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The Time to Pay is Now

The Time to Pay is Now

The Browns Have Money – They Must Use It (Wisely)

The Cleveland Browns have over $100 Million under the salary cap heading into the 2017 season.  It’s one thing to be frugal spenders in the NFL, but this is getting out of hand.  I understand going all “Dan Snyder” and focusing on attracting older veterans whose better days (in the league) are behind them is not the way to go.  However, the team must improve tremendously from last years debacle and one way to do this is to sign (or re-sign) some quality, younger veterans who can make an impact now.

Terrelle Pryor Free Agent

Yes, the wideout had just one solid season for the Cleveland Browns.  No, was not astronomical either.  However, Sashi Brown and the front office would be extremely wise to lock up a talent on the edge for two primary reasons.  One, the Browns desperately need a target on the field who can be a reliable option opposite Corey Coleman.  Should the team take Mike Williams or O.J. Howard – even better.  This receiving unit would be one of the better ones in the league.  Additionally, the Browns will more than likely be breaking in another guy under center next fall.  Who would you rather see him throwing to – a tall, athletic playmaker like Pryor or a roster devoid of a guy like that?

Quarterback Plan

There are basically two schools of thought regarding how the franchise will handle the position under center this offseason.  They can either draft their guy for the future in the first round or acquire a veteran signal caller and accompany him with a later round option.  I frankly don’t believe the team will select a quarterback with the twelfth overall selection in this year’s draft – so I feel they will go with the second route.  Now, what can they do?  Personally, I prefer a pocket passer (Jimmy Garoppolo) to a primary runner who can throw (Tyrod Taylor).  If the Browns hear a reasonable offer – no first round picks surrendered – they should pull the trigger on the Patriots’ quarterback, pick a Davis Webb or Patrick Mahomes in the middle rounds, and couple them with Cody Kessler on this roster.  This would be light years ahead of last season’s quarterback room.

Conclusion:  It’s time to see wins for the orange and brown; making smart signings is a way to accomplish this task.  Securing Terrelle Pryor, scooping up Jimmy Garoppolo, and acquiring a reliable defensive starter (likely in the secondary) would be an excellent start to the 2017 free agent period for the Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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Browns vs. Giants Preview

Browns vs. Giants Preview

Browns – Giants Matchup

It’s another contest for the orange and brown and the red-hot Giants come to town.  Once again, expectations for success should be low – but let’s review why.

Locker Room Chatter

Following last week’s horrid performance, Browns players finally sounded off about the state of the franchise.  I can’t imagine everyone shaking that off and coming together for a victory.  What is more likely is continued frustration and finger pointing at others.

McCown Back

Again, I respect Josh McCown and the type of guy he is, but he will not win a game for the Browns.  Anticipate a costly turnover or two – maybe with a touchdown in there too.  Bottom line is that it will not be good enough for the orange and brown.

The Giants are Good

Let’s not forget who the Cleveland Browns are facing.  Eli Manning does have a history of throwing multiple interceptions, while the opponent does not feature a stout rushing attack.  However, Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard will likely see handfuls of attempts, yardage, and possibly touchdowns.

That Offensive Line

Let’s not forget about the unit upfront who has been ill-equipped to either run block or not kill the guy under center.  Jason Pierre-Paul and company should feast on their counterparts at First Energy Stadium.

Conclusion:  I’m predicting the Browns to lose again on Sunday – by at least two touchdowns.  The good news is that the team finally hits their bye week after this matchup.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in NFL Season, Players, Uncategorized

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Bengals

Browns @ Bengals – Game #7 Preview

The frustration continues as the Browns head south to face the Bengals in Cincinnati.  For the first time in three seasons, the two will not be playing in Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday night – which is a bit of relief for the orange and brown.  I feel a little bit more confident in this game than I did before the season started, but is that enough to predict a win?  Here’s a breakdown of the matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  I look for more progression from rookie quarterback Cody Kessler in this contest.  He has been inconsistent at times in contests, but still has been making plays throughout.  Being outmanned basically everywhere makes it hard for the signal caller, but I give him a ton of credit.  I figure he should keep them in this contest with a touchdown or two – hopefully he can limit his mistakes against a tremendous defensive front.

Running Back:  I really do not know what to expect from this position group, as they have been bottled up during the past two contests.  The moving parts (and subsequent poor play) by the five upfront has made running the football rather difficult for both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  More of the same should occur this Sunday – as the Browns will be lucky to eclipse seventy-five yards on the ground.  Maybe some late heroics might help this position group garner some respectable statistics.

Wide Receiver:  I cannot wait to see Corey Coleman return to this lineup, as the receiving corps is missing “something”.  Their M.O. has been Terrelle Pryor having an extremely productive first half, then the defense adjusting, followed by the Browns being shut down in the passing game in the second half.  Ricardo Louis continues to progress as an threat, but his drops are glaring and do not inspire confidence the way Coleman could.  I do not have high hopes for this group, but a touchdown should still be projected.

Tight End:  It would appear that Connor Hamlett’s breakout game a few weeks ago did not convert over into last contest (which is no surprise).  Gary Barnidge continues to be the only viable option at this position, but even his production has been down from a year ago – also expected.  Perhaps he wins on a coverage mismatch and is able to score for the orange and brown in this game.  The offense could sorely use it.

Offensive Line:  Cody Kessler’s health might be of concern in this contest – the guys upfront have not been holding their end of the bargain.  I would not be opposed to moving John Greco back to center and inserting either Spencer Drango or Shon Coleman at right guard to see if that is a better group that one with Cameron Erving at center. I understand it’s a developmental year; thus the Browns ought to find out which lineup works best (for the future).  Not getting their signal caller killed would be welcomed as well.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  What I am seeing from Danny Shelton (and to a lesser extent, Jamie Meder and Stephen Paea) really gives me hope for the future of this defensive line.  They are coming off a contest where they stonewalled one of the best rushing teams in the league.  Jeremy Hill is a feisty back however, and he is eager to embarrass his AFC North foes (as he did in 2014).  I predict a step back for the Browns’ defensive front, but they should not get gashed by Paul Brown’s second professional football club.

Outside Linebacker:  Outside from one sack from Emmanuel Ogbah, the depleted position has not been productive in any way this season.  Joe Schobert dropped an early interception last contest; everything (from the rookie) that followed that was rather mediocre.  Andy Dalton is a bit more mobile that many give him credit for – thus he should evade the pass rush with ease.  Who knows, maybe these guys will generate a coverage sack on Sunday.

Inside Linebacker:  Despite getting moderate play each contest, Chris Kirksey and Demario Davis cannot break through and finish a game-changing play.  Historically, this position group has (occasionally) been able to intercept Dalton.  I would like to see this occur once again, but that is a tall order for this duo.  Preventing any long gains on the ground must be a priority – if the
Browns want to have a chance at victory.

Safety:  Tracy Howard is in line to get the start in this contest at free safety.  The undrafted rookie has not been great by any stretch, but can he be any worse than any other safety for the Browns?  At least Tyler Eifert will not be available for this contest; otherwise the tight end would make the Browns’ defenders pay.  My expectations are extremely low and seeing A.J. Green and other wide outs getting behind safeties will (more than likely) be on display.

Cornerback:  Speaking of Green, he should be putting up big numbers in the contest – regardless of Joe Haden’s availability.  The veteran has missed multiple games due to his groin injury and was less than effective when being out on the field.  More of the same should be predicted, which means Dalton will find open targets early and often in this matchup.

Special Teams:  The blunders, i.e. turnovers, were not apparent last meeting, but the Browns were penalized an exorbitant number of times.  This led to awful field position and the team not being able to dig them out of a tough spot.  I hope they can improve upon this part of their team but it will likely take time, with all of the youngsters on the roster.

Coaching:  So Marvin Lewis says he misses Hue Jackson very much.  I hope that is motivation for Jackson to prove to Mike Brown that being “a head coach in waiting” was not good enough and that he can make his former franchise pay.  I still support Jackson and his play calling decisions; hopefully they can be the difference.

Prediction (My Record: 6 – 0):  I got a blemish-free record, why should I jeopardize that?  The Browns play hard and lose once again by the score of 32 – 20.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Where Have I Seen This Before?

Where Have I Seen This Before?

Browns Blownout Again by New England

There was an awful outing by the offense and defense, and another quarterback got injured.  Just another Sunday for the Cleveland Browns, as they now have an 0 – 5 record and look less than excellent.  Let’s look more into what came about from this loss.

#1 – Kessler Can Play

Prior to his injury, quarterback Cody Kessler displayed signs that he can be a serviceable signal caller in the NFL.  He made smart decisions and tossed a touchdown pass in the first quarter.  We’ll see how he plays once he returns to this lineup, but I remain confident in the rookie up to this point.

 #2 – Secondary Needs Work

This is an obvious statement, as the Browns could not stop any receiving option for the away squad.  It did not matter who was in coverage, the home team allowed Tom Brady to play pitch and catch down the field.  They must address this part of the roster in the offseason – until that happens, we will witness the same awful play.

#3 – Can’t Match Opponent’s Blueprint

It was widely known that the Patriots were going to game plan against the Browns by taking away the Browns’ running attack.  Did Cleveland figure out a way to counter this?  No, and the running offense was very lethargic when the game was still in doubt.  A sign of good teams is to find ways to overcome when opponents limit them; it is apparent that the Browns are not there yet.

#4 – Tight End Troubles

The terror of not being able opposing tight ends continued, as Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett made the Browns look silly.  Bennett had three touchdowns – and they all seemed to come with ease.  Meanwhile, Gronkowski had a reception early in game and the Browns looked like children trying to tackle a grown man.  It’s great that this game finally ended for the Browns.

Conclusion:  I fully expected a pummeling by the Patriots and that was exactly the case at First Energy Stadium.  Outside of a few nice plays made by Terrelle Pryor, there was little to no positives for the orange and brown.  Hopefully they can come back next week and try to get a victory on the road.  But until that happens, the struggles continue.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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What I Saw – Browns Loss in Miami

What I Saw – Browns Loss in Miami

Takeaways from the Latest Loss

Well, I guess Browns’ fans should not have anything else – another defeat in a gut wrenching way. The new kicker missed three field goals (including a chip shot that would have won the game). However, there were a handful of positives that came from this contest. Let’s review those:

#1 – Hue Knows How to Coach 

Getting guys in the right spot, taking the load off the rookie signal caller, and finding ways to score the football are three things that were visible from the orange and brown sidelines. It’s refreshing to see a guy in charge know what he’s doing; he doesn’t have the best weapons in the league but he’s making the most of what he’s got. 

#2 – Terrelle Pryor’s Development 

Whether he was under center, running slants, or running down the field – the Browns’ athlete played extremely well on Sunday. I must admit that he is exceeding my expectations, and I am excited to see him improve on a weekly basis. It will be very interesting when Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon (hopefully) return to the lineup.

#3 – Right Tackle Issues 

I thought Austin Pasztor was decent last season for the offensive line of the Browns. However, in 2016 he has struggled mightily. Whether teams are figuring him out or if he cannot handle the starting role – the right side of the offensive line has had their issues. I’m not going to second guess their free agency strategy from a year ago (as everyone else is), but the team must get this fixed prior to the start of next season. 

#4 – Cody’s First Start

For a third-string’s first start in the NFL, I thought Cody Kessler put together a solid performance. He was not spectacular, but outside of a few fumbles early, he was steady under center. I am eager to see what he will do with another week of practice and another start in the NFL. 

Conclusion: It was not a great contest for the Cleveland Browns, but improvement (as a whole) is visible on the field. Hopefully they can actually pull out a victory next week; these close losses are not very fun.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns @ Dolphins – Week #3 Preview

Browns @ Dolphins – Week #3 Preview

The Browns are Taking their Talents…

On the road again, the Cleveland Browns head south to face another defeated franchise in the Miami Dolphins.  It will be a hot one, and there might not be a ton of great football to be played – but hopefully our annual road trip (for yours truly) will generate a Browns’ win.  There have been injuries to both teams already – who will be the guys to step up?

Offense:

Quarterback:  Another game and another quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.  Cody Kessler gets his trial by fire and has to look across at Cameron Wake, Mario Williams,  and Ndamukong Suh – not an enviable position.  The signal caller threw a touchdown on his first pass of the preseason, and then everything else has gone downhill since.  I anticipate Hue Jackson will pare down the playbook and limit the number of tosses (especially deep) in this contest.  Assuming he attempts quick screens and outs, I can envision a decent passing percentage.  However, I do not see any touchdowns or big plays by the quarterback.

Running Back:  One would imagine that both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson would receive ample opportunities against the Dolphins’ defense.  Their game plan will more than likely feature “stacking the box” to try and take away the Browns’ running attack.  With two capable rushers at the helm, the Browns can opt for runs or pass attempts to either guy.  It will come down to scheming and how Jackson can outfox Adam Gase’s defense.  I expect Duke Johnson to get an expanded role, but Crowell will obviously not have another tremendous output.

Wide Receivers:  In following the theme of short, quick passes – the two beneficiaries of this should be Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins.  Hopefully they can get a larger guy (i.e. Terrelle Pryor or Gary Barnidge) on the edge that could block down field for a larger gain.  Many are concerned about the stunting of the growth of Coleman (as he is now paired with a rookie).  This is hard to argue against; he and all wide outs will underperform until a veteran returns under center.

Tight End:  A tight end is predominantly utilized as a safety valve for green signal callers.  Gary Barnidge should more than help this offense – provided Kessler dials up his target and complete passes. He made some key catches last week at home but I have no idea as to how he will fare in this contest.  The injury to Randall Telfair might allow another guy (Seth DeValve) to come in and play.  However, with all of their quarterbacks getting hurt, the coaching staff might employ the tight end as more of a blocker for maximum protection.

Offensive Line:  For all the complainers about Cameron Erving and his porous play – they will get their wish (for a while, at least), as the second year pro will be out of action.  I am confident in John Greco as his replacement but am unsure of Alvin Bailey at right guard.  One thing that Kessler can do to help himself – is to get the football out of his hand as quickly as possible.  The guys upfront have not been consistent blocking, so not leaning on them to propel this unit might not be a wise idea.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  The broken hand suffered by Carl Nassib really hurts the defensive line – the rookie was playing well which helped a few of his teammates.  In his absence, Xavier Cooper must step up and be a force on the edge.  He has been mediocre so far in 2016 – but could continue to improve in only his second season.  Speaking of which, Danny Shelton proved that he can actually be disruptive in the middle of the line.  I hope he can not only force action elsewhere, but move the point of attack behind the line of scrimmage.  The status of runner Arian Foster is not set in stone, so a hobbled runner or a backup should help the Browns’ run defense.

Outside Linebacker:  Emmanuel Ogbah was one of the pass rushers who was aided by Nassib’s early performances.  Without his services, the rookie linebacker will have to find another way to be a force on the outside.  Meanwhile, Joe Schobert took a step back last game and was hardly visible during the contest.  With Nate Orchard seeing regular playing time behind him, there’s a chance that he could surpass the rookie as the starter.  Regardless of who is out there, they must be fast on the edge and force everything to the middle of the field.

Inside Linebacker:  (Not surprisingly) the pair of veterans in the middle are doing a great job of showing the way for the younger guys.  Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey have not been brilliant, but stout enough against both the run and pass where they are warranting their playing time.  I would like to see them either notch a few sacks on Tannehill or even secure a huge interception.  A big play like that might be the difference in this contest.

Cornerbacks:  Outside of the rejuvenated Joe Haden, I am very fearful of Jamar Taylor and Tramon Williams going against Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, or Kenny Stills.  I hope that Taylor’s return to Miami will lead him to play inspired football and make some key plays – but that is admittedly wishful thinking.  Tannehill will likely hit at least two targets in the end zone in this contest and propel the offense to a solid afternoon.

Safeties:  Derrick Kindred is getting “there” and Jordan Poyer is trying to get “there”.  The rookie has been awful active in games and around the ball on multiple occasions.  I could see him jarring a football loose in this contest and turning the tide to Kessler and company.  Meanwhile, Poyer nearly had an interception last meeting.  He improved from week one, but must be better in his coverage than just a play or two each contest.

Special Teams:  Here is where the Browns really need to see tremendous improvement going forward.  They cannot get field goals (or extra points) blocked anymore, nor can they surrender longer returns.  In a conservative offensive game plan, will the Browns attempt a fourth and short situation or go for a longer field goal attempt?  Let’s hope coach Jackson makes the right call on Sunday.

Coaching:  As previously referenced, there will be a vanilla offense run by this group to move the football while not getting their third quarterback hurt in as many weeks.  I do not have high hopes for this unit, but perhaps the staff can silence the doubters.  The defense will be relied upon more than usual – so more aggressive play calls could be seen.

Prediction (My Record: 2 – 0):  I don’t know what to think about this team with all the injuries and young guys, so I’ll keep the
expectations at a minimum.  The Dolphins and Browns will compete in an ugly contest, with the home team coming out ahead by the score of 20 – 6.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Cleveland Browns Fans, NFL Season, Players

 

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A Look Back at Preseason Game #3 – @ Tampa

A Look Back at Preseason Game #3 – @ Tampa

Terrible in Tampa – Another Loss for the Browns

I was a bit disappointed to witness what went down at Raymond James Stadium this Friday. The Browns competed against a sub par team and played down to their opponent; fortunately it was preseason – but I did not like what I saw. Let’s review what when down in this matchup.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Good – Robert Griffin still finding teammates down the field. The quarterback was great at hitting open targets for big gainers, including a touchdown in the second quarter. He’s still got some work to do, but I cannot complain about his play.

Bad – I cannot think of anything for this category regarding the man under center. Griffin did not made huge mistakes in this contest, and that was definitely a positive sign. I would like to see this mentality continue throughout the regular season.

Ugly – The drop backs in the pocket made me hold my breath – I am sick and tired of seeing Robert getting hit hard and taking a sack, and it’s only the preseason. The quarterback has got to get the ball out quicker or else he will get injured.

Running Back – Good – Isaiah Crowell continued to improve his play on the field on Friday night. He slipped through some holes with ease and that was a good thing to see. Provided he keeps this up, I have a positive feeling about this team’s running attack this year.

Bad – Duke Johnson was mediocre in this game but made a play or two. I was underwhelmed in his play-making ability, but perhaps he is saving this for September and beyond. It’s just the preseason, so I will not freak out just yet.

Ugly – Nothing too horrible for the running back position in this contest.   They were not given a tremendous amount of opportunities, and they did not disappoint as a result.

Wide Receiver – Good – Deep passes to Josh Gordon and Terrelle Pryor. They led to big plays early and somewhat often, including a fine touchdown just before halftime. Its’ still a bummer that Gordon will miss the first four games of the year. Regardless, I am more confident in this bunch than I have been for many years.

Bad – I guess I would say there were a few penalties committed by wide outs in this contest. These were unnecessary and killed offensive drives for the Browns. Hopefully the athletes can get their heads on straight and use them when blocking down field in contests.

Ugly – I cannot think of something in this category thankfully. The wide receivers were had some good and bad moments, but nothing that was embarrassing for the team. This appears to be an improvement from a poor area of the team just a year ago.

Offensive Line – Good – The guys upfront were able to push the defensive line backwards pretty consistently. I feel pretty content in their ability in run blocking; should this continue then the offense might actually have a good year. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson helped out as well.

Bad – Austin Pasztor committed a few penalties on the right side of the line. He was not perfect and it showed; I’m not as pessimistic as some in the media – so I’m not extremely concerned at this point. But he’s got to clean this up rather quickly.

Ugly – Protecting the quarterback, especially without Joe Thomas is not easy for this bunch. Many were ready to lambaste this unit for their protection, and rightly so. I don’t know what it’s going to take to be consistent going forward – but they need to work hard over the next two weeks.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Good – I guess the Browns had a handful of stops on running attempts by the Buccaneers. There was a few times where the three and five technique ends got up field and held their own. While not perfect, Jamie Meder did make some nice stops in the middle of the defensive line.

Bad – There was little improvement from the run defense for the Browns in this matchup. They were not pathetic, but they need to improve a substantial amount and as quickly as possible. Overall they are still deemed as poor, however.

Ugly – Getting up the field was still something that was non-existent for the Cleveland Browns. Winning at the point of attack appears to be a battle the Browns simply will not win in 2016. That makes the jobs for the back seven that much tougher and that does not make me feel great.

Linebackers – Good – I cannot envision a tremendous thing that occurred for their linebackers. They were not pressuring Jameis Winston nor were they forcing ball carries into bad situations. But I’ll save this for later.

Bad – Speaking of bad, the linebackers were porous all game long. I was waiting to see one of the guys to stand out and it never came. There were ample opportunities and they never came – maybe next game.

Ugly – More of the same for this category. There were no strong points for this defense and the backers surely did not help. Perhaps a sleeper candidate (or two) will emerge from this group and be serviceable in the regular season.

Secondary – Good – Not a whole lot of good by this bunch – I guess that Ibraheim Campbell made a few solid plays in this contest. I’m not sure if anyone can step up for this group (I hope Joe Haden) but the secondary needs to look much better in the coming weeks.

Bad – Anyone not named Gilbert (he’s coming up); the secondary for the Browns was less than stellar in this matchup. Jamar Taylor gave up a few receptions and Joe Haden was invisible; I am a bit worried by this position group.

Ugly – Justin Gilbert’s play – seriously, he is not good in coverage. The Browns’ cornerback was bruised and battered in coverage consistently and the only saving grace was his lone tackle. The Browns just need to cut him already.

Conclusion: That’s pretty much all she wrote for the preseason – the Browns have got some work until the season opener in Philadelphia. Maybe there’s something good that can happen in the preseason finale. I’m not going to be a negative Nancy, but improvement is required.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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