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Archive for the tag “Cleveland Browns”

From the editor’s notebook …

hoyer starting quarterbackCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine made if official earlier today, naming Brian Hoyer as the team’s starting quarterback.

The decision ends what we can only hope was not an ill-fated quarterback competition between Hoyer and rookie Johnny Manziel. Now Hoyer can work exclusively to get not only himself but the offense ready for the season-opener on Sept. 7 against Pittsburgh.

“(Brian) was the clear leader from the beginning,” Pettine said in announcing the decision. “We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

Pettine probably made the right call (we’re pretty sure he did, but we won’t know until the season starts). Even though it is only a few games, Hoyer has more experience running an NFL offense than Manziel. Hopefully having him play most of Saturday’s preseason friendly against St. Louis, combined with giving him all the first-team reps in practice from here on out, will help him shake off the rust from not having played since injuring his knee last October.

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Browns once again find themselves in a QB quandry

browns redskins manzielIt is only preseason. It is only preseason. It is only preseason.

We have to keep reminding ourselves of that after watching the Cleveland Browns on Monday night against Washington.

The running game didn’t look all that bad, as Ben Tate and Terrance West combined to average 4.5 yards per carry, which compared to last season’s baggy pants farce is Pro Bowl-caliber work.

The defense had three interceptions and was active all over the field – at least when the officials weren’t throwing a flag. (The Browns were penalized 10 times).

Other than that, nothing much went right, especially with quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.

And that, Browns fans, leaves the team with a major problem on its hands.

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From the editor’s notebook …

jordan cameron contractWith the majority of the focus on the quarterback position during training camp, it is easy to forget that there are other stories and issues that the Cleveland Browns are working their way through.

One of those is a potential contract extension for fourth-year tight end Jordan Cameron, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Cameron had a breakout year last season, catching 80 passes and seven touchdowns, after totaling just 26 receptions and a lone touchdown in his first two seasons with the team.

With the availability of wide receiver Josh Gordon – the team’s top offensive threat – still in doubt for the season, Cameron should become the focus of the passing game and based on his production from last season should be in line for a big year. While he would most likely not command a contract in the neighborhood of what Jimmy Graham received from New Orleans (four years with $20 million in guaranteed money), if Cameron can up his stats from last year, his price tag would go up as compared to what it is now. So it makes sense for the Browns to start talking extension now.

Or does it?

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5 observations on Browns preseason friendly vs. Detroit

browns preseason detroitThe Cleveland Browns returned to game action Saturday night against Detroit, dropping the opening game of the exhibition season by a score of 13-12.

And while it was only a preseason friendly, it was nice to see the orange helmets in action against another team.

Here are five quick observations from the game:

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Nothing to see here … or is there?

manziel first team repsCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine sure knows how to start off a week of practice.

On Monday, rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel took over the first-team offense for the first time in training camp and the nation was all abuzz.

Pettine stressed after practice that this was all part of the master plan and that Brian Hoyer will still be the starting quarterback when the Browns face Detroit on Saturday in the team’s first preseason friendly … unless he’s not.

“I would still say that’s true (that Hoyer will be the starter on Saturday), but I can’t say it’s 100 percent at this point,” Pettine said in published reports. “But I would still say there’s a more than reasonable chance he’ll be the starter against Detroit. That had been the plan. I just want to confirm with (the offensive coaching staff) and see where they are with it.

“I don’t think we’ll (have Manziel with the starters) for the entire week. We’ll meet at some point midweek to discuss how we want to handle the reps in the Detroit game.”

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5 Questions in 5 Days: Hoyer vs. Manziel – Part 2

browns training hoyer manziel 5Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel?

The answer to which of the two will be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns is one that head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan simply have to get right if they are to be part of the regime that finally turns this franchise around.

Manziel is one of the most-dynamic college players we’ve seen in a long time. We watched his games last fall at Texas A&M and were consistently entertained. But at the same time we couldn’t help but worry that we wouldn’t be able to take watching him play 16 times a year for the Browns.

That all changed in May when the Browns selected Manziel in the first round of the NFL Draft. Now he’s part of Cleveland – for better or worse.

If Manziel can translate his college game to the NFL level he has the talent, competitiveness and presence to lead this team from the NFL wilderness back to a level we haven’t seen since the late 1980s.

The decision facing Pettine and Shanahan is not a question of if Manziel will be the starting quarterback, but a question of when. If this was Minnesota the answer would be a simple one. With a roster that includes Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel at quarterback, there is little reason for the Vikings to not turn the team over to rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Which brings us to Brian Hoyer.

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5 Questions in 5 Days: Hoyer vs. Manziel – Part 1

browns training camp quarterbacksIf there is one thing that Cleveland Browns fans are far too familiar with, it is quarterback competitions during training camp.

From Romeo Crennel flipping a coin to choose between Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson, to quarterback battles pitting Tim Couch vs. Kelly Holcomb, Brady Quinn vs. Anderson, and Brandon Weeden vs. Jason Campbell, Browns fans have seen more than their share of underwhelming bouts.

Now here we are in 2014 and the latest quarterback fight that is all the talk: Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel.

This competition is different than previous ones, however. In past years, we’ve seen the head coach mismanaged the process by constantly switching from quarterback to quarterback, never allowing either player to find a rhythm. Or else they were faced with having to choose a quarterback not based on who gave the team the best chance to win, but rather who was the least likely to screw things up.

While head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan can still mess this up if they make the wrong decision, or make the right decision at the wrong time, at least they are facing a decision that should have a positive outcome.

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5 Questions in 5 Days: What do Browns have in Mike Pettine?

browns training camp mike pettineAs the Cleveland Browns work their way through training camp, sorting out roster questions – like who the quarterback will be and so on – one of the biggest questions has flown a bit under the radar.

Namely, just what does the team have in head coach Mike Pettine?

The Browns certainly took a less-than-direct approach when it came to hiring Pettine – the ninth head coach hired under three different ownership groups since the Browns parted ways with Marty Schottenheimer after the 1988 season.

But just because former front officer members Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi bumbled their way through the hiring process doesn’t mean that Pettine is not the right man for the job.

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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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