July 23, 2014

Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Pierre Desir

Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.  Past film rooms: Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Terrance West.

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Each NFL Draft class brings in a melting pot of former college athletes from all kinds of backgrounds. Some grow up in the classic middle-class, two parents house-hold with the picket fence that the media glorifies. Others struggle their whole lives to not just make it to the NFL, but the survive. Despite the struggle many prospects go through, rarely is this fight to make “The League” more obstacle-laden than the journey of rookie cornerback Pierre Desir.

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The Top Five Most Intriguing Players in Cleveland Browns Training Camp

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As we’re on the precipice of Cleveland Browns training camp, I couldn’t be more excited to see who steps up. The Browns have a lot of question marks as any team should coming off a four-win season. The good news is that there are a lot of new faces to address many of the obvious holes we all complained about at the end of last season. Offensive line, cornerback, linebacker and running back were all areas targeted by the Browns’ front office1 Without further ado, here are my five most intriguing training camp players. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I made the decision to just skip quarterback, by the way. Everyone knows that situation all too well and I think we’ve beaten the Hoyer vs. Manziel camp battle directly into the ground. []

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Linebackers

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The Cleveland Browns start training camp in little over a week. They have had a big offseason full of big-name additions and huge stories. One of the positions that the Browns addressed during the offseason once again was linebacker. The weakest part of this group last season was the inside linebackers. So, the Browns knew they had to upgrade these two spots on the team. The first move was the release of D’Qwell Jackson. At the start of free agency, the Browns signed veteran Karlos Dansby to fill the vacant inside linebacker. They also signed Zac Diles in free agency and finished working on the position with the drafting of Christian Kirksey.

The Browns will also look for improvements from the players already on the team to help make this position stronger. Lets take a look at the linebacker depth chart for the 2014-15 NFL season. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Terrance West

Terrance West

Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.  Past film rooms: Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey

Following a season that featured Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, and Edwin Baker taking the bulk of snaps at running back, the Cleveland Browns eyed the upcoming NFL Draft and free agency as opportunities to upgrade their backfield. Within the span of two months, the Browns completely re-hauled the position, signing former Houston Texans running back Ben Tate to a two-year contract and drafting former Towson University workhorse Terrance West.

The additions of Tate and West to the Browns backfield give new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan multiple productive backs who fit well with his new zone-blocking scheme. This type of run game greatly differs from the Rob Chudzinski and Pat Shurmur power run offenses in which premier athletes and big-bodied runners succeed. The power run game necessitates a back who can make a fast read, is able to run through a pre-determined hole in the line, and can make defenders miss by virtue of their elite size power or elusiveness. Rather than read the defense as the play happens, backs are taught to hit the hole quickly and reach the second level of the defense where they will be able to use their athleticism or size to pick up large gains. [Read more...]

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Defensive Linemen

Cleveland-Browns-Hoping-Phil-Taylor-Can-Dominate-Nose-Tackle-in-2013

WFNY’s State of the Browns series shifts from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side. As we saw in the Super Bowl last season, great defenses can lead a team. The Browns are built for the defense to be the backbone of the 2014 Browns season. They will be running a 3-4 hybrid defense with the ability to change to a 4-3 at times. Probably the strongest part of the defense is their defensive line. This group has talent at the top and a lot of depth to keep everyone fresh for the whole season. The team has versatile linemen, who can play multiple positions on the line. The defensive line has players who can put pressure on the quarterback and others who can stop the run. The defensive is pretty much the same group as last season with the exception of a couple undrafted rookie free agents in Calvin Barnett and Jacobbi McDaniel. Let’s take a look at the state of the Browns defensive line! [Read more...]

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Tight Ends

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The tight end position is an evolving group with more emphasis on them being a threat in the passing game. The new style of the NFL tight end is one of a tall and fast player, who is more of receiver rather than a blocker. These players are physical freaks, who can give their teams mismatches in the passing game. A lot of the current tight ends in the NFL are solely either a receiving threat or a blocker. There are only a few tight ends in the league, who can both block and catch the ball. The Browns have one of the best tight ends in the NFL last season in Jordan Cameron. Beyond Cameron, the team has blocking tight ends in Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray. The Browns also have a young versatile player in MarQueis Gray, who could be a bigger threat this season. They also have two young tight ends in Emmanuel Ogbuehi and James Oboh. Let’s take a look at the state of the Browns tight ends.

Projected TE Depth Chart

Tight End Transactions

Additions
1. Jim Dray (Free Agent)
2. Emmanuel Ogbuehi (Waivers)
3. James Oboh (Undrafted Free Agent)

Jordan Cameron

Jordan Cameron had his breakout season last year and put himself in the conversation of being one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Last season, he caught 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. He had two games of over 100 yards and had three touchdowns in one game versus the Minnesota Vikings. He was third in receptions, second in receiving yards, and sixth in touchdowns amongst all NFL tight ends last season. He was second in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns for the Browns behind fellow Pro Bowler Josh Gordon. His great season led him to being selected to the Pro Bowl. Cameron is the team’s number two target, but could be the top target this season if Josh Gordon is suspended for any time.

Cameron is a 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound former basketball player with very good athleticism. He posts a huge mismatch for an opposing defense because of his size and speed combination. He is bigger than cornerbacks and fastest than most linebackers. He is a red zone threat for the Browns because of his basketball background. He can go and get the ball at its highest point. Cameron is a very versatile pass catcher in that he can catch balls underneath the coverage and over the top for big gains. He has the ability to make plays after the catch and make big plays. He has very good hands and is a reliable target for the quarterback. According to sportingcharts.com, Cameron only had two drops and a 1.7% drop rate last season. Cameron is a prototypical new age tight end in the NFL.

Cameron emerged as a top target last season for the Browns. But before last season, he had not produced much for the Browns. This will be his biggest question mark coming into this coming season. He needs to show that last season was not a temporary success, but a preview of more to come. He has the talent and ability to be a top five tight end in the NFL. Cameron gives the Browns someone who can line up either on the line, in the slot, or even out wide. He is a huge weapon for the Browns and one could be the backbone of the passing offense this year if Josh Gordon is suspended for an extended period of time. He will look to build on his 2013 Pro Bowl season and be even better for the Browns.

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MarQueis Gray

MarQueis Gray is one of the most versatile players on the Browns’ roster. Gray played at quarterback and wide receiver at the University of Minnesota. He is entering his second season in the NFL and could be in line for a bigger role this year. Last season, Gray was placed in many different positions including wildcat quarterback, full back, and tight end. He had 43 rushing yards and eight receiving yards. He is a young player who showed signs last season that he could be a quality player for the Browns.

Gray has the size to play tight end at 6-feet-4-inch, 242-pounds. He has a combination of speed and strength, which could make him a good tight end. He ran a 4.73 second 40-yard dash and posted 15 reps on the bench press at the 2013 NFL Draft Combine. His speed and agility for a player his size give him the ability to be a pass catching threat who can make plays after the reception. Gray is still raw on being a tight end especially in the blocking aspects. He needs more experience at the position and learn the finer points of being a tight end in the NFL. But, he has the talent to be a weapon for the team because of his athleticism and versatility to play multiple positions.

Gray is being used so far in the offseason as the first team fullback. But, in Shanahan’s offense the fullback acts more as a H-back. I consider the H-back more of a tight end then a fullback because of their proclivity to be a passing threat and lining up in many different positions. He will be lined up in the backfield, on the line, and in the slot. This position is a perfect place for a player with his versatility. He could be a huge part of the offense because of his ability to fit the H-back spot in the new offense. He can give the team another mismatch on the field because of his combination of size and speed. Gray could be a breakout player for the Browns this season.

marqueis gray

Jim Dray

Jim Dray is a blocking tight end, who can also help in the passing game. He was signed in free agency from the Arizona Cardinals. Last season he started 15 of the 16 games he played in and had 26 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Dray is entering his fifth season in the NFL. He played four years at Stanford University before being drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Cardinals.

Dray is a big tight end with a good frame at 6-feet-5-inches and 255-pounds. He is a blocking tight end, who can give the quarterback another big target in short yardage and goaline situations. He is a strong blocker with the ability to move defenders. He has good technique and footwork, which helps him stay engaged to the defender and finish off blocks well. He can be placed on the end of the line and hold his own in pass and run blocking. Dray is also a tall target for the quarterback to find as his second or third option on a play. He is another player who can help out in goaline situations either blocking or being an endzone target. He also can help out on special teams in blocking for field goals and returns. He will be competing for the backup blocking tight end spot against Gary Barnidge. Dray might be the favorite for the spot because he was selected by the current regime.

Jim Dray

Gary Barnidge

Gary Barnidge is a blocking tight end for the Browns and a short yardage target. Last season, he had 13 receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He was not a huge threat in the passing game except in short yardage and goaline opportunities. He has solid hands that allow him to snatch passes without getting much separation from the defender. His biggest role for the Browns was blocking in both running and passing plays. He is a big tight end at 6-feet-6-inches and 250-pounds. In terms of blocking, he has good technique and form. He is a smart player, who knows blocking schemes and how to put himself in the right position to make the block. Barnidge is a lot of times looked upon as an extra offensive lineman. He will not wow people with his talent but he is a good role player for the team. He is a solid backup tight end, who can help out in special teams along with his other duties. He will be competing with Jim Dray for the backup blocking tight end spot. He could be the odd man out because of Dray being the coaching staff’s addition and Barnidge being the previous regime’s addition.

gary barnidge

Emmanuel Ogbuehi

Emmanuel Ogbuehi is entering his second season in the NFL. He was a 2013 undrafted free agent from Georgia State, who was signed by the Washington Redskins after the draft. He was then cut at the end of the preseason and then went to the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad for the final four games of last season. The Browns signed him off waivers this offseason. He is an athletic tight end who ran a 4.68 second 40-yard dash at his pro day in 2013. He is a smaller tight end at only 6-feet-3-inches and 230-pounds. He along with Oboh will most likely be competing for a spot on the practice squad. It will be hard for him to him to make a spot on the team and will most likely be cut at the end of the preseason.

emmanuel ogbuehi

James Oboh

James Oboh is a 2014 undrafted free agent from Towson University. Last season at Towson, he had 24 receptions for 354 yards and four touchdowns. He is an athletic tight end at 6-feet-4-inches and 250-pounds. He ran a 4.83 second 40-yard dash at his pro day. He will have to make a big impression in training camp and the preseason games in order to make the team. He is probably just competing for a spot on the practice squad for the Browns. He most likely will only be around during the preseason and then cut when the roster is shaved to 53.

james oboh1

(Photo by: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Christian Kirksey

Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.  Past film rooms: Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio

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Having watched film of all six members of the Cleveland Browns’ 2014 NFL Draft class, a clear theme is apparent. Each draftee possesses a very particular set of skills that perfectly fit into what Mike Pettine desires to do with his defense or how Kyle Shannahan plans to run his offense. The selection of Christian Kirksey continues to push this message as he provides the Browns with his elite coverage abilities, of which the Browns desperately needed last season, and fits the mold of an incredibly versatile linebacker.

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Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Joel Bitonio

Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.  Past film rooms: Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel

Joel Bitonio

Although Cleveland fans have been taught year after year to always anticipate the worst, no one ever sees the drop in the emotional roller coaster coming. Following the first day of the 2014 NFL Draft, fans and analysts alike gave the Browns an immense amount of credit in acquiring their top cornerback, top quarterback, and a future first round pick. Within 12 hours of selecting Johnny Manziel, 1,500 more season tickets sold. And then, out of nowhere, Outside The Lines killed the buzz. Josh Gordon: Suspended.

As information on the suspension was leaked (we somehow still do not have a ruling), Cleveland fans started panicking, questioning the front office, calling for Gordon’s release, but worst of all, coming to the realization that Greg Little topped the wide receiver depth chart!

“Should the Browns have selected Sammy Watkins at 4? Did Ray Farmer intend to select Mike Evans at 8, only to have the Buccaneers take him with the seventh pick? Marquise Lee is a lock in the second round, right? Santonio Holmes is a free agent… For the love of Joe Jurevicius, please draft someone who can catch the ball!”

Yet, despite the mounting pressure and unexpected suspension, Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine refused to budge, sticking to their pre-draft philosophies and selecting offensive lineman Joel Bitonio from the University of Nevada. Disregarding the fact that the Browns desperately needed a competent lineman to play at guard or hopefully, right tackle, this pick will be long-remembered as the pick they should have used on name-one-of-the-seven-second-round-receivers.

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WFNY’s State of the Browns: Wide Receivers

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The wide receiver position has become a big question mark for the Browns ever since reports of a possible Josh Gordon suspension. Gordon notwithstanding, the Browns have had a very eventful offseason in regards to the position. In the start of the free agency period, the Browns signed Andrew Hawkins from the Cincinnati Bengals. Later in the offseason, they added Nate Burleson from the Detroit Lions. Post-Gordon, they finished off the wide receiver position by adding Miles Austin from the Dallas Cowboys, Anthony Armstrong, and multiple undrafted free agents. The Browns are clearly looking for depth at the position because of the looming suspension of their Pro Bowl pass catcher.

Here is a look at the Browns wide receiver depth chart heading into training camp.  [Read more...]

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Offensive Linemen

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The offensive line is the backbone of the offense in the NFL. They are in charge of keeping the quarterback upright and making holes in the run game. If you look at the top offenses like the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos, the offensive line is a strength of the team. The Browns have two of the best linemen in the NFL in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. These two lead the group by example through their stellar play and consistent playing time, but the team was not a complete unit because of several holes primarily on the right side of the line. The Browns addressed this issue with the drafting of Joel Bitonio and the signing of Paul McQuistan as these two look to improve the guard positions with more talent and depth.

Let’s dig in to the rest of the meat up front.
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The space between: How far is the gap between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel

Manziel Ogbonnaya

Johnny Manziel earned his first promotion faster than most 20-somethings find a summer job. In the blink of an eye, Manziel bypassed Tyler Thigpen for the second quarterback spot during organized team actives last month. The Browns want to foster an atmosphere where rookies earn roles, and it didn’t take long for Manziel to show how he stacks up against a journeyman, such as Thigpen.

Now there’s just one man standing in front of Manziel and a starting job in the NFL. We’ve been told Brian Hoyer and Manziel will compete for the job, and with training camp just around the corner, it’s fair to wonder, just how close is the gap between Hoyer and Manziel?

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Browns wrap up day one of mandatory mini-camp

Day one of mini-camp is in the books. Here is a gathering of news and notes from beat reporters at today’s practice. This is a collection from @FredGreethamOBR, @NateUlrichABJ, @ScottPetrak, @RuiterWrongFAN and @sdoerschukREP.

Manziel Ogbonnaya

– WR Anthony Armstrong is 5-foot-10 and weighs 185 pounds. He is a four year veteran spending time with the Dolphins, Redskins, Cowboys and Jaguars, mostly on practice squads. He hasn’t been in an actual NFL game since 2012. But for some reason the diminutive wide out has been making plays during workouts. Today he caught another long pass for a touchdown, this time a 45-yarder from Manziel beating Buster Skrine. He beat Haden for a deep score in OTAs.

– OL Joel Bitonio was not out at practice after suffering an injury last week believed to be a high ankle sprain. OL Chris Faulk was also not at practice.

– OL Jason Pinkston walked to the trainer’s room holding his left hand. With Bitonio and Pinkston out of practice, Garrett Gilkey took reps with the first team at guard with Greco on the other side.

– Speaking of the offensive line, Joe Thomas was back practicing after sitting out some of OTAs.

– QB Brian Hoyer was limited in his participation just as he was during OTAs. The coaching staff and trainers are being cautious with him as he continues to recover from his ACL surgery that ended his season in 2013. [Read more...]

Should NFL owner misdeeds cost a team draft picks?

Irsay Crime and Punishment

I recently read a piece of commentary by ESPN.com’s Jeffri Chadiha which pertained to the NFL and how it should punish Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for his looming drug-related issues. This isn’t specifically Cleveland-related just yet, but it’s no small stretch to think that it could be someday. I don’t think Jimmy Haslam is going to get pulled over with bottles of pills and enough cash to buy a really nice Hyundai, but let’s just say there might come a time when the league could be put in a position of discipline over the Browns owner due to his off-field issues.

But back to Chadiha’s commentary. I found it notable because it indicated that Irsay’s penalty should be draft picks. I found that surprising and after thinking about it for a bit, I couldn’t disagree with him more.

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As Browns open mini-camp, which position group improved most this offseason?

Justin Gilbert

I was asked by a friend the other day which position the Browns improved the most in the offseason. It was a good question, mostly because I believe the Browns improved in a couple spots that could be significant.

The convenient answer (if not just the plain truth) is that we really can’t answer that until about game eight. However, I’m going to push the logical aside for the sake of argument.

The position that jumps out to me right away is cornerback. The Browns spent draft picks on Justin Gilbert (1st round) and Pierre Desir (4th round) that many say was a steal. In addition, they signed free agents Isaiah Trufant and Aaron Berry plus three UDFA for competition. They also didn’t lose anyone of significance. [Read more...]

WFNY’s State of the Browns: RBs and FBs

 NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

The next positions that will be examined in our series, State of the Browns, are the running backs and fullbacks. The Cleveland Browns were sorely lacking in these positions last year causing a poor run game throughout the 2013 season. So, the Browns were in need of huge overhaul and influx of talent at the two backfield spots. This offseason the Browns did just that by adding a group of young talented players. The Browns used free agency, the draft, and the undrafted free agency to find players to fit these needs. The Browns started in free agency by adding running back Ben Tate formerly of the Houston Texans. Then the team selected Terrance West of Towson in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They finished off the additions with the signing of running back Isaiah Crowell of Alabama State and fullback Ray Agnew of Southern Illinois. These players are part of the huge revamp at the back positions. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: A look at Johnny Manziel

Over the next couple weeks on WFNY, I will be breaking down the film on all seven draft picks of the Cleveland Browns. As fans, we often rely on mainstream draft analysts to give us certain traits and characteristics that we use to form our opinions. Rather than simply tell you positives and negatives, the goal of this series is to better inform you by showing evidence, in GIF form, of the skills each prospect possess and areas they each must improve upon.

Manziel draft

From the moment that Johnny Manziel walked on stage at the 2014 NFL draft and delivered the fans his signature “money sign”, the entire national outlook on the Cleveland Browns’ brand changed. Within 12 hours of drafting Manziel, the Browns sold 1,500 season tickets and a picture of Lebron James wearing Manziel’s Cleveland Browns jersey circulated social media. Manziel’s Browns jersey immediately became the best-selling NFL rookie jersey. He has since appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, partied with Drake, gained 100,000 Twitter followers within 36 hours of being drafted, attended a UFC fight, and partied with Drake some more. Within the past week, the media  produced more play-by-play accounts of Manziel’s trip to Las Vegas for Memorial Day than accounts of what he actually achieves on the football field. [Read more...]

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Quarterbacks

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The season is just 100 days away. Enthusiasm is growing with each 140-character update from OTAs. The Cleveland Browns have had a very busy offseason in terms of the roster, coaching staff, and front office. Making big splashes both in free agency and the draft, they’ve completely revamped the roster. Each week from today to the beginning of training camp, I will examine the state of one position on the Cleveland Browns. The first position I will look at is the highly talked about group under center.

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While not the end of the world, Johnny Manziel’s partying doesn’t make him better

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Waiting For Next Year is a compromise. From its inception, despite the priority that we’ve placed on this website in our own lives1 it’s never been anyone’s primary priority. To a man, whether we’ve had obligations related to family, job or some other thing, WFNY has taken a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, we’re proud of this site, but I don’t think anyone here would tell you that it couldn’t be better if we all could devote 100 percent of our time and effort to its continued growth. Not everyone would want to do that, of course, but that’s not the point. The fact is that we know we leave some things on the table because this isn’t anyone’s full-time job. It’s with that point in mind that I talk about Johnny Manziel and his weekend in Las Vegas. I’m not shocked or even appalled by his choice, and I want that point to be perfectly clear. Johnny Manziel’s choices don’t drive me crazy, but the people arguing on his behalf do.

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Footnotes:

  1. Ask our wives, friends and other family members if you must []

The New Cleveland

Welcome to Cleveland, Johnny Manziel

Are the winds changing in Cleveland? The mood and spirits of this lakefront town are at an all time high because of the recent happening with the sports teams. The national media has all eyes on Cleveland, but this time they are watching the city because of the prospects of good news rather then the horrible events that have littered its past. The Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians are all producing exciting moments for the its sports fan. The wins have yet to be accumulated, but could Cleveland (finally) be entering an age of professional sports success?

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Counterpoint: Let the Johnny Manziel era begin…As a starter

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In a recent post published within the confines of this here website, WFNY’s Craig Lyndall laid out his reasons why Johnny Manziel should start his season on the bench. It’s a popular school of thought that I tend to agree with 99.9 percent of the time—putting the rookie in the backup role gives the newbie a chance to take his lumps and learn from the veteran.

But  Manziel is no ordinary rookie. He’s the franchise-changer the Browns have been waiting for since Bernie Kosar was diagnosed with “diminishing skills.”

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