July 22, 2014

NFL News – Nate Ulrich on Tebow coverage, Browns position battles, Josh Gordon suspension, contract extensions and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-14

WFNY Podcast LogoAlways good to catch up with the Browns observations with Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal. Here’s all that we discussed.

  • How good do you feel not having to talk Tebow?
  • Bill Belichick out to prove he doesn’t have to talk about anything.
  • Gregg Popovich and how he just defies everyone to do what he wants.
  • Ray Horton’s new attacking scheme and how evident it might or might not be at this point
  • T.J. Ward in the box a bit more, maybe like Troy Polamalu?
  • Ray Horton’s Phoenix radio station and how it was going to mirror that of the Steelers
  • Maybe Horton’s change in tune is to avoid player comparisons from Pittsburgh
  • Josh Gordon and the league’s CBA that limits the fact-finding
  • Dawgs by Nature post about changing to Drew Rosenhaus and the timing with the change
  • Joe Haden and his change to Drew Rosenhaus as well
  • Davone Bess and his ability to fill in for Josh Gordon
  • Davone Bess replacing Josh Cribbs as the leader of the wide receivers
  • Fullback and Cleveland Browns and Vonta Leach
  • Leach’s agent talked to Mike Lombardi but no visit was scheduled
  • No real interest on the Browns’ part
  • Owen Marecic’s future and Brad Smelley’s future with the Browns
  • Browns had two backs in the backfield a lot including Ogbonnaya and Hardesty together
  • The Brandon Jackson signing and how weird it was
  • The injury history of Trent Richardson and at the RB position in general
  • If there was one position group where the Browns might supplement the roster, which one would it be?
  • Chris Owens, Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden all battling it out opposite Haden and in the nickel
  • Brandon Bogotay and his competition with Shayne Graham
  • Expected player extensions and why we haven’t seen any just yet
  • Mike Lombardi said it was “a little early”
  • Moving training camp to 4-6:30 PM and how packed camp has been anyway
  • Fan experience and how important it seems to be to the new regime


Check out this episode

PFT: Dan Gronkowski cut by Browns

We knew the Browns wouldn’t be able to keep all the tight ends they had in camp. It seems the first has fallen, despite the Browns no announcing their cuts until about midnight tonight.

Pro Football Talk on Twitter has stated that Dan Gronkowski is gone. It isn’t a surprise due to the numbers of TEs the Browns had in camp. Gronkowski played well at times and showed good hands.

Left for the Browns will be decisions on Evan Moore and Brad Smelley in all likelihood.

[Also See: Two Cleveland Browns highlight Grantland’s “NFL Trade Value Rankings”]

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...]

Browns Make Things Interesting Before Falling to Ravens

Your Cleveland Browns were ultimately out-classed today.  Seneca Wallace threw an interception. The Browns bungled the clock at the end of the first half worse than anything anyone could possibly imagine.  Phil Taylor ended it with an inexcusable offsides penalty that Joe Flacco shouldn’t even get credit for.  The Browns got beat on some big plays, but ultimately they didn’t play totally horrendously.  They worked hard to the very end and even got within six points with an opportunity to take the lead. Ultimately Pat Shurmur and the Browns fell short 20-14 on Christmas Eve. [Read more...]

Overmatched and Underwhelming Browns Lose to Ravens

The Cleveland Browns were beaten handily by Ray Rice and the Ravens 24-10, but that doesn’t tell the story.  The Ravens appeared to be trying very hard to keep the Browns in the game over the course of the first three quarters.  The Browns had plenty of opportunities, but they shot themselves in the foot continually.

Granted it was a wet day in Cleveland, but the Browns receivers were dropping the ball all throughout the first half.  Greg Little had a drop.  Ben Watson had a drop.  Evan Moore let one slip through his hands as he stumbled over his own feet in the end zone.  That drop right there takes a 10-7 game and forces it to a 10-3 game as team MVP Phil Dawson kicked a field goal.  (Yes, the snap by Ryan Pontbriand’s replacement Christian Yount was just fine.)  That was the day for the Browns. [Read more...]

Should the Browns Be Interested in Brandon Lloyd?

The Denver Broncos are reportedly shopping Brandon Lloyd and are looking for something in the neighborhood of a 3rd to a 5th round draft choice to part with him.  Of course it is / was only a matter of time before Browns fans got wind of this and started clamoring for him.  I get it.  The Browns don’t have anyone proven at the spot.  While Browns fans might have a point, many have also taken it to ridiculous levels even requesting the services of aging guys like Lee Evans and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The former has two catches for 45 yards with the Baltimore Ravens and the latter has yet to latch on anywhere.  What does all of this mean with regard to the Browns and Brandon Lloyd?

Brandon Lloyd is 30 years old himself just like Lee Evans.  It seems that Lloyd still has something left in the gas tank as he has 19 catches for 283 yards so far this season.  He doesn’t have any TDs yet, but that probably has more to do with Denver’s struggles as a team more than anything he is doing differently since catching 11 touchdowns a year ago.  But if he is so good and has so much left in the tank, why are the Broncos looking to move him? [Read more...]

Will We See More Evan Moore?

As expected (hoped?), the Cleveland Browns and head coach Pat Shurmur are using their extended time away from the playing field to do a bit of tinkering with rotations and play-calling.  While the obvious benefactor thus far is wide receiver Greg Little who was promoted to starting “X” receiver alongside Mohammed Massaquoi (replacing Brian Robiskie), another weapon for Colt McCoy will likely come in the form of additional snaps for tight end Evan Moore.

Moore, who had seen a considerable drop in snaps and targets over the past two games – leading to a bit of frustration following the loss to the Titans – appears to be in line for a reversion back to usage rates akin to the first two weeks of the season.  Given Shurmur’s words following Monday’s practice, it appears that not only will Robiskie see a decrease in snaps due to Little’s promotion, but the Browns could in turn use wide receivers even less than they have to this point.  [Read more...]

Fantasy Football Gone Too Far?

Deadspin covered it earlier today and now Browns players like Evan Moore, Scott Fujita and Mohamed Massaquoi are busy on Twitter today retweeting a message from Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris.  Harris took exception to an NFL.com website promotion for fantasy football that featured recently injured running back Jamaal Charles.

[Read more...]

Browns vs. Colts – First Half Report

The Browns gave up a long 52 yard field goal that put the Colts up 9-7, but most Browns fans were feeling fortunate to be that close.  The Browns then responded with a drive and a TD to go up 14-9 with 15 seconds to go in the second quarter.  The drive was fueled by long passes to Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs and ultimately a Peyton Hillis run over left tackle after his first “TD” was called back inside the one.  That would be how the first half would end.

The Colts had seemed to dominate the entire first quarter and the first half of the second quarter.  The Browns defense played pretty well to hold the Colts to only two field goals prior to the 52-yarder that gave the Colts the lead back 9-7.  That’s right. The Browns had the lead against the Colts two different times in the first half. [Read more...]

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...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: Week 1 Red Zone 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, it would have been easy to kick off and show you all ‘the huddle’ play, but really there isn’t much point to that. The end result would have been something we already know – a time out should have been called. Instead, I’d like to look at something the Browns put tremendous emphasis on in camp: the red zone offense.

If you went to camp, chances are you saw the Browns working on this. They have a couple different packages that they will run, but first, let’s take a look at the successful TD to Evan Moore.

The first thing we should look at is the personnel. On first down, the Browns ran Hillis with Marecic leading for a three-yard gain. On second down, the Browns went with a max protection pass, putting Greg Little, Josh Cribbs and Brian Robiskie into pass patterns. Colt rolled right and threw the ball away as both Robiskie and Little were well covered. [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...]

It’s Official: Phil Dawson Returns

The Browns officially announced this morning that Phil Dawson has signed the one year franchise tender offered to him by Mike Holmgren & co.  The reliable kicker will enter his 13th straight season with the Browns – having debuted on the original roster when the team returned in 1999.  He’s a fan favorite in Cleveland and has been a silent stalwart in this moribund era of Browns football.

In addition to Dawson, the Browns also announced that they had re-signed two cogs from last year’s defensive front – with Marcus Bernard and Brian Schaefering inking their RFA tenders. [Read more...]

The Browns Sign D’Qwell Jackson, Seneca Wallace, Tender Eric Wright and Evan Moore

The Browns were busy yesterday, even as the labor situation remains unsolved.

First, they signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to an incentive-laden deal reportedly worth up to $4.5 million.  Don’t get too caught up in that number though.  It won’t mean a whole heck of a lot if D’Qwell can’t get healthy and stay healthy.  In fact, I am guessing that the Browns will be watching carefully during training camp to see if they will keep him.  Of course, what constitutes “training camp” remains to be seen given the labor situation.

Overall, I am happy the Browns are giving D’Qwell a chance.  I know a lot of Browns fans who have been down on D’Qwell. He has been really banged up the last two years, but I am still rooting for him.  D’Qwell amassed a lot of tackles, but one prevalent thought seemed to be that said tackles were always 4-7 yards downfield.  What I saw was some speed and a nose for the ball even without a solid defensive line in front of him.  Either way, it is a low-risk maneuver for the Browns to see if D’Qwell can still play in the NFL.  I am happy to see D’Qwell get a chance to regain a healthy career in Cleveland. [Read more...]

Which Browns Team Shows Up This Week?

The Cleveland Browns have two games left against the class of the AFC North.  I know we hate to say it because we despise the Ravens and the Steelers so much, but they are. There’s just no denying it.  The Browns are also coming off a tough stretch of games for them.  The Browns went from surprising the class of the league against New Orleans, New England and to an extent even in losing to the Jets.

They followed that up by placing their coach on a considerably warmer seat (real or imagined) in the media and on the Internet.  There is no mistaking that the Browns are banged up and have some excuses.  How many teams would expect to even win five games and be so close in so many others with three separate starting quarterbacks?  And yet, we have no idea what to expect this week against Baltimore. [Read more...]

Mid-Week Browns Update

The Browns head into Buffalo this week, and it feels like a bit of a trap game for me as a fan.  

Deep in my heart, I don’t believe that this Browns team in its current iteration is capable of succumbing to a trap game.  They seem to play just as hard in otherwise “meaningless” types of games.  Still, as a fan, I have no fear really as the Browns go up against stiffer competition like New Orleans and New England.  If the Browns lose those games, they were “supposed” to lose them.  Even though the Browns are currently listed as one point underdogs on the road against Buffalo, this certainly projects as a game that the Browns could and should win.  

I know in the Browns locker room the team is considering this to be a game they should be able to win a week after beating Miami on the road.  Still, to call this an automatic win would be silly.  The Browns go on the road, in Buffalo, in December, against a Bills team that took both Pittsburgh and Baltimore to overtime.

Anyway, on with the news… [Read more...]