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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the tag “Cleveland Browns”

A year later, much has changed for the Browns

browns change a yearThe NFL season is only two games old, but what a difference for the Cleveland Browns as compared to just a year ago.

At this time 12 months ago, the Browns were sitting at 0-2 after dropping games to Miami and Baltimore. Quarterback Brandon Weeden was hurt, and with the team realizing that Jason Campbell was not the answer no matter how many times they rephrased the question, the coaches turned to an unproven Brian Hoyer.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon had missed the first two games because of a league-mandated suspension, and both the offense and defense were working to learn new systems. (OK, it’s Cleveland; some things stay the same.)

The bombshell dropped during the week between the second and third game, however, when then-team President Joe Banner traded away starting running back Trent Richardson, turning the Browns running game into what statistically would be the worst in franchise history and effectively punting on the 2013 season.

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A day of firsts as the Browns defeat the Saints

browns sack saintsIt was a day of firsts on Sunday for the Cleveland Browns.

The first win as a head coach for Mike Pettine; Brian Hoyer’s first win as starting quarterback since his ACL injury; the first win in a home opener since 2004.

The most import first was the fact that, for the first time in a long time, the Browns looked like a real NFL team, providing hope that this year just may be different.

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Browns vs. Saints – 5 things to watch in Week 2

browns saints previewThe Cleveland Browns take the field today in their home opener, taking on the New Orleans Saints.

Both teams enter on a negative streak after losing their respective opening games. The Saints have lost four consecutive road games and were just 2-4 last season in games not played in a dome.

As for the Browns, they are currently riding an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season, haven’t won a home opener since 2004, and have started 0-2 in five of the past six seasons. And while they lead the overall series against the Saints, 12-4, the Browns have lost two of the last three times the teams have met.

Let’s take a look at five storylines to keep an eye on today.

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Brian Hoyer blowing up national media’s storyline

GTY 454864228 S FBN USA PACleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer not only blew up the Pittsburgh Steeler defense in the second half of Sunday’s night, he also blew a big hole in the national media’s narrative on the Browns quarterback situation.

With the national media pining away for Johnny Manziel – CBS showed him almost as much on Sunday as the actual game – Hoyer refused to play along in leading the Browns to 24 second-half points and almost pulling off the franchise’s biggest comeback since 1966. (Funny, we don’t remember seeing many shots of Brandon Weeden on Sunday night while Tony Romo was crapping the bed against San Francisco.)

Hoyer’s performance has started to slowly turn the tide, with both USA Today and  Don Banks at Sports Illustrated acknowledging that Hoyer’s performance only solidified his hold on the starting job.

The best part is where Hoyer was among a group of veterans that challenged the team at halftime to get its act together.

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Browns come home with everything but a win

browns lose to pittsburghIt was a tale of two halves for the Cleveland Browns in their opening game on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately this tale had an ending that is all too familiar to Browns fans.

The Browns rallied back from a 27-3 halftime deficit to tie the score, only to lose on a last-second field goal.

“I told the team afterward that this is a pass-fail league,” head coach Mike Pettine said after the game. “And we failed.”

The loss was the Browns 10th consecutive on opening day – a league record – and their 14th loss in their past 15 visits to Heinz Field.

Sticking with Pettine’s theme of Pass/Fail, here are a few things the Browns got right and few they got wrong against the Steelers.

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Browns vs. Steelers – 5 things to watch in Week 1

browns steelers week 1 previewThe Cleveland Browns open the 2014 NFL season today against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

The last time the Browns opened a season in Pittsburgh, in 1989, they beat the Steelers 51-0 to start a year that saw the Browns advance to the AFC Championship Game.

It’s safe to say it has been all downhill since then for the Browns and their one-time rival.

The Browns have only beaten the Steelers twice in the past seven years, have only one win in their past 14 games at Heinz Field, and have gone 5-31 against Pittsburgh over the past 36 meetings between the two teams.

It’s not just Pittsburgh, either, as season-opening games have not been kind to the Browns since 1999.

The Browns have lost nine consecutive opening games; lose today against the Steelers and they would set an NFL record for opening-day futility.

“That’s something that’s a big part of our prep (but) understanding that that has nothing to do with us,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said earlier this week. “That has nothing to do with this game. That has nothing to do with us moving forward. That was our message back in the spring when we said, ‘Hey, recognize the history, but break off the rear view mirror.’ This is just another way to prove that.”

As the Browns get ready to start reversing those disappointing numbers today in Pittsburgh, here are five things to watch for.

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What does 2014 have in store for the Cleveland Browns?

browns season preview groupThe Cleveland Browns open the 2014 NFL season on Sunday in Pittsburgh, a season that will see the Browns mark the 50th anniversary of their last (and Cleveland’s last) championship.

It was quite the offseason for the team, one that we’re sure fans and team officials are ready to put behind them. We’re all familiar with those storylines by now: the shakeup of the front office, yet another coaching change, the quarterback competition that kind of really wasn’t a competition, the prolonged case of Josh Gordon that ultimately resulted in a yearlong suspension.

But once 1 p.m. hits on Sunday, the Browns have the opportunity to put all that behind them and see what they can make of the upcoming season.

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From the editor’s notebook …

browns final rosterThe final roster cuts have been made, the practice squad players have been signed and the Cleveland Browns have begun preparations for Sunday’s season-opening game against Pittsburgh.

We’re less than a week away from Browns football, whether anyone is ready for it or not.

The only real surprise among the player cuts was MarQueis Gray, who seemed like he might be able to help the team as a fullback. But the Browns apparently decided that if they were going with a fullback on the roster, why not have Ray Agnew – someone who has actually played the position – over trying to convert a play like Gray to the spot. It’s a radical idea, we know, but it just may be crazy enough to work.

The Browns didn’t waste any time parting ways with cornerback Leon McFadden -who was selected about three rounds too early in the 2013 NFL Draft – and guard Garrett Gilkey, leaving Barkevious Mingo and Armonty Bryant as the only players remaining from the one and only draft from Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi. So much for that duo’s continued claims that they set the team up for long-term success.

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Josh Gordon’s suspension shows NFL has priorities out of order

Josh Gordon, Ike TaylorWell, so much for seeing Josh Gordon in a Cleveland Browns uniform anytime soon.

“Appeals officer Harold Henderson has upheld the suspension for the 2014 NFL season of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. The suspension is effective immediately.

“Gordon’s eligibility for reinstatement will be determined following the 2014 season.”

With those 46 words in an NFL-issued statement, the last sliver of hope among team officials and fans that Gordon would somehow be available this season was shot down. Gordon is gone – maybe never to return – and the Browns are left to pick up the pieces.

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We may have a problem here, Coach Pettine

mike pettine no panicIs there any way the Cleveland Browns can petition the league office to move back the start of the NFL season?

Or maybe ask to have their bye week switched to opening day?

We ask because in a little less than two weeks the Browns are going to take the field in Pittsburgh and, judging by what we have all seen through three weeks of the preseason, the Browns are not even close to being ready.

And we fear that things are going to get worse before they get any better.

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