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Tag Archives: Joe Haden
“He just has an issue with his lower back. (We) just gave him the day. We’ll see if he can go on Sunday.”
On if it happened during practice:
On if it happened during weightlifting:
“(He’s) just having an issue with his back.”
On if he’s glad to have DB Joe Haden back out there today:
“It was good. He got a little bit of work off to the side. He was limited, very limited. That’s a decision we’re going to have to…hopefully he has a good day tomorrow getting some treatment. We’re hopeful. It’s a game time decision, but we hope he’ll be able to go obviously.”
On who will start in that spot if he can’t play:
“It’ll be (DB Justin) Gilbert.”
On if he needs to make a move on the d-line with DLs Ahtyba Rubin, Billy Winn and Phil Taylor all injured:
“I mean, we have (DL) Jacobbi McDaniel. That’s something (GM) Ray (Farmer) and I have to talk about. We need to get a little more of an update from (head athletic trainer) Joe (Sheehan) about ‘Rube’ (Rubin) before we make that decision. We have (DLs) ‘Kitch’ (Ishmaa’ily Kitchen) and John (Hughes) who have been down, so those guys are naturals to be active. We’ll see if we have to go more than that.”
On if Rubin’s injury occurred today:
“No, it was yesterday.”
On what Gilbert showed in practice this week:
“He came out and did his job. He had a great attitude, competed, made some plays. (He) just raised his level of consistency. He still made some mistakes, but I would say it was his best week of practice.”
On what playing at home means to him and what kind of factor the fans can be:
“It’s just something from the day I got the job I was most pleased about. Having been here as a visitor and getting the feel for the Dawg Pound and just the passion, the loyalty – it was just something you admired from a far. Here’s a team that’s not experiencing much success, yet these fans come out in droves and are very supportive. That was proven, as I said the other day, on the road down in Tennessee. It was shocking to say the least to our guys when we pulled up to the hotel and when we got to the stadium. At home they’ve been great for us. Unfortunately, we came up short against Baltimore. The crowd was a huge part, huge part of our win against New Orleans. We’re looking for more of the same. It’s a situation where we tell our guys, ‘We control the volume.’ When we’re making plays and doing good things, that place will be rocking.”
On how coaches learn how players will take coaching by interviewing players before the draft:
“That’s not something you necessarily ask them. You talk to the people that have coached them. You can go as far back to their high school days, but certainly their college coordinator, college position coach, college head coach. You should be able to get that information.”
On if Browns LB Eric Martin would play if Browns LB Paul Kruger was not able to play on Sunday or if it would just be more time for Browns LBs Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard:
“Eric would see more of a role. I think Eric only got two plays against Tennessee, and he had two really good rushes. So, it was already the plan to get him more reps. That’s something that if Krug is limited or can’t go, then he’s going to get those reps anyway.”
On if he saw something in the first half of the Tennessee game that caused Mingo to get fewer reps in the second half:
“No, it’s just we were in a little bit less of that personnel grouping that he was in. He’ll get his reps. Sometimes, the guys that are in certain packages their reps will vary based on what the opponent’s doing, and he was a little bit of a victim of that.”
On how big this division game is:
“That’s an understatement. It’s huge. You can’t fall to 0-3 in the division. As we said, the path to our goal is through the division. This is one – like you said – it’s only one, but this is a pretty big one.”
On if he sees a correlation between the AFC North teams all being .500 or better and all being able to run the ball:
“I just know when you’re looking…I was with (Bengals offensive coordinator) Hue Jackson. I know he has a commitment to want to run the ball. Pittsburgh had talked about wanting to get back to more balance on offense and then, (Ravens offensive coordinator Gary) Kubiak goes to Baltimore. I just think it was a natural thing there, him and (Browns offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) coming from that same system. I think it’s really a product of the mentality change in Pittsburgh of wanting to balance it out and take advantage of the backs that they have, particularly (Steelers RB Le’Veon) Bell. Then, I think the coordinator changes at the other three, I think, firmed that up.”
On if the Browns and Ravens’ commitment to the wide-zone running scheme makes the defenses in the division more familiar to it when going against it:
“I think so because if you’re Pittsburgh or your Cincinnati preparing for a division game, preparing for us or for Baltimore, I would say the pass games are different as I said during Baltimore week, but the run games are very similar. It does water that down a little bit, you’d like to be the only one, but just that’s the way it is.”
On what the message was in the team circle before practice:
On how he looks at the injuries on defense when going against an offense like Pittsburgh:
“We have to be ready to play. Hopefully we can get the guys that are listed out there. I know we have some guys already listed as out. We talked about next man up. As big of a cliché as it is, it’s very true. I always talked to the coaches don’t be that coach who’s starters are the only ones that are ready. To me, the true measure of a coach is how his backups play when they’re in there, and this week will be a good test to that.”
On the defense needing to create more turnovers:
“Yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons we are where we are. We’ve done a good job protecting it, but we need to do a better job of taking it away. It’s something that we emphasize and just like sacks, in turnovers they come in bunches; you’d like to get on that roll where you’re getting a lot of them but where hoping that will come. Our guys are very mindful of it. They’ve (been) given the percentages of it: if you’re even, the turnover percentage is this plus-one and plus-two. It is pretty much the number one indicator of wins and losses.”
On LB Paul Kruger play:
“He’s played well. I think he was a little bit anxious against Baltimore and tried to do a little more than what he needed to. But other than that, I think that he’s been real solid for us.”
On the pressure upfront provided by Kruger leading to DB Tashaun Gipson’s interception versus New Orleans:
“Yeah that was the play of the game against New Orleans but if he’s not getting sack production he’s at least causing the ball to get out earlier. Teams are aware of him and – he can beat guys on the edge and he can also power them which is a good combination.”
On his confidence in DL Ishmaa’ily Kitchen ability:
“To me he’s just a guy that, going back to when we started, fills his grade sheet with pluses. He’s not a flash guy, he’s not going to fill up the stat sheet, have a tone of tackles or sack production or anything like that but he’ll keep the linebackers clean, he’ll be where he’s supposed to be. He’s very dependable when it comes to, when we talk about ‘doing your job and things will happen.’ He’s very dependable that way.”
“Pittsburgh week – not much to say to our guys, as far as motivation, a division game. We all know what our division record is at this point. We need to get ourselves a win in the division. The second time around, you don’t want to get in the habit of overthinking it, too. That game was so recent that the teams haven’t really changed. I know they lost some guys defensively, but offensively, they’re very similar to what they were. A couple of the guys they had out are getting back. It’s a big challenge, and we’re hopeful that the Dawg Pound we know will be there for us. Even going back to Sunday – I think I was remiss in mentioning afterwards – that was shocking, but in a positive way, just how well our fans traveled. We had a huge group of fans waiting for us at the hotel. There were so many of them at the game and they were really loud at the end of the game. That was impressive. I know our guys appreciate it. We’re looking forward to getting back home and feeding off their energy and getting a victory. Our challenge still remains on defense to get some things cleaned up. We’ve talked about consistency, and that’s the key word. We’ve shown, at times, that we can be dominant, and we’ve shown, at times, that we can be where we are ranked, among the worst in the league. We’re not hitting the panic button. We know that the issues are very detail-oriented. We need to get them cleaned up, get them fixed so we can move forward and be the defense that we know we can be.
“On the injury front, I know it was out this morning: (DL) Phil (Taylor)’s going to miss some time, had a knee scope this morning. I think that best source for Browns news lately has become Phil Taylor’s Instagram, right next to our website. He’ll be shut down for a couple weeks. We’ll know a little bit in a few days kind of how that went as the beginning of his recovery starts. At this point, there’s really no more news on that. (DL) Billy Winn won’t practice today with a quad. Then, (DB) Joe (Haden)’s hip, we’re not quite sure. There is some soreness in it. He went through the walkthrough this morning. I think we’ll be very cautious with it. You get to the point with certain guys where you feel good about their practice habits and where they are. You get them into Sunday mode. We’ll keep a very close eye on that and update you guys as the week goes on.”
On who will start in Taylor’s spot:
“It depends on what grouping we’re in. We can be out there with Des (DL Desmond Bryant). We’ll probably have, if Billy’s down, that’s the one position where we felt we did have some depth. (DL) John Hughes who was inactive, will be active. ‘Kitch’ (DL Ishmaa’ily Kitchen) will likely be up. If I had to say who will replace Phil, it could be either one of those two. In run situations, it will likely be Kitch.”
On if Hughes was a healthy scratch from the lineup against the Titans:
“He was. It was just a numbers deal. We wanted to go with the fourth outside linebacker instead of the extra d-lineman.”
On if DBs K’Waun Williams or Justin Gilbert will be getting extra reps in practice in place of Haden:
“K’Waun’s more of a slot. It’ll be on Justin and ‘Nelly’ (DB Robert Nelson) will get a lot of the reps while Joe’s out.”
On his confidence level with the secondary:
“I’m not down on that group because they want to get it right. It’s a matter of going out there and putting the work in. There’s nothing magical about it. It’s going out there, putting in the work. We’ve shown that we can do it. If it was a situation where it was just a matter of what we were doing, we just couldn’t get it right and can’t make a play – that’s not the case. There are times we get it done, times we don’t. We need to – just the consistency thing that I’ve talked about – take a lot of those minuses and push them into the plus category.”
On the defense giving up an average of 7.3 yards on first down:
“We’re inconsistent on first down because it’s not like every first down is seven yards. You even look at the run defense. I thought we were playing pretty well against the run until they busted the 40-yarder on the jet sweep. You look at just the raw number and the average is what it is, but it’s the consistency thing. When we’re playing well for nine plays, and then the 10th one we give up a huge chunk, that’s a problem. You feel you’re much closer to getting it fixed as opposed to five a play, six a play, seven a play. Then, the average ends up being about the same. If we can eliminate the big ones, we feel we’ll be much closer to where we want to be.”
On how Williams and Nelson compare as cornerbacks:
“K’Waun’s more inside, more of a nickel. Nelly has played nickel, but he’s more of an outside corner.”
On Nelson and Williams playing against the Steelers as two undrafted rookies:
“It doesn’t matter to us how we acquire guys. We’re going to put guys out there that give us the best chance to win, and if they have to play we’re confident that they’ll be prepared. K’Waun – other than the early play in the game where he backed up too far in the red zone, and then giving too much cushion, gave up a touchdown – for the rest of the game, he was rock solid, made some huge plays, made the sack and then the tackle to end the game right there on the last one. We don’t get wrapped up into that. If they have to play, they have to play. I talked to the team today just about the whole theory of the phrase ‘next man up’, what it means and why it’s so prevalent in the league. Everybody talks about it because it’s true. You sometimes, especially if you’re a guy who’s on the practice squad or the perceived bottom of the roster and you’re not playing, you start to get into the routine. You get comfortable. We make sure we do it as a staff, but it’s also on them to make sure that I prepare myself to be a starter. That’s why we’re confident because those guys have been doing that, and when they get asked to do it, they’re ready to go. Injuries are a part of the league, and it happens. There are no excuses on Sundays.”
On if Nelson and Williams are outworking Gilbert:
“I wouldn’t say they’re outworking him. Justin’s been inconsistent. That’s a problem. Really to compare K’Waun to him, it’s like comparing a guard to a tackle. He’s an inside corner; Justin’s outside. He’s had his issues, and he knows that he’s been picked on when he’s in there. There are a lot of things that we need to get right with Justin, but we’re confident that we’re going to do it. Nobody’s bailing on him, and if he’s getting some tough love in the DB room so be it. We all recognize the talent, and he showed for long stretches he can do it. Then, he has his breakdowns. We just have to eliminate those, and that’s really indicative of why we are where we are as a defense.”
On if Gilbert thinks he already knows what to do:
“No, that’s not the case at all. I just think when you get into a game situation that sometimes young guys that haven’t had an extreme amount of reps in a system to get a coach and get it ingrained they fall back on old habits. That can tend to get you in trouble.”
On if Gilbert’s issues have to do with his attitude:
“It’s not an attitude thing at all, no.”
On if Gilbert has been addressing those issues behind the scenes:
On if he has warmed up to the idea of using Gilbert as a punt returner:
“No, because we just feel that the options that we have are better. We want him to focus still on…that’s pulling focus away from getting him right as a corner. That was briefly discussed, but that’s not a direction that we’re going to go.”
On if there is a mental component to losing consistently to a QB like Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and how to get over that:
“There could be. To me, it’s not you dealing with a quarterback. You’re just dealing with the team in general. You just look at the lack of success against Pittsburgh. That’s what we talked about that first week, but now that we’re into the season and we’re rolling, we’re onto the next one. That’s our next opponent. I don’t think you get caught up in the history at that point. We know how we played them the first game. The improvement that we can make, the things that we can continue to do well and the matchups and, ‘Hey, that’s who I played against’ – that’s all this game comes down to. I don’t think you can get tied up in it because I think it can only be a negative. I think it’s critical for our guys to—you get to the point where you use the cliché, ‘Just treat these guys as they are nameless and faceless.’ We’re more competing against our standards than we are anybody else in particular.”
On if he mentioned Brady’s success to the Bills defense last season:
“We talked about it briefly, but not to the extent that we did here. It was less just talking about Ben, specifically. It was more just the two teams, the franchises.”
On if he has a better understanding at this point in the season why the Browns came out like they did against Pittsburgh in Week 1:
“Obviously, we don’t because we came out that way against Tennessee. Still searching for it, but it’s something that we’ll look to get it corrected. That’s something that we’ve discussed. We’ve discussed amongst ourselves, as coaches. We’ve discussed it with the players because we know we’re close. If we can increase our level of consistency, we can very quickly get to where we want to be. That just doesn’t happen, and we’ve got to find the answers and we’ve got to get it corrected.”
On how much of a necessity it is that the defense straightens itself out this week against Roethlisberger and Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell:
“Again, I don’t think at this point for us defensively it matters who the opponent is. I think we play quality players every week. I think when guys just take it upon themselves to, ‘Hey, do my job. Get a plus on the grade sheet,’ and then the cumulative effect of that means we’ll have a positive result. That’s the important thing, I think, because when you get too wrapped up into who you’re playing, to me, I think we need to be much more introspective defensively. Just line up, do my job and trust that the guys around me are going to go theirs.”
On Gilbert and LB Barkevious Mingo getting off to slow starts and examples of guys that he’s coached that started slow and then came on strong:
“I think there are guys that progress at all different levels. I don’t know if I have any specific that just jump to mind, but it’s important for those guys to know that No. 1, we have their back. They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe in them, but at the same time, we have to do what’s best for the Browns. We have to do what’s best for the team and get guys out there that are going to maximize our chances to be successful. At the same time, they still have to play. I just think it’s important that they know that nobody’s giving up on them, and they’ve just got to keep playing. That’s the key thing. When you’re in a slump, you’ve got to play your way out of it.”
On how the Browns came upon Williams from Pittsburgh:
“(Secondary coach) Jeff Hafley coached him there. There were some other teams interested in him after the draft. The Steelers were one because the Steelers and Pitt share a building, share practice fields so they were very well aware of him. Jeff was there, and it was his position coach. He essentially recruited him after the draft.”
On if Haden was injured after a hit to his hip:
“I don’t know exactly how the injury occurred, but he didn’t miss a play. He went in; they looked at it. Then, he came right back out and went right from the tunnel straight onto the field.”
On if he expects Haden to be ready Sunday:
“I’m cautiously optimistic.”
On if Titans QB Jake Locker escaping the pocket is easy to fix in meeting rooms going up against Roethlisberger this week:
“It is easier said than done. I think their scramble, though, to compare the two is they’re very different. Locker is faster and looks more to run first, throw it second, whereas Ben constantly has his eyes downfield. They’ve perfected that to an art in Pittsburgh. Their receivers, they run the first route, the ball’s not there, he makes the first guy miss, gets out of the pocket and then they all break it off. You don’t have to go any further than Week 1, when we had a free runner, missed him, got out of the pocket and threw a perfect pass to (Steelers WR Antonio) Brown in the corner of the end zone.”
On if he thinks CBs have a difficult time adjusting to the officials being stricter on no-contact rules:
“I can’t speak for the league. I think our guys are probably better than most, as far as adjusting. I don’t know where the numbers are and where we are as being penalized, but it’s an educational thing, as well. I don’t like to discuss the details of the report that we send in, but we’ll ask questions and send them in. It’s not like, ‘Hey, we think you missed this call.’ It’s, ‘Please educate us. How can we coach our guys better?’ There’s been real good interaction. (NFL vice president of officiating) Dean Blandino put out a video every week to staffs and the first five, six minutes of it every week are usually about secondary play, plays that are, ‘Hey, this should be called. This shouldn’t be called.’ It’s good education for all of us, and I think as the year goes on it’ll settle down.”
On if the way the secondary defends guys has changed because of the league’s rule changes:
“I don’t see any difference based on the rule changes.”
On if he got any clarification on DB Joe Haden’s pass interference call:
On if it made sense:
“It made sense. That’s a good answer.”
On not only going no-huddle in the second half against Tennessee but going faster than average, and how comfortable that is for QB Brian Hoyer and how much he can use that in the first half to spark production:
“We talked about this after Week 1 – how that wasn’t going to be our lifestyle – but I think that’s a great tool to have in the toolbox, to be able to go fast. When we’ve fallen behind, I think we’ve still been committed to the run because I think when you go that fast, you can still run the ball. We’ve proven that now twice. You can still run the ball and get back into a game. The average number of possessions, you can go up-tempo and still get back into it, especially if that’s your thing. It’s important for us to have it, and we can jump in and out of it. It’s tough on us. I can’t say it isn’t. It is tough on us, the physical part of it, but I think it’s much tougher on a defense. You’ll get some watered-down calls. You can catch them in some base groupings, and you can get them tired.”
On what the mindset of the defense is right now and what he wants the mindset to be as it gets closer to Sunday:
“The mindset is I think they’re getting a little pissed off. I think they’re tired of hearing it, but they know it’s on them. They’ve got to go out and play. They know as a unit that they’re better than where we are statistically and better than what we’ve put on tape. It’s a prideful group. I’ve said that – prideful, competitive. It’s not a happy group. That’ll show up on the practice field. It already did in the meetings and in the walkthrough. I’ll be surprised if we don’t make strides in the right direction.”
On what makes defending the wide zone so difficult and if part of it is that you don’t see it a lot throughout the course of the season:
“I think that’s part of it – the commitment to the zone-scheme that we have. I think most teams have some element of it, but because it’s our lifestyle, I think we’re really good at it. I think that’s difficult to prepare for in an opponent, especially if you don’t have the players to match that scheme. You might have tight ends that are more mauler types or even offensive linemen that are more built for gap-scheme and downhill and down blocks. The athleticism required in the zone-scheme, you might be able to practice those blocks, but they’re not going to be at the speed, the tempo where our guys can get on top of you.”
On if Baltimore has a similar commitment level to it and the Browns:
“Similar. They are similar.”
On why he thinks DB Buster Skrine struggled on Sunday and if he played better in the first three weeks:
“I don’t really have an explanation for that. Count him in with those other guys where it’s ultra-important to him. He’s passionate. When we talk about ‘Play like a Brown,’ he’s that guy. You don’t need to get on him about it because he’s as upset as anybody else is about it. I know the double-move is the one for sure that he’d want to have back, but as with the rest of the defense, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t bounce back.”
On if he’s ever been on a team that had this much contribution from rookie free-agents:
“I doubt it. Going back to the Baltimore days, we had a bunch of guys. I don’t know if it was ever both sides of the ball, this big of a contribution. That’s a credit to them, and it’s a credit to our personnel staff that kind of put them on our radar and got them in here. As I said before, we’re going to coach everybody the same once there in here. If a guy is worthy of making the 53 and playing and being active on game day and playing then he’s going to be out there. I think it’s a function of the personnel staff, the coaching staff and the guys themselves. (If) you get a guy that has that ability, he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder for not being drafted and want to prove a point.”
1) STOP THE RUN – If you can halt the Steelers ground attack and force them to be one dimensional, their offensive line does not pass block well and you can get to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for sacks and potential turnovers. However, that pressure must come from the outside, forcing “Big Ben” to stay in the pocket so he can’t get to the edges, extending the play to throw downfield for long gains and scores. But all this starts by keeping Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount bottled up. This is easier said than done, especially since the Browns rank 30th out of 32 teams against the run this season, giving up 152.5 yards per game and the Steelers are 7th in the league in rushing at 137.2 yards per game.
2) DOUBLE TEAM ANTONIO BROWN – Give Joe Haden help in covering Brown. Bring a safety over and take your chances with one-on-one coverage elsewhere. In other words, make a receiver not named Antonio Brown beat you. No one has emerged to become that true, viable, second receiver threat yet for Pittsburgh. In fact, Brown is the only Steelers WR to reach the end zone this season.
3) BALANCE ON OFFENSE – Against Tennessee the Browns ran the ball 36 times and threw it 37 times. A similar game plan this week would be beneficial against a Steelers defense that is at best, AVERAGE. At times Pittsburgh has had trouble stopping the run and with the Browns strength being their offensive line and three capable running backs led by Ben Tate, using the run to set up the pass with play action, could result in chunks of yards on the ground, and then big scoring plays through the air against a very poor Steelers secondary. But when that big play is there, they must hit on it, score touchdowns and not have to settle for field goals because of missed opportunities.
4) SPECIAL TEAMS NEED TO BE SPECIAL – The Browns must contain Antonio Brown on punt returns. No more long returns and karate kicks to the face of Spencer Lanning. The Browns must win the field position battle and make sure that whoever is returning punts and kicks doesn’t turn the ball over. The Browns were very lucky last week that a penalty against the Titans nullified a fumbled punt return by Travis Benjamin. Also snaps, extra points and field goals all must be handled flawlessly by snapper, holder and kicker, so no kicks are missed and points are left on the field.
5) MAKE THE STEELERS LINEBACKERS COVER – In Dick Lebeau’s defensive scheme, he expects to get sacks or pressure on the quarterback from his linebackers. In the past that was no problem because Pittsburgh had Pro Bowl caliber linebackers. These Steelers linebackers are not that good. They’re having trouble getting to the quarterback and they have trouble covering tight ends and running backs on wheel routes out of the backfield. So make them cover and keep them off of Brian Hoyer, and the “Blitzburgh” defense is very susceptible to the big play and yielding points.
6) START AND FINISH STRONG – The Browns can ill afford to spot Pittsburgh a huge lead again because this time Pittsburgh may not take their foot off the gas like they did last time. Getting an early lead would be great for the team’s confidence and might put doubt in the minds of some of the young Steelers players, but at a minimum, keep the game even or close going into the fourth quarter and see if Brian Hoyer can work some more late game magic and help the “Kardiac Kids 2.0” come away with an important home, divisional win against their arch rivals.
Regardless of how they got here, the Browns are at .500 through 4 games at (2-2). Now what do they do moving forward will give us a better idea if they’re a good team, an improving team, a lucky team or still a bad team. We’ll start to get an answer to that debate starting this Sunday when they host their arch rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have beaten the Browns in 28 of the last 32 games.
Kudos to Chris Tabor’s special teams as they played a big part in the Browns historical comeback win yesterday at Tennessee. Tank Carter’s blocked punt was a momentum changer, and the fact they were perfect on all snaps for punts, field goals and extra points and they made all their kicks is huge. Plus their punt and kick coverage teams were outstanding.
Brian Hoyer is now (5-2) in 7 career starts for the Cleveland Browns. Of those 5 wins, he has led 3 game winning drives in the 4th quarter.
More Hoyer – he’s thrown for 1,008 yards with 6 touchdown passes and only 1 interception so far this season. That’s good for a 97.7 quarterback rating.
The Browns have outscored their opponents so far this season 67-30 in the second half of games.
While it is a victory Monday and as Mike Pettine pointed out in week #1 this is a Pass/Fail business, the Browns head coach can’t be happy with the way his team has started their road games (outscored 54-13 in 1st half), their inability to stop the run, the poor play of Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine and the horrendous tackling we’ve seen through 4 games.
The Browns defense, which was supposed to be its strength entering this season, is ranked 30th in run defense in the NFL at (152. Yards per game) and 28th in pass defense at ( 269.3 yards per game).
Having said all that, the Browns are only 1 game out of first in the AFC North.
Taylor Gabriel has been the biggest surprise for me amongst the wide receivers. The undrafted rookie from Abilene Christian has been a big play guy for the offense, averaging 19.4 yards per catch on 10 grabs.
If you’re looking for the strength of this Browns football team, look no further than the offensive line. Joe Thomas, John Greco, Alex Mack, Joel Bitonio and Mitchell Schwartz are the main reason Brian Hoyer has been able to do what he’s done, as well as the running game. The team is averaging over 143 yards per game on the ground with a 4.5 average on every carry regardless of who the running back is.
(4-15), that’s the combined record of the Browns next 4 opponents with 3 of those 4 games at home. No less than 3 wins in the next 4 games is acceptable if this squad wants to be considered a good team and a playoff contender.
The Browns rushing defense continues to struggle as they gave up 160 yards on the ground to the Ravens third and fourth string running backs.
For the season the Browns defense is giving up an average of 153.7 yards per game on the ground at a 5.2 yards per carry average.
The Browns racked up 94 yards on 12 penalties yesterday and through 3 games they have been penalized 24 times for 179 yards.
In the last 2 games the Browns have been outscored 13-3 in the fourth quarter.
The Browns have yet to commit a turnover this season and are a +4 in the giveaway/takeaway category.
The Browns have scored at least 21 points in all three games this season. The last time the team scored at least 21 points in the first three games of a season was 1969, when the team accomplished the feat in each of the first seven games.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer has thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception and through 3 games this season has a QB rating of 97.5.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is now 12-1 lifetime against the Browns. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is 18-1 lifetime against the Browns. So Cleveland’s two biggest rivals have quarterbacks who have combined to go 30-2 versus the Browns.
HEAD COACH MIKE PETTINE
On the 23-21 loss:
“(We’re) obviously very disappointed. I thought for the bulk of it the players played well enough to have a victory. I put this one on me. We didn’t coach well enough to win today. I’m not going to get into too much of the specifics until I get a chance to go through it. The list is long.”
On what would have happened if WR Travis Benjamin caught the ball on the punt at the end of the game:
“You’d like him to. I just don’t know. It was obviously windy. That’s one that you hope that even if he bombs it that he can still fair catch it. That’s a couple first downs worth.”
WR TRAVIS BENJAMIN
On the last punt of the game:
“I wasn’t afraid at all. I got up under the ball correctly and at the last minute, a gust of wind blew it and it went past my hand. I didn’t want to go back and reach for the ball, so I just let it pass by.”
DB JOE HADEN
On giving the Ravens too many chances:
“There were a lot of opportunities, but we pride ourselves on going on the field, making plays and getting stops and I just didn’t do that today. It was a really good play. He (Ravens WR Steve Smith, Sr.) just got me on a go route.”
On if there’s anything he could have done differently:
“It was a good throw and catch, but I put it on myself and I understand I have to make that play.”
On Head Coach Mike Pettine putting the loss on himself:
“That is what he said, but that doesn’t make any sense. He did a great job out there. We had a lot of chances to win, and there are a lot of things we could have done better, but we just didn’t finish.”
QB BRIAN HOYER
On the loss despite good offensive production:
“It’s tough; it’s heartbreaking. We were on the other side this week, and it doesn’t feel good. Really when it comes down to it, we made a lot of plays but we didn’t make them when we really needed to. In this league, you have to do it when it’s on the line. We did it last weekend; we didn’t do it this week. As good as we felt the whole game, when it comes down to critical moments, we just have to make more plays.”
On the last third-down pass attempt to WR Andrew Hawkins:
“It was a little bit behind him. I think I got to him a little quicker than we usually do it because of the progression. If I could put it in front of him, Hawk’s just turning. That’s on me, I have got to put it in front of him.”
LB JABAAL SHEARD
On the defense at the end of the game:
“We will go back and watch the film. I didn’t do a good job of getting to the quarterback. Up front, we didn’t do a good job. That’s on us. We have to go and get to the quarterback. We need to make plays.”
On not making enough plays at the end of the game:
“There were plenty of plays at the beginning of the game. We have to execute early, play disciplined, sound, and make plays early. Nothing to do with what happened at the end of the game, there were a lot of opportunities we missed in the first half. We gave up too many points.”
On new Coach Mike Pettine saying the coaches were out-coached today:
“I don’t know what they are talking about. I take it on us. We let them rush for too many yards up front. We didn’t get any sacks. That’s what we are here for up front, that’s what we have to do.”
On the multiple 12 men in the huddle penalties:
“We have to be more sound and pay attention to the sidelines to see what’s coming in or what’s going on. The stadium is pretty loud. We just have to be more sound. That’s on us.”
1) LeBron James – Yes he’s back and better than ever. Not only is he Cleveland’s best athlete, he’s one of the best athletes in the world. This isn’t a bad resume – 2 NBA Titles, 4 NBA MVP trophies, 2 NBA Finals MVP trophies, an 8-Time All NBA First Team selection, a 10-time All-Star and a 2-Time All-Star game MVP.
2) Kyrie Irving – “Uncle Drew” just picked up another MVP trophy, this time at the FIBA Basketball World Championship after leading Team USA to the gold medal. Plus he’s a two-time NBA All-Star and was last year’s All-Star game MVP. Oh yeah, he’s also a former NBA Rookie of the Year and a 3-point shootout champion and a rookie game MVP.
3) Joe Thomas – He plays one of the most important positions in football at left tackle, and is a 7-time Pro Bowler and a 4-time NFL All-Pro selection.
4) Kevin Love – He’s never played a game for the Cavs, but he will this season and hopefully for many more after that. The former Timberwolves power forward acquired this off-season in a three team trade is a double/double machine averaging 19.2ppg and 12.2rpg in his six year NBA career. He’s a 3-time All-Star, a 2-time All-NBA second teamer, led the NBA in rebounding in 2011 and was also voted the league’s most improved player that season, and like his new teammate Kyrie Irving, an NBA 3-point shootout champion in 2012. Oh yeah, last year in Minnesota he averaged 26.1ppg and 12.5rpg.
5) Joe Haden – He’s becoming one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and was named to his first Pro Bowl last year, as well as 2nd team All-Pro. How important is he to the Browns? He’s missed 7 games since being drafted in the first round by Cleveland in 2010 and the Browns are (0-7) when he doesn’t play.
6) Michael Brantley – He may be the best “Player To Be Named Later” in any trade in Indians history. He was the “PTBNL” in the Brewers-Indians deal in 2008 for C.C. Sabathia. Since then he’s become the Tribe’s best all-around player and was named an All-Star for the first time this season when he hit .322 with 15 homers and 63 rbi’s in the first half of the 2014 season. He’s on pace for a .320-20hr-100rbi season.
7) Corey Kluber – He came to the Indians as a no-name player in the Jake Westbrook three team trade back in July of 2010. Since then he’s slowly climbed the ladder from a guy who had struggled to make the roster, to one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, and the undisputed ace of the Indians staff. After going 11-5 with a 3.85era last season, Kluber has followed that up with a 16-9 mark so far, with a 2.54 earned run average.
8) Karlos Dansby – The self-proclaimed best linebacker in the NFL has only played two games for the Browns but has made an immediate impact. He picked off Ben Roethlisbrger in the opener in Pittsburgh and then came up with defensive play of the game against the Saints, sacking Drew Brees late in the fourth quarter to force New Orleans to punt the ball which then that allowed Brian Hoyer to lead the Browns down the field for a game winning field goal. His play on the field so far has been outstanding and his leadership in the locker room with a young team may be even more important. With the Cardinals last season, he was an NFL 2nd team All-Pro selection.
9) Yan Gomes – Talk about coming out of nowhere! Well Toronto is somewhere, that’s where Gomes was acquired from in a trade in 2012. After spending time at Triple-A Columbus in 2013 to start the season, Gomes got called up a second time when back-up catcher Lou Marson went down with an injury and hasn’t been back since. In fact he’s become the Indians every day catcher because of his solid defensive skills, his ability to call a game and manage a pitching staff and his offense and power continue to improve with every at bat. Gomes is hitting .286 with 19 homers and 64 runs batted in so far this season.
10) Alex Mack – A 2-time Pro Bowler and an NFL 2nd team All-Pro selection last season, Mack anchors the Browns offensive line and hasn’t missed a game since being selected in the first round of the 2009 draft.
Josh Gordon, Donte Whitner, Dion Waiters, Carlos Santana, Shane Austin
In years past this was an easy pick as the Steelers defense dominated because of its linebackers in Dick Lebeau’s “Blitzburgh” scheme. The pressure Pittsburgh’s LB’s would put on opposing quarterbacks allowed Troy Polamalu to do whatever he wanted and Ike Taylor was able to cover the opposition’s top wide out.
That is not the case anymore.
The Steelers linebackers are average at best, and Polamalu and Taylor are older and slower. That is not a good combination for the “Black and Gold”.
How bad are the Steelers linebackers? They drafted one in the first round in Ryan Shazier, and he’s starting on the inside! Mike Tomlin doesn’t like to start rookies on defense, or anywhere. That should tell you something. Last year’s first round pick, another linebacker in Jarvis Jones, underperformed based on the front office’s expectations and the other two starters, Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons have also been disappointments, even though Worilds led the team in sacks last year with 8. They are a downgrade from Steeler linebackers of the past.
Pittsburgh brought in Mike Mitchell to replace the ancient Ryan Clark at safety and that is an upgrade. However, without pressure and creating havoc in the backfield from the Steelers linebackers, Polamalu, Mitchell, Taylor and fellow starting corner Cortez Allen can be exposed by good passing attacks.
The Browns feel they’ve upgraded the middle of their linebacking core with the addition of veteran Karlos Dansby. He’s more of a play-maker than D’Qwell Jackson was, but doesn’t have many years left.
Last year’s number #1 pick Barkevious Mingo will be called upon to sack the quarterback. That’s why he was drafted. He’s very suspect against the run, so he has to make up for that with double-digit sacks this year.
Last year’s biggest disappointment was free agent linebacker Paul Kruger. He did not provide the pass rush that the Browns were expecting and needs to step his game up a lot or he’ll lose playing time to another guy that Jim O’Neil is hoping will get after the quarterback, Jabaal Sheard. The last starter right now is Craig Robertson on the inside, but for how long? He’s OK, but rookie third round pick Christian Kirksey was impressive in camp, in the preseason and is a better cover guy than Robertson, so don’t be surprised if the rookie from Iowa leap frogs Robertson and eventually becomes the starter.
Joe Haden is the best player on the Browns defense. When he’s at his best he can take away a quarter of the field and cover the opponent’s top receiver. It’s the other corner position the Browns were worried about so they passed on a much needed wide receiver at #4 and then at #8 in the draft, and selected defensive back Justin Gilbert to plug in opposite Haden. This has the potential to be an outstanding tandem even though Gilbert struggled at times in the preseason. The Browns believe he has the size, speed and instincts to be a top flight cover corner. This also moves Buster Skrine inside to cover the slot guys and it will benefit the team immensely, as Skrine was often picked on last year by opposing quarterbacks on the outside and beaten badly or flagged for a penalty.
The strong safety position will be led by hard hitting veteran Donte Whitner. He was brought here in free agency to replace T.J. Ward because of his experience and leadership, as well as delivering the big hit to make receivers think twice about coming into his area. The Browns also feel Whitner is a good compliment to free safety Tashaun Gipson who led the team with 5 interceptions last year.
The Steelers front office feels the linebacking core will take major steps forward this year with Shazier using his speed to make tackles and Jones his pass rush ability to sack the quarterback, but I’m not as sold on this group, especially when you compare it to what they’ve had in the past. Also the secondary has been a major problem for the Steelers for a number of years now and it’s just getting older. Yes the Steelers are using the same scheme, but do they have the players to make it work? Add in that Joe Haden is the best defensive player either of these two teams have, and the Browns have upgraded their talent and now have some depth, while it’s not a huge edge, I give the Browns linebackers and secondary the slight nod over the Steelers.
LINEBACKERS and SECONDARY ADVANTAGE – CLEVELAND
After watching the Cleveland Gladiators get destroyed in Arena Bowl 27 by the Arizona Rattlers 72-32 I was hoping when I left “The Q” I would be getting some good news about the Browns in their third preseason game against the Rams. I was hoping I could go home and pull up on my DVR the Browns looking good in what is considered the dress rehearsal game for the regular season. That was not the case as I checked the internet and saw a 33-14 defeat at the hands of the Rams. So I needed a break from bad football and waited until late Sunday night to watch the Browns game. Here are my observations:
For all Browns fans out there, you have to hope that head coach Mike Pettine and his coordinators are holding a lot back. That they don’t want to show their hand as to what they are capable of doing on offense and defense. That “Vanilla” has been the name of all the game plans so far. If not, this could be a long season after what I’ve witnessed not only in the Rams game, but all of the preseason games so far.
The two biggest things I took away from the Rams game – 1) The Browns don’t have a legitimate, playoff caliber quarterback in Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel. 2) By them not playing in the game, it was made abundantly clear that the Browns have two playmakers, Josh Gordon and Joe Haden. Without those two players in the line-up, the negative domino effect was painfully obvious.
Gordon is the only player on offense that opposing defenses fear right now and maybe for the whole season. The Rams had 7 offensive plays of 20 yards or more, the Browns didn’t have any….NONE….not even one against the Rams third team defense!
The Rams with 4 different quarterbacks playing thanks to the injury to starter Sam Bradford, averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt. Hoyer and Manziel averaged 4.7 yards per pass attempt. Pathetic!
What was supposed to be one of the strengths of this team, the offensive line, looked like a weakness Saturday night. Granted the Rams have a very good defensive line, but to give up 4 sacks and only rack up 32 yards rushing in the contest was alarming. That unit, on this team, including Joe Thomas was one I wasn’t overly concerned with, but I am now.
To be out gained by almost 300 yards, at home, in what is considered the most important preseason game of the preseason, is concerning to say the least. Plus the Rams did it with their back-up quarterback, and his back-up, and then his back-up. That’s their 4th string guy!
There were a few positives in the game, not many, but a few, so let’s give them credit.
Rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey had a solid game with 7 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss and an interception.
Defensive end Armonty Bryant only had 2 tackles, but he had a number of quarterback pressures (one knocked Sam Bradford out of the game and out for the season with a torn ACL) and he gave great effort whenever he was in the game.
Granted it was against a combo of the Rams second and third team defenses, but Johnny Manziel showed off the one thing he can do and that’s scramble and make a play with his legs as he scored on a 7 yard run.
Punter Spencer Lanning was solid with a 40 yard average but more importantly he landed 2 of 5 punts inside the 20 yard line.
The return game was very good on both punts and kick offs. Good to see Travis Benjamin back as he returned a punt 17 yards and showed the speed we’re used to seeing from him. The Browns also averaged nearly 34 yards per kickoff return.
Also let’s credit the coverage teams as they haled the Rams returners in check on both punts and kickoffs.