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Tag: Cleveland Browns

Watching Summer Fade to Fall…um, Football Season

Wishing Time Would…Hurry for the Browns

Okay, so I typically post informative posts on either writing, what I learn from marketing my own work, Northern Knights, themes from Northern Knights, and Global Conspiracies. But every now and again I like focusing on something off-topic.

 
I know some of you like this and others just scroll by, it’s hit or miss, but it’s very important to post the occasional fun post in the midst of all the work I’ve been doing getting my little book business up and moving.

 
Today, I want to make a few predictions on my Cleveland Browns. Now, many of you have seen how I posted my seasonal predictions last month and had them going 11-5, which isn’t going to happen. The 11-5 and AFC North Title is nothing more than a guarantee I made last year and I’m holding up to it.

 

My Real Thoughts About the Browns

Record-wise, I’m saying 7-9. The Browns are much better off this year than last, and just took another step closer by trading receiver Corey Coleman to Buffalo for a 7th round pick. While some may laugh at this, it tells me they wanted him gone and someone, either Rashard Higgins or Antonio Callaway, has been stepping up big.

 

The Browns in 2018

For one, I see 7-9 as a realistic goal. This time last year, the Browns, from a Triplet (quarterback-running back-receiver standpoint) had DeShone Kizer, Isaiah Crowell, and Corey Coleman. This group may’ve won a couple games in the CFL.

 
This year, the Browns have Tyrod Taylor, who is literally a polar opposite of Kizer, Carlos Hyde (though Nick Chubb will be here by the end of the season), and Jarvis Landry.
Here are some mind-boggling stats:

 

About the Browns Offense

Like I said, Taylor is a polar opposite of Kizer. In fact, Taylor turned the ball over fewer than any other quarterback in the league second only to a man named Brady. Taylor also led a very mediocre Bills team to the playoffs, where they narrowly lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who went on to the AFC Championship Game.

 
Hyde isn’t the most durable nor the greatest back, but as mentioned, he’s keeping the seat warm for Chubb. Also, don’t be surprised if the Swiss Army Knife, Duke Johnson, takes the spot here. Johnson finished third behind Le’Veon Bell and Christian McCaffery in receptions among running backs in 2017.

 
Landry led the league in receptions with 112. While his 8.8 yards-per-reception is meager, he has solid hands and finds ways to get open, very reminiscent of former NFL Great Wes Welker, who also played a few seasons in Miami before going elsewhere. Landry also holds the NFL record for most career receptions in any players’ first four seasons in the league with 400.

 
While the Browns lost Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, the line has also improved. Filling in for Thomas in 2018 is Joel Bitonio, also a former Pro Bowler. Austin Corbett lines up beside Bitonio, JC Tretter returns at center, Kevin Zeitler will be at right guard, and coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers is Chris Hubbard at right tackle.

 
Right tackle plagued the Browns last season, as did left tackle when Thomas went down with a torn triceps. Now, both positions have been addressed.

 
The Browns’ offense led the league in turnovers in 2017, but with sure-handed receivers like Landry, a fantastic game manager in Taylor, and an improved offensive line, the offense is sure to click on all cylinders.

 

Offensive Depth Chart

Here’s my projected Week One Depth Chart:

 
Quarterback: Taylor…Baker Mayfield…Drew Stanton

 
Running Back 1: Hyde…Duke Johnson*

 
Running Back 2: Chubb…Duke Johnson

 
Receiver 1: Landry…Rashard Higgins

 
Receiver 2: Josh Gordon…Antonio Callaway

 
Receiver 3: Duke Johnson…C.J. Board

 
Tight-end: David Njoku…Darren Fells…Seth DeValve

 
Left Tackle: Bitonio…Greg Robinson

 
Left Guard: Corbett…Austin Reiter

 
Center: JC Tretter…Austin Reiter

 
Right Guard: Zeitler…Spencer Drango

 
Right Tackle: Chris Hubbard…Shon Coleman

 
*Duke Johnson has been playing slot receiver in addition to running back.

 

Offensive Outlook

Look for Baker Mayfield to make an appearance or two if the Browns are out of contention by December. If anything, Mayfield may see time in Week Seventeen. If the Browns are out of it early, look for him to start after the bye-week.

 
Nick Chubb will lead the Browns in rushing yards. Hyde has struggled to stay on the field all sixteen games and Chubb will claim the starting job for himself. Chubb is durable other than missing most of 2015 with a serious knee injury; he has proven he can stay healthy.

 
Josh Gordon is spending time in Gainesville, Florida focusing on rehab. It’s clear that he neither failed a drug test nor is suspended, and it’s simply part of his treatment plan. Word has it he’ll be back before the season opener, if not sooner.

 
Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins have reportedly had good camps, which might explain the Coleman trade. Also, Dez Bryant rumors have also been circulating. Is this a sign? And, as noted above, Duke Johnson has been seeing time at slot receiver.

 
David Njoku is listed at the top of the depth chart for tight-ends. That’s big, because he suffered a four-drop practice last week, but he’s reportedly come back on form over the past eight days.

 

The Defense

What can I say about the D?

 
Myles Garrett, Trevon Coley, Jamie Meder, and Emmanuel Ogbah make up a deadly front four. However, Coley went down with a high-ankle sprain and his status for the season opener is in question. That’s a blow, because Coley’s performance in 2017 led the Browns to trade away Danny Shelton to New England. However, the Browns have depth at defensive line, and a lot of it.

 
As for the linebackers, we have a lot, and I mean a lot of depth, just as much as the defensive line. So much depth, in fact, many around the NFL are stating it’s unfair for the Browns’ linebackers to have so much depth. Hey, they’ve gone 1-34 since December 2015; there’s nothing to apologize about. Anyway, Jamie Collins is a former Pro Bowler and Joe Schobert made his first Pro Bowl in 2017. Christian Kirksey is a willing tackler whose been a steady starter since his rookie season in 2014. Behind them are James Burgess, who could start on any roster. Ditto for Michal Kendricks, who comes over from Philadelphia. And don’t forget about Genard Avery, the rookie fifth-round pick.

 
And the defensive backs look scary, too, also with depth all over the place. At corner, we have rookie first-round pick Denzel Ward, Terrence Mitchell, T.J. Carrie, and E.J. Gaines. None of these players were in a Browns uniform in 2017, and all were playmaking corners.

 
At safety, Jabrill Peppers returns to his familiar spot at strong safety, and is ahead of backup Derrick Kindred at the moment. However, both can play the position well. Peppers was a free safety in 2017 and was not comfortable; he’s a box safety in the mold of Marc Barron and Deonne Buchanan, meaning don’t be surprised if he’s a hybrid linebacker/safety. At free safety is Demarious Randall, who comes over from Green Bay.

 

The entire secondary, minus Peppers, has been made over.

 

Defensive Depth Chart

Here’s my projected depth chart for Week One:

 
DE: Garrett…Chris Smith…Nate Orchard

 
DT: Jamie Meder…Caleb Brantley

 
DT: Trevon Coley (Q)…Larry Ogunjobi

 
DE: Ogbah…Chad Thomas…Carl Nassib

 
OLB: Christian Kirksey…Genard Avery

 
MLB: Joe Schobert…Michal Kendricks

 
OLB: Jamie Collins…James Burgess

 
CB: Ward…Carrie

 
CB: Mitchell…Gaines

 
SS: Peppers…Kindred

 
FS: Randall…Boddy-Calhoun

 

Defensive Outlook

The Browns gave up the second most amount of points in 2017, but these numbers are misleading considering the number of turnovers in 2017. Far too many times, the offense started with the ball in Cleveland territory.

 
The Browns were routinely gashed in the secondary with Peppers playing out of position and the corners no more than mediocre starters who’d likely have been backups on other teams (Jamar Taylor, Jason McCourty, Boddy-Calhoun).

 
This season, both Peppers and Boddy-Calhoun are in their correct positions, while Denzel Ward is believed to have been the quickest corner in the NFL Draft, while Gaines, Mitchell, and Carrie combined for eight interceptions in 2017.

 
The run defense ranked 7th in the league, and much of it was Danny Shelton’s ability to plug the gaps. This season, Shelton’s in New England, so General Manager John Dorsey is gambling on Coley, Meder, Brantley, and Ogunjobi to continue their impressive play from a season ago. If it doesn’t work, Dorsey has some explaining to do.

 
For me, I see the Browns’ defense playing even better football for two reasons:

 
1) The offense is light years better than they were a season ago, where not a single quarterback that won a game was on the opening day roster. They won’t be turning the ball over like they were in 2017.

 
2) The secondary is much improved. Dorsey brought in four new corners and traded for Randall, allowing Peppers to move back to strong safety.

 
3) Keep in mind, the unit ranked 14th in 2017 and boasted a 7th ranked run defense. Not half-bad for an 0-16 franchise.

 

Conclusion

Will the Browns be better?

 
Yes.

 
Can they make the playoffs?

 
I’m not counting on it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they snuck in as a fifth or sixth seed.

 
Offensive MVP? Landry.

 
Defensive MVP? Garrett.

 
Pro Bowlers? Landry, Bitonio, Garrett, Schobert.

 
Record? 7-9

 
Deviation? 5-11 to the low end, 9-7 to the high end.

 
Points Scored? 350 (21.8 per game)

 
Points Allowed? 385 (24.06 per game)

 
Division Record? 2-4

 
Conference Record? 5-7

 
Vs. NFC? 2-2

 
Division Finish? 3rd.

 
Will Hue Jackson remain? Yes, unless someone absolutely hot hits the coaching market.

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My Inner-NFL Analyst

Few will be Interested in this Article, Except the Die-Hard NFL Fan

I always write about two subjects, which involve either pursuing passion or showing the negative effects of an overreaching government in the United States. Today, however is a special day, and for the die-hard NFL fan, the NFL season starts today.
This article is going to interest few of my blog’s followers, but it does show what sound research and preparation can do for any writer pursuing their passion. As an NFL fan since birth, I love using my annual NFL Mock Draft to show ways to link research with writing, and as a Browns fan, it’s always fun to see whose career my team will ruin next (hopefully the trend changes this season).
Without further ado, here’s my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.

 
Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB/Oklahoma

The brash Mayfield will be a cornerstone of the Browns franchise for years to come. He comes in with a great deal of confidence and drive not displayed by a quarterback in years. Many are drawing comparisons between Mayfield and Brett Favre. If so, the Browns finally landed a franchise quarterback.

 

New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB/USC

Many are going with either NC State’s Bradley Chubb or Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. However, word around the league states if Cleveland passes on Darnold, the Giants will bite on a quarterback.

 

New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB/UCLA

The Jets love both Mayfield and Rosen, but in this scenario, Mayfield has gone to Cleveland, so Josh Rosen gets the call. Sources everywhere are stating Rosen and the Jets looks to be a done deal, made official tonight.

Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB/Penn State

Many have Barkley going either one or two, but he falls to four due to the quarterback demand. Barkley is said to be one of the greatest backs to leave college in years. He’ll enter Cleveland as part of a three-back system which already includes Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Barkley, however, is the most complete back of the three.

Denver Broncos: Denzel Ward, CB/Ohio State

The Broncos take Ward here at number four. Ward is a physical corner who will replace Aqib Talib in the defensive backfield. While a quarterback is needed in Denver, the top three are already taken off the board, and Denver goes with their best available.

 

Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, Edge/NC State

Chubb is this year’s version of Myles Garrett, and many have him going to Cleveland at four to line up opposite Garrett. Many also have Indy trading out of the spot, but if Chubb is available, he’ll be scooped up and give the Colts their first legitimate pass rusher since Dwight Freeney.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derrius Guice, RB/LSU

While many have Guice falling to the second round, the Bucs are rumored to be in love with Guice here. This mock entails who I think teams will pick, so ordinarily I’d project a trade here for the Bucs to acquire Guice at a later slot. Nevertheless, I see him going in the first.

 

Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB/Georgia

Arguably the best linebacker in the draft, Smith will replace an age-old void left by former Bears great, Brian Urlacher. The Bears struggled on all sides of the ball but have a young quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky. The best way to develop Trubisky will be to bolster the defense so he can continue to manage the game in his second season. Smith will help this cause.

 

San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S/Alabama

Fitzpatrick is dropping here and the 49ers are said to be looking for defensive backs. While Fitzpatrick is their preferred player, there will be several to choose from at nine if he goes higher. Many have Fitzpatrick ranked ahead of Denzel Ward, but the Broncos are said to prefer Ward over Fitzpatrick if the rumors hold true.

 

Oakland Raiders: Kolton Miller, T/UCLA

Many have Miller projected to be a late-first round pick and the Raiders are reportedly talking to teams about trading down. It’s said their pick is zeroed in on Miller which will do wonders for quarterback Derrick Carr, who battled injuries in 2017. Miller is a mammoth of an athlete at 6’9, and the Raiders love players with freakish traits, which will get him picked ahead of consensus offensive lineman, Quenton Nelson.

 

Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB/Virginia Tech

The Dolphins may go quarterback here, but the jury is out on the effects of the Josh Allen tweets revealed earlier today. Also, Ryan Tannehill is on pace to make a comeback from his ACL injury. The Dolphins have let many go on defense, and Edmunds will be the one to plug in the middle to reinvigorate a team who has seen a lot of turnover in the past few months.

 

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB/Wyoming

Someone won’t hold Allen accountable to the tweets he posted years ago, and the Bills aren’t going to be starting A.J. McCarron all season unless he plays lights out. Allen is the quarterback who can sit behind McCarron for a time while getting acclimated to the game. He’s purely a potential pick with limited collegiate production and success, but his physical traits are among the most superior in the draft.

 

Washington Redskins: Sony Michel, RB/Georgia 

One of two great Georgia backs entering the draft, the Redskins are reportedly going running back here. The lack a complete back and Michel has the size and characteristics to be a featured back. It depends on the best back available, but in this scenario, it appears Michel is going to be the pick for Washington.

 

Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, S/Florida State

The Packers have struggled on defense over the past two seasons and when Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury in 2017, the offense could no longer bail them out. They traded Demarious Randall to Cleveland in March and Haha Clinton-Dix has been inconsistent. James, while raw, may bring consistency.

 

Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB/Louisville

Sam Bradford is the best quarterback on Arizona’s roster and the best receiver on the roster is an aging Larry Fitzgerald. Jackson has drawn comparisons to Michael Vick and Fran Tarkenton, two of the greatest duel-threat passers in the game. While his accuracy needs work, Jackson’s playmaking ability will wow Cardinal fans early and often.

 

Baltimore Ravens: Da’Ron Payne, DT/Alabama

Payne will fill a void left by Haloti Ngata. While it’s rumored the Ravens may take a quarterback, five have already left the board, and the Ravens defense was spotty in 2017, at times shutting teams down and other times allowing 40+ points. Payne will help plug the middle and give the ballhawk defensive backs much more opportunity.

 

Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB/Alabama

While Evans didn’t have the greatest collegiate production, his tackling ability and vision will make him one of the more coveted prospects. The Chargers have several needs in the middle of the defense, and Evans will be another centerpiece here, working behind a talented defensive line.

 

Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Oliver, CB/Colorado

Rumor has it the Seahawks are trying to trade defensive back Earl Thomas. The team of interest is Dallas, so a pick swap here may be likely. Oliver, however, has been linked to Seattle, so packaging their first-round pick with Thomas to trade down seems likely and I’m hearing Oliver is the target.

 

Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esche, LB/Boise State

The Cowboys defense is full of holes and Vander Esche is one player Jerry Jones has been very high on. After losing quality defensive starters the past few years, look for a playmaking linebacker such as Vander Esche to be the replacement for Anthony Hitchens.

 

Detroit Lions: Taven Bryan, DT/Florida 

After failing to reunite with former first-round pick Ndamukong Suh, the Lions go out on a limb and grab Bryan. While a running back would be ideal, Detroit must fix a defense which has been a thorn in their side during their mediocre run these last few seasons. The goal is to make the playoffs, and Bryan will be a cornerstone on defense.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, C/Iowa

The Bengals have not filled many holes on the offensive line and Daniels has been linked with the team. While a center, Daniels can be inserted at guard, which was ineffective last season following Kevin Zeitler’s release.

 

Buffalo Bills: Quenton Nelson, G/Notre Dame

While many have Nelson a top-ten pick, scouts believe much of his success may be attributed to playing alongside tackle Mike McGlinchey which may cause Nelson to the “the guy” who topples down the draft board. The Bills, after taking Allen earlier in this scenario, halt Nelson’s fall and scoop him up here.

 

New England Patriots: Marcus Davenport, Edge/UTSA

A small-school stud here, Davenport has no idea what he’s doing, but he’s arguably the most physically gifted player in the draft. He lands in the ideal spot with New England will be coached by Bill Belichick’s staff. I can’t see Davenport succeeding anywhere unless he falls into New England’s grasp, as is the case of many players, but if he lands in New England, the Pats just landed a pass rusher for years to come.

 
Carolina Panthers: Frank Ragnow, OL/Arkansas 

With Ryan Kalil stating he’s in the twilight of his career, the Panthers will seek to fill the void. Ragnow can come in and immediately start at guard, moving to center when Kalil decides to hang it up.

 

Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE/Ohio State

While the Titans have a few decent defensive linemen, none jump out at us. Enter Sam Hubbard, who possesses ideal size, characteristics, and potential. While his production in college is so-so, this is another potential pick whose best days may lay ahead of him.

 

Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley, WR/Alabama

Finally, a receiver to a team to wouldn’t ordinarily need one, but judging Julio Jones’ recent social media actions, one can conclude his days in Atlanta are numbered. For this reason, it’d be wise to take the best receiver in the draft. While the receiving class in 2018 offers more depth than star power, Ridley is perhaps an exception to the rule.

 

New Orleans Saints: Mason Rudolph, QB/Oklahoma State

The Saints are a good trade candidate here, and while they may go defense, Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger and they need a potential successor sooner than later. Mason Rudolph may be the most underrated quarterback in the entire draft class, checking all the boxes. Like New Orleans, Rudolph excelled in a pass-happy offense. He may be the perfect fit in New Orleans.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Harold Landry, DE/Boston College

The Steelers had a splashy defense in 2017 and ranked high in many categories. They were inconsistent and are in need of someone to line up opposite last year’s first round pick, T.J. Watt. Landry is a sack artist, leading the nation with 16.5 in 2016. Steeler football revolves around strong, aggressive pass rushers.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE/South Carolina 

It’s clear unless they’re willing to trade up, a quarterback isn’t happening. Besides, Blake Bortles led the Jags to their first AFC Championship appearance since 1996, when they coincidentally lost to New England. The Jags offense is hot, but they parted ways with franchise stalwart, Mercedes Lewis. Hurst makes sense here.

 

Minnesota Vikings: Dallas Goedert, TE/South Dakota State 

Goedert would be a top ten pick had he gone to a Power Five school. Minnesota has been linked to Goedert and if he’s available, I’m hearing he’s the pick. While Kyle Rudolph has played well, the Vikes lack a legit number two option at tight-end.

 

New England: Malik Jefferson, LB/Texas

The Patriots will be on a mission to fill a defense ranking near the bottom of the league in 2017 and after an embarrassing Super Bowl performance in which they’d given up 41 points, it’s clear the defensive side of the ball must be fixed. Look for Belichick to pick players he fills will fit his system, choosing skill-set over production and potential.

 

Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Jones, RB/USC

While Jay Ajayi will remain the featured back, Jones can be the change of pace guy. While neither a blocker nor pass catcher, Jones can spell Ajayi when necessary with between twelve and fourteen touches per game. For the Super Bowl Champions, it’s all about filling the big rocks with some small ones.

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