4 Browns Predictions for 2013

Year after year, the Cleveland Browns are about as predictable as most scary movies: You enter with overly-high expectations only to be disappointed in the end. You can almost guarantee that we will have a record worse than 7-9; a different starting quarterback will be under center than the one that started the season; and each game is one we could and should win, just to suffer a 4th quarter loss in a believably unbelievable Cleveland fashion.

source: mathcs.holycross.edu

source: mathcs.holycross.edu

With that being said, I think this year will be different (yeah…I know). Like every other offseason, I truly believe this season is the year we lift ourselves out of the sludge that this team has been trudging through the past 13 years. Here are my five predictions for the Cleveland Browns this season.

1.) Brandon Weeden will prove himself as the team’s franchise quarterback

I’m not saying he will be taking snaps the next eight years, but Weeden demonstrated the skills capable of being an effective quarterback for Cleveland. He has an arm, he can execute a 2-minute drill, and he makes the right decisions. Even if it’s throwing the ball away or taking a sack instead of trying to force a play, he minimizes the team’s losses. And aside from his two-pass TD penalty followed by an interception against the Giants, Weeden had a game-winning drive against the Raiders and should have beaten the Colts on a touchdown pass that slipped through Josh Gordon’s fingers. Let’s not forget that he was overshadowed by a rookie class of quarterbacks that we haven’t seen in a decade. Weeden may get a lot of criticism from fans and little support from management, but I think he has what it takes to prove himself to Cleveland and the NFL.

2.) At least four games will be decided by a Brown’s field goal.

With the loss of Phil Dawson this season, I fear that what once was our backbone to getting a win on Sunday will become the team’s achilles heel. Dawson was easily the most consistent kicker in the league, especially from 40+ yards. Filling the shoes of Dawson will not be an easy task, and the pressure on the poor soul that takes his place will be immense. The first field goal that shoots wide of the uprights will have fans roaring for his head on a stick. And since most of our points come in threes, my guess is our new kicker will have to prove himself early. Whoever he is, he has the chance to be adored like Phil, or despised like Braylon. All I gotta say is good luck.

3.) Weeden throws for 3,800, Richardson rushes for 1,200 and Gordon catches for 1,000

Last year, Weeden almost threw for 3,400, Richardson was fifty yards shy of 1,000, and Gordon finished his rookie season with just over 800. Our wide receivers are a young bunch with lots of potential, and the edition of David Nelson at the slot alongside Jordan Cameron gives Norv Turner the ability to disguise plays and confuse the defense. This, combined with a new offensive scheme better suited for Weeden will give him a good (albeit long) shot to hit the 3,800 mark. As long as Gordon doesn’t hit the sophomore slump, he shouldn’t have a problem catching for 1,000 yards since he’ll be Weeden’s main target. And when it comes to  Richardson, everyone knows he can run. A better pass game will give the Alabama bulldozer the opportunity to show us his skills in the open field, and as long as he stays healthy I think he’ll be a top-ten running back.

4.) The Browns make the playoffs.

It may be bold statement, but at least it suits the font.

source: dfwbugs.com

Is this thing on?

Even though we are in the same division as two of last year’s playoff teams, including the Super Bowl champions, I expect a weak AFC North with Cincinnati being the most likely to top the division. Both Pittsburgh and Baltimore are in serious cap space trouble, and as a result the Ravens lost LBs Paul Kruger (to us thank you very much), Dannell Ellerbee and Ray Lewis, Safety Ed Reed, WR Anquan Boldin, and C Matt Birk. That’s a lot to replace.

The Steelers may be in worse shape than that. Coming off an 8-8 season with no playoff appearance, they lost WR Mike Wallace, RB Rashard Mendenhall, and CB Keenan Lewis to free agency. But hey, at least they got a 35-year-old convict in WR Plaxico Burress.

Since the Browns and the Bengals came in to this offseason as the two teams with the highest cap salaries in the league, they are both in the position to sign and draft the right players for the job.

Well there you have it, folks. Those are my predictions for the Browns in the 2013 NFL season. Mind you these are pre-draft predictions, so when all four of them end up 100% accurate come December, remember you heard it hear first.

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Browns Sign Wide Receiver David Nelson

NFL: Preseason-Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings

 

source: US PRESSWIRE

Brandon Weeden received another target in his modest, yet promising core of wide receivers.

Cleveland signed former Bills receiver David Nelson to a one-year contract Monday, according to NFL Network’s Gregg Rosenthal. 

Nelson will most likely play in the slot position this year. His 6’5, 217-pound frame makes him a threat in the endzone to opposing defenses, as well as a hard target to miss for Weeden.

Nelson has a career 1,042 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in his three years in the NFL. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the first game of the 2012 season, however and sat out the rest of the year. General Manager Michael Lombardi must think he is in good condition since it was early in the season.

Nelson has been pretty vocal on Twitter about signing to Cleveland. The former Florida Gator seems excited to be back on the field this year.

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Hopefully he is a good fit with Josh Gordon, Greg Little and the rest of the wide receivers. The pass game has been an area of struggle on both sides of the ball, but last year seemed like a step in the right direction. Hopefully Nelson is another edition to an up-and-coming receiving core that can assault pass defenses around the league.

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Browns is “Star” Franchise of New Kevin Costner Film

Night after night I dream of the day when the Cleveland Browns overcome the perpetual obstacles that have stifled their path to victory, and once again reclaim their title as the greatest football franchise to grace this sport.

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source: http://www.cleveland.com

It looks like our time is finally here—at least on the big screen anyway.

Cleveland beat out the Buffalo Bills as the city featured in the upcoming football movie, “Draft Day”, starring Kevin Costner as the Browns’ GM seeking the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and returning the franchise to glory.

Apparently, Cleveland came out on top against Buffalo due to a cheaper tax deal for the film production, and other incentives. According to the Ohio Film Office, movie producers can apply to the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Incentive that can save filmmakers 25 percent on spending.

Although not much information has been released about the movie, Costner will reportedly be in attendance of the 2013 NFL Draft, pending the NFL’s approval, in order to shoot scenes for the movie.

This will be Costner’s first football-related film, however he is not new to starring in sports movies. He played roles in “Tin Cups”, “Field of Dreams” and “For the Love of the Game”. Although I’ve never seen a Costner film, he at least has an Academy Award. Plus, he has be better than Charlie Sheen in Major League, right?

Like every other Cleveland Browns fan, I long for the moment when the Super Bowl game clock strikes zero, orange helmets fly, and thousands of Cleveland fans take to the streets to celebrate their football team’s greatest and longest-awaited victory in the franchise’s history. Even if it is in front of Hollywood lights and Kevin Costner is our coach on a 50 foot IMAX screen, it is still better than nothing.

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K Kevin Harper to Conduct Workout with Browns

The next Cleveland Browns kicker has some big, accurate shoes to fill. Let’s hope Kevin Harper is ready for the challenge. 

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According to this tweet he sent Friday, the Browns will be conducting a private workout with the Ohio native.

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Harper demonstrated his skills at the NFL Regional Combine in March by nailing five consecutive field goals from 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55 yards in front of scouts from the 32 teams. 

“It’s my biggest weekend. It’s another opportunity to show what I can do,” he said about the pressure of the event.

Pressure is something that Harper must handle well if he wants to do well for the Browns. When three and outs and failed offensive drives are commonplace, Cleveland needs a kicker that can deliver on a consistent basis.

Not only that, but Phil Dawson was beloved by nearly every fan, so if Harper starts his professional career off badly, the Dawg Pound may not be on his side.

This all depends on if we draft him, of course.

Harper had a career 70.9 percent field goal percentage as the starting kicker for Pitt. In 2012, he was 20 for 27, hitting 7 of 11 from more than 40 yards.  He attended Mentor High School in Ohio and was ranked by scouts.com as a top five kicking prospect. He also holds the Ohio high school record for longest field goal kick made at 61 yards.

With Dawson’s departure, the Browns must secure a accurate and consistent kicker. If they decide that Harper is their guy, he will certainly have his work cut out for him.

 

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Browns Trade, Release, and Replace

 

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source: http://www.waitingfornextyear.com

 

The Cleveland Browns continue to make moves this offseason by releasing LB Chris Gocong and S Usama Young, and trading QB Colt McCoy.

Cleveland announced the release of Gocong and Young today in an attempt to save money that didn’t need to be spent. The two players were set to make a combined $6.5 million in 2013. By releasing them, the Browns will only have to pay out about $775,000 of it.

Gocong sat out the 2012 season with a torn achilles tendon. The Browns have a lot of depth at the linebacker position, so releasing Gocong is a solid financial move. From a production standpoint, achilles tears are very serious injuries in football, and few players come back as efficient as they were before.

Young’s release seems to be a bit more questionable. The Browns are in need of quality defensive backs. Joe Haden and T.J. Ward are solid, but the Browns can’t solely rely on them to stop a pass-heavy league. It will be interesting to see whether we find another safety in the free agent market, or seek one in the draft.

 

The Browns also traded McCoy and a sixth-round draft pick to the San Fransisco 49ers for a fifth-round and seventh-round pick Monday, which is a better deal than I thought we’d get for our latest one-time starting quarterback. It gives Cleveland a better potential to pick up personnel in a defense-heavy draft, and simultaneously saves us money that doesn’t need to be spend on the 2010 third-round draft pick.

The Browns are making a lot of moves under the new regime this offseason; I pray that it pays off.

 

 

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Campbell signs 2-Year Deal with Browns; Weeden Must Prove Himself

Brandon Weeden, meet your competition.

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source: blogs.mirror.co.uk

Jason Campbell agreed to a 2-year contract with the Cleveland Browns Tuesday, confirming owner Jimmy Haslam’s statements that there will be competition at the quarterback position.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter posted this tweeted around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday:

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Campbell, a 9-year veteran, played only six games for the Chicago Bears in 2012, but has several years as a starting quarterback under his belt. His career touchdown to interception ratio (76:52) is respectable, and his experience in a similar offensive scheme with the Oakland Raiders is the kind of competition that Haslam and GM Joe Banner are looking for at the quarterback position.

“Jason is an established leader who has started a number of games in this league and has had success,” said head coach Rob Chudzinski. “He brings us a veteran presence and a good set of physical tools.”

Haslam stated earlier this offseason that there would be competition at the quarterback position, and speculation as to who would fill the seat went from former Browns QB Derek Anderson, to drafting WVU’s Geno Smith, to giving Colt McCoy another shot.

Thank God for Campbell.

I’m not saying that I think he should be the Browns starting quarterback next year, but giving the three quarterback’s I listed above a shot at the starting position would prove disastrous.

I don’t think that Banner or Haslam are particularly fond of Weeden, however, seeing as neither of them have given him any words of praise. No matter how the players look during training camp, I wouldn’t be surprised if Campbell ended up starting next year. He is easily the next best option for the Browns in a league lacking decent available quarterbacks.

I am a firm believer that Brandon Weeden should be the starter next year, and now that he has another quarterback fighting for his position, he has a chance to prove he is the best option for Cleveland. I am sick and tired of changing the team’s most essential position every year. I think the reason we have had such bad luck with quarterbacks is because they don’t get enough time to develop under the system. They have one bad game, the fans throw a fit, and the next thing you know a new guy is under center to begin the vicious cycle once more. Give Weeden the chance to prove himself and I think it will pay off.

 

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Top 5 Draft Picks

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Source: http://www.raiders.com

With the start of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine only six days away, it’s time for a little fun. Who will the Browns select this upcoming draft? A player’s value can drastically change after their performance at the combine, but with Mel Kiper’s and Todd McShay’s mock draft available for discussion, I think it’s time to give my own two cents on the matter. Here are the five players I think the Browns should be keeping their eyes on.

1. Damontre Moore DE Texas A&

 Moore was a star defensive end at A&M this past year, but he also played outside linebacker his first two years with the Aggies. Since the Browns will be moving to the 3-4 defense, Ray Horton will be looking for pass rushers. Moore is 6 feet 4 inches and 250 pounds, so he will definitely be able to do some damage to the opposing quarterback. He also has speed, which will help stop the run game. Moore is largely considered the best defensive end in the draft, though, so there is a possibility he could be gone before the Browns’ first pick.

2. Barkevious Mingo DE LSU

If Damontre Moore ends up getting drafted before the Browns’ first pick, don’t be surprised if Mingo is our go-to first-round draft choice. The 6-foot-4-inch 240-pound defensive end has a lot potential to pack on some muscle, and his high school background in track gives him the speed needed for Horton’s attack-style defense. Moore only started playing football his junior year of high school, but he has a lot of raw talent. The biggest weakness is that Horton will probably want to convert him to an OLB, a position he has never played.

3. Jarvis Jones OLB UGA

Looking at his 2012 stats alone, Jones would be my No. 1 draft choice. The 6-foot-2-inch 240-pounder led the league in sacks, tackles for loss and force fumbles, despite missing two games. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award for the nation’s best linebacker, and has the athleticism to drop back into coverage. His lack of size and his proneness to injury, however, make him a gamble to pursue in the first round.  

4. Dee Milliner CB Alabama

Although I believe finding an outside linebacker is Cleveland’s biggest priority with their first pick, if Dee Milliner is still available after five picks, the Browns will definitely have their eye on him. The secondary can no longer solely rely on Joe Haden to defend the pass. They need a solid second cornerback to keep the pressure on opposing wide receivers in a pass-heavy league. Most analysts have Milliner going second or third, so he’s not a likely candidate as the sixth pick. If for some reason he is still around, however, this Alabama stud would be a steal.

5. Tyrann Mathieu CB LSU

Before you start pulling your hair out, understand that I am not suggesting the Browns waste a first-round pick on the “Honey Badger.” Obviously he hasn’t played in over a year and his off-the-field issues make him a gamble to even sign him in the draft at all. All I’m saying is I think Cleveland should consider giving him a contract if he’s available late in the draft. There is no denying his talent with LSU during his 2011 season. He had 71 tackles and five forced fumbles on defense, and returned two punts for touchdowns on special teams. Aside from the fact that he was absent from football this past year, one could still argue that his drug issues make him a questionable draft selection. All I have to say to that is Josh Gordon. He went through similar problems in college, which landed him unsigned after the 2012 NFL Draft. The Browns took a gamble with him in the supplemental draft and it paid off. Who’s to say Mathieu couldn’t end up the same way?

Well, there you have it. Who do you think the Browns should go after this offseason?

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Mike Wallace to Cleveland?

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Courtesy sbnation.com

The Browns have the second most cap space in the NFL this offseason, and they need to sign big to play big.

According to CBS Cleveland, the Browns have $45.6 million to spend this offseason, and since the draft is lacking offensive playmakers, they need to look to the free agent pool.

News of Mike Wallace coming to Cleveland has been circulating around the Internet the past few days, and even though he’d becoming from my least favorite team in the league, his speed at the wideout position is just the offensive weapon the Browns need.

Whether Wallace will be catching passes from Brandon Weeden is another story entirely, but if he does start next year, Wallace would be a perfect target for Weeden to air out the long ball. Not only that, but he is a weapon that we can snag from our own division to use against them.

Other notable free agents the Browns could use are OL Andy Levitre out of Buffalo, and LB Paul Kruger from Baltimore. The Browns need a solid guard to round out their offensive line and a linebacker that fits our new 3-4 defensive scheme. Kruger expressed his desire to stay with the Ravens, and the loss of Ray Lewis will make him that much more important to their defense. Both the Bills and the Ravens have a tight cap space to work with, however, and will need to make rome room for the upcoming draft.

March 12 is the official starting date for free agency, and I am excited (and understandably nervous) to see what the new front office has in store for us.

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Farewell to Phil Dawson?

Phil Dawson is my all-time favorite football player. Ever. Sure, there are a lot more exciting players to watch in the NFL, but as a Browns fan he has been the most consistent player our team has had since 1999 by far. He knows how to play the wind coming off the shores of Lake Erie and has been as loyal to our team as any other true Browns fan.

Since the end of the NFL season I have heard a number of rumors about the possible departure of the Browns’ beloved kicker Phil Dawson. “Surely this can’t be true,” I’d think to myself, and dismiss the idea entirely. But as the offseason progresses it seems almost inevitable that CEO Joe Banner will not re-sign Dawson.

Cleveland ESPN analyst Tony Grossi tweeted Tuesday that Dawson’s staying is “not happening.” While it’s not set in stone yet, it’s a safe bet to assume that when a top Cleveland sports analyst reports that he wont be splitting the uprights in First Energy Stadium next year, he probably won’t be.

It seems like the big issue of his departure has to do with his age and, of course, money. Since we franchise tagged him the past two years, he was paid the average salary of the top 5 players at his position. This amounted to $3.8 million. But if he is franchise tagged three years in a row he must be paid the average of the top 5 players in the league. 

No team would pay a kicker $15 million.

So why can’t we sign him to a two or three year deal? Does Banner think he’s too old? Sure, he’s going to be 38 but he’s also coming off his best season of his career with a field goal percentage of 93.5. That’s tied for the highest in the league among kickers with more than 20 attempts.

I understand that age catches up with everyone eventually, but how can you justify that age is catching up with a 38 year-old kicker who made 29 of 31 field goals, seven of which are 50+ yards, and his only two misses were caused by a block and a botched snap?

Not to mention he just played in his first pro bowl appearance and had one of the coolest fake onside kick attempts I’ve ever seen.

But maybe Phil is just looking for a long-term deal that the Browns just aren’t willing to give him. After all the NFL is a business and he has his own interests at stake. If that’s the case, I wish him the best of luck and hope next year’s Super Bowl champions sign him. He deserves a ring in my opinion.

As for Banner and the Browns, good luck finding a guy that can kick in the rain, wind and snow like #4.

 

 

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Frostee Rucker Released Due to 3-4 Switch

Weeks after hiring their new defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, the Cleveland Browns announced Tuesday that they are releasing DE Frostee Rucker. My bet is he won’t be the last.

Several days after the Brownies hired Horton, questions began to arise about whether they will switch their defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Again. From what Horton said in his first press conference with the team, it seems to me like Rucker doesn’t suit Horton’s vision of a “big man that can run.” 

I understand where Horton is going with this, but is there no possible way that Rucker can adapt to the new scheme? After all, he is coming off his best season in the league with 48 tackles, 4 sacks and a forced fumble.

I am a bit skeptical with CEO Joe Banner and Owner Jimmy Haslam’s vision for this team so far. Hiring Michael Lombardi as the VP of player personnel leaves a bad taste in many Cleveland fans’ mouths, and I wonder if his five-year absence from working in the league will affect his ability to select much-needed, effective players in this year’s draft. 

But what about free agency? Surely there are a number of veteran players we can find to fit our new style of defense, right? Not unless they’re cheap, according to Haslam. Sounds like the front office is sticking to building through the draft. Since this year’s draft is full of promising defensive talent, it doesn’t seem like too bad of an idea. But when you look back on the history of the Browns re-building through the draft, that promise seems to dwindle.

My guess is that Rucker and CB Dimitri Patterson, who was waived at the end of this year, won’t be the only defensive players we see leave this offensive season. I just hope that this new front office knows what they’re doing.

 

 

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