Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

2017 AFC North Draft Grades

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Pittsburgh Steelers

First-Round Pick: T.J. Watt-Outside Linebacker-Wisconsin

Best Pick: T.J. Watt

Grade: A

No team in the history of the National Football League has won more Super Bowl Titles than the six in which the Pittsburgh Steelers possess, and the most recent edition of the NFL Draft illustrated why.

While some teams entered the National Football League Draft playing the guessing game as far as what they needed to do in order to improve their respective rosters, the Steelers stuck to their plan of bringing more talent to Western Pennsylvania while capitalizing on the mistakes of others.

T.J. Watt

The first round saw the Steelers have to wait until the 30th pick, but there they selected Wisconsin Badgers outside linebacker T.J. Watt. Watt is the younger brother of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Los Angeles Chargers fullback Derek Watt. Just like his big brother who suits up for the Texans, T.J. is a freak of nature. Watt fills a need for the Steelers who have to improve their pass rush. Last year at Wisconsin, Watt recorded 11.5 sacks as a member of one of the stingiest defenses in college football, and his workman like attitude will be a welcome sight in Western Pennsylvania.

In the second round the Steelers were able to land USC Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. At 6’1″, 215 lbs., Smith-Schuster gives the Steelers another red zone target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and their prolific offense.

James Conner

The Steelers had two selections in the third round with one of those choices being used on Pittsburgh Panthers running back James Conner. The Steelers got a close look at Conner in college and they know all about his story. Conner was the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, while he would also overcome Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during his time at Pitt. Conner never gave up and his mental toughness fits the mold of being a Steeler.

The Steelers were close to getting to the Super Bowl last season, and this draft class can help to possibly make it a reality come February.

Baltimore Ravens

First-Round Pick: Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama

Best Pick: Round Three-Tim Williams-Defensive End-Alabama

Grade: B-

It’s hard to believe, but three of the last four years have seen the Baltimore Ravens fail to make the playoffs. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has been attempting to get the Ravens back to being a consistent playoff contender as this draft could help to get Baltimore closer to that.

Marlon Humphrey

This draft saw the Ravens focus on getting back to their identity. In the first round the Ravens selected Alabama Crimson Tide cornerback Marlon Humphrey. With the Steelers currently being the team to beat in the AFC North, the Ravens need all of the help that they can get in their secondary in order to hang with Pittsburgh’s explosive offensive players.

After trading defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Ravens had a pair of third round picks and they quickly found a replacement for Jernigan in Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Chris Wormley. At 6’5″, Wormley should fit in to the Ravens scheme on their defensive line as they run the 3-4. Later in the third round Baltimore would peg one of Humphrey’s collegiate teammates in outside linebacker Tim Williams. Williams is an outside linebacker by trade, but he is extremely versatile which includes playing the run and pass well. And that versatility could make Williams a starter early on for the Ravens.

The fourth round saw the Ravens select San Diego State Aztecs guard Nico Siragusa. Siragusa is coming off of an All-American selection at San Diego State which included him opening holes for record setting running back Donnel Pumphrey. And after the Ravens were 28th in the National Football League last season in rushing, they need all of the help that they can get on the offensive line.

This draft class might not show up immediately for the Ravens, but they will be effective players.

Cincinnati Bengals

First-Round Pick: John Ross-Wide Receiver-Washington

Best Pick: Round Three-Jordan Willis-Defensive End-Kansas State

Grade: B

After the Cincinnati Bengals failed to make the playoffs last season for the first time since 2010, it was time for them to retool. The Bengals entered the National Football League Draft needing more speed at the wide receiver position and they got their money’s worth.

John Ross

In the first round the Bengals selected Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross who set a record by running the fastest 40-yard dash time in the history of the National Football League Scouting Combine. Ross ran a 4.22 40-yard dash and his speed will now see him test the arm strength of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.

Joe Mixon

In the second round the Bengals would put themselves under the microscope by drafting Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon. Mixon entered this draft as one of the best play makers at the running back position; however most people have not been focused on that due to his past off-the-field issues. In 2014, Mixon was suspended by Oklahoma after he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly hitting a woman. In 2015, Mixon would return to Oklahoma and become a key contributor to the Sooners winning 22 games over the last two college football seasons. But when video surfaced late in 2016 of Mixon hitting the woman during the 2014 incident, he was immediately taken off of some team’s draft boards. Now the Bengals must face the public backlash and if they and Mixon are able to get past that, he could be a very productive player for them.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has always believed in stock piling pass rushers, and in a division with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, you can never have enough players who can put pressure on the quarterback. The third round saw Cincinnati select Kansas State Wildcats defensive end Jordan Willis. Willis comes to the Bengals as a very polished edge rusher. In 2016, Willis was the Big 12 Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year as he recorded 11.5 sacks. The Bengals didn’t stop there as in the fourth round they selected Auburn Tigers defensive end Carl Lawson. Lawson had the potential to be taken late in the first round, but questions about his durability saw his stock fall. Now Willis and Lawson can learn from veteran Bengals defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson while also contributing on the field.

If the Bengals can stay healthy in 2017, they should once again be able to contend for a playoff spot.

Cleveland Browns

First-Round Pick: Myles Garrett-Defensive End-Texas A&M, Jabril Peppers-Safety-Michigan, David Njoku-Tight End-Miami

Best Pick: Myles Garrett

Grade: D

The Cleveland Browns had a real opportunity to reverse the fortunes of their franchise at the 2017 National Football League Draft. But it typical Browns fashion, they let that opportunity go by the wayside.

The Browns entered the draft in possession of the first overall pick which was almost impossible for even them to mess up. The Browns used that selection on Texas A&M Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett who has freakish pass rushing ability. But the biggest issue for Garrett is whether or not that he’ll get sucked into the Bermuda Triangle in which so many first-round picks of the Browns have gotten lost in. And after the selection of Garrett, it was completely downhill from there for the Browns.

The Browns owned the 12th overall pick and they were in need of a quarterback. However with North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky having been drafted by the Chicago Bears, Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson was sitting there waiting for a phone call with area code 440 attached to it. Instead of taking Watson, the Browns made a trade with the Houston Texans who were poised to take Watson and make him their franchise quarterback. And as I’ve said before, the Browns will rue the day in which they passed on Watson as he is a proven winner which is what they need in their locker room.

Cleveland would make take two more selections in the first round as they pegged Michigan Wolverines strong safety Jabril Peppers 25th overall and Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku 29th overall. Peppers saw his draft stock fall as the result of a diluted sample at the Scouting Combine, while teams weren’t sure if he is a safety or an outside linebacker. Njoku was arguably the best athlete at the tight end position coming into the draft, but how much of an impact that he can with Cleveland remains to be seen.

After passing up on Watson, the Browns would then take Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round. Kizer had more uncertainty as far as his ability to be a professional quarterback than the three signal callers who were selected in the first round. Kizer is still very raw a passer which includes questions about his pocket awareness and ability to break down pro-style defenses as it appears to be simply another case of goofing up by the Browns.

Caleb Brantley

In the sixth round Cleveland would select Florida Gators defensive tackle Caleb Brantley who saw his draft stock diminish after he was accused of punching a woman last month to the point that the alleged victim required dental work. Brantley had second round potential, but most teams weren’t willing to touch him with a 10-foot pole after the allegations came out against him. The Browns contend that they can still release him based off of potential legal ramifications, but why put your franchise in that position in the first place?

Since the Browns re-entered the National Football League in 1999, they’ve only had two winning seasons. And after the Browns went 1-15 last season, they laid a complete egg at the draft as they will continue to be the whipping boys of the AFC North, along with being the laughing stock of the NFL.

Source: Cfbstats.com

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 4.0

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1. Cleveland Browns-Myles Garrett-Defensive End-Texas A&M

It will be very hard to mess up this selection, but nothing is impossible when it comes to futility for the Cleveland Browns.

2. San Francisco 49ers-Solomon Thomas-Defensive End-Stanford

Offense sells tickets and wins games, but defense wins championships. New 49ers general manager John Lynch is a defensive minded guy and where better for him to find his first draft selection than right up the road at his alma mater.

3. Chicago Bears-Jamal Adams-Strong Safety-LSU

There are several directions in which the Bears can go here, but they need an enforcer in their secondary.

Leonard Fournette

4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Leonard Fournette-Running Back-LSU

The best way for the Jaguars to protect quarterback Blake Bortles is to put more play makers around him, and it starts by improving the running game.

5. Tennessee Titans (via the Los Angeles Rams)-Malik Hooker-Free Safety-Ohio State

With a pair of first round picks at the Tennessee Titans disposal, this is a golden opportunity for them to stockpile play makers.

6. New York Jets-Marshon Lattimore-Cornerback-Ohio State

There are several directions in which the Jets can go here which includes making a trade. However the Jets do need help in their secondary.

7. Los Angeles Chargers-Ryan Ramczyk-Offensive Tackle-Wisconsin

Quarterback Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger and the Chargers must do everything in their power to protect him.

Christian McCaffrey

8. Carolina Panthers-Christian McCaffrey-Running Back-Stanford

For the Carolina Panthers to get back to being a playoff team, they must go back to the basics which means concentrating on their rushing attack.

9. Cincinnati Bengals-Reuben Foster-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

If ever there a was a team who would take a first-round flyer on a guy who failed a drug test, it is the Bengals.

10. Buffalo Bills-Haason Reddick-Outside Linebacker-Temple

The Bills are looking up at the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins in the AFC East who are both loaded at the skill positions on offense which means that they must get more athletic on defense.

11. New Orleans Saints-Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Tennessee

If the Saints take care of their business at the draft which means fixing their defense, they could be a playoff team for the upcoming season.

12. Cleveland Browns (via the Philadelphia Eagles)-Mitch Trubisky-Quarterback-North Carolina

Quarterback Deshaun Watson makes more sense here, but the Browns like Mitch Trubisky.

13. Arizona Cardinals-Mike Williams-Wide Receiver-Clemson

With wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald getting up their in age and the Cardinals second leading pass catcher last season being running back David Johnson, they must improve their vertical offense.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (via the Minnesota Vikings)-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State

Last  year the Eagles got their franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz and this off-season has seen them stockpiling play makers for him to get the football to.

O.J. Howard

15. Indianapolis Colts-O.J. Howard-Tight End-Alabama

The Colts have already traded tight end Dwayne Allen this off-season to the Patriots and they need to get some help on offense for quarterback Andrew Luck.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

Jonathan Allen has the talent to be a top-five pick, but if he falls this far it would be a steal for the Baltimore Ravens.

17. Washington Redskins-Corey Davis-Wide Receiver-Western Michigan

For the second consecutive year the Redskins slapped the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. But after the Redskins let their two top wide receivers leave in free agency, they need to keep Cousins happy.

18. Tennessee Titans-T.J. Watt-Outside Linebacker-Wisconsin

If T.J. Watt is half as good as his older brother in Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the Titans will be a force to be reckoned with for the upcoming NFL season.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan

If the Buccaneers want to be legitimate threat to win the NFC South here in 2017, they are going to have to upgrade their pass rush in a division that is littered with Pro Bowl caliber quarterbacks.

20. Denver Broncos-David Njoku-Tight End-Miami

It’s still unsure whether it will be Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch that will be under center for the Broncos when the season begins, but they need to upgrade the tight end position where they hardly got any production from last year.

21. Detroit Lions-Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri

The Lions only managed to get 26 sacks in 2016 and they still managed to be a playoff team. But that won’t cut it once again.

22. Miami Dolphins-Kevin King-Cornerback-Washington

If the Dolphins want to overtake the Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East, they need to find a way to neutralize all of their talent at the skill positions.

Malik McDowell

23. New York Giants-Malik McDowell-Defensive Tackle-Michigan State

After the Giants lost defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins in free agency to the Colts, this is a no-brainer here.

24. Oakland Raiders-Chidobe Awuzie-Cornerback-Colorado

The Raiders secondary was exposed last season when quarterback Derek Carr suffered a fractured fibula. And if this organization wants to be a legit Super Bowl contender, they are going to have to find a way to slow down opposing offenses via the pass.

25. Houston Texans-Deshaun Watson-Quarterback-Clemson

If the Browns screw it up and pass on Deshaun Watson, the Texans won’t be as foolish.

Garett Bolles

26. Seattle Seahawks-Garett Bolles-Offensive Tackle-Utah

Over the last two years Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 86 times which isn’t going to cut it if they want to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

27- Kansas City Chiefs-John Ross-Wide Receiver-Washington

After hardly getting any production from their wide receivers in 2016, the Chiefs need to get more speed on the outside.

28. Dallas Cowboys-Takkarist McKinley-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

The Cowboys currently possess a Super Bowl offense, but they are lacking play makers on the defensive side of the football.

29. Green Bay Packers-Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama

In the Packers playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons, their secondary had it handed to them which is all that you need to know.

30-Pittsburgh Steelers-Zach Cunningham-Outside Linebacker-Vanderbilt

Zach Cunningham fits the mold of a Steelers linebacker as he possesses size, athleticism, toughness, speed, and a knack for making big plays.

31. Atlanta Falcons-Forrest Lamp-Guard-Western Kentucky

Forrest Lamp gives the Falcons a versatile presence on their offensive line and he’ll be a starter from his first day.

Adoree Jackson

32. New Orleans Saints (via the New England Patriots)-Adoree jackson-Cornerback-USC

A few years from now we could be looking at the trade which sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots as the deal that got the Saints back to the Super Bowl if Adoree Jackson pans out here.

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

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1. Cleveland Browns-Myles Garrett-Defensive End Texas A&M

Entering the 2017 National Football League Draft, Myles Garrett is the best player available which makes this an easy selection for the Browns.

2. San Francisco 49ers-Jonathan Allen-Defensive Tackle-Alabama

The Niners need a quarterback, but they get a value pick in Jonathan Allen while still having the ability to address that issue later in the draft.

3. Chicago Bears-Jamal Adams-Strong Safety-LSU

In a division that features quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, the Bears must get better in their secondary.

Dalvin Cook

4. Jacksonville Jaguars-Dalvin Cook-Running Back-Florida State

As the Jaguars leading rusher last season was T.J. Yeldon with just 465 yards. And with Tom Coughlin entrenched as the Jags executive vice president of football operations, Jacksonville will be a better running team by hook or by crook.

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)-Solomon Thomas-Defensive End-Stanford

The Titans are on the verge of being a playoff team and it’s time to get defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau some more play makers.

6. New York Jets-Marshon Lattimore-Cornerback-Ohio State

The Jets can go in several directions with this selection, but their safest choice could be cornerback.

Jabril Peppers

7. Los Angeles Chargers-Jabril Peppers-Strong Safety-Michigan

Not since the days of Rodney Harrison have the Chargers had an enforcer in their secondary which could change if they draft Jabril Peppers.

8. Carolina Panthers-Leonard Fournette-Running Back-LSU

The Panthers took a huge step backwards in 2016, and in order for them to resemble the team that went 15-1 in 2015, they have to get back to the basics which means a power rushing attack.

9. Cincinnati Bengals-Ryan Ramczyk-Offensive Tackle-Wisconsin

After allowing veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth to leave in free agency, the Bengals need to get more athletic on their offensive line.

10. Buffalo Bills-Marlon Humphrey-Cornerback-Alabama

New Bills head coach Sean McDermott is a defensive minded coach. And after Buffalo allowed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to leave in free agency, this is a chance for them to address that void.

11. New Orleans Saints-Malik Hooker-Free Safety-Ohio State

If the Saints are going to squeeze another title run out of quarterback Drew Brees, they must assemble a defense that can stop opponents.

Deshaun Watson

12. Cleveland Browns (From Philadelphia Eagles)-Deshaun Watson-Quarterback-Clemson

With the luxury of two, first-round picks the Browns can get the best player available along with their franchise quarterback.

13. Arizona Cardinals-Reuben Foster-Inside Linebacker-Alabama

As the Cardinals are looking to bounce back in 2017, the first thing that they need is a leader on the defensive side of the football.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (From Minnesota Vikings)-Derek Barnett-Defensive End-Tennessee

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is working on getting this team back to what it was during the 2000’s which was being a consistent playoff team, and a defensive end like Derek Barnett who can wreak havoc is a step in that direction.

15. Indianapolis Colts-Corey Davis-Wide Receiver-Western Michigan

The Colts have a new general manager in Chris Ballard and it is time for this organization to put more talent around quarterback Andrew Luck.

16. Baltimore Ravens-Zach Cunningham-Outside Linebacker-Vanderbilt

The Ravens have always been an organization that is known for defense and player like Cunningham plays with a nasty disposition.

17. Washington Redskins-Mike Williams-Wide Receiver-Clemson

After the Redskins allowed wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to walk in free agency, this is an opportunity to keep quarterback Kirk Cousins happy.

18. Tennessee Titans-John Ross-Wide Receiver-Washington

The Titans love to run the football and a burner like John Ross could be dangerous off of play action.

Christian McCaffrey

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Christian McCaffrey-Running Back-Stanford

The Buccaneers front office is showing that they are serious as far as putting a team around quarterback Jameis Winston and here they would get one of the best play makers in the draft.

20. Denver Broncos-O.J. Howard-Tight End-Alabama

The Broncos still have questions at the quarterback position, but bringing in a solid pass-catching tight end will benefit whoever is taking the snaps.

21. Detroit Lions-Taco Charlton-Defensive End-Michigan

As a team the Lions only had 26 sacks last year with no player accumulating more than 8 which makes selecting Taco Charlton here a no-brainer.

22. Miami Dolphins-Obi Melifonwu-Strong Safety-Connecticut

As the Dolphins continue to bring in play makers on the defensive side of the football, they’ll be out to show that their playoff run last year wasn’t a fluke.

23. New York Giants-Cam Robinson-Offensive Tackle-Alabama

There are several directions in which the Giants can go here, but it might be time for them to move Ereck Flowers to right tackle.

24. Oakland Raiders-TreDavious White-Cornerback-LSU

When quarterback Derek Carr suffered a fractured fibula last year, the Raiders secondary got exposed when the offense wasn’t putting up 30 points per game anymore.

25. Houston Texans-Forrest Lamp-Guard-Western Kentucky

The Texans already have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and it could get better here by adding Forrest Lamp.

26. Seattle Seahawks-Garrett Bolles-Offensive Tackle-Utah

Last year Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked 41 times and that isn’t going to cut it if Seattle wants to get back to the Super Bowl.

27. Kansas City Chiefs-Curtis Samuel-Wide Receiver-Ohio State

In 2016, the Chiefs didn’t have a wide receiver gain 600 yards as they need explosiveness at the position in order to take some attention off of tight end Travis Kelce.

28. Dallas Cowboys-Charles Harris-Defensive End-Missouri

The Dallas Cowboys have everything on offense to be a Super Bowl contender, but until they can improve their pass rush, it won’t mean a thing.

29. Green Bay Packers-Malik McDowell-Defensive Tackle-Michigan State

In three playoff games last season the Packers surrendered 88 points as quarterback Aaron Rodgers cannot bail them out all of the time.

Tim Williams

30. Pittsburgh Steelers-Tim Williams-Outside Linebacker-Alabama

Tim Williams could be the steal of the first round as he goes to a team in the Steelers that loves to have versatile linebackers.

31. Atlanta Falcons-Takkarist McKinley-Outside Linebacker-UCLA

The Falcons had a solid defense in 2016, but after watching the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51, it is clear that they need more pass rushers.

32. New Orleans Saints (From New England Patriots)-Carl Lawson-Defensive End-Auburn

If the Saints are able to fix their defense, a trip to the postseason is very likely here in 2017.

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Where Did It Go Wrong?

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In 2012, quarterback Robert Griffin III could do no wrong as he was the best thing since sliced bread. Griffin was fresh off of winning the Heisman Trophy at Baylor University and he would be the second overall pick of the National Football League Draft by the Washington Redskins. Griffin would be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year as he helped the Redskins win the NFC East for the first time since 1999 and the sky was the limit for him.

But things changed for Griffin late in the 2012 National Football League season when he suffered a knee injury. Griffin sustained injuries to his ACL and LCL ligaments in his knee, however he would attempt to play through it. Griffin would be under center for the Redskins in the playoffs, but he was merely a shell of the player that lit up the league during the regular season.

Griffin would have off-season knee surgery which would see him miss most of the Redskins organized team activities (OTAs) and this put him behind the curve heading into his season. Griffin didn’t play for the entire preseason, but he was still the Redskins starting quarterback when the regular season rolled around and the time off showed as he struggled with the team’s record being 3-10 in his 13 starts. Griffin would continue to struggle with Washington and when Jay Gruden became the Redskins head coach in 2014, he had seen enough from the former Rookie of the Year as he sent him to the bench. Griffin never even saw the field for the Redskins in 2015 as he wasn’t made inactive by Gruden who made him the third string quarterback.

The Redskins would not pick up Griffin’s option for 2016 which allowed him to be a free agent. And Griffin would find a new home with the Cleveland Browns.

Griffin would be named as the Browns starting quarterback heading into this season, but things didn’t start on the right foot for him when he suffered a shoulder injury in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin would miss the next 11 games, and even when he returned to the Browns, it was still a train wreck.

In five starts for the Browns, Griffin was 1-4 as a starter with his victory accounting for the team’s only win this season. Griffin completed 59.2% of his passes while only throwing a pair of touchdown passes. And as the Browns finished with the worst record in the National Football League, you have to wonder where things went wrong for Griffin.

Griffin has fallen into the same category that many quarterbacks who were products of the spread offense in college had to deal with upon joining the National Football League. In college Griffin was an athlete at the quarterback position who’s talent could mask his flaws. And if Griffin didn’t see something, he could improvise. However in the NFL, things are different as a quarterback must make plays from the pocket, while also having the ability to read multiple options in the passing game. For Griffin he has never been able to do that and subsequently he appears to have lost his confidence. Griffin joined the Browns who are led by head coach Hue Jackson who is one of the best quarterback gurus in the NFL. However the stench of the Browns was simply too much for either man to overcome this season. Griffin wants to return to the Browns next season, but the reality for him is whether or not that he’ll be able to take the next step.

In watching Griffin play he is not sure of himself which is never good for an athlete that is seeking to compete at the highest level. And once you factor in that Griffin did not play on a talented team this year, it only makes a bad situation worse. Jackson is a guy that has the ability to make Griffin get back to the basics, but he needs to be on a team that is committed to winning which is something that he won’t find with the Browns. Playing football is something that should be fun and that hasn’t been the case for Griffin since 2012. And if Griffin cannot regain the form that made him “RGIII”, his time in the National Football League could be coming to an end very soon.

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2016 Week 14 NFL Picks

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Quarterback Dak Prescott has the Dallas Cowboys on the verge of an NFC East Title?

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Rock Bottom

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It’s hard to believe that the Cleveland Browns were once the class of the National Football League. Including the Browns time in the All-American Conference, they played in a championship game in each year from 1946-1955, while they were also one of the better teams in the NFL in the 1960’s. The Browns were also a perennial playoff team in the 1980’s before things came to a screeching halt in the mid-1990’s when former team owner Art Modell decided to move the team to Baltimore, Maryland. Modell had to leave behind the team history of the Browns as his team became the Baltimore Ravens. The City of Cleveland did not have an NFL franchise from 1996-1998, but they would receive an expansion team in 1999 as they were the “new” Browns. However the Browns reincarnation into the NFL has been less than stellar.

Since 1999, the Browns have only been able to produce one trip to the postseason and two winning seasons. The Browns last winning season came in 2007, while all but one year since then has seen them lost at least 11 games. Upon returning to the National Football League, the Browns have had three different owners, eight general managers, nine head coaches, and a whopping 26 different starting quarterbacks which gives you a clear understanding in regards to their futility. Hue Jackson is the latest man to have his chance to be the Browns head coach, and he could not have envisioned how 2016 would unfold for him.

As bad as the Browns have been since returning to the National Football League, 2016 is as bad as it has been. Through 12 games the Browns are without a victory, and they are flirting with being the first team since the 2008 Detroit Lions to go an entire season without winning a game. The Browns were competitive in the first half of the season as they lost four games by five points or less. But since the calendar has shifted to November, the level of competition has improved as the Dallas Cowboys, Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants have all taken turns having their way with the Browns. Cleveland has lost their last four games by at least 14 points with this past Sunday’s home loss to the Giants sounding more like MetLife Stadium as it is difficult for a fan to stay loyal to this team.

Jackson began his tenure with the Browns by trading the second overall pick of the 2016 National Football League Draft to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns decided on trading this selection due to the fact that they weren’t sold on picking either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz who were the top two quarterback prospects in the draft. The Browns would continue wheeling and dealing as they moved out of the eighth overall selection after they made a deal with the Tennessee Titans. The Browns would not make a selection until midway through the first round when they tabbed wide receiver Corey Coleman, but they did succeed in obtaining multiple draft picks, which also includes multiple selections in the first, three rounds of next year’s draft. Jackson went for depth and future options for the Browns instead of opting for an immediate impact player. And although that the Browns have potential on their young squad as Jackson has attempted to change the culture in Cleveland, they still don’t know how to win.

This is best summed up by the fact that the Browns have been outscored in the second half by their opponents this season 180-67. The Browns have also squandered a pair of fourth quarter leads as they have become the poster boys for ineptitude.

In spite of the fact that the Browns have not won a game while using four different quarterbacks, they are 16th in the National Football League in total offense which is primarily due to the fact that they are attempting to pad their stats when the final outcome has already been decided.

Robert Griffin III

Heading into this season Jackson announced that Robert Griffin III would be the Browns starting quarterback, but he hasn’t seen the field since the first game of the season after he suffered a shoulder injury. It was then up to veteran quarterback Josh McCown to lead the way for the Browns, but like Griffin, he suffered a shoulder injury which put him on the sideline. Jackson would then rely on a pair of rookie quarterbacks in Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan. In eight starts for the Browns, Kessler did show potential as he has completed 65.6% of his passes, but he took a beating in the process as a concussion currently has him out of action.

Going forward it will be important to provide some protection for Kessler as he appears to be their future at quarterback, while they have hit on converting Terrelle Pryor Sr., from a quarterback to a wide receiver as he provides some explosion for them at the position as he so far has 62 receptions for 855 yards and 4 touchdown grabs.

The Browns are last in the National Football League in total defense, while they are also minus-9 in the turnover margin as they don’t have any play makers on that side of the football which reflects in their record. And even though that the Browns did acquire outside linebacker Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots earlier this season, it is highly unlikely that he’ll re-sign there when he becomes a free agent in March as he’ll more than likely opt for collecting a paycheck from a team that will give him a chance to win.

The Browns enter this week guaranteed of not losing this Sunday due to the fact that it is their bye week. And with just four games left for Cleveland here in 2016, their best chance to win a game will come in Week 14 when they host the Cincinnati Bengals who are currently an injury riddled team.

Jimmy Haslam

But the off-season will be very important for the Browns as owner Jimmy Haslam must decide if Jackson is the right guy to run his team going forward. This season has been a struggle for Jackson, but Haslam cannot afford to start over again as the organization is already on their fifth different head coach since 2009. And to give you an idea of how astonishing that this fact is, only the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills have made as many head coaching changes since then which is illustrated by none of these teams making the postseason over this stretch; although the Bills and Raiders are in contention this year.

Hue Jackson

The Browns must give Jackson an opportunity to develop his young players as the issues within this organization are bigger than him which is reflected in their record since 1999. The Browns must decide if Kessler is their long-term answer at quarterback, while also hitting on all of their draft picks in 2017 if they want any shot at turning things. But this is the elephant in the room for the Browns as they’ve been two years from being two years away since returning to the National Football League. And at this point the only way that you know the Browns are even in the NFL is when the draft rolls around, or when the league force feeds Thursday Night Football down our throats with their mandatory participation for each team.

But for now the paper bags are out in Cleveland in droves for anyone who still thinks that it is important to show up for a Browns home game as this organization still hasn’t figured it out. And as bad as it seems, it cannot get that much worse for the Browns than it already is.

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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2016 Week 7 NFL Picks

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Will the secondary of the Los Angeles Rams have an answer for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this Sunday in London?

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Rewriting The Book On Futility

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Believe it or not there was a time when the Cleveland Browns were the envy of the National Football League. The Browns began in the All-American Football Conference in 1946 before both leagues merged in 1950. In the Browns first ten years of existence, they played in ten title games which saw them win the AAFC Title four times, and the NFL Championship on three occasions. What helped the Browns was their leadership at the two important positions on the field as they were coached by Paul Brown and Otto Graham was their quarterback. It also didn’t hurt that the Browns also had future Hall of Famers such as running back Jim Brown and offensive lineman Lou Groza suiting up for them then as they were very close to unstoppable.

But the beginning of the end for the Browns came on January 7, 1963 when team owner Art Modell fired Brown was the only head coach in the history of the franchise. In 13 seasons with Cleveland, Brown compiled a record of 111-44-5 which is still the gold standard for the franchise. But the egos of Modell and Brown could not co-exist anymore which led to the messy departure. Under the guidance of head coach Blanton Collier, the Browns would win the National Football League Championship in 1964, but they would soon begin a slow and painful journey into futility.

Jim Brown would abruptly retire in 1965 at the age of 29 after just nine years in the National Football League. The Browns would still put forth quality teams that featured the likes of running back Leroy Kelly, but they could never get over the hump in the NFL during the late 1960’s against the contenders such as the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. And when the NFL merged with the American Football League in 1970, the Browns were placed in the AFC Central Division as they would face none other than Paul Brown who was now the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

After a pair of playoff appearances in 1971 and 1972, it would be a downward spiral the Browns for the remainder of the 1970’s before they won the AFC Central in 1980. But to this day Browns fans will be haunted by “Red Right 88” which was the play that was called when Cleveland quarterback Brian Sipe threw an interception that secured the team’s 14-12 loss to the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. The Browns would suffer more playoff heartache during the 1980’s as they were done in throughout the decade by the likes of the Denver Broncos and their quarterback John Elway who beat three times.

But the Browns death blow would come on November 6, 1995 when Modell decided to move the organization from Cleveland to Baltimore after he was unable to secure the new stadium that he was seeking. Modell’s decision caused a huge uproar as he became the most hated man in Cleveland. And following the Browns final game of the 1995 National Football League season which was a 24-21 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it marked the end of an era as Cleveland would not get a new franchise until 1999.

However as the folks in Cleveland were happy to welcome the new Browns, the results have been putrid to say the least. Since 1999, the Browns have only had two winning seasons, while becoming the laughing stock of the National Football League. Upon returning to the NFL, the Browns have had three different owners, seven team presidents, eight general managers, nine head coaches, and a whopping 26 different starting quarterbacks.

Hue Jackson

The Browns began the current National Football League season with a new team president in Paul DePodesta, general manager in Sashi Brown, head coach Hue Jackson, and starting quarterback in Robert Griffin III. But unfortunately for the Browns they are nowhere close to being a contender.

Through two games here in 2016, the Browns are a train wreck waiting to happen. In Week 1, the Browns were throttled by the Philadelphia Eagles 29-10. In the contest Griffin would suffer a fractured shoulder that would see him placed on injured reserve, while the Browns defense wouldn’t have an answer for Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz who was 22-of-37 passing for 278 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

This past Sunday, the Browns would jump out to a 20-point, first quarter lead on the Baltimore Ravens (the original Browns), and it appeared that Cleveland was on their way to the upset victory. But on the ensuing extra point by the Browns following their third touchdown of the game, the kick was blocked by the Ravens and rookie cornerback Tavon Young who returned it for two points for Baltimore. The Ravens would shut down the Browns offense for the rest of the afternoon, while they would steadily chip away at the Cleveland lead. And when it was all said and done the Ravens would defeat the Browns by the score of 25-20 as another vintage dose of Cleveland futility was complete.

The Browns are preparing to face the Miami Dolphins this Sunday in a battle of 0-2 teams, but you wouldn’t know that as Miami is favored by 9.5 points. The Browns being 9.5-point underdogs sums up their season along with the expectations around them as they might as well begin preparing National Football League’s Scouting Combine in February as the draft cannot get here quick enough for them.

Cody Kessler

The Browns lost Griffin in Week 1, and his replacement at quarterback in Josh McCown suffered a shoulder injury during Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. Now the Browns will turn to rookie quarterback Cody Kessler as the revolving door at the most important position on the football field continues.

So far Jackson appears to be the right guy for the Browns, but he needs time as this isn’t a problem that can be easily fixed. The Browns are in need of a culture change that is going to take some time as they must find a way to contend with the Ravens, Bengals, and Pittsburgh Steelers who have all taken turns using Cleveland as whipping boys in the AFC North. Through various trades the Browns had 13 draft picks during this year’s National Football League Draft as Jackson is seeking to build depth, while also finding players that fit into his system. But hopefully Jackson has the opportunity to see things through for an organization that hasn’t had a good history recently of being patient.

Of the Browns nine head coaches since returning to the National Football League in 1999, no coach has lasted more than four years, while the last four coaches haven’t gotten more than two years. It hasn’t been that much better for the Browns when it comes to drafting either as only four of their ten, first-round picks this decade are still on the roster. And it’s not getting any better for the Browns as wide receiver Corey Coleman who was their first-round pick this year is out for the next four-six weeks with a fracture in his hand.

Things will keep getting worse for the Browns as they’ll host the New England Patriots in Week 5 in what will be the first game of the season for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady following his four-game suspension for “Deflategate” and you can expect him to have a point to prove. The Browns still have five divisional games on the slate and it isn’t looking good for them as the Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals all look poised to make a run towards the postseason while making Cleveland the unofficial “homecoming game” for the division.

At some point the Browns will have to find a winning formula, but in the meantime they are just three years away from being three years away.

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

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