2015 Offseason Review Series: Day 2 (Cleveland Browns)
Division: AFC North
I don't think I need to pontificate too long one where the Cleveland Browns stand coming out of 2014. The Browns hit a promising 7-4 record after week 12, in spite of key injuries to Alex Mack and Jordan Cameron, with Josh Gordon suspended, and well-hyped rookie QB Johnny Manziel sitting on the bench. Most seasons, this would be considered a success of the new coaching staff and front office, and a sign that maybe the team was heading in the right direction for the first time in the Jimmy Haslam era, but things ended in a complete trainwreck by most accords: hometown hero QB Brian Hoyer wasn't playing up to snuff and would be benched for Manziel, who actually played worse. The lack of depth and internal drama within the coaching staff and front office became the headlines, and to make matters worse, Manziel would manage to find himself injured only 7 quarters into his football career during the Week 16 encounter against the Panthers. Cleveland slammed the brakes hard and ended with a 7-9 record, with more questions than answers about the state of the team and the front office than ever. Hell, for most of this offseason, people have genuinely been wondering if Cleveland wasn't going to go out of its way to draft a replacement QB for Johnny Manziel, who barely played 2 games. If that doesn't tell you all you need to know how rough this season ended… Having lived through awful regime after awful regime in the ownership (Randy "Aston Villa Enthusiast" Lerner), front office (Phil "How Much Can We Trade To Dallas" Savage, Carmen "Can't Wait to Go Back to Cali" Policy, and Mike "Worst Draft Gambler Of All Time" Holmgren), and the coaching staff (Butch "Arrogant Fuck" Davis, Romeo "Carl Winslow" Crennel, Eric "Mangina" Mangini, and Pat "Incompetent Shitbrick" Shurmur), all I'm hoping to get coming out of this offseason is a sign that things are on the right path for the first time in a while, and they may just be.
January 8, 2015: Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan leaves the Cleveland Browns after disagreements with the front office.
January 9, 2015: QB’s coach Dowell Loggains is fired.
January 15, 2015: WR’s coach Mike McDaniel leaves the Browns in a mutual end.
January 21, 2015: The Browns hire John DeFilippo as the new Offensive Coordinator from Oakland.
January 28, 2015: The Browns hire Joker Phillips as the new WR coach, his first stint coaching in the NFL.
January 31, 2015: The Browns hire Kevin O’Connell as the new QB coach, his first stint coaching in the NFL
So the Browns had a busy January. >_> The issues with Kyle Shanahan and the Cleveland Browns became so prevalent near the end of his run that they nearly eclipsed the Manziel discussion (at least locally) during the 5-game losing streak to end the 2014 campaign. He clearly didn’t see what the front office saw in Johnny Manziel and there was a lack in synergy between him, Mike Pettine, and the decision makers. It was also clear that Dowell Loggains might have been a contributor to the problems, stemming all the way back to draft night rumors that he’d been texting Johnny Manziel about “wrecking this league”. The move was inevitable, but all things considered, the Browns went from young offensive minds to more young offensive minds in their replacements. While losing Shanahan’s “prodigal” offensive coaching ability hurt, gaining John DeFilippo, who had been instrumental in working with a young Mark Sanchez in his best season and seemed to have a positive early influence on Derek Carr, certainly softened the blow. DeFilippo fits with what Pettine wants in hard-nosed guys, and hopefully will be a catalyst towards some change on and off the field with this group. Adding Joker Phillips, who is seemingly eternally better suited as a coordinator, and Kevin O’Connell, who seems to be exclusively working to find young talent a QB, might have a set-up in Cleveland made for beyond 2016. It's not a sexy group of coaches, but they will be capable; inexperienced nevertheless, but still capable.
Coming off a mass coaching exodus on the offensive side of the ball, it's no surprise a lot of change in on-field personnel was coming this offseason as well:
Major Losses: Brian Hoyer, Jordan Cameron, Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, Buster Skrine When you’re losing 5 freaking starters from 2014, it’s never a good thing. Brian Hoyer may have completely fallen apart in the second half of last season, but it’s become more and more difficult to determine where it was lost; was it coaching? Did Hoyer just go cold or was he never that good to begin with? Were we in love with the idea of him more than what he really was; a hometown boy who was peaking too quickly? Any way you dice it, after a dismal finish, Hoyer left, hopeful for greener pastures in Houston. When Hoyer had a healthy offensive line and was on point, he wasn't setting the world on fire, but looked capable enough to work as a system QB. Maybe he'll never go on to be more than a backup in the longer term, but with what limited time he had, Brian Hoyer, in spite of a 19-19 TD/INT line, was 10-6 as a starter, which by most counts is a playoff team. I don't think anyone wishes him ill, we just wish he'd been more 2013 Brian Hoyer. He would be followed out after a, frankly, confusing free agency mess over Pro Bowl TE Jordan Cameron, which involved Charles Clay ending up in Buffalo and Cameron turning around after an offer from Cleveland and signing with Miami the same day. I heard this entirely play out on the radio as our hosts seemed to have less of a clue than I did as to what was going on. Any way you dice it, Cameron's venture out to free agency was not a graceful exit, but Cameron was an excellent athletic target when he was healthy. He removes a big piece from the passing game and if Miami can tap into him and keep him on the field, he can be a top-tier TE. On the other side of the ball, some would argue that Ahtyba Rubin became disposable after a somewhat pedestrian 2014, only logging 28 tackles on what was considered a significantly poor defensive line, but Rubin was a leader on defense since 2008. The same could be said about Jabaal Sheard, who slipped a bit in production last year but was locked into an odd spot between Krueger and Mingo in the pass rush, is only 26 years old, and still has potential for success in New England; and the fact that he was rather active with the Cleveland fan base only makes it a tougher. Buster Skrine at any given time was the most beloved and most reviled CB in Cleveland Browns history, but he earned his keep in 2014 with a strong campaign in spite of young challengers at CB behind him. Minor losses: Jim Leonard, Spencer Lanning More than anything, Jim Leonard was a good dude, who was an impactful player on special teams, with a wealth of knowledge for younger players. But retirement comes to all. There are still some great veterans on this squad, but at the end of the day, solid support from well vested veterans does matter. I'll miss you forever, Spencer Lanning.
Texans, Bills, Browns, fuck, maybe Argonauts?
Major Additons: Tramon Williams, Randy Starks, Brian Hartline, Dwayne Bowe The Browns were sitting on a ton of draft picks and still had a lot of talent (when that talent decided to play...looking at you Justin Gilbert) from last year's draft. They needed to get younger while providing leadership on defense, and that's what two of these signings did. The other two were simply pick-ups that were by utter necessity. But there was still cap space to be shed by the Browns, and although they approached FA lightly (so as to accumulate compensatory picks in 2016) Tramon Williams got himself $21 million because if you're a CB, Mike Pettine wants you on his team. I believe we currently have brought 94 CB's to camp this year. But beyond Pettine's depth-in-the-secondary fetish, Williams is a solid cover-man who can help alongside Joe Haden to add veteran leadership to the motley crue of CB's. Yes, he's 32, and he did get a bit big of a pay-day, but at this point, if you want Pierre Desir, Justin Gilbert, and Ka'Waun Williams to reach their potential (that's not even counting the other 2 freaking CB's we drafted), you need more than Haden to get them there with Skrine departing. In the same vein, Randy Starks. Starks isn't going to set the world on fire on that defensive line, but he will likely not be asked to be the anchor with some other additions this offseason in the draft, and can provide guidance to the young players on a defensive line that was frankly...well, shit, and has been shit for any number of reasons for several years. Be it the health of the team or the lack of talent, stopping the run was a key point from this offseason, and the Browns actually took action to fix it. Rounding out the big pieces on the FA class, your 2011 fantasy WRs! Neither Dwayne Bowe nor Brian Hartline has been anything more than above-average in their long-term careers, and there's any number of things you could blame that on; poor QB's, poor coaching staffs and offensive schemes, or their own limited ability as WR’s, but both bring one thing Cleveland lacks; veteran targets. With the departure of Miles Austin and...well, something else we'll get to shortly, the Browns have no weapons for whoever ends up throwing the damn ball aside from slot guys like Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel. Even if the Browns get very little in the long term from either guy, they are going to be the Browns' receiving corps in 2015; and both have plenty to prove. Minor Additions: Josh McCown, Rob Housler, Andy Lee Let's be clear: the signing of Josh "It's Josh Fucking McCown, Do We Even Need a Nickname?" McCown was not because the Browns thought he was some incredible QB who could be the answer. He's 34, he's coming off an awful season, and I think we all know the McCown "career backup" legacy he and his brother Luke have created. Honestly, McCown is here to be a quiet backup. Although he may be called on to start a bit this season, he's not here to be the long-term QB. The Browns fielded him a bit extra money because of the cap room, but he's here as a very, very short bridge to either seeing what we have in Johnny Manziel or "Cardared Hackookiel" next year. And that's fine. I'm not a huge fan of it on the whole, but in that sense, it at least is rooted in some reason. Another injury-bugged TE in Rob Housler, Housler at least offers some hope of finding a target at the position for a team that lacks it. And he's only 27; he's still got a little time to get it right. The trade to the 49ers was an odd one (mainly because if I wanted a special teams player from San Francisco, it would be PHIL WE MISS YOU) but Andy Lee is a damn good punter who will do one thing; facilitate the defense. If the offense is struggling as it seems they may, Lee should be able to pin the opposing team deep in their own territory to allow the defense to try and make them make mistakes.
...wait, there was supposed to be an angry rant here. Where'd I put that? ....no. No fucking way. The Browns didn't completely muck up this draft?
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The main commitment from the Browns this year was to fix the run D, and Feast Mode is here to do just that. Shelton is a big, BIG boy at 339lbs, and although most expect him to be a 2-down player, he's an animated, deceptively quick anchor NT who happened to do his workouts for the draft in a fucking lava lava. He then won the hearts of America when he attempted to hit Goodell with the belly-to-belly suplex. We already love this dude, his story is incredible, and I hope he becomes a fixture on the defensive line for years, maybe even as a 3-down player if his weight keeps in check. It's high time we got the D-Line right in the long term.
Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
In the bar I was sitting in watching on draft night, almost everyone walked out when the Browns passed on Breshad Perriman. Perriman may turn out to be a fantastic WR, but this pick was honestly way smarter than Farmer's gotten credit for: One, it provides a safety net for if Alex Mack opts to leave Cleveland after this offseason, as Erving was a more than capable C at FSU. Two, it pushes Mitchell Schwartz and John "Get Pushed Back Seven Yards Every Play" Greco into competition on the right side of the line. If you aren't elite, shoring up the lines is never a bad idea, and this was an investment with not just 2015 but 2016 and beyond in mind. That's something you don't see in Cleveland often.
Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah
A theme of this draft was "Let's pass on Jaelen Strong and make JohnnyFire angry", but we made up for that getting a guy who was just an awesome fit. Orchard may have been a bit of a "one-year sensation", but he also fits exactly the character and play style that Pettine is looking for in the pass rush and will quickly make up for the loss of Jabaal Sheard, as well as pushing Mingo and Kruger to keep up. This seemed so obvious even dumb me was able to predict it on the /Browns contest this year.
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
At this point in the draft I'd accepted the Browns were just not going to take a WR, especially since now all of the ones with any hype (aside from Sammie Coates) were well off the board. That said, Duke Johnson possess speed that Terrance "Instagram Failure" West lacks and escapability that Isaiah "Lunchables Enthusiast" Crowell lacks, and he can catch passes. Yes, the Browns maybe didn't need Duke Johnson, but who cares; if there's a special player available as the BPA, you get him, and if Johnson lives up to his potential, he could be a huge get for the Browns.
Xavier Cooper, DL, Washington State
Much was made post-draft of how heavily the Browns scouted the Pac-12, and this is true when they garnered (to some) the best two D-Line prospects in the conference. Cooper actually fits a bit more of the mold of Randy Starks, and although he is a raw talent, he'll have a great mentor and get time to develop. To sneak up and grab a second highly-touted piece to stop the run and improve the Front 7 was incredibly solid of this FO.
Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern
Oh hey, the guy I always grabbed using the First-Pick simulator to bump up my final score in the 4th round! Truth is that Donte Whitner isn't going to be around forever, and Campbell was a strong S prospect (albeit in a weak class) that could learn well from the veteran, and will contribute heavily on special teams with the loss of Jim Leonard.
Vince Mayle, WR, Washington State
Okay, Farmer, let's talk a moment. I love what you did with this draft. I really do. But this is the first WR you opt to take? Yeah, Mayle has prototypical size, and yeah, he could certainly be molded into a solid weapon due to his raw athleticism. But in order to get to this point, you left on the board Devante Parker, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett, Devin Smith, Dorial Green Beckham, Devin Funchess, Tyler Lockett, Jaelen Strong, Chris Conley, Sammie Coates, Ty Montgomery, Jamison Crowder and Justin Hardy. Many of those guys I honestly didn't even want, but this pick sadly reeked of just being too-little-too-late. But I'm gonna root for Super Smash Bros. Mayle and hope he develops quickly.
Charles Gaines, CB, Louisville
Mike Pettine has a fetish for CB’s, we know this. Gaines lacks a lot in size, and that's the main thing that kept him from getting over the hump, but working in the slot and using his speed, he could be beyond just a depth or special teams guy when called upon. An okay depth move all things considered.
Malcolm Johnson, TE/HB, Mississippi State
With the Browns going run-first in 2015, you need to get someone who can work better as a FB than...god, I can't even make a joke here because I can't remember the name of a Browns FB to save my life. Johnson will probably end up being asked to be an H-Back TE who could slot in at FB and help open lanes, or push forward.
Randall Tefler, TE, USC
Another Pac-12 find. I wasn't a huge fan on many TE's in the draft class, although I would've liked to see the Browns make an effort to get someone more dynamic. That said, Tefler is a solid blocker who will likely be used to add depth/replace Gary Barnidge or Jim "Forgot About" Dray in the blocker TE role. If nothing else, a low-risk depth move.
Hayes Pullard, ILB, USC
A very patient player who seemed to lack the killer instinct that other ILB prospects showed on the field, Pullard this late was a decent pick-up. He'll have a good mentor in Dansby and he can function well as a role-player and special teams guy.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
I was actually watching the pre-Kentucky Derby at a casino in Cleveland when this pick was made, and there was an audible "HOLY CRAP!" from so many people around when the pick was finalized. There will be a lot asked for Captain IEO (He needs to moonwalk for his touchdown pick-6 return celebrations while "Another Part of Me" plays, real talk.) to get back to full strength in 2016, but if Ifo manages to get back to there and meets his expectations, this secondary could be fucking insane. Haden, Williams, a ton of young talent, and a guy who would've been a first round pick if he'd come out one year earlier. There was no risk in this; this late in the draft, see if you can't find your next Richard Sherman.
The main thing we didn't touch in this draft was WR, and yes, that list from earlier is true. I would've liked to see us add a pure WR1 here, but the commitment was clearly to round out this defense, which is exactly what the FO did. It was almost refreshing; a draft that wasn't going for splash players, but was made as honest-to-god building blocks for 4-5 years down the line. Using foresight in a Cleveland Browns draft, who'd have thought that was fucking possible? Note: I also did a defending the draft piece which sums up most of what I said. Check out the whole series over at /NFL_Draft.
Other Offseason News That Affected The Team
Johnny Rehab: Johnny Manziel basically hit the wall, and hit it hard, starting with a party on the Friday night before the season ending game in Baltimore, which resulted in a ton of drama and punishments for multiple members of the team. After every hot take that could ever be made about Manziel's ability to succeed and his potential dependency on the party life, Manziel finally checked into rehab on February 4th. I'm not sure where Manziel goes from this, honestly. Since his check out from rehab, he did have what seemed like a majonon-incident at a golf course, but he also left his party-enabling lavish apartment at "The 9" downtown to move to the suburbs, dropped the "Johnny Football" moniker, and by most accounts seems to be working his ass off after a first season that went absolutely off the rails. The Browns have dug themselves into a Manziel shaped hole, and 2015 is going to either tell us if Manziel can dig his own way out, both on and off the field, or just keep digging deeper until the Browns have to give up and try again in 2016. We'll see.
Text-gate-gate: Ray Farmer will be suspended for the first 4 games for sending texts down to the field discussing play calls. I'm conflicted, because it feels like Farmer is a good guy with an eye for late-round talent and UDFA's, who was jerked around in 2014 by Old Man Haslam. Was he doing Haslam’s stooge work here, or was he just passionate about righting the ship? Just...Ray, I like you for the most part. Please just stay out of trouble for 2015. I don't wanna turn over this organization yet.
Josh Gordon Suspended...Again: ..........sigh. Josh Gordon gets caught drinking on a plane after the regular season had ended during a trip to Vegas and gets tested upon landing. He didn't know he couldn't drink until the end of the entire season, and writes a passive aggressive letter about how he doesn't have a substance abuse problem and the entire team starts getting fingers pointed at, even drawing "Uncle" Phil Taylor into a response. Whether you think Gordon is an addict or not, it doesn't matter; he's been through the ringer and still doesn't fucking know better. If he's back in 2016 and can keep his moronic ass on the field, fantastic, because the Browns need him, but if not, this might be the end. Inevitably, he'll go win a Super Bowl somewhere else, we know this. But if you're trying to change the culture, you can't let this guy fuck up again, and they did. This many chances to play in the rules of the system he backed into on his own accord, it's frustrating to watch. He's got Megatron-level talent but his biggest enemy seems to be himself.
The new Browns, Same As the Old Browns: This year was Nike's rebranding for Cleveland, and things did not start well with the new logo, which was the same logo with a brighter gradient in spite of media hype and some internal push for how exciting the rebrand would be. It resulted in an insane amount of mockery early on as a result. Although the "brown was unchanged", the uniforms were not, and although the damn stripe that cuts off just before the shoulder pisses me off, they've grown on me a bit, so kudos on that much. Hopefully this is a catalyst to the culture change that front offices and fans in Cleveland have been dying for.
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Josh McCown, followed by Johnny Manziel - Kind of hilarious that every pundit is suggesting that Josh McCown is being asked to be the long term starter for Cleveland as a 34 year old career backup, but I have a feeling that he'll be starting off the season. But at the end of the day, it's all down to Manziel to play this season. You must see what we have in this kid and take the good and the bad, because learning you have nothing is better than blindly hoping you have something. Or McCown. RB: Duke Johnson - If you read into camp, Duke Johnson has been playing his dick off. I think that the RB1 role is going to be fluid with Crow and West, but Duke's pass-catching ability might move him into a prominent role faster than expected. FB: Malcolm Johnson - We’ve got nobody else. WR1: Dwayne Bowe - Bowe is the closest thing on this team to being a pure WR1 right now in the absence of veteran help or a true star, so he'll have this role. WR2: Brian Hartline - Hartline worked well as a WR2 in Miami and he'll be called upon to be more of the same here. I expect Vince Mayle to be waiting in the wings. Slot WR: Andrew Hawkins - After getting a...well, absurd contract in the steal from Cincinnati in 2014, Hawkins lived up to what was needed in the absence of big-bodied WR's in 2014 and should continue that trend. Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin will be waiting. TE: Rob Housler - This is honestly the biggest toss-up coming out of camp stories, because we don't know if Housler can truly make the jump this year. But I'd venture that Housler will be the top option with Barnidge getting some other opportunities and TefleDray getting blocking reps. LT: Joe Thomas - ...duh. LG: Joel Bittonio - ...yawn. C: Alex Mack - ...zzz. RG: Cameron Erving - Erving has been exponentially better as an inside lineman. I figure he will be moved between RG and RT as needed to see what sets work best with Greco and Schwartz, but I think he is ultimately an upgrade over Greco. His next best option would be to be at RT, and to move Schwartz into the RG role. RT: Mitchell Schwartz - I believe this is his contract year, so he'll have a lot to prove either here or at RG, that he’s beyond his 5th round evaluation.
LDE: Desmond Bryant - Desmond played a tough 2014 campaign, and although Cooper will probably push him for this spot (along with Armonty Bryant), I think Desmond will have it locked down to start. NT: Danny Shelton - Feast Mode is having a luau. RDE: Randy Starks - Veteran presence wins out. Xavier Cooper might see some play time, but I don't see him completely lapping Starks. Expect Phil Taylor to also be in the mix here, if not at NT. LOLB: Barkevious Mingo - Yes, a baby did eat my Mingo. Hopefully he can continue his progress into this season, because he needs to with Orchard nipping. LILB: Karlos Dansby - A veteran leader coming off injury who should continue to be a spark in the LB corps. RILB: Craig Robertson - I'd like to see Robertson make a stronger push this season into becoming a more well-rounded open-field defender, but he’ll do for now. ROLB: Paul "T-1000" Kruger - THOSE EYES CB1: Joe Haden - Haden's emergence as a leader and great talent at the CB position locks him in. CB2: Tramon Williams - Tramon is going to have to battle to keep this all year; you've got a hungry bunch behind him in Gilbert/Williams/DesiGaines. FS: Tashaun Gipson - Beyond the contract struggle, Gipson has been rock solid at the FS position lately and hopefully continues his progression. SS: Donte Whitner - Twitter Troll Supreme
P: Andy Lee - Put 'em on the 1 yard line, Andy. K: Not Billy Cundiff - At this point, fucking anybody. If I had to watch Billy Cundiff botch one more close distance FG I was going to lose my fucking mind. KR: Marlon Moore - Moore's role on this team is pretty much exclusively this, but Duke Johnson and Travis Benjamin will likely challenge him. I hope Benjamin can turn back the clock and get his KR status back to the shape it once was.
Position Group Strengths and Weaknesses
Manziel is still young. McCown won't do anything too stupid.
Manziel is still a rookie. McCown won't do anything too smart.
Depth. Three dynamic backs bringing something different to the table with each.
Lack of experience; two sophomores and a rookie.
Lots of guys with a lot to prove.
That proof needs to come fast: no proven talent, no proven game-changers, no proven big-bodied true WR1.
Depth has been added, the left side is fucking impeccable, could be a top 10 line this year if all are healthy.
The weakest point (Mitchell Schwartz) will be pretty weak comparatively.
Heavy investment in developing the Lake Erie Buffet Line with Starks, Shelton, and Cooper.
A few odd-men out in the rotation, need to get Shelton to speed quick.
Strong veteran presence, Mingo getting better.
But if the pass rush does improve, is it time to revamp again?
Deep as fuck, young, two strong starters and solid nickel options.
I still wouldn't want to run sets with Haden not on the field; where does Gilbert fit?
We don't have Billy Cundiff anymore.
Our kicker is not Phil Dawson.
Training Camp Battles to Watch
QB - Manziel vs McCown: The obvious answer here. Will Manziel make enough progress to wrestle away the starting job from McCown before we need to go with McCown being forced into high-pressure situations? COULD CONNOR SHAW EMERGE AND DESTROY SOME WORLDS AND SHOCK EVERYONE?! RB - Johnson vs West vs Crowell: Early line says Crowell will be the starter because he appears the most well rounded; West has a plow-forward play style that might be in better shape with the healthy offensive line; Johnson is a dynamic pass-catching back with elusiveness. I'm with the Duke, and all 3 should get touches, but who knows? TE - Housler vs Barnidge: This is the closest thing to competition in the receiving corps we'll have due to proven talent ahead at everything else. I think Housler locks it down but both should find playing time. RT/RG - Greco vs Schwartz vs Erving: How this eventually plays out should be interesting to watch; it's going to come down to whatever two make the most sense opening up on the line. For me, it's Erving at RG and Schwartz at RT, but it all depends. DE - Bryant vs Starks vs Cooper vs Taylor vs A. Bryant: With Armonty Bryant and Uncle Phil healthy, there could be serious competition for the ends this year; Cooper and Taylor have to fit somewhere, and Armonty played his ass off in limited time in 2014. CB2 - Tramon Williams vs The field: Can Justin Gilbert step up and take away the CB2 role from the veteran? Can a Ka'Waun Williams jump into the lead role, or even Pierre Desir? Is Charles Gaines capable enough to tap into finesse and take the spot?
Let's Talk Schemes, With JohnnyFire, Who Doesn't Know How Schemes Work For Shit
This was an optional point of the review, but hey, lemme attempt to work it out. Offensive scheme: In case it wasn't obvious, with the offensive line shoring and the addition of another talented RB, the Browns are going to be working a run-first offense. Everything will be going through the ground game, meaning the interior of the line will be called on to open up big run lanes early. It also means that we're not going to be gunslinging, least of all with McCown in there. The short passing game and smart out-routes will likely be the staples for this offense until we get another weapon in 2016, so I expect Hawkins (and Johnson as an option) to get tons of looks. Long term, it’s also key that we play into what strengths Manziel actually exhibits, and not try to fit a square peg into a round hole here; Manziel's legs and deep-ball awareness can still be tapped into if asked. It's going to be a bit of a mish-mash ground-and-pound short-game offense in 2015, unless Manziel's skill set has expanded far beyond what we think. Defensive scheme: Jim O'Neill's D shouldn't be changing up too much, only becoming expanded on with more playmakers. O'Neill suggested that although the Browns are currently running a 3-4, the talent they have could open up some 4-3 sets (likely meaning we would see a front 4 of Bryant/TayloShelton/Starks or Cooper, with a 3-rush LB of KrugeDansby/Mingo. That's very intriguing.) I wish I could go more technical into this, but quite honestly, it's not my forte; I just know that Pettine and O'Neill wanted a strong all-around D, and although we need to see what the new additions actually do, on paper, it looks like a strong squad now and moving forward.
The Browns have a tougher schedule than they did in 2014, and with much of the same defense and an offense in transition, they went 7-9. The offense is now in limbo while the defense got better, so...ehhhhhh? I'll aim for as reasonable as I can. Week 1: @ New York Jets: New York's revamped D is solid, but their offense could still sink them. If the Browns can make their offense falter early, they'll have a chance, but winning week 1 on the road isn't exactly easy. Let's assume the D is up to the challenge for NYJ right off the bat and make this a close defensive effort on both fronts, with Cleveland losing a tough one. Cleveland loses 17-13 (0-1) Week 2: vs Tennessee Titans: Here's the coming out party for this defense and the first chance to see if this offense is good enough. Tennessee's team is just flatly lacking in overall talent right now, although they do have some playmakers here. The last thing the Browns want is to get spanked by oft-mocked-to-them Mariota. I think they can pull off a motivated home opener win. Cleveland wins 20-14 (1-1) Week 3: vs Oakland Raiders: Oakland, in my view, had a pretty solid draft, but I'm not sure they've entirely turned the corner, even with the emergence of Derek Carr. I think a strong defensive front and the strong secondary can keep him in check long enough for whoever is slinging the ball to keep it together into a solid but close win. Cleveland wins 24-21 (2-1) Week 4: @ San Diego Chargers: Unfortunately I can't see Cleveland heading out to the West Coast and dominating a still fairly tough Chargers team. Unless they rattle Rivers hard and fast right off the bat, but that's doubtful honestly. They could keep it competitive though. Cleveland loses 28-17 (2-2) Week 5: @ Baltimore Ravens: The Browns have not won in Baltimore since 2007, and only 3 times since 1999. That's...bad. And Baltimore is still good enough to keep that trend up I fear after an offensive reload. Cleveland loses 35-20 (2-3) Week 6: vs Denver Broncos: You have no idea how much I'd love to spank Peyton Manning at home, and I'd imagine this will probably be closer with the Browns getting some attention against the tougher team. But I can't doubt Denver just yet; I do think the downfall for Denver may be on the horizon, but not yet. Cleveland loses 31-21 (2-4) Week 7: @ St. Louis Rams: Another "Tough D vs so-so Offense" matchup. My hope is by now the offense will have settled in with whoever's at the helm (I'd assume Manziel by this point) and can get the big road win, even though this could be a toss up if Nick Foles and the strong D finally make this St. Louis's "next year" we've been waiting on. Ah, fuck it. Let's call it an upset. Cleveland wins 18-17. (3-4) Week 8: vs Arizona Cardinals: I have pretty high hopes for Arizona if they stay healthy, and at the mid-point of the season, that's pretty much all it will come down to. This is the start of a tough 3-game swing for Cleveland and if Carson and the D remains upright, I think they dispatch the Browns post haste. Cleveland loses 24-13 (3-5) Week 9: @ Cincinnati Bengals: ALERT! ALERT! Primetime Andy Dalton Game! Primetime Andy Dalton Game! We probably will actually get blown out as revenge for last season, but fuck it, I have to rip on someone other than my own team at some point in these predictions! Cleveland wins 24-21 (4-5) Week 10: @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Fucking Steelers with their good drafting and respectable organization and history of winning and Super Bowls. And then they have a solid 2015 draft too. But hey, their RB smokes weed and got caught and got suspended everyone point and laugh, please, my self esteem needs it, HAHAHAHA--we're not winning this game are we? Cleveland loses 30-13 (4-6) Week 11: Bye Week 12: vs Baltimore Ravens: Monday Night Football in Cleveland, OH. Reason dictates that this will be the biggest game of Cleveland's season, and coming off the bye and a tough in-division loss to Pittsburgh, I'm going to buck the trend here and say that Cleveland pulls off the upset and wins a key game in primetime in the division, shutting down the revamped offense and Sam the Eagle. Cleveland wins 27-21 (5-6) Week 13: vs Cincinnati Bengals: Damnit, I wanted two games with Primetime Andy Dalton. If we take the jokes aside, the Bengals are a strong squad that will be in playoff contention, and this late in the season, this will probably be a must-win for them. Cleveland loses 28-14 (5-7) Week 14: vs San Francisco 49ers: I honestly feel bad for San Francisco at this point. They're probably not going to completely fall off, but coming into a year wish such promise, there has just been so much turnover in that organization this year it's almost mind numbing. I'd hope Cleveland can keep their heads up and take advantage of it. Cleveland wins 31-18 (6-7) Week 15: @ Seattle Seahawks: ......fuck. Cleveland loses 35-13 (6-8) Week 16: @ Kansas City Chiefs: Because going from the loudest stadium in the NFL to the second loudest stadium in the NFL is just a thing that happens. Cleveland loses 27-24 (6-9) Week 17: vs Pittsburgh Steelers: There is nothing more important in any given season than logging a win against the fucking Pittsburgh Steelers. At least until we get over this mental and metaphysical hump that has held the Browns down for so damn long in their own wallowing. After two tough challenges on the road, I think the Browns can pull off one season-ending upset in spite of everything to end the season strong and accomplish two things: match last year's record without an elite QB, and hit .500 in the division. Cleveland wins 17-14 (7-9)
Reasonably, I'd say between 6-10 (drop either the STL or PIT game) and 8-8 (win against SD early?) is pretty solid. Our offense just plainly is not good enough right now. If Cleveland shows up for some big games or takes advantage of their strength on defense early, they might be able to break .500, but I don't see this squad hitting the playoffs in 2015. The lack of a franchise QB limits my optimism for toss ups.
I said last year that the most important thing for Cleveland in 2014 was not to make a playoff push or to win "x" amount of games; it was to facilitate a culture change, to get away from the "LOLBROWNS" and the "woe is me" that has permeated the organization since their return from expansion. Many people have tried to make that happen, but stupid moves, or regressions, or giving up too early, or just plainly getting the wrong players at the wrong time, it's all added up to misery. With that said...this is the closest I've seen this team to having a long-term plan in place to get over that hump. Yes, you have some issues on offense, but the offseason, the draft, the move to get more compensatory picks in 2016, the feeling that Pettine and Farmer are locked in, it's a good feeling. Are the Browns going to light the world on fire in 2015? No. But they don't need to right now. Get that defense up to working speed. Keep the run game and offensive line strong. Don't panic fire Pettine or Farmer because things don't add up to a 10-6 finish. Don't start scrambling around or getting cheeky with your QB if things go crazy. I no longer see this team as rebuilding, but rather finally fucking building; investing heavily in the trenches and crafting a strong defense. There have been growing pains of this regime, but unlike in the Holmgren era, or the Policy era, or the Savage era, it doesn't feel for naught. There is something being established, and if we as fans can have some patience for a change, I think we could see the second half of this decade be very, very fun if the course stays. ...or we'll be LOLBROWNS again. Such is the cycle of Browns fans. Special thanks to admiralkit, TheFencingCoach, skepticismissurvival, TheVetNoob, everyone over on /Browns, and Dusty Rhodes. We been through some Hard Times, bay-beh.
Hi Pittsburghers! Youngstown friend here! I am taking my SO over the border tonight for some good food and the Casino for his Birthday. He wants some great authentic Thai cuisine. Do you have any recommendations? We do not mind distances so don't interpret this as wanting so stay near Rivers. I have spent time on Yelp and TripAdvisor, but there aren't too many helpful reviews. Thanks in advance!
Rivers Casino, Pittsburgh: See 846 reviews, articles, and 63 photos of Rivers Casino, ranked No.57 on Tripadvisor among 172 attractions in Pittsburgh. Reviews for Rivers Casino - Pittsburgh Reviews - What employees say. 3.36 Employees say 0.00 Applicants say Rivers Casino - Pittsburgh 12.Dec 2018. Employee Do not work here they will screw you over. 2.72 2.72 Suggestions for improvement. Stop hiring so many people so we can actually get hours. ... All reviews table games nice casino poker room crab legs wheelhouse grandview concert downtown Richard B wrote a review Nov 2020 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2,161 contributions 753 helpful votes Rivers Casino: Lowest slot payouts for last two years - See 847 traveller reviews, 63 candid photos, and great deals for Pittsburgh, PA, at Tripadvisor. Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA features non-stop fun with 2900 slots, 100+ table games, a 30-table poker room, 5 restaurants and live entertainment. Specialties: We are your ultimate entertainment destination! We feature slots, table games, the BetRivers Sportsbook, restaurants, bars and a new Event Center. Must be 21 or older to be on property. Das Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh liegt direkt am Fluß(da könnte auch der name herkommen;-) ) es hat wie fast alle Casinos ein eigenes kostenloses Parkhaus aus dem direkt ins Casino gehen kann. Das Casino ist mit allem ausgestattet was das Spielerherz sich wünscht, incl. einem … Rivers Casino: Go Elsewhere - See 847 traveler reviews, 63 candid photos, and great deals for Pittsburgh, PA, at Tripadvisor. Rivers Casino: WORST CASINO - See 847 traveler reviews, 63 candid photos, and great deals for Pittsburgh, PA, at Tripadvisor. River Casino Pittsburgh Reviews River Casino Pittsburgh Reviews Slot games River Casino Pittsburgh Reviews are by far the most popular genre at the online casino. Their fun and exciting themes adorned with spectacular graphics, sound effects, and progressive jackpots make them a winning choice for any casino lover! With so many amazing online slot machines to choose from at 888casino, there is ...
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