growth in Taylor Gabriel; he appears to “get it” and should improve upon a solid rookie campaign. Vincent Mayle might surprise us all and have a great rookie campaign, while if Andrew Hawkins performs up to expectations in the slot role – this gang can be a very good one. 

Tight Ends: Rob Housler, Gary Barnidge, Jim Dray, and maybe E.J. Bibb? That’s whom the Browns are trotting out at tight end this season. Expectations are far from high, but as long as this group does what is asked (hauling in occasional passes and can block consistently), I will not be disappointed. There will not be a Jimmy Graham type of performance from this unit, but making the most of their opportunities is all I ask.

Offensive Line: Here’s where the offense will hang their hat during the 2015 season. Whether it’s opening up holes for rushers or keeping the signal caller upright, the five men upfront should be performing exceptionally from summer to winter. Drafting Cameron Erving should provide depth that was lacking last year. My hopes are high for the line – why can’t the offense flourish with a tremendous front (it worked for the Cowboys in 2014)?

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Players, Training Camp

 

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