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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the tag “Cleveland Browns”

5 Questions in 5 Days: the Browns running game

browns training camp tateThe Cleveland Browns were historically bad when it came to running the football in 2013.

It what was arguably the worst performance in franchise history, the Browns were 27th in the NFL with just 86.4 rushing yards per game and rushed for a league-low four touchdowns. By comparison, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, widely considered the worst team in NFL history, managed to rush for five touchdowns in an 0-14 season.

Willis McGahee “led” the Browns in rushing with 377 yards – the fewest rushing yards to lead the team since Ray Renfro’s 352 yards in 1953. (Although Renfro only ran the ball 60 times that season and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. McGahee? He averaged 2.7). Things were so bad that (too) many fans were excited about Edwin Baker, a seventh-round draft pick who was on three teams during the season, thinking he was the answer simply because he was better than what the Browns were trotting out for most of the season.

And while we know that the running game is supposed to not matter anymore in the NFL, six of the top 10 rushing teams last season made the playoffs.

Enter Ben Tate and Terrance West.

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5 Questions in 5 Days: Browns training camp battles

browns training camp westThe Cleveland Browns will spend the next six weeks fine tuning their roster as they prepare for the start of the 2014 NFL season on Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.

The bulk of the roster appears to be pretty much set, but there are still some questions the team will be looking to answer in the upcoming weeks.

Along the offensive line, the Browns will be looking to find a guard tandem from among John Greco, rookie Joel Bitonio, Garrett Gilkey and Jason Pinkston (who has missed practice so far for undisclosed medical reasons). Greco and Bitonio appear to be the front runners and they both bring a nasty streak that will play well in the AFC North. The coaches also need to determine if Mitchell Schwartz really is the answer at right tackle, because if he is not, there are not a lot of good second options.

In the backfield, Ben Tate should win the starting slot at running back, with rookie Terrance West sure to see significant time as well. Who else makes the roster among the running backs comes down to a rather unremarkable grab bag that includes the likes of Dion Lewis and Edwin Baker, among others.

The uncertainty over Josh Gordon’s availability has the starting wide receiver positions in a state of flux, although slot receiver Andrew Hawkins has to be an improvement over what Davone Bess brought to the table last season.

And we’re not even ready to talk about the quarterback position (at least not for a couple of more days).

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From the editor’s notebook …

browns open training campThe Cleveland Browns had their first full day of training camp on Saturday, and with it came the annual hoopla of hope and optimism that this year will be different.

For a team that has made going either 4-12 or 5-11 each season into an art form, the Browns don’t have as many roster questions as one would expect heading into the 2014 NFL season. With a few exceptions, we pretty much know who will be on the roster; it is just a question in a few spots of who will be the starter and who take on a backup role.

But that doesn’t mean there are not questions that need answered, of course. The Browns once again have a new coaching staff, led by head coach Mike Pettine, which also means a new offense under coordinator Kyle Shanahan and a new defense under coordinator Jim O’Neil.

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16 observations on the Cleveland Browns 2014 schedule

Cleveland Browns Logo BadgeThe Cleveland Browns open training camp this week which means we are only 49 days away from the start of the 2014 NFL season.

The Browns will head into the season with a new coach, a new philosophy and (possibly) a new quarterback.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the upcoming schedule with an observation or two about each team the Browns will face this year.

Week 1 at Pittsburgh: The last time the Browns opened the season on the road against the Steelers, they were led by a first-year, defensive-minded head coach. The result? A 51-0 beating of the Steelers to open the 1989 season.
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From the editor’s notebook …

luis suarez back sideLiverpool made it official on Friday, agreeing to a £75 million pound deal with Barcelona for striker Luis Suárez.

And so ends one of the more bizarre three years for a player and a club.

It’s hard to know how much Liverpool will miss Suárez, who is as talented as anyone playing the game when he wants to be. But the fact that the club no longer trust that Suárez won’t do something stupid on the pitch makes the move a necessary one. After his latest incident at the World Cup, it seems pretty clear that club officials decided they needed to do something while they could still get top value for Suárez. And it is not hard to think they felt a bit betrayed, as well, as the club has done nothing but support Suárez from the moment he arrived from Ajax in January 2011.

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Is Josh Gordon nearing the end of the line?

Josh Gordon, Ike TaylorThe news that Josh Gordon is once again in trouble with the law caught us by surprise – even though it should not have at this point.

When we first heard the reports that Gordon was stopped for speeding and arrested on DWI charges in Raleigh, we immediately thought the worse. We expected reports of radar readings of more than 100 mph and a blood-alcohol level off the charts. Then we read that he was going 50 mph in a 35-mph zone and was just a tick above the legal limit for alcohol in the state of North Carolina.

For a few seconds all we could think was that this kid just can’t catch a break. But the reality is that this is all his doing.

And now we’re worried that he is beyond help.

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Brian Hoyer in no rush for a new contract with Browns

brian hoyer contract talkThe Cleveland Browns have found themselves in a bit of a predicament when it comes to quarterback Brian Hoyer.

The team wants to sign Hoyer, who is entering the final year of his contract, to a new deal. That’s good. Even if Johnny Manziel lights it up during preseason and wins the starting quarterback job, it is in the Browns best interest to keep another viable starting quarterback on the roster.

And with today’s rookie contracts much more manageable, it is also financially feasible to do so, especially if the contracts signed by Matt Cassel (two years, $10 million) and Chad Henne (two years, $8 million) are starting points.

While the Browns are willing to deal, Hoyer may not be in quite such of a hurry.

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Should the Browns be more worried about Johnny Manziel?

manziel las vegasWhen the Cleveland Browns called Johnny Manziel’s name during the NFL Draft back in May, everyone involved knew what they were getting in to with the high-profile quarterback.

With very little actual football activities taking place since that day, the national media has had a field day chronicling Manziel’s off-the-field antics. From pool parties with Rob Gronkowski, to money phones and inflatable swans, there has been no shortage of talking points for those people who care about such things. And with a little more than a month until training camp starts, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities to shine a light on Manziel.

For the most part we’ve tried to drown out the noise, partially because as a Browns fan we’d be perfectly happy if the national media minded their own business, and also because it is the off-season and what Manziel does with his free time is up to him.

But is there possibly more to this situation, a darker side that, as a Browns fan, we don’t want to confront?

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From the editor’s notebook …

david blatt cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers landed their man on Friday, naming David Blatt as the team’s latest head coach.

We admit to knowing next to nothing about Blatt before the Cavs undertook their third head coaching search in the past four years. But the more we learn about him the more we are intrigued by the hiring.

Blatt comes to the Cavs fresh off leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship. His coaching job in the tournament led one NBA general manager to observe that “Maccabi was outgunned at every position except coach. David took down two Goliaths in a weekend. He belongs in the NBA.” (h/t to @WFNYJacob for the link to that story.)

Over the past four seasons, Blatt’s teams went 222-55 and, in addition to this year’s Euroleague title, won the Israeli Cup and Israeli league title. He’s been a head coach in Europe for 15 years and coached the Russian national team from 2006 to 2012. (So at least he will be used to the harsh winter weather in Northeast Ohio.)

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Spanning the AFC North

Jamoris Slaughter

We hardly knew you, Jamoris Slaughter.

As the Cleveland Browns prepare for their three-day mandatory minicamp this week – the final time the team will be together before the start of training camp in July, the team continues to tweak the roster and purge it of marginal players signed by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

Last week it was the release of outside linebacker Quentin Groves, brought it last year because he knew Ray Horton’s defense. With Horton now in Tennessee and Groves limited last season due to injuries, there was no longer a spot on the roster for him.

On Monday, it was safety Jamoris Slaughter, who the Browns drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft after Slaughter missed all but three games of his senior season at Notre Dame. Slaughter spent all of last season in injured reserve as he tried to come back from an Achilles tendon tear.

The move leaves just four players from the 2013 draft: linebacker Barkevious Mingo, cornerback Leon McFaddene (who may not have a spot on the roster come September), seventh-round defensive lineman Armonty Bryant and seventh-round offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey.

Quite an impressive haul from the first (and only) draft from Banner and Lombardi in Cleveland.

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