April 24, 2014

The Cleveland Browns begin beautiful bye by beating Ravens 24-18

Browns Celebrate TDIt’s going to be a fun bye week Browns fans. Your team beat a division rival. They beat them without a lot of gimmicks or tricks. Your team stood up and played to their capabilities and just flat out beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-18. Yes, this team has lost tons of players since last season, but they’re still the defending Super Bowl champs and your Browns beat them.

It wasn’t all cakes and pies. Browns fans got a peek at Brandon Weeden after Jason Campbell was the recipient of a pancake courtesy of Haloti Ngata. Ngata is the same player that had a lot to do with the gnashing of teeth over the Cleveland Browns trading with Pittsburgh on draft day this year, by the way. The last time the Browns traded in the division, they swapped picks with the Ravens so that they could take Ngata. The Browns took Kamerion Wimbley. But let’s not go down that road. Despite the momentary taste of Weeden, Jason Campbell came back to play and play well. [Read more...]

Fun with Numbers: Browns-Ravens edition

sheard ravensBefore the Browns host the Ravens today for a special 4 p.m. game at FirstEnergy Stadium, I did some research to share some fascinating numerical tidbits for you today. You can check back to Oct. 5 for the last time I did this feature.

2,178 – Number of days since Cleveland last defeated Baltimore in an NFL game. This occurred on Nov. 18, 2007. The final score was 33-30 in overtime. Kyle Boller was the Ravens quarterback. Josh Cribbs had 245 kick-return yards, the second-highest total in his career. Baltimore has won all 11 matchups since this date by an average score of 11.6-24.1. The Browns have scored over 17 points just once in these contests.

80% – Jason Campbell’s 105.4 QB rating against Kansas City ranked as the 15th-best performance in his NFL career in games with nine-plus passing attempts. He has 75 such games in his career, marking last week’s outing at exactly the 80 percentile mark for his career. Campbell’s career QB rating is 82.8. The 2013 NFL average is 84.1. [Read more...]

Reign On Spotlight Player of the Week: D’Qwell Jackson

As a local market representative and league manager of one of 16 teams invited to be a part of Crown Royal’s inaugural Fantasy Football League dubbed “First and Crown,” I will be using this spot every Sunday before the Browns kick off against their respective opponent to tell you who I’ll be watching during this Week’s contest.

This Week’s Spotlight: D’Qwell Jackson, ILB

DJacksonFor a defense that is allegedly among the best in the NFL, Cinderella’s carriage sure turns into a pumpkin once that down marker reads “3.” The Cleveland Browns defense has done an exceptional job on first and second downs, holding opposing rushers and terrorizing quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers. But it’s on third downs when Ray Horton’s ears-pinned-back defense gets shredded in the most frustrating of fashions—screen passes, previously unknown tight ends on post patterns, and broken plays extended by athletic quarterbacks being among them.

This week, as the Browns look to break their much-discussed 11-game losing streak against the Baltimore Ravens, where stopping Joe Flacco on third down will be imperative. Shifty, pass-catching running back Ray Rice is reportedly healthy after sustaining an injury during the last match-up between these two teams. And for this reason, it is the team captain and containing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson who gets this week’s Spotlight.

As Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard try to reach the quarterback before he can make a decision, it will be up to Jackson (and teammate Craig Robertson), to hold down the middle of the field—to get down the line when needed, to fill in the gaps, and to bring down Rice any time his number is called.

The Ravens no longer have Anquan Boldin. It can be reasonably assumed that All-Everything cornerback Joe Haden will be blanketing Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Marlon Brown, Baltimore’s Week 2 hero, is losing targets to Jacoby Jones. Alas, it will be up to Rice to carry a good portion of the load for his team. Conversely, it will be up to DQ52 to carry the momentum gained from the second half of last week’s loss and get his defense off of the field after three downs. Stopping Rice is a terrific first step in doing just that.

Previous Spotlight Players:

Josh Gordon, WR
Barkevious Mingo, OLB
Brandon Weeden, QB
Jabaal Sheard, OLB
Paul Kruger, OLB

Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY

Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens open thread

brownsravensOver the last four seasons, no 0-2 team in the NFL has eventually made the playoffs. This afternoon, the Browns head off to Baltimore to see which AFC North team will fall to the basement of the division in the early part of the 2013 season.

The Ravens will be passing out their Super Bowl rings before the start of the game. The Browns will hope that the offense shows some signs of improvement under Brandon Weeden, as it displayed in the preseason, after a lackluster performance against the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore also was blown out by the Denver Broncos to start the NFL season 10 days ago.

Click below the jump for links to WFNY’s great Browns coverage from the past week. This is your week 2 open thread. [Read more...]

Talking talking talking (and talking some more) about the Ravens

Not in a long time can I remember this much talk between teams heading into a game as there has been leading up to this Sunday’s match-up between the Browns and Ravens. Trent Richardson is going to exchange jerseys with Ray Rice. The Browns think they’re a different team than the one that lost on Thursday night. Trent Richardson is the hardest player to tackle in the league according to the Ravens. Joe Haden thinks he can make a difference since he didn’t play in the last one. The Browns are catching up to the competition in the AFC North according to many Browns players. Talk talk talk talk talk.

None of the talk is particularly inflammatory or trashy. It isn’t the old (hackneyed) bulletin board material. Still, it seems that winning two out of there last three has made the Browns feel like they can talk about where they’re heading instead of being forced to dwell on how far away they are. Isn’t it amazing what an incredibly ugly one-point victory over a team that looked disinterested can do for the psyche of a team? A game of inches, indeed. [Read more...]

Browns miss big opportunities, lose to Ravens 23-16

The Cleveland Browns certainly didn’t embarrass themselves (just like Josh Cribbs1 said) in losing 23-16 to the Ravens, but this team seems to be the absolute opposite of opportunistic. You have to give the Browns credit for having a plan on defense. They got gashed at times, but they kept Ray Rice under control and got some pressure on Joe Flacco. Offensively, you have to give them credit for running plays that gave them chances to stay close with one of the best teams in the league, but you have to win at some point. Too many field goals (three) and not enough touchdowns (one.) Staying close feels like something worth building on… for a while. But just being close could very well start to weigh heavier and heavier on this team until (or if) they finally make two or three more of those big plays and win a game.

I know people are going to want to kill Greg Little for dropping passes, specifically what would have been a touchdown to bring the Browns within three in the fourth quarter. It’s frustrating to watch for sure, and that wasn’t his only missed opportunity. Still, he made a huge catch on the team’s 94 yard touchdown drive. The same player who “killed the Browns” is the same one who gave them the one spark they needed to finally put some offense together. The passing game was totally out of sync and listless before that catch, for the most part.

I don’t have a conclusion other than he and the rest of the Browns’ offense need to get better and make those four to five extra plays that they’re leaving on the field. Greg Little has proven that he can make them. He just needs to do so consistently. That’s everyone’s story on offense right now.  [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Didn’t know exactly where to fit it into the story, but Josh Cribbs took one of the worst head shots I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t dirty at all. Just a freak angle taken by a defender on a punt return. Cribbs incredibly walked off the field under his own power, but obviously didn’t return. Here’s hoping there are no lasting injuries from that shot. []

Why don’t we talk about Trent Richardson more?

Are we not talking about Trent Richardson enough? In some senses I guess there isn’t much to say. Richardson has even successfully avoided letting Jim Brown and his comments get under his skin all throughout the off-season. His contract isn’t signed yet, although it doesn’t really appear that anyone is remotely concerned yet. What does it say about us as a fanbase that we aren’t ending every Browns conversation saying, “But yeah. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what Trent Richardson does this year.”

Are we already taking him for granted even without seeing him play? Did we just plug him in atop the depth chart and instantly go to Brandon Weeden and the QBs because that conversation is just so much more comfortable? Probably. We should also probably stop that.

Trent Richardson does have a lot to prove, but there is a lot of reason for potential excitement. [Read more...]

Another view of Peter King’s stat of the week regarding running backs

Peter King does great work and his Monday Morning Quarterback column is a must-read. He has some really enlightening information in the column even if you sometimes question his sources. Obviously Tom Heckert does, as he blatantly told the Cleveland press this week that he hasn’t talked to King in years. Be that as it may, King was talking about the 2012 NFL draft and the Browns’ potential for taking running back Trent Richardson.

I know it’s fashionable to give Trent Richardson, far and away the best back in this draft, to Cleveland at No. 4 in round one Thursday. But with the game becoming more and more of an aerial show, the Browns should be thinking hard about their choice before Thursday.

Six teams in the NFL won 12 or more games last year. Here are those teams, and where the leading rusher on each ranked in league rushing stats last season:

Team Record Leading Rusher NFL Rank
Green Bay 15-1 James Starks 39
New England 13-3 BenJarvus Green-Ellis 27
New Orleans 13-3 Darren Sproles 33
San Francisco 13-3 Frank Gore 6
Baltimore 12-4 Ray Rice 2
Pittsburgh 12-4 Rashard Mendenhall 21

 

Ack! That is terrifying. Maybe the Browns should just draft Justin Blackmon! [Read more...]

NFL News: Ravens franchise Rice, cut Lee Evans and Chris Carr

Just like the Steelers, the Ravens are shaking things up this off-season. Although not at running back. The Ravens franchised their star running back Ray Rice. As has come up with talks of franchising Peyton Hillis, the tag looks like it could cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.7 million to tag a running back. Of course, the Ravens have really just used the tag to buy time in negotiating a long-term deal and you have to assume they won’t have any problem guaranteeing him some amount north of $7.7 million on a multi-year deal.

Good for the Ravens and bad for the Browns. Rice ran for 204 yards against the Browns this past December, although they were able to “limit” him to just 87 yards in the second meeting. For his career, Rice has gone for nearly 100 yards per contest, racking up 775 in eight meetings.

The Ravens also cut Lee Evans after one unspectacular season with the team. Evans will probably forever be remembered as a Raven for getting stripped of what almost certainly should have been a touchdown before Billy Cundiff shanked a chip shot enabling the Patriots to advance.

Finally, Chris Carr appears to be a cap casualty a year after signing a 4-year deal with the Ravens worth $15.2 million. Carr will count $1.25 million against the salary cap (the cost of his signing bonus) as the Ravens will opt not to pay him the $2.5 million he would have been due.

Browns fans might not have seen the last of Carr or Evans though. Ozzie Newsome stated that “this does not close the door on them” returning to the team.

[Related: NFL Free Agency: The Browns and the cost of franchising]

NFL Free Agents: Running Backs

League-wide free agency begins March 13th. The Browns have stated all along they prefer to build the team through the draft, but will take a look at the players available in free agency. Previously we looked at the receivers available. Then a glance at the linebackers. Next, we stared longingly at offensive tackles before finishing last week with quarterbacks. We started this week by looking at defensive ends, and then moved on to safeties. Today we go back to the offensive side of the ball with running backs.

The Browns were 28th in rushing yards last season, and dead last in rushing touchdowns with 4. There is no sense in even bringing up the drama and injuries that plagued the team. It appears the front office is not in agreement with what to do with free agent Peyton Hillis, and we’re not even sure if Hillis really wants to sign another deal in Cleveland. What we do know is that the Browns will have Chris Ogbonnaya and Monterio Hardesty back (assuming they want both) as well as Brandon Jackson, who missed the entire season. It seems a certainty that if the Browns don’t sign Hillis, they will target a back in the draft. Or, could one of these free agents fill the void? [Read more...]

My Season Without Fantasy Football

Before the NFL season began, I made the decision that I was done with fantasy football. I wrote about that decision and the two years worth of thought that had gone into it here. I wasn’t entirely sure what this football season would hold for me without updating a starting line-up and making waiver wire moves for the first time since 1992. I thought it would be worth a post to let you know the results, for the couple dozen who responded at the time.

I want to highlight something from the original piece first-

I realize that it is difficult to judge a writer’s mood or attitude when reading a piece. Let me assure you, that I make these comments without a hint of animosity, nor any judgement on those that love the game.

The same still applies. I hold no grudges nor would I consider condemning those who love to play. Enjoy the game. [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...]

Peyton Hillis’ Rank in the NFL Doesn’t Matter

If you ranked all the running backs in the NFL, where would you put Peyton Hillis?  Obviously the cover of video games isn’t indicative of the truth.  The real answer here is that nobody really knows for sure.  The stats are incomplete and he really has only played meaningful snaps in two seasons.  One of those was with a Broncos team coached by Mike Shanahan.  The ghost of Reuben Droughns tells us to take those results with a grain of salt.  For some reason Cleveland fans and media want to talk about it.  Rizzo, Hammer and Fedor were discussing it last week on WKNR and the conversation leaked onto Twitter where we discussed it there.  Here are the questions.

How good is Peyton Hillis amongst all NFL running backs?

Where does he rank in the AFC North between Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice and Cedric Benson?

Where does he rank in the NFL?

Does he fumble too much?

Is he durable enough?

Is he a one-year wonder?

When there are no actual football issues to discuss, these are the issues that take up our time.  Here’s my take.  It is a simple one.  Based on what I saw last year, Peyton Hillis is good enough. [Read more...]

Pre-Game Intel: Ravens vs. Browns

When and Where: Sunday December  26, 2010 – 1:00 PM – Cleveland Browns Stadium

Overview: The first time these two teams met, the Browns were just over 10 point underdogs.  The Browns aren’t exactly playing their best football of the season right now, but surprisingly the Browns are only 3.5 point underdogs right now.  At the time, I thought the spread was crazy because it was so high.  During that game the Browns trailed 14-10 at halftime and even had a 17-13 lead on a Seneca Wallace to Ben Watson touchdown to start the fourth quarter.  Of course the Ravens scored ten unanswered points to finish the Browns off 24-17.

The Ravens come in pretty hot.  They have won four out of their last five with the only loss coming to the Steelers.  Those same Steelers are the only ones ahead of the Ravens in the standings as we speak.  Right now the Ravens are on track for the final wildcard spot over the Jets due to tiebreaker advantage.  Of course that could all change in an instant if the Browns find a way to play spoiler.

[Read more...]

The Browns Will Win If…

Training camp seems so long ago. The 2-2 pre-season record—complete with solid offense and a shred of hope for competitive Browns football—seems like eons ago. The Browns visit Balmer to play their once-and-formers, who are coming off a disappointing loss to Cincinnati and are probably hungry for blood. Gee, I can’t wait!

brownsravens

The Browns kick off a stretch of seven straight weeks during which they will not be favored in—or expected to win—any games. First up is the Ravens. The Browns have yet to score any points in the second half; they’re tied with the 49ers for 24th in the league at 14.0 points per game through two games. Baltimore has allowed 12.0 points per game so far in their first two games. Brian Daboll better have packed his Big Boy Pants for the trip to Baltimore. Without further ado…

The Browns Will Win If…

Salt in the Wounds

As previously discussed in these parts, yesterday’s game against the Ravens had a friendly wager on the line.  Below, please find his very solid “thank you” to Braylon Edwards. 

You’ll have to click on the link for the full-size image.  After the jump, the words of the winning team’s blogger, Dewey Hammond.  Click at your own risk…

[Read more...]

The Browns Will Win If…

I’m running out of clever leads for this thread each week. I’ll leave it this week with one sentence: will the REAL 2008 Cleveland Browns please stand up, and remain standing? Not so fast, Derek.

The Browns are again taking a crack at pulling back to .500 as well as at getting some revenge for the drubbing in week 3 against the Ravens in Baltimore. Can they do it? Will Anderson continue not to throw the ball to the other team? Can they finally string two “decent” games together? Without further ado…

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

The Browns Will Win If…

In our weekly installment, we examine what it’s going to take for the Browns to avoid an embarrassing 0-3 start on the road against the Baltimore Ravens.

So, are the Browns fed up enough to finally get into the win column this week? Let’s hope so. Without further ado, The Browns Will Win If…
[Read more...]