Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Krunch Time With Katelin: Cleveland Browns Season Preview

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The 2016 Cleveland Browns are playing for the future and that is okay. We know they are playing for 2017 and beyond because all 14 draft picks made the 53 man roster. Also the Browns let go of veteran linebacker Paul Kruger and traded former first round picks Justin Gilbert and Barkevious Mingo. But with that being said the 2016 season isn't a throw away season. This year we will see if guys like Danny Shelton, Cam Erving, Nate Orchard, Corey Coleman, and Terrelle Pryor are the future for this team. If the Browns go 3-13 its most likely for the best. It means that Robert Griffin III struggled and the Browns need to draft their franchise QB next year. But that's April talk.

Previewing this season is difficult because there are so many uncertainties. RGIII and receiver Josh Gordon hasn't played in a regular season game since 2014. Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman, the Browns' Starting wideouts, have a combined one career catch. Cam Erving is going to finally start and play center, the position he was drafted in the first round to play. And I didn't even mention all the rookie and second year players on the defense.


The Browns will be a solid offense. I expect the running game to be focal point for this team. If Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell can get 3.5 yards per carry it will open up the down field attack. But I see Crowell/Johnson being a solid duo in the backfield. Both bring different dimensions to the offense. Crowell is a one-cut powerback who has shown improvement hitting holes and being more decisive.

Johnson is great catching the ball out of the backfield and he is really good running the ball (who is Miami of Florida's all time leading rusher). Johnson might be the most complete back for the Browns and I expect him to get most of the carries by the end of this year.

The Receiver are extremely young and raw but they don't lack height or talent as in previous years. Tight End Gary Barnidge will lead the team in catches this year. Barnidge is the security blanket for RGIII. Barnidge will be trying to repeat last year where he caught 79 passes for over 1000 yards and 9 TDs. Don't expect the TDs to increase but the catches will.

Josh Gordon will be the Browns' number one receiver when he returns from his suspension week 5. Gordon is on a road of redemption. He was reinstated by the NFL after being suspended indefinitely for violating substance policy multiple times. Gordon is an All-Pro Receiver who is in a contract year. Expect a huge year from him. With the threat of Gordon other pass catchers on this team will flourish, and rookie Corey Coleman might be the main beneficiary.

Coleman was the Browns first round pick this year (15th overall) after a few trade downs. Coleman was also the first wide receiver taken in the 2016 draft. Coleman will have growing pains this year like every rookie. He going to drop passes, run wrong routes, and look lost at times...but be patient. There is a reason Coleman was ranked as the best receiver in the draft by Pro Football Focus, just like there is a reason Hue Jackson and company took him as their first pick.

Terrelle Pryor is entering this season with a lot of hopeful expectations. He shown the ability to get open down the field. Pryor is an obvious weapon in the red zone and as a down field threat but he's shown a willingness to block down field. Pryor looks like a solid NFL receiver who has a ton of potential. Last point on Pryor is that Hue Jackson likes to keep defenses honest and is willing to call some trick plays. I expect Pryor to throw for at least one touchdown and to have a handful of carries.

Now the Offensive line play has only two question marks but they are huge. Cam Erving and whoever is playing right tackle. Cam Erving struggled immensely during the preseason. There were multiple times he was the cause of negative plays. Now understand he is finally playing his true position so almost think of him as a rookie.

Right tackle is an interesting spot. As of right now Austin Pasztor is the starter, but there is a high chance Shon Coleman or Spencer Drango takes over at some point. Pasztor is an average lineman who doesn't have much potential so he seems to be a place holder for one of the rookies eventually. Also not to mention Alvin Bailey who was a starter for the Seattle Seahawks. There might be a chance Bailey plays if Erving or one of the guards go down.

We know what we are going to get with future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas and the two starting guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco.

And last but certainly not least Robert Griffin III. RGIII is the biggest question mark on this football team. He played a solid QB during the preseason but he still looked indecisive at times against base defenses. He's shown that he can take hits and throw the ball down field accurately but can he continue to make strides in those areas and to learn and adapt throughout the game. And the final and most important question mark: Can he stay healthy? I think RGIII will play over 10 games. He will produce solid numbers and not lose us any games. Hue Jackson has a lot of comfort in Griffin. So until fans are shown other wise we have to trust Hue Jackson.


I don't see much hope for the Browns defense this year. But for the Browns to have success on defense they will need to get pressure on the quarterback. They are extremely young both at linebacker and at the two safety spots. Now if Joe Haden can return to his All-Pro status that will help out the young pass rushers Carl Nassib, Emmanual Ogbah, Joe Schobert, and Nate Orchard. Tramon Williams seems to be on the last leg of his career and Jamar Taylor has under performed in his career. Taylor a former second round pick of Miami was traded to the Browns along with a seventh round pick (which ended up being Scooby Wright)  for a seventh round pick in this past draft.

Now with all that being said the defensive backs in general look terrible on paper. Tramon Williams and Joe Haden as the starters at cornerback with Ibraheim Campbell and Jordan Poyer as the Safeties. Poyer played a solid safety the past few years in sub packages so expect him to improve from the beginning of the season to the end. Ibraheim Campbell was the Browns fourth round pick from Northwestern last year. He played sparingly behind Donte Whitner but has shown in the preseason he is a big hitter.  Behind Poyer and Campbell are Don Jones and Derrick Kindred. Don Jones is the veteran backup. Jones was drafted in the seventh round in 2013 from Arkansas State. Kindred played well during the preseason but at the same time it was against second team quarterbacks. Kindred is also a big hitting safeties and we didn't see much of what they can do in coverage. Like stated in the paragraph above the way this defense keeps the team in games is the pass rush. There aren't going to be many "coverage sacks" and the team most likely won't be "locking down the lake."

The linebackers are young but have shown some progress during the preseason. Nassib balled out, Ogbah was really solid and so was Orchard. Free agent pickup Demario Davis might be the second coming of D'Quwell Jackson. Davis has everywhere during the preseason. Running down tackles eight yards down field. He played solid during pass coverage, and he seemed take that leadership role with a lot of pride. Christian Kirksey had a solid preseason and first two years with the Browns. Him being side-by-side with Davis will do nothing but help him even more since Davis is just as athletic as Kirksey. Expect Davis and Kirksey to jump off the screen when you watch them is year.

And now to the defensive linemen. It really starts with nose tackle Danny Shelton. He consistently got out played by an undrafted free agent Jamie Meder. Shelton looked slow getting off the ball, and at points just looked lost. He was getting manhandled by single blockers, which is one of the main reasons why the run defense was so terrible last year and during the preseason. Losing Desmond Bryant for the season is a huge loss but at the same time the Browns are playing for future.

Final Prediction

The Browns are going to go 4-12. Don't ask what games they are going to win because I have no idea. But I know that somehow, someway Hue Jackson will get this team to four wins. RGIII will have a solid year which means the Browns will have a decision to make about the QB position. Again we have to remember that is like a tryout year. Young guys will make dumb mistakes but if we can see improvement from game one to game 16 its going to be a successful year.

No comments:

Post a Comment