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Can We Get a Win?

Can We Get a Win?

Browns vs. Colts – Smells Like 2011

No, this is not Kerry Collins vs. Colt McCoy (it is close, however) – but Sunday’s matchup is between two poor teams playing in Indianapolis.  The Browns might have to call Peyton Hillis for some nice runs (the way he did six years ago), as this part of the franchise has been largely underwhelming.  What can the Browns do to finally win?

Jacoby Brisset

The Browns are facing a mobile signal caller, who does not have a track record of success.  In addition, he will be with this franchise for three weeks now – far be it from an entrenched franchise quarterback.  The Browns have been extremely disappointing in getting pressure on the opposing signal caller – though they are coming off facing a pair of Super Bowl Champions.  Something tells me that things will be different this week, as Gregg Williams will put together a game plan to finally impact the opposing passing game.  Who will emerge for the orange and brown defensive line?

RUN THE BALL!!!!

Sorry for the all caps, but the Browns must not rely so much on the passing attack by DeShone Kizer (and Kevin Hogan).  This is more hope than anything else, but the team must utilize both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson for more than twenty carries this weekend – and the occasional swing pass or two would not be a bad thing.  If the Browns cannot generate a run game in this contest, then I have lost all hope for their offensive output.

Who Steps Up at Wide Receiver

Rashard Higgins had a solid outing last game, now without Corey Coleman – what is next for the Browns’ wide receivers?  Will Duke Johnson go back into the slot role?  Should we anticipate more from Sammie Coates and Kasen Williams?  I’m a little apprehensive about this spot, but Kizer has to throw it to someone.  I can see the team shortening their routes while still generating a bit of success.

Conclusion:  Call me crazy, but I think the Browns get it done on Sunday.  They will bounce back (from last week’s debacle) after the Colts take the Browns lightly.  It will once again be a rough, low scoring contest – but Kizer will top his counterpart and the defense will allow the visitors to leave with a “big” win.  I expect the linebackers to get back on track and Jabril Peppers is overdue for either a turnover recovery or a game-changing return on special teams.

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Posted by on September 19, 2017 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Pittsburgh – Game #16

Browns @ Pittsburgh – Game #16

The Last Game of the Season – Cleveland Browns

Well, the Browns finally broke though and pulled out a win last week; thankfully there will not be a parade to celebrate losing.  Their game at Pittsburgh marks the last contest this campaign but not one where the team in orange and brown is expected to win.   Nonetheless, let’s review a few key aspects of this matchup.

Little to Gain

Once again, the Steelers have already clinched a playoff berth and are locked in their spot as a divisional winner.  Thus, there is not a ton to play for in this matchup (as they cannot obtain a first round bye) – at least on their end.  I would expect Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell (to name a few) to participate in this matchup but not for the entire contest.  Will their backups be able to overtake the Browns’ starters?  Outside of Landry Jones – I would not be surprised to see other reserves still making plays.

Any Sort of Confidence?

The Browns are coming off a victory; something that was over a year in the making.  That said, will the taste of a win carry over into this contest?  It is unlikely as they are facing a sound football team; however the Browns have not been in this spot under Hue Jackson.  I am interested to see how the athletes respond and come out on Sunday.  I feel this could be a close contest at Heinz Field.

Kessler Under Center

The concussion of Robert Griffin in last week’s contest paved the way for Cody Kessler to return to the lineup.  The rookie will more than likely get the nod in this contest.  In my estimation, he is the only signal caller on the roster who will be returning onto the 2017 squad.  To what capacity might be determined by how he fares in this game.  I expect Cody to revert back to his conservative style, in order to limit his potential mistakes.  Perhaps he can come out throwing and hitting his targets in stride.

Conclusion:  For the first time all season, the Browns were winners while I predicted them to lose.  I would love for a repeat scenario on Sunday, but still expect the black and yellow to propel to victory.  They appear to be an organization that wants to have positive momentum for the playoffs.  Meanwhile, the Browns’ draft (and free agency) talk will continue to heat up in the coming months.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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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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Browns vs. Ravens – Game #2 Preview

Browns vs. Ravens – Game #2 Preview

Game #2 Preview – Ravens @ Browns

It only took one week, but the Browns are already in the cellar of the AFC North.  Speaking of which, they face their first divisional opponent on Sunday – a team who defeated the Bills a week before.  The Browns looked pretty bad in the season opener (what’s new?); can they turn it around at First Energy Stadium?  We will analyze this matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback:  Coming off a poor performance (and an injured left shoulder), signal caller Robert Griffin will be missing at least several weeks of action.  In comes veteran Josh McCown, who also has an injury history.  The Ravens’ defense held their own last week – so the assumption would be that the Browns would not be able to move the football with ease.  I expect McCown to enter this game make a few smart plays down the field and actually find the end zone this week.  However, the opposition will bait him into a mistake as well.  Hopefully the next signal caller can be precise on his throws – or this contest can get away from the team in a hurry. McCown did not sparkle in the preseason, but that’s not necessarily a true indicator for the regular season.

Running Back:  It is time for this offense to feature Duke Johnson in a more prominent role.  The second-year veteran had some nifty moves last week, and could cause problems in the passing game (for the defense).  Isaiah Crowell proved he can still run the ball rather well (provided the offensive line can pave the way).  I wouldn’t mind seeing the runner garner early carries in the matchup to soften up the defense.  Getting to one hundred yards on the ground will not come easy, and I envision the Browns being bottled up until they are down a couple of scores.

Wide Receivers:  The slant route, albeit juggled, was something I was glad to see hauled in from Terrelle Pryor last contest.  He is beginning to show he is more than a one-trick pony – and I am anticipating on him to continue to grow in this offense.  Corey
Coleman struggled a bit but snagged a deep pass in the second half; he should see more targets this week.  Andrew Hawkins continues to disappoint in his role with the offense.  I would like to see him get back on track, as the team could surely use another threat in the passing game.  At the end of the day, outside of some nice grabs I do not expect too much from the wide outs.

Tight Ends:  Gary Barnidge desperately needs to shake off last contest and get back to his 2015 form.  Not catching a pass is just as unacceptable as is dropping easy throws which killed offensive drives.  He will more than likely get a couple of early targets (to build confidence), then should be available for underneath routes to complement longer passes.  This offense is not too far from being reliable, but all hands must be on deck for that to occur.

Offensive Line:  The two problematic positions for the offensive line reared their ugly heads in Philadelphia.  Can Austin Pasztor and Cameron Erving get out of their funks and solidify this unit?  Pasztor got blown up a few times (and got away with holding a time or two), he cannot afford to continue to play this way.  Meanwhile, Erving did improve at pass protection from a season ago – however his high snap was embarrassing.  If this is not cleaned up soon, the Browns might be looking for the replacement of the replacement for Alex Mack soon.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  The team took a step forward last contest – in terms of their run defense.  They were not spectacular, but they were also not nearly as horrendous as they have been.   I was actually watching Danny Shelton get up the field a time or two in the contest.  Should he continue this on a regular basis, as well as Carl Nassib being a threat on the edge, and the Browns’ defensive line might be a respectable unit in 2016.  John Hughes needs to step up on the opposing edge, otherwise the Ravens will exploit this time and time again.

Outside Linebackers:  If Emmanuel Ogbah, Nate Orchard, and Joe Schobert could not get to a rookie quarterback – then I do not envision this trio making life tough in the pocket for Joe Flacco.  Granted they are young and can improve, but I would be surprised to see them make a jump this early in the campaign.  The only saving grace is the old adage that “teams improve the most between weeks one and two”.

Inside Linebackers:  Despite not making any tremendous plays in the opener, both Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey graded out well.  Being dependable is something that is necessary for inside linebackers – however I want to see them blow up offensive plays now and again.  The Ravens’ tight end situation is one riddled with injuries, so this duo should not have to worry about many guys crossing their face trying to catch passes (the way Zach Ertz did).  I could see a big play coming from this position group on Sunday.

Safeties:  Derrick Kindred displayed some tenacity in his first NFL game, and then turned his ankle.  The Browns need a thumper at safety – and hopefully the rookie can come back healthy for this game.  Otherwise the team will have to turn to Ibraheim Campbell, who is capable but not a standout safety.  Jordan Poyer was all around the ball last contest but could not come away with the big interception. He will likely need the assistance of teammates (via a tipped pass or help in coverage) in order to generate a turnover from the opposition.  Overall the safety spot has not been great, but they are an improvement from the guys on the edge.

Cornerbacks:  This is easily the worst unit of the Browns – they were unable to cover any wide receiver last week.  That said, I figure more of the same at First Energy Stadium and a boatload of passing yards surrendered by the orange and brown.  I do not know what it is going to take for the coverage to improve (and apparently neither do the Browns).  I’m hoping they can simply get lucky and one of Haden, Taylor, or Williams can be at the right place at the right time for a change.

Special Teams:  Can the Browns change momentum in this game on a single play?  That would be great, and perhaps special teams could be the spark the team needs.  Whether it is a long return or a key stop, the Browns need to be the beneficiaries of a big play and use it to their advantage.

Coaching:  I can assure you that fake punts and offensive linemen split out wide will not be a part of the Browns’ game plan this week.  Neither worked last Sunday, and Hue Jackson and company must be smart in trying to pull a fast one over the opposing coaching staff.

Prediction (My Record: 1 – 0):  I look to keep my record perfect and choose against the team that has not come out ahead in five tries.  Joe Flacco will make one too many great throws and the Ravens will come away with a 27 – 13 victory at First Energy Stadium.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Games 9 – 16: Cleveland Browns’ Schedule Analysis

Games 9 – 16:  Cleveland Browns’ Schedule Analysis

Cleveland Browns’ 2016 Schedule: Second Half Breakdown

The second portion of the campaign for the Cleveland Browns features much more AFC North foes on it. Everyone knows that will lead to hard-nosed battles, with possible scuffles and injuries. I would not be surprised if they came away with some victories in these contests. Meanwhile, some traditional powerhouse teams could stumble if they overlook Hue Jackson’s club.

Away Contests: Week 10 @ Baltimore, Week 15 @ Buffalo, and Week 17 @ Pittsburgh 

I’m not going to sugarcoat this; the away stretch of the second half of the regular season will be difficult. All three venues are tough places to play, and the Browns have had little success at each of these stadiums. Honestly, one win out of these three contests should be welcomed (but that is still unlikely). If somehow the Browns can win more than one, it will be a miracle. I suppose the greatest possibility would be at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. 

Home Contests: Week 9 vs. Dallas, Week 11 vs. Pittsburgh, Week 12 vs. New York (Giants), Week 14 vs. Cincinnati, and Week 16 vs. San Diego

On the other side of the coin, this home slate is not as terrible as it could have been a few seasons ago. The Chargers are aging and far from a complete team, while the Giants will not be as tough as they have been under Tom Coughlin. This can tip the scales to the home squad, who needs to prove they are no longer pushovers.

Meanwhile, Dallas is a crapshoot – and I have no idea what to expect from them (especially looking at who their signal caller might be for the matchup). I still have faith the Browns can win divisional games at home. That said, another two or three wins should be anticipated by the orange and brown in these meetings.

Conclusion: Looking back at the schedule and putting realistic expectations on outcomes – five to seven wins feels about right. I would be content with this; the Browns will have greatly improved upon their record in 2015 and will be building towards the future. Finishing the campaign relatively healthy and on an uptick, and I would be finally happy at the end of a Cleveland Browns’ season.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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Browns vs. Pittsburgh – Game #16 Preview

Browns vs. Pittsburgh – Game #16 Preview

The Final Game of the 2015 Season – Browns vs. Steelers

It’s finally here; after many months of bad football the Browns will finally end the campaign at home against the black and yellow. I have (painfully) witnessed fifteen contests for this franchise over the past few months, so I will fight though one more. Can they win? Sure. Will they compete and actually come out ahead of a playoff-hopeful team? We will discuss below.

Offense:

Quarterback – Since the last time Johnny Manziel faced the Steelers, the quarterback has had some highs and lows (both on and off the field) – but more importantly he has gained vital experience. He reverted more to running last game, but I anticipate he will stick primarily in the pocket and tossing passes to his targets. He will find the end zone in this game, and I do not see a bad interception like his past two contests.

Running Back – Both backs have continued to improve this season; why can’t this continue against the black and yellow? Isaiah Crowell will not get more than seventy-yards on the ground, but should be able to get into the end zone. I would like to think that Duke Johnson could both help in the passing game (as a receiver) as well as providing a decoy on designed runs for Manziel. Hopefully the rookie can do his job exceptionally this week. 

Wide Receiver – Once again, I do not foresee a tremendous amount of output from Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, and company, as that appears to be the norm since Brian Hartline’s injury. The wide outs should be able to haul in passes and move the chains – but that’s all one should anticipate. A score would be icing on the cake in this matchup, but don’t hold your breath. 

Tight End – Gary Barnidge continues to display an ability to be a reliable weapon for this offense. However staying on nine touchdowns should give him (and the team as a whole) a desire to break the franchise’s single season record for touchdowns caught by a tight end. I would be disappointed if he was unable to score a touchdown, but the defense he will face is a stingy one. Perhaps Jim Dray can possibly get involved and help this offense as well.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront continue to look respectable, despite looking lost early and succumbing to injuries late. Even Cam Erving was not terrible last game – I would like to believe he is working through rookie issues but this game will be a tremendous test for the guard. Will this be Alex Mack’s final game as a Cleveland Brown? This would not surprise me, and I hope he goes out a winner and does a fine job during this contest.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Can the Browns make it two games in a row, in terms of limiting opposing running backs from rushing for a great deal of yards? The way things are going; the odds are against this from happening. Danny Shelton is making a play or two but still is not consistent enough to be a force in the middle of the defensive line. Perhaps Desmond Bryant can fill gaps on the edge and meet DeAngelo Williams in the hole – prompting to shorter running plays.

Linebacker – As usual both Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby will be able to provide their services in run support, however struggle in pass coverage. On the outside, I have no idea what to expect from any of the guys. Paul Kruger can still rush the quarterback well, but he is asked to do that only a portion of the time. Rookie Nate Orchard is coming along; maybe he can be the wildcard if the Browns want to score the upset. Getting sacks and securing turnovers would be a reason why the team can earn this victory. 

Secondary – Hopefully K’Waun Williams and Charles Gaines can take their next step improving as professional cornerbacks. They (along with Tramon Williams) had their issues at Heinz Field, but were able to keep up with receivers over the past few games. I really hope both can keep it up, as the opposition will try its hardest to embarrass the secondary. I would be all for Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner being active in this matchup and making an impact – but do not envision this occurring yet again.

Special Teams: I look for fakes on punts; onsides kicks, and changes to blocking in the field goal unit for the Browns this week. This could actually be a part of the game that the Browns can win in – however they must be smart when punting to Antonio Brown.  A winning kick would be a great way to end the season, but many other positives must occur first.

Coaching: I hope John DeFilippo continues to call plays they way he has been the last few games. The offense has not been clicking on all cylinders, but they have been executing more as of late (especially via the running game). Defensively, the Browns pitched a shut out in the second half last week. Whatever Jim O’Neil did needs to be replicated for all four quarters in this game.

Prediction (My Record: 10 – 5): The Browns keep this contest close in the first half, but the Steelers blow it wide open in the third quarter. That leads to a defeat of 30 – 14 and the end to this bad year of Cleveland Browns football.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Yay! The Browns Finally Won!!

Yay!  The Browns Finally Won!!

What Happened – 49ers @ Browns – Game #13

Well it was exactly what the doctor orders for the Cleveland Browns. The defense had nine sacks, the running backs found the end zone twice, and Johnny Manziel made several plays under center. When the dust settled, the Browns manhandled the 49ers; despite hurting their draft position, I am glad to see that the orange and brown had this in them. Let’s delve into the victory.

Offense:

Quarterback – Outside of a problematic pass (and interception) Johnny Manziel had a stellar outing. He appears to have progressed and is finding multiple targets during the contest – which has been problematic for the young signal caller. The next three games he will face tremendous defenses, so the odds are he will not excel the rest of the campaign. However, this was a good win for the quarterback and I cannot complain.

Running Back – Who knew that Isaiah Crowell had it in him? The running back belted out several long runs and found pay dirt twice in this matchup. Granted they were not playing a stellar bunch, but I am excited to see him finally play well. Duke Johnson also made a couple of nice gains as well; the rookie back was active in the running and passing game. I am eager to see what he can do in the next few weeks. 

Wide Receiver – It looks like Brian Hartline was the guy for Manziel in this contest. The veteran had over 100 yards and was all over the field in this contest – however he left the game with an injury. That said, he has proven to be a reliable commodity for the Browns. Travis Benjamin was somewhat active as well – he should continue to help out this offense for the final three games.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge did what he normally does in 2015 – and that is scoring touchdowns. The tight end was superb in this contest and was the recipient of a tremendous touchdown in the second half. I am glad to see him with the team for many years (hopefully three) to come. My guy E.J. Bibbs saw some playing time, but was not targeted.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront were exceptional starting out and ending the contest. They were dominated a bit in the time between, but no one is perfect. Even Austin Pazstor had his issues at left guard – it is not just Cameron Erving who struggled at the spot. However the guys were good enough to give Johnny time, as well as lanes for Crowell and Johnson room to run. It could have been worse, so I will take it.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – It took facing a Browns castoff with a depleted offensive line, but the Browns finally shut down an opposing running back. O yeah, and the guys dominated at the point of attack. I was happy to see Xavier Cooper, Desmond Bryant, and Randy Starks all be effective in this meeting. They are not the best at what they do, but they can be called upon when needed. 

Linebacker – Nate Orchard had a pair of sacks, which Paul Kruger was solid in getting to the opposing signal caller. Barkevious Mingo was active but not anywhere near the action, he appears to not be needed for this roster. On the inside Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby were solid on occasions and that was good enough for this unit.

Secondary – Charles Gaines was toasted a few times in coverage, but he stuck it in there and was somewhat reliable late in this contest. Tramon Williams held his own as well – he was very close to multiple interceptions and was nearby opposition wide outs for the opposition. The safeties were not great but not pathetic easy – playing Blaine Gabbert made this game very easy for the secondary.

Special Teams: No big deal, just another blocked field goal by the Cleveland Browns. Other than that, the special teams played well. It was Danny Shelton who allowed pressure up the middle – they have got to take him away from the field goal unit.

Coaching: This game plan was what Pettine and company had envisioned all season long. Run the ball and stop the run – that occurred and the Browns won handily. This is not a consistent happening; but for this week I will take it. It’s now on to Seattle and a extremely tough game next week.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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