July 31, 2014

I’m not cheering the Greg Little release, but it’s no big deal

Little2

And so the Greg Little era in Cleveland has come to a close. It’s not a day worth celebrating, that’s for sure. It’s never a good day when your team gives up on a second-round draft pick who was still playing under his rookie contract. It’s never a good day when your team is cutting a player under the age of 25 who has good size and passes the eye test as an athlete. Then again, all said and done, if you are a fan of a team and have any aspirations for that team to be successful, you might not want to get all caught up emotionally over a move like the Browns cutting Little. In the end, it’s just not that big of a deal.

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Jordan Cameron collects fifth receiving touchdown of 2013

The Cleveland Browns jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a Brian Hoyer connection to Jordan Cameron in the corner of the end zone. That touchdown was Cameron’s fifth of the season in the just the first quarter of the fourth game of the year.

A year ago, Cameron had only one TD catch in 14 games. Starter Ben Watson collected three TDs all season and trailed team leaders Josh Gordon and Greg Little who had five and four touchdowns respectively.

I thought Jordan Cameron would be a lot better this season, but I’m a bit blown away by the results thus far.

[Related: NFL Rumors: Browns to release RB Montario Hardesty]

Ben Watson tells 92.3 The Fan that Josh Gordon can turn it around

Ben Watson was a guest on the Bull and the Fox show on 92.3 The Fan Tuesday afternoon to discuss his new team the Saints and also talk about his time in Cleveland. Watson was asked about WR Josh Gordon’s suspension and if he thinks Gordon can stay out of trouble and have a good career in Cleveland.

“I’m confident that anyone can do it if they want to. And for Josh, you know it’s got to be a want to from him. Nobody can do it for him. Nobody can threaten him or any of that stuff. When he wants to, and I’m assuming that he already has, and when he wants to clean it up, and he wants to be serious about football the sky’s the limit for him too.”

“This is a guy when he first got to Cleveland we had to get on him everyday to sprint five yards after he caught the ball. He just didn’t know. And then you fast forward to the end of the year and he’s coming around and he’s becoming that receiver, he’s becoming that pro that we all know he can be. I believe that he can definitely turn it around and he can have a successful career.”

Gordon is suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He failed three drug tests in college. Gordon claims that the recent failed test that got him suspended is from a cold medicine that he took containing codeine.

[Related: Worrying about the Browns tight ends after one week of camp]

NFL News: Ben Watson lands in New Orleans

Per Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk, the New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with tight end Ben Watson. The terms of the deal are said to stretch over three years.

After spending six years with the New England Patriots, Watson was a key member of the Cleveland Browns’ passing attack from 2010-2012. He missed a mere three games in 2011 (concussion), but managed to haul in 154 passes for 1,674 yards and eight touchdowns. Watson led the team in receiving yards in 2010 (763). Upon his exit of Cleveland, Watson signed several footballs which were to be given to fans.

In New Orleans, Watson, 32, will provide a compliment to Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham amidst the passing attack led by Drew Brees.

The Browns recently added tight end Gary Barnidge via free agency and are said to be in the market for another, having expressed interest in Fred Davis who recently inked a deal with the Washington Redskins.

[Related: 5-4-5-5-4 and the Browns free agent strategy]

Is Derek Anderson joining the Browns to teach or start?

Derek Anderson Pro Bowl“Are you kidding me?” my wife said to me as we were driving to my parents’ house on Saturday afternoon when I informed her of the Derek Anderson back to Cleveland rumors.

My wife (as many of you already know) isn’t a Browns fan. Sometimes I run Browns things by her just to take the pulse of a non-Cleveland sports fan to see if I’m nuts. Yes, my wife is biased in a way where she wishes the Browns were a better team because it would make her life easier without so many miserable Sundays per year, but that’s where it begins and ends. She has no affinity for any of the players, really, even if she did fall in love with Ben Watson and his adorable family as they were featured on “Road Tested.” Trust me, even that was a tough sell because there’s so much harbored sports hatred for current and former Patriots even as Indianapolis’ rivalry with them kinda left town when they released Peyton Manning. Even all that said, my wife’s response to the Derek Anderson rumors just about sums it all up.

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Cleveland Browns Film Room: Game 11, What a catch

Like we did last year before it became fashionable, we’ll take a seat each week in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the game, with a specific focus.  Do enjoy.

The Browns created 8 turnovers in a win over the Steelers. There are 100 things we could look at, but today I want to focus on just one play. Trent Richardson’s touchdown run was very nice, but we’ve looked at his runs a lot in the film room. Josh Gordon’s effort to get a first down was awesome, but it was all effort and not much to break down.

There was a pass to Ben Watson on a third and eight that went for twenty yards and a big first down in Pittsburgh territory. The drive ended in a field goal, which wouldn’t have happened without Watson’s catch. Let’s take a look. [Read more...]

Watson: Browns win a “great confidence booster”

I would imagine [Jimmy Haslam III] is very happy. To be able to come in and win against that [Pittsburgh] organization his first time around has to be very gratifying for him. He came and congratulated everybody. He didn’t address the team, but we’ll see him around. He definitely congratulated everyone. [...] It’s a great accomplishment. This is a team that we struggled against in the past and to come in and have a close-fought game like this and come out on top it’s a great confidence booster for this team. You know, we’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been very close and haven’t been able to finish. Our defense played tremendously. To have eight turnovers, that’s tremendous defense. It’s a good team win. It’s good for the team moving forward.

– Cleveland Browns tight end Ben Watson, Sunday, following the team’s 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watson had a crucial, full-extension third-down catch which would set up an early-game scoring drive for Cleveland.

[Related: Animated: NFL has obvious issues with officiating consistency]

Cleveland Browns Game 10: Winners and Losers

Who caught your eye? Did someone stand out? Who blew it? That’s what were interested in this morning. Winners and losers.

It really does boggle the mind why we keep coming back for more torture…

LOSER: Buster Skrine. I know. It stinks that Joe Haden was hurt and couldn’t play. Yep, it also stinks that Patterson has been hurt this whole year and Buster, you’ve had to get thrown into the fire against some pretty good receivers. But wow Skrine, how many times in a run are you gonna reach out and grab a WR when the refs are throwing the flag on you? [Read more...]

Feeling good about Browns prospects at tight end

Earlier, I predicted that the Browns are probably overrating their running backs. It concerns me because much like they did with wide receivers the year before, the Browns seem like they could be betting on question marks. Well, when it comes to tight ends, I am really encouraged by the prospects of the Browns getting some breakout performances at the position this year.

The Browns brought back Alex Smith who is mostly known as a blocker when he isn’t the punchline for “which Browns tight end received a goal line hand off that resulted in a fumble?” I agree with the move because Smith is a pretty important piece for the team in terms of depth and blocking. Still, I think Smith’s utilization last year was the result of not trusting the right side of the offensive line and needing an extra blocker. I am hoping that the Browns can shore up the right side this year (finally) to allow some of the more offensive-geared tight ends on the field.

Obviously if Ben Watson can continue to play, that means him to an extent. Watson is 31 and has battled concussions the last couple years, so hope is the key word. I’m talking more about Evan Moore and Jordan Cameron. [Read more...]

The Best Browns Since 1999 – Tight Ends

Kellen Winslow Jr. ran away with this one.  Winslow is far and away the most talented player the Browns have had at tight end since 1999 and your voting agreed.  Winslow took 67% of the first place votes and Ben Watson was a distant second taking 16%.  Fan favorite Steve Heiden pulled 12% of that vote. [Read more...]

No Excuses and Plenty of Blame in Colt McCoy Concussion Case

I was hoping after the Peyton Hillis situation finally went away that the Browns would be finished for this season with unnecessary non-football storylines for the year.  Technically, I guess sustaining a concussion on the football field is football-related, but the way Colt McCoy’s head injury has escaped the confines of game day and Berea puts it in the unnecessary distraction category as far as I’m concerned.  So, what happened?

Colt McCoy was victimized by one of the dirtiest hit artists in the NFL with a blatantly illegal slobber-knocker of a shot, helmet-to-helmet style.  Thanks James Harrison.  Even worse than the hit is the lack of understanding by the guy that rules were broken.  As we delve into the other stuff, let’s not forget the catalyst to all this garbage.  The Browns apparently checked Colt McCoy’s finger as he sat out two plays.  He (also apparently) went back in with a concussion.  The Browns lost the game and Colt McCoy seemed wholly out of it in his post-game interviews.  I heard (I believe on the radio) that Evan Moore had to drive Colt home after they got back to Berea from Pittsburgh.  The next day, Mary Kay Cabot reports that Colt McCoy’s father is indicating that Colt never should have gone back in that game because he doesn’t remember the rest of it.  McCoy is sent home from Berea with concussion-like symptoms.

Another mess. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Offense By the Numbers

It is so hard to figure out where the Browns’ offense is in their development.  It is hard to figure out exactly what kind of development is or is not going on.  Staring at Colt McCoy’s game video and at the box score can only yield so much.  On one hand, the Browns have a new system being implemented by a new coach.  They have a young core of players.  Those facts give me pause.  On the other hand, the Browns also have played a relatively weak schedule and some of those young guys have another year under their belts.  Unless you are coming from a place where you have already concluded that Shurmur and McCoy stink, or McCoy and Shurmur just need more time and patience, it is really hard to figure out exactly how they are doing.  When the conclusion is already drawn, you can fit numbers any way to help you prove it.

So let’s just assume what we all know about Shurmur and McCoy.  The one thing that we should all be able to agree on that both of them are unproven in the NFL.  From there, I thought I would look at a few people not named Shurmur or McCoy.  We know that those two guys end up “coloring” every other offensive number we look at anyway, so even in not talking about them directly we are doing so indirectly.  Anyway, here goes. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: Week 9, Third-and-Short Offense

Each week this season, we’ll take a seat in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the previous week.  Do enjoy.

This week we stare into frustration. How many times have you been watching the Browns and seen them throw the ball two yards short of the first down marker? Seems like every time, doesn’t it?

If I told you that the Browns were in the top ten in the league in third down conversions would you believe me?

Cleveland has converted 58 of 142 3rd-down tries. That’s a 40.8% conversion percentage. That puts them 9th in the NFL. I know. I was kind of surprised myself. New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Green Bay are 1-3. Here’s another surprising stat for you: the Browns have converted more 4th downs than any other team. They are 9-for-14 in that department. These numbers can be a bit misleading though. If you look at total number of first downs earned, the Browns are tied with Minnesota for 23rd.

How do you resolve the discrepancy? [Read more...]

Non-Hillis Browns Updates

There is more Hillis talk in the news today because Hillis gave the media a minute to obliterate a deceased equine.  You can go find that information if you need to find it and take it out of context to somehow make it interesting.

In the meantime, Scott Petrak’s twitter has a few more interesting things if you are interested in actual football news.

First of all, Josh Cribbs is banged up but he was sprinting on the sidelines.  The Browns could be up against it on the injury front if Cribbs can’t go this weekend in Oakland.  The Browns could be without Alex Mack who had an appendectomy last week.  They could also be without Joe Haden who is nursing some sort of knee injury.

There is no great option to replace Alex Mack.  I think it might be John Greco.  There is no telling what damage that could do to the Browns’ offense.  We saw just a week ago how much the Jets struggled when Nick Mangold missed time.  The center is one of those positions that you are really happy not to talk about.  It seems like nothing is good when the center’s name is in your mouth. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: Week 3 Crossing Routes

Each week this season, we’ll take a seat in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the previous week.  Do enjoy.

This week I thought we’d take a look at one of the Browns’ favorite plays. There are many different routes that a receiver can take, but it is the combination of the routes that can help create separation and a small window for the QB to deliver the ball. A staple of the ‘West Coast Offense’ (invented by Paul Brown, not so much a west coaster) is the short crossing route. Against Miami the Browns ran crossing routes from several formations, but we’re going to look at one in particular. We have a successful and a not so successful example to work with.

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Week 2: The Browns Will Win If…

After stalling out on the runway, the Browns’ 2011 season gets another shot to get airborne this Sunday in Indianapolis, where the Colts are in an unfamiliar place: Peyton-less. Who’d have ever thought the Browns would have the edge in the “Peyton” column of the stat-sheet when going in to play the Colts??

brownscolts

Well, if you watched a lot of football last weekend, this might appear to be two of the worst week 1 teams squaring off. The Colts struggled through Kerry Collins’ Indy debut, and the Browns looked abysmal in the first quarter, decent in the second, and confused in the third and fourth. Beaten by a brain fart on defense, the Browns will look to avenge that slip-up against a Colts team that couldn’t even barely move the ball against Houston. Conversely, the Texans scored almost at will against the Colts’ defense, and that defense is missing captain Gary Brackett. Could there be some room to work for Colt, Peyton, and company? Let’s hope so. Without further ado…

The Browns Will Win If… [Read more...]

Browns Really Lost on Four Drives of Futility

I prefer to take a constructive look at the Browns’ loss to the Bengals on Sunday.  This means I am not going to talk about the first quarter penalty-fest.  What’s the point?  There is no defense.  The coaches and players all know it is unacceptable and after that quarter the Browns committed four penalties the rest of the way.  On top of that, the Browns responded by taking the lead into halftime.  They responded to their mistakes with two unanswered touchdowns.

I am also not going to spend much time talking about the boneheaded play where the Bengals took the lead.  There isn’t anything constructive to add.  It can’t happen.  It shouldn’t happen.  It is a failure both on the field and on the sidelines.  Instead, I want to talk about the four drives that occurred between the Browns taking a four point lead in the third quarter and including the one after A.J. Green’s go-ahead touchdown.  To me, those four drives are the place where the most constructive criticism – and hopefully progress – can be made.

The Browns kicked a field goal after a ten play, 50 yard drive that gave Phil Dawson a chippy from three yards out. Browns led Cincy 17-13.  Phil Dawson then kicked the ball deep, Buster Skrine made a beautiful tackle and the Bengals started from their own 9 yard line.  The Bengals moved the ball two yards as Phil Taylor drew an illegal use of hands penalty on the Cincy offensive line and the Bengals were forced to punt.  Josh Cribbs returned the ball eight yards to the Bengals’ 44 yard line to start the first drive that I wanted to talk about. [Read more...]

Browns Beat Packers, Show Signs of Depth

The Browns aren’t definitively headed to the Super Bowl this season even after beating the defending Super Bowl Champions 27-17 in their opening pre-season game.  That being said, this weekend, they showed up and did their jobs on the field better than most probably thought they could.  We’ve been hearing about how the Browns, out of all NFL teams, would be behind the eight ball with a new offense, defense and without training camps.  Those thoughts were well-founded, but the Browns did their best to dispel it as myth this weekend against the Pack.

Colt McCoy and the first-team offense’s overall efficiency has been very well-documented since they left the field on Saturday.  McCoy’s ability to work the ball around to Ben Watson, Josh Cribbs, Greg Little, Brian Robiskie, Evan Moore and Peyton Hillis is encouraging to say the least.  The Browns might not have “The Greatest Show on Turf” levels of talent on their roster, but that doesn’t mean as a unit they can’t do some serious damage by being smart and efficient.  They at least showed the beginnings of that this weekend.

For me, the real takeaways from this game were on the defensive side of the ball from a depth standpoint. [Read more...]

Browns Training Camp Notes 8/11: All About Speed, Skrine and Saturday

After taking the last three days in full pads, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur opted to let his players run Thursday’s practice in shells as the Orange and Brown gear up for their first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

As the team will host the Super Bowl champions in just a little over a day, here are some quick notes involving your Cleveland Football Browns:

- Donning helmets and shorts, Shurmurs squad was able to fly around Berea with the goal of ramping up their learning curve with about 36 hours until kickoff.  Resting tired legs from a hitting standpoint, Thursday’s practice featured a heavy dose of passing as the team opted for drills involving receivers and tight ends versus the secondary as well as a large focus on red zone play, again featuring their pass-catching weapons.  [Read more...]

If Healthy, Browns’ Offense Should Be Improved

Despite having to continue to talk about question marks in the receiving corps, it is important to note that the Browns haven’t really stood pat with their offense as a whole. The Browns traded out of the Julio Jones slot in the draft and ended up drafting one of the biggest defensive linemen available in the entire draft.  This followed a year where they made Joe Haden a first round Cleveland Brown.  Despite eschewing offense for defense at the top of the draft for the last two years, the Browns have made some calculated bids to improve the team’s offense.

The biggest signing for the Browns this off-season was clearly Brandon Jackson.  Jackson gives Peyton Hillis a true, capable partner to help carry the load for this team.  It is no secret that Peyton Hillis got banged up last season.  His violent running style contributes to that, but there is little doubt that he was also overused.  Hillis had 331 touches last season between carries (270) and catches (61.)  In Green Bay, Brandon Jackson had 233 between carries (190) and catches (43.)

If both of those guys stay healthy, they are going to make each other better, not to mention a second-year QB learning a new offense.  The running game is a young quarterback’s best friend.  Just ask Ben Roethlisberger, who got over 1700 yards of production out of Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley in his rookie season.  It also should give opposing defensive coordinators one more player to think about each week rather than dialing in on Hillis.  If the Browns get production from Montario Hardesty or my sleeper pick Armond Smith this season those are just bonuses.  Those runners should really help the Browns set up the pass this season and make things easier for the wide receivers and tight ends. [Read more...]