Tag Archives: Terrance West

Four Downs – Browns at Bears

The Cleveland Browns take on the Chicago Bears tonight at 8:00pm at Soldier Field in Chicago. Here are four things to look for during this game.

First Down: A Terrelle Pryor sighting?

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor catches a pass during practice at NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor catches a pass during practice at NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Will we finally see Terrelle Pryor tonight against the Bears? If we do, it would be a good and bad thing for the Browns.

First, the good. The Browns would finally get to see Pryor against other defensive backs and see how he has progressed. Pryor has made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of players such as Josh Cribbs and Antwaan Randle El. The major difference with these players is that they made the switch coming out of college while Pryor is making his switch mid-NFL career.

Now the bad. Pryor has been battling a nagging hamstring injury throughout camp. When he spoke to reporters this week, he mentioned that he is only about 80-85% healthy. The fact is this, if he suffers another injury during the game tonight, he would likely find himself on the waiver wire. There is another option. Pryor could be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. If Pryor is placed on the PUP list, he would not be eligible to be on the active roster until week seven of the season.

Second Down: Crowell – West – Johnson

Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and Duke Johnson are all competing for the starting running back position. The Browns are looking for one of these players to step up. Crowell has been the best of the backs so far through the preseason, though that is not saying much. Through the first three games, Crowell has carried the ball 17 times for 47 yards, an average of just 2.7. However, he has also been significantly better in pass protection.

West still has the major problem of going east to west instead of north and south. He dances way too much in the backfield, very Trent Richardson-esque.

The other Browns running back, Duke Johnson, has hardly been on the field. He, much like many other Browns’ players, had been battling a hamstring injury throughout training camp. He finally got to participate in last week’s game against Tampa Bay, however it was short lived as he was concussed. He will not play in the preseason finale.

Third Down: Roster Battles

The Browns’ roster has to be cut down from 75 to 53 by 4:00pm EST on Saturday. It will not be easy to trim the roster down to 53. There will be some surprises as it seems there always are. I am no NFL General Manager but I can make a few predictions of some players that will get cut: QB Pat Devlin, RB Shaun Draughn, RB Timothy Flanders, WR Darius Jennings, WR Vince Mayle, WR Rodney Smith, TE Rob Housler, DT Jacobbi McDaniel, DT Dylan Wynn, LB Darius Eubanks just to start.

I am looking forward to seeing of Josh Lenz will make this team and tonight will be an important game for him. He reminds me of a player like Julian Edelman. Another player I believe who is on the bubble but I believe will make this team is Jamie Meder. He has been tearing up offensive lines so far this preseason and this game is really important for him as well. It will be interesting to see what the depth will look like on the defensive line after cutting Phil Taylor.

Fourth Down: Get out of the game healthy

You hate to see any kind of injuries in the preseason, especially in the final game where you are already resting your starters in hopes to prevent any major blows to the team. The last thing you want to see is key reserve players get hurt and miss any significant time.

Four Downs will be a weekly post leading up to each game.

Cleveland Browns Ten Best of 2014

Well, here we are again. The door has finally closed on the most recent Browns season. It may actually be more appropriate to say that the lid has finally been closed on the casket, but hey, semantics. 2014 ended much the same way that every season seemingly ends. The Browns strolled into one of their rival’s stadiums with their third string quarterback while nursing a massive losing streak, and proceeded to put up a valiant (pathetic) performance that came up short.

In what has become the saddest, most infuriating and depressing holiday tradition around these parts, the Browns train flew off the tracks halfway through the season and careened down the hillside in flames. The details of this particular fiery wreck were a little different than seasons past, as is normally the case, but the end result was eerily familiar. The only thing that is slightly unfamiliar to me is that I have to write about it this year for an adoring public clamoring for my thoughts on the year that was.

(Deliberate pause for everyone to get in their prolonged eye rolls)

As is the case with an NFL season, especially one involving the team that plays on the Northern edge of downtown Cleveland, there is so much that happens that trying to pack it all into one article would be borderline irresponsible. It would also eat up content that could be stretched out for a few weeks, but let’s go with the previous sentence. It sounds much better. That being said, over the next month or so I’ll be taking a look back at all things 2014 Cleveland Browns before we get to start talking about the offseason and our favorite civic past time which is, of course, the NFL Draft. Today I’ll be starting off with the positive and counting down the Cleveland Browns ten best of 2014.

10. Kyle Shanahan

We’ll start things off with the Browns young offensive coordinator. Granted, there were some issues with his offense that showed after starting center Alex Mack went down, but I have to say that I really do like his offense overall and saw a lot of positives that give me hope for the future. He’ll be getting interviews for Head Coaching jobs elsewhere, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if he actually landed on of them, but if he comes back the Browns will have a year under their belt with him and I would be willing to bet the Browns offense improves come next season. If you look at what he did, especially early on, with some limitations at certain positions and his ability to adjust, I have to give a very positive review of Kyle Shanahan’s job in his first season with the team.

9. “Scrap Heap” Wide Receiver Acquisitions

I wasn’t exactly sure how to title this one. When I made my list for this I ended up with fourteen players and coaches that I wanted to mention. Unfortunately, a top fourteen list doesn’t quite have the ring to it that a top ten list does, so I had to make some edits. The first of those was combining three guys that I thought clearly needed to be mentioned into one item. Those guys, in no particular order, are Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Miles Austin. These three were each acquired through different ways and all made their mark at a position that was thought to be among the worst on the team.

To be clear, none of these receivers will be mistaken for an elite player. But each of them were extremely pleasant surprises that had very good first seasons with the Browns. There were big plays made by all of them, they brought a sure handedness that we had been sorely lacking, and I would wholeheartedly support all three of them being back next season. As sad as it is, there aren’t many receivers that have played for the Browns the past decade or so that I could say any of those things about, let alone all three.

8. Karlos Dansby

One of the big offseason acquisitions for the Browns, Dansby was brought in for both his on field performance and his veteran presence in the locker room. And he exceeded all expectations that I had for both of those things. He may have been higher on this list had his season not been cut short by injury, but there is no doubt that the signing of Karlos Dansby was an incredibly important one for the development of a winning culture, and there is also no doubt that he still has something left in the tank.

7. Paul Kruger

After signing a huge free agent deal and having a disappointing first season, Kruger came back in a big way this year. He was a guy that I thought could be gone if his second season went the same way as his first, but he turned things around and was one of the better players on the defensive side of the ball throughout 2014. Kruger ended up with 11.5 sacks and he was one of the only players, if not the only, who applied consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

6. The Baby Backs

You may know them by their given names Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, but together they were known throughout the season as the Baby Backs. And while each of them had some issues during their rookie year, they both showed enough flashes that I think we can all be satisfied with the running back position going into next season. The talent is obvious and as long they can clean up their respective problems the Browns will have a great 1-2 punch for the foreseeable future.

5. Mike Pettine

There were definitely mistakes made by the Browns rookie Head Coach, but he is someone that I have to put in this top ten. I’m positive that I will have much more on Pettine in the very near future, but for now I’ll slot him right smack in the middle of this list. There are almost certainly other coaches that we all would have liked the Browns to have hired the past few years using hindsight, but we ended up with Mike Pettine. And I have to say that I have a much better feeling in my gut regarding him than I had for all of his predecessors dating back to Butch Davis. I love his honesty, I love his relatability, and I love the type of program that he’s trying to build here. I’m only hoping that he gets the time needed to build that program.

4. Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas, Pro Bowl, All Pro. Rinse, wash, repeat. The Browns veteran left tackle caught a lot of flack for having a down season and nearing the end of his career as an elite lineman. This Browns columnist would like to tell you that that is all a steaming pile of crap. Sure, he may not have had his best season, but let’s remember that his best season ranks among the elite for the entire history of the NFL. Rumors of his demise are far, far exaggerated and we should all continue to count our lucky stars that we have him on our team. Here’s hoping that he actually gets to play in the postseason before his Hall of Fame career ends.

3. Joel Bitonio

It would make sense that the high second round draft pick that practically no one in Cleveland had ever heard of would be higher on this list than the future Hall of Famer that he played next to, right? In Browns world, of course it would. The pick of Bitonio either enraged fans because he wasn’t a wide receiver or befuddled fans because they had no clue who he was. There really wasn’t much in between, me included. I fell into the second category, but instantly fell in love with the guy after listening to his conference call after the second day of the Draft and reading up on him. And then he went out and had himself a fantastic rookie season at left guard. He’s the kind of person you want in the locker room, and judging by his first year with the Browns he’s also the kind of player you want on the field. Barring injury, you can set it in stone that he’ll be playing in some Pro Bowls and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’s the guy who ends up taking over at left tackle when Joe Thomas calls it quits.

2. The Secondary

Again, this is kind of cheating. I had three players that definitely needed to be mentioned, and a couple others who were close to making the list. But, for the sake of not leaving out some of the others, I have combined them all and will talk about them as a unit. The Browns secondary in 2014 contained two players who made the Pro Bowl in Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson, two steadfast veterans who played well in Buster Skrine and Donte Whitner, and a surprising undrafted rookie who was fantastic before getting hurt in K’Waun Williams.

I mainly wanted to make sure that Haden, Gipson, and Williams were mentioned, but it seems fitting for me to include the unit as a whole. Gipson had his coming out party this year, leading the league in interceptions before suffering a season ending injury, and K’Waun Williams was an incredibly pleasant surprise, vastly outplaying first round pick Justin Gilbert.

But mostly, I have to talk about Joe Haden. After a slow start that could probably be attributed to being banged up out of the gate and adjusting to the new restrictive rules for defenders, Haden played at as high a level as anyone could given the restrictions on defensive backs in today’s NFL. To put it much more simply, Joe Haden was out of this world fantastic and showed why he continues to be among the best at his position in all of the NFL. He came up with a couple of the more ridiculous pass break ups and interceptions that you’ll ever see and, as far as I can tell, continues to be a great presence in the locker room. I should probably qualify everything I write about him with the fact that he will probably go down as one of my favorite Cleveland athletes of all time, but I won’t right now because his play on the field doesn’t need any qualifiers.

1. Alex Mack

I stewed over whether the secondary or Mack should earn the number one spot on this list. After all, the secondary encompassed a half dozen players who ranged from fantastic to good, had two Pro Bowl nominations, and a myriad of other points for other players going for it. As much of a cop out as it may have been, part of me couldn’t see how anything from the 2014 Browns could top the resume of that unit.

But then there was that other part of me. The part that saw the offense in the first five games before Alex Mack went down with a season ending injury. The part that saw an offensive line, a unit, and an entire team that could impose their will on any team and dictate the tempo. The same part of me that saw a team with a new identity that could play with any team in the league, and was winning more than they were losing.

Sadly, that part of me, and all parts of me really, were slowly devastated in the weeks and months following Mack’s injury. Sure, there were some wins against bad teams and a few good performances against playoff bound squads, but for all intents and purposes the season ended when Alex Mack was carted off the field in October during the bludgeoning of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I would never have believed that a center could have such a monumental impact on a team. Hell, I think I even wrote as much last offseason when talking about whether the Browns should keep T.J. Ward or Mack. But I have never seen an injury, aside from a quarterback, affect a team as much as Mack’s injury did to the Browns. I honestly still can’t believe how staggering the difference was. I’ll have more on this in the next few weeks, but there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Alex Mack was the most valuable player on the Browns in 2014. There’s no way we would have ever known it had he not gotten hurt and had he stayed healthy it would have certainly been someone else.

But, unfortunately for all of us, he did get hurt. His season was ended prematurely. And the team went into a tailspin that was impressive even for the Browns. And a center who didn’t even play five games ends up atop my list of the best of the 2014 Cleveland Browns. It’s almost unbelievable.

Almost.

Leadership at the Top Gives Browns Future Hope

Another Cleveland Browns season has come and gone without a playoff appearance. Despite an AFC North leading 6-3 start, the home team finished with a 7-9 record—good enough for last in the division while losing their final five games. Many fans are angry, myself included. However, I am choosing to focus on some positives rather than tearing down every position, as easy as that would be. I feel we have great leadership in place at the top that allows me to feel hope for the future of the Browns.

Mike PettineWe were once again dealing with a rookie Head Coach and rookie GM this year. However, Mike Pettine took this team to a 7-9 record when many national pundits predicted the Browns would with four or less games again this season. Before the season began, I know many Browns fans would have called me crazy if I said this team would win seven games.

Pettine is also establishing a no-nonsense culture in the locker room. While it is tremendously beneficial to have veteran voices like Donte Whitner and Joe Thomas in the locker room, the leadership and discipline needs to come from the Head Coach. Mike Pettine decided to sit Justin Gilbert and Josh Gordon for violating team rules. Regardless of it being a meaningless game for the Browns, the message was sent that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you were drafted, get it together or you won’t be playing for this team.

FarmerIt was also the first year for Ray Farmer to hold a General Manager position. I believe he did very well and look for him to improve in the years to come—especially in the first round of the draft. While I’m not quite ready to give up on Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, there definitely needs to be significant improvement from these two to salvage the TWO first round picks we had in 2014. Johnny is a knucklehead that needs to grow up, but I both of these players have the talent needed to succeed in the NFL. The question is, will they apply themselves to realize their potential, or will they be names in the long list of poor Browns draft choices?

While the first round is still undetermined, the rest of the draft as well as the undrafted players that Ray Farmer brought in have already made significant contributions. Joel Bitonio (2nd round), Christian Kirksey (3rd), Terrance West (4th) and Pierre Desir (4th) all had pretty decent rookie years—especially Bitonio.

Let’s also look at the notable undrafted players that Farmer and his scout team deemed worthy to bring in this year. Isaiah Crowell, Taylor Gabriel, Connor Shaw and K’Waun Williams. That is pretty impressive, considering a few of these players arguably performed well above veterans or those that were actually drafted this year.

Add these rookies along with free agent signings Andrew Hawkins, Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby, I believe Ray Farmer gets an A for this rookie year. This, as well as adding an additional first round pick in the 2015 draft, which we now know the Browns will be picking 12 and 19.

I believe a bit more praise is in order for Ray Farmer. This time, for realizing just how valuable Alex Mack was for this offense. I remember many fans and media members bemoaning the Browns matching Jacksonville’s 5-year, $42 million offer to resign the center. After Mack went down for the season, you would have to be blind to deny the impact he makes on the offensive line. It was a brilliant move to use the transition tag and allow another team do the negotiating for them.

Looking forward, while there are a few holes that need to be addressed (unfortunately we still don’t know who will be our starting QB), I see the Cleveland Browns future is bright. You can call me a blind, hopeless optimist. You can say I’m suffering from some morbid sports Stockholm syndrome. Call it whatever you’d like, I enjoyed watching the Browns this season and I’m positive to see how this team grows under the current leadership.

Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine are exactly what we needed in this organization. Also, the very last thing that should happen is to get rid of them, so any talk of firing either of them needs to stop. You get rid of them, who would want to come to Cleveland in a situation like that?

What Cleveland needs is continuity for multiple years. No knee-jerk reactions. Stay the course.

Go Browns.

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 14

Despite the spark that Johnny Manziel provided against the Bills the Browns decided to stay with Brian Hoyer. Hopefully Hoyer can play with a little more fire now that he knows Johnny Football is breathing down his neck. It also helps that the Colts defense is a lot weaker than the Bills.

QB- Brian Hoyer: A crucial game for him. Is high risk QB2 because of the possibility that he gets benched in favor for Manziel.

QB- Johnny Manziel- Once he starts he becomes a QB1 immediately. Must add if you don’t have one of the top 6 QBs right now regardless. Running quarterbacks are almost always quality fantasy quarterbacks, even awful passers like Vince Young and Tim Tebow were good fantasy quarterbacks. Until he starts playing he shouldn’t be starting but he should be added because it looks like he could start playing real soon.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- He will do better against the Colts than what he did against the stout Buffalo. Still a decent RB2 option for this week and the rest of the season.

RB- Terrance West: Still getting carries, but remains a risky flex play. Cannot continue fumbling.

WR- Josh Gordon- Hoyer and Gordon just don’t seem to be on the same page, but hopefully another good week of practice will help. Because if it does watch out, Gordon could be deadly.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Hawkins will continue to get the second looks as long as Cameron is hurt.

TE- Jordan Cameron- If he comes back this weekend he’ll has a good matchup against a Colt defense that struggles against TEs.

K- Billy Cundiff- Billy Cundiff has been awful lately, if you own him as a joke the joke is probably awful.

DEF- The defense will struggle against the Colts explosive offense, but Luck is turnover prone so they could get some points.

A Cleveland Browns Thanksgiving

After years of mediocrity, it finally looks like (knock on wood) Cleveland Browns fans have a team they can be thankful for and proud of this year. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the team is currently 7-4 and right in the thick of the playoff hunt. All of this got some of the Browns writers here at More Than A Fan: Cleveland thinking, what should the Cleveland Browns be thankful for this year? Here is what we came up with.

Dave Jack

-For starters, the Browns as an organization should still be thankful for the Indianapolis Colts. While the current administration had nothing to do with executing the Trent Richardson deal, they certainly did benefit from it. It’s far too early to determine whether the trade ultimately worked out in their favor, but the added first round pick allowed the Browns flexibility to move around in that round and do what they wanted.

-To piggyback off of that, Ray Farmer and company should propose a Thanksgiving toast to Joe Banner. Banner wasn’t perfect, but he did have the foresight to stockpile draft picks for the 2014 NFL Draft (much to the detriment of the 2013 draft), one that he predicted (so far, correctly) would have much more talent. He also left the new regime in a very good position financially.

-We found out the hard way that everyone should be thankful for center Alex Mack. The offensive line as a whole took a noticeable step back in the couple games following his injury. This was no doubt partly due to chemistry, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that was it. Joe Thomas is probably the better lineman at a more integral position, but Mack was the general and possibly the best run blocker out of the bunch. Missing him shows that Mack is worth every penny of his $42 million contract.

Andy Metzger

First and foremost, the Browns should be thankful for the defensive secondary unit. If it hadn’t been for their stellar play all season, the Browns record would be much different. The secondary has collected 13 total interceptions this season, led by Tashaun Gipson with six of them. Joe Haden has played lights out this season and is earning that big contract. While he had early struggles, Justin Gilbert has shown tremendous progress the last few games and made a huge pass defense against the Falcons in a tight game. It is because of the secondary unit that Brian Hoyer has had extra opportunities per game.

Second, the Browns should be thankful for Johnny Manziel *ducks*. Now, hear me out on this. When the Browns selected Johnny Manziel in the first round in the draft, the Browns suddenly became a relevant team in the NFL in the eyes of the national media. With that, Brian Hoyer knew he needed to work his butt off to be the starting QB of the Cleveland Browns. This is just speculation, but I assume Hoyer also brought his game up on the intangibles that rookies have a hard time with. Namely, leadership. There’s no doubt that Brian Hoyer is the leader of the offense. He has command of the huddle and the respect of his peers. Sometimes it is that confidence that boosts your game to another level. The Browns should be thankful for Johnny Manziel, it lit a fire under Brian Hoyer. I just hope his inconsistent passes don’t lock us out of the playoffs *ducks*.

Last, but certainly not least, the Browns should be thankful for Ray Farmer. More specifically, Ray Farmer and his scout team. Where older regimes refused to bring in free agents because “they’re free agents for a reason,” Ray Farmer brought in Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Jim Dray, Ben Tate, Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins. As for the draft, they snagged Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Terrance West, Pierre Desir as well as gaining extra 2015 1st, 4th and a 6th round draft pics. For undrafted rookies, the Browns collected an impressive haul that are major contributors on both sides of the ball. Cleveland signed Ray Agnew, Isaiah Crowell, Taylor Gabriel and K’Waun Williams. Without the players Ray Farmer signed, this would be a very different looking team. So, not only the Browns, but I, too, am thankful for Ray Farmer and his scout team. They did a fantastic job in the first year and cannot wait to see what they can do in the years to come.

Nico Ericksen-Deriso

Local(ish) High Schools – With four players from the Youngstown and Cleveland areas, the Browns ought to be thankful for the local talent that has reached them. Brian Hoyer went to high school at local powerhouse St. Ignatius. After spending time working behind Tom Brady in New England, Hoyer has emerged in Cleveland to lead the team’s offense, racking up 2864 yards through the air on a 55.9% completion rate to go along with 11 touchdowns thus far this year. On defense, one of his counterparts is also a Cleveland native. Donte Whitner attended Glenville High School before heading to Ohio State. In his first year with the Browns, he has been instrumental so far, finding himself second on the team in tackles with 73. He also has an interception and a forced fumble to go along. Two Browns linemen hail from the Youngstown area: Ishmaa’ily Kitchen on defense, and John Greco on offense. Kitchen attended Cardinal Mooney High before pursuing a career in the NFL. After seeing little time on the field in September, Kitchen has stepped up to the tune of 23 tackles since Week 6 as injuries have slowly decimated the Browns’ defensive line. On the other hand, John Greco, who attended Boardman High in Youngstown, has started every game for the Browns this season, primarily at right guard.
A Kyle Shanahan Offense – Shanahan’s offense has created a functional unit for the Browns. Despite losing one of their best players in Alex Mack, Cleveland has still been able to produce at a greater rate than last year, often powered to victory on the backs of their duo of rookie running backs and Hoyer’s mistake-minimizing arm. However, I can’t say that this has been all good, as their have been a few games when the offense has just straight up failed. However, overall, Shanahan’s presence in Cleveland has been a blessing.
The Cincinnati Bengals – “Wait what?! The Bengals? That makes so much sense, being thankful for one of our rivals and the division leader. Except not!”…Well, if you really think about it, it does. The Browns have three big reasons to be thankful for the Bengals. First off, former Bengal Andrew Hawkins leads the team in receiving with 50 receptions for 694 yards and two touchdowns. Secondly, the Bengals were kind enough to drop a huge deuce on Thursday Night Football. And lastly, the Bengals were dumb enough to help make sure the Browns improved this year by signing Greg “Brickhand” Little, guaranteeing that Cleveland’s worst nightmare would never haunt the team again. As hard as it is to admit, the Browns owe the Bengals a polite nod at dinner this Thanksgiving.

Stephen Thomas

I’m thankful that Mike Smith knows less about clock management than Andy Reid.

I’m thankful for reactionary Browns fans on Twitter, who handle each third down failure and incomplete pass with the grace and tact of a sorority girl in a zombie apocalypse movie.

I’m thankful for Joel Bitonio and Joe Thomas, who could block their way out of Nakatomi Plaza.

I’m thankful for Steelers fans, because as Judge Smails said in Caddyshack “The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

Ryan Jones

Mike Pettine – I routinely make jokes about the corpses that have roamed the sidelines for the Cleveland Browns over the past two or so decades, but know that I make those jokes in the most masochistic way imaginable. It kills me every time that I do it, but I think we might just be able to move on from all of that. Granted, Mike Pettine has had a couple time management blunders during his rookie campaign, but I get the feeling that he is an actual NFL caliber head coach. It’s a relatively small sample size but I’m absolutely loving him at the helm of my team thus far.

Josh Gordon – Quite simply the most talented football player that I have ever seen play for the Browns during my lifetime. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Josh Gordon was the singular reason that I was able to watch and enjoy the second half of last season. He is that good. And the Browns were that bad. There were quite a few local media members who advocated for his release this offseason. You most likely won’t hear them address that, but you will hear me reaffirm my love of Josh Gordon and the fact that I wrote a series of articles championing the fact that releasing him would have been a disastrous mistake. Seeing number twelve out on the field in Brown and Orange might just be the best thing in my life right now. Please don’t tell my girlfriend.

Seven and four. Seven wins and four losses. Seven wins at Thanksgiving and a team that is squarely in the mix for a playoff spot. I’m sorry, but after the putrid and depressing football that I have been subjected to my entire life, that is definitely the thing that I am most thankful for. Again, please don’t let my girlfriend or loved ones read this. Or, actually, let them read this. They know I have an irrational love for this football team. They’ll understand. All of us understand. Or, at least, should. The Browns have a huge game against Buffalo on Sunday, and they are poised to enter the month of December fighting for the division and the playoffs. How can we not be thankful for that?


 

As you can see, the Browns organization has a lot to be thankful for. One consensus among all of the writers was that the Browns should be thankful for their fans. These are fans who have stuck it out through multiple two, three and four win seasons. Fans who have begged just to have a team with a .500 record. Fans who can boast that they are some of the best fans in the NFL, as well as the most numerous.

The staff at More Than A Fan: Cleveland would like to wish all of you, our readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving. Even if you’ve only read one post or disagree with everything we say on a regular basis, we are still thankful for taking the time to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 13

After a huge win on the road against the Falcons the Browns improved to 7-4 but remained in last place.. This week we go up against Buffalo Bills who have a tough defense, that could be aided by the weather. After that we have tough games against the Colts and Ravens. It will be a tough road to the playoffs, but anything is possible.

QB- Brian Hoyer: Is starting to become less careful with the ball, which really concerns me. It really makes Hoyer a risky play against the Bills. Consider benching him this week if you are in a 2 QB league.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- It appears that the Browns finally have an official bell cow ( bell crow?) running back. Since the Browns love running it in goal line Crowelll will be a RB 1 most weeks. This week may be a challenge as the Bills have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to RBs all season.

RB- Terrance West: It almost feels certain that West is now the second RB on the depth chart. Seems like a risky flex start this week.

WR- Josh Gordon- He should only get better as his chemistry with Hoyer improves. Could be scary good down the stretch.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Hawkins still has value unless Jordan Cameron starts taking some of his targets. Very valuable WR in real life.

WR- Taylor Gabriel- Not worth owning in any league any more with the return of Gordon.

TE- Jordan Cameron- Should play this week, but the Bills are very good at stopping TEs.

K- Billy Cundiff- Last weeks big game put Cundiff right back to the middle of the pack as he is 16th in the NFL among kickers in fantasy.

DEF- The Buffalo weather and strong defenses on both ends could make this game a low scoring turnover affair. A good pick to start this week.

Attention Browns: Feed the Crow

Fans want the Browns to “Feed the Crow.” With Ben Tate gone, there is more room for both Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell to grow and show the coaching staff, the city of Cleveland and the entire NFL just what they can do.

As I wrote last week, I noted that with Josh Gordon coming back, he would help in many more ways than with the ball in his hands. A special talent like that has to be accounted for. That’s why I propose the Browns begin to start truly giving the reigns to Isaiah Crowell and let him run until he pukes.

In the last two games, Isaiah Crowell has played 63% offensive snaps, sporting a 7.73 yards per carry average. This, compared to Terrance West, who has played 26% snaps on offense the last two weeks with a 3,89 YPC. So, it seems the Browns are beginning to trend towards a Crowell takeover. However, in the game against Atlanta, West led with 14 carries and one reception, with Crowell getting twelve carries.

Ben Tate who? Now, I liked Ben Tate as an offseason signing for the Browns and wanted him coming out of Auburn. However, he has been riddled with injuries his entire career and has been ineffective in most games this season—most notably his -9 yards on two carries against the Houston Texans.

To be fair, the running game has been more off than on ever since losing Alex Mack for the season. Also, without Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron on the field, teams have been able to stack the box, taking away the running game and daring Brian Hoyer to defeat them with his inconsistent passing. With Gordon back (and hopefully Cameron soon), the Browns will need to throw less and pound the ground more, with teams loosening their grip of the line of scrimmage.

Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme has been built around a strong ‘X’ receiver (Josh Gordon, Pierre Garcon, Andre Johnson) that opens doors to all other players on offense, namely the running back. In Washington, we saw 6th round pick Alfred Morris reap the benefits and has now made a name for himself, as well as undrafted Arian Foster. Shanahan has been quoted saying he “would love for one of the [Browns running backs] to step it up and separate himself from the others.”

Crow2Well, Kyle, I believe Isaiah has stepped it up. This isn’t to say that Terrance West isn’t a good running back. I believe he is, but Crowell has shown special burst, vision and all around talent that it takes to be a #1 running back in the NFL. He was very impressive against the Falcons—albeit one of the weaker defenses in the NFL. Crowell’s 12 carry 88 yard day was highlighted by his Marshawn Lynch Beastmode-esque 26-yard touchdown in the third quarter, giving Cleveland a 23-14 lead.

With as much as I have stated the return of Josh Gordon will help the running game, the same is true of an effective running game having positive effects for the pass game. Kyle Shanahan seemingly now has a balanced offense.

Let’s go back to Kyle’s time in Washington one more time to illustrate what a balanced Kyle Shanahan offense brings. In 2012, Alfred Morris rushed for 1,613 yards on 335 attempts while Pierre Garcon caught 68 balls for 633 yards in 10 games (foot injury). Then, in 2013, a healthy Pierre Garcon caught 133 passes for 1,346 yards while Morris rushed for 1,275 yards on 276 carries. Pairing Shanahan with a bonafide ‘X’ receiver and a true #1 running back has proven to yield positive results.

Crow1

The big difference between Washington and Cleveland is, while Washington was effective on offense in 2013, it was their defense that let them down time and time again. That has not been the case for the 2014 Cleveland Browns.

The Browns have found their #1 running back in a Kyle Shanahan offense that just welcomed back the reigning receiving yard champion. I think it is time for the coaching staff to officially feed the Crow and for us, as Browns fans, to buckle up. It is going to be one hell of a ride the last five games of the season.

The Browns next game will prove to be a difficult one, with the Bills defense playing very solid football, terrorizing opposing offenses.

Feed the Crow. Go Browns.

Browns Fantasy Football Update Week 12

This game against the Falcons is very interesting for a number of reasons. For one this is a classic first vs worst matchup, but the team in first is 4-6 while the team in last in the dvision is 6-4. Another reason this game is strange is because this is the Falcons first home game in Atlanta since week 6. And finally we’ll see the return of Flash Gordon going against the worst pass defense in the NFL. This should be a very interesting must win game for the Browns.

QB- Brian Hoyer: For those in the “Bench Hoyer” camp here are 3 stats that show what Hoyer has been doing well this year.

1. His adjusted yards per attempt ( Just like Yards per attempt but bonuses for Touchdowns and deductions for picks) is 6.5, good for 3rd in the NFL, only behind Rodgers and Manning.

2. Out of all QBs with 200 or more attempts Brian Hoyer is second in the NFL in Air Yards per attempt. Air yards are all of a QBs passing yards minus the Receivers yards after catch (YAC).

3. Only 39% of Hoyers passing yards were from YAC. This number along with his raw passing totals, should go up with the return of Josh Gordon.

And in fantasy he remains a QB2 with a bit more potential this week going up against a week Atlanta defense.

RB- Terrance West: The Browns RB puzzle got a litte easier now that Ben Tate has been released. It seems that West and Crowell will split carries amongst themselves. Sadly the issue of who’s going to get more carries, remains. Seems like a solid flex option for right now.

RB- Isaiah Crowell- Crowell had a decent game last week other than a costly fumble. Might get more carries than West but who knows. A high upside flex this week aggainst an awful run defense.

WR- Andrew Hawkins- Don’t really feel his targets will be affected drastically as Hawkins is more an underneath threat while Godon is more of a vertical. Still safe to start in PPR formats.

WR- Taylor Gabriel- Had 13 targets last week, but I expect that number to drop significantly with the return of Gordon.

WR- Josh Gordon- What better week for him to return than against the Falcons who have the NFL’s worst pass defense?

TE- Jordan Cameron- Could come back this week, but it doesn’t seem likely. Might not be worth keeping anymore.

K- Billy Cundiff- Had a 0 point game last week. Still ranked 21st in the NFL in Fantasy points.

DEF- The Falcons offense is usually good at home, so they are a risky start this week.

Cleveland Browns Release Ben Tate

After several weeks of inconsistency and some comments indicating he was frustrated, the Cleveland Browns have released running back Ben Tate.

Tate signed with the Cleveland Browns on March 15th of this year after spending three seasons with the Houston Texans. His contract with the Browns was for 2 years and up to $6.2 million with $2.5 million in guaranteed money. This included a $1.5 million signing bonus.

Despite having a history of injuries, Tate’s arrival in Cleveland yielded a good amount of fanfare. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his three seasons with Houston as Arian Foster’s backup. Drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft (58th overall) by the Texans, Tate was supposed to help a struggling running game. Instead he broke his ankle in their preseason opener and was placed on injured reserve, opening the door for Arian Foster to become one of the best running backs in the NFL today. Despite this Tate came back next year and managed to have a good career as Foster’s backup, however he had always wanted to be a feature back in the NFL. Signing with the Cleveland Browns seemed to be that opportunity.

Then, in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Towson running back Terrance West in the third round (94th overall) and on May 10th signed undrafted rookie free agent Isaih Crowell, formerly of Alabama State. Despite the clouded backfield, Tate still appeared to be the feature back. He was familiar with Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system having operated in a similar offense in Houston. After missing some time early in the season with an injury, Tate erupted in week five notching 124 rushing yards on 22 carries. Following that game things seemed to go downhill. His rushing attempts decreased by the week as his production seemed to fall off. Contributing to Tate’s lack of production, West and Crowell began to flash bigger play making abilities and more consistency. Instead of Tate receiving the bulk of the carries, the Browns rotated all three running backs with Tate at times being the odd man out.

His frustration building, Tate addressed the matter in the media saying that he would be lying if the three back system satisfied him, although he added he was willing to do “whatever the organization thinks is best”. After expressing his dissatisfaction, many thought Tate could be in for a heavy workload this past Sunday against his old team. Instead, Tate had just 2 carries for -9 yards and was only on the field for just 17 snaps while rookie Isaiah Crowell started the game. Following the game, Tate responded to the media by saying “Why do you want to talk to me? I didn’t play a down.” When asked of Mike Pettine if Tate’s attitude or some other off the field problem contributed to his reduced playing time he declined to comment saying “Nothing I would speak on here”. Pettine did say there was a certain “explosiveness” with the rookie running backs, “just a little more pop”.

On the season, Tate rushed for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns on 106 attempts. He also had 9 receptions for 60 yards. Both West and Crowell out produced Tate, with West rushing for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns on 112 carries and Crowwell rushing for 358 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 78 carries.

The Browns will now move forward with their pair of rookie backs. Cleveland also has a third rookie running back on the roster in Glenn Winston. Winston, an undrafted rookie free agent, was signed by the San Francisco 49ers. He was subsequently released and claimed off waivers by the Browns on August 31st. As for Ben Tate, his poor attitude may have been his undoing in Cleveland.