Tag Archives: Jaguars

Should Mangini Return?

Much talk has been made about the future of the Browns given what we have seen on the field so far this season.  Despite the Browns record of 5-8 there is no doubt that the product on the field has been much more entertaining than what we have witnessed in recent years.  A lot of this is due in part to the emergence of certain players in different positions, Colt McCoy, Peyton Hillis, Joe Haden etc.  The overwhelming question remaining despite all of this improvement is, “Will Eric Mangini be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2011?”

It’s definitely an interesting topic for debate.  One could argue that the Browns have not made the type of significant strides that warrant a third year for the Eric Mangini era.  On the flip side, you can also argue that given the massive overhaul being carried out by Mangini, there is a huge skill and talent disparity between the Browns and their opponents each week.  Both statements hold merit.  I could make a strong case for either side of the coin and quite frankly I have formulated my own opinion on the subject after listening to all of the back and forth on the local talk shows and in the papers.  But before I get into what I think here are both of the arguments, at least how I see them. Continue reading

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Better Late Than Never…

So I’m about a day late in writing this article, but hey cut me some slack.  Sunday night and all day yesterday I was on a hunger strike.  My body, in particular my stomach, decided that it didn’t want food and the mere thought of it would send me running to the latrines.  Fuuuuuuuuuuun times… or you know not at all.

Anyways…

I missed the Browns game on Sunday so I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I did.  I had to go to a birthday party.  So instead of sitting in agony watching the Browns barely beat the Dolphins I spent my Sunday surrounded by a bunch of 5-year-old girls… and catching some type of 24 hour stomach virus.  It was awesome.  My knowledge of Barbie has grown exponentially.

Anyways… again…

The Browns beat the Dolphins and have run their record to 5-7.  With each and every passing week we can’t help but sit and wonder what kind of opportunities we let slip through our fingers.  At 5-7 the Browns technically are still mathematically alive for the playoffs.  The part that sucks is the Browns could very well be 7-5 or 8-4, if not better.  Wasted opportunities all around.

Many people, at least that I’ve heard calling in to the local radio shows, are saying the Browns won in spite of Jake Delhomme.  I say “who cares?”  A win is a win is a win.  We all know Delhomme isn’t the answer.  It looks more and more like Colt McCoy is the long-term answer for the quarterback position, at least for now.  So should it really matter that at times Delhomme tried to lose the game?  No.  We won.  There have been years in which we would have killed for a win.  Now all of a sudden we’re going to complain about how we get them?  I was unaware that the Browns had achieved such grand status in the league that people could criticize the quality and style of wins.  Get over it.  We won.  Be happy.

Of course as the season drags on it’s getting harder and harder to figure out where the Browns actually stand in the league.  Against top-notch competition the Browns have risen to the moment and laid the smack down.  Against sub par competition the Browns have looked like crap.  They’ve won games where it’s like “wow they should have lost” and lost games where it’s like “wow, they should have won that game.”  So are the Browns better than we think?  Are the Browns worse than we think?

Victories against New England and New Orleans make us believe the Browns are better than we thought this year.  Both were convincing victories and both of those teams are among the elite.  On the flip side of things, we’ve lost games to Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville.  All of those teams were thought to be sub par but are now in contention to win their divisions.  What does that say about the Browns that we couldn’t beat three of the more elite looking teams?  We barely lost to the Jets, a team that at the time looked like they were among the league’s elite.  Tell me how that loss looks after last night’s beat down in New England and the realization that the Jets have one win against a team over .500.

The Browns look on pace to finish the year 7-9.  This is improvement over last year’s season.  But how does it compare?  Part of this is the result of the ever-growing parity in the NFL.  Any team can beat anyone on any given Sunday.  Maybe the Browns record will just need to be taken at face value.  Did the win column improve from last year to this year and overall, did watching the team feel different from the previous year?

The answers to those questions has to be yes on both counts.  An improved record has to be a sign of improvement.  Last year we felt hopeless watching this team.  This year it’s been nothing but hope.  Like I said earlier, the Browns could very well be leading the division had they not blown several fourth quarter leads.  With that in mind it looks like Mangini has earned the right to coach this team another year.  Then again there are four games left.  Anything can happen in the NFL.  We see it each and every week.

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The Morning After: Browns vs. Jaguars

One step forward, three steps back.  That has been the mantra of the Cleveland Browns since their return in 1999.  Yesterday was no different, as the Browns fell to the Jaguars 24-20.

Quite frankly this was a game the Browns should have won.  In fact, they had no business losing.  Despite forcing the Jaguars into six turnovers, the Browns allowed them to stay in the game, the main reason being that the Browns couldn’t take advantage of the extra opportunities.  No team should lose a game while winning the turnover battle by five.

The problem all day was the lack of efficiency by the Browns on offense.  While managing to move the ball with consistency during the first half, things went stagnant after half time.  In many ways this game had a striking resemblance to the opening day game against Tampa Bay.  A lack of second half adjustments led to three and out after three an out.  This inability to generate any type of offensive output also failed to run any time off of the clock.  All Jacksonville had to do was bide their time and wait for the chance to strike.  That chance happened with less than two minutes left in the game.

Maurice Jones-Drew woke up and carried a screen pass all the way to the Browns half yard line.  He would eventually punch it in to give the Jaguars the lead for good.  The Browns had enough time left to make something happen.  McCoy led a charge down the field, but in one last act of desperation, threw an interception into the end zone.  Game, set, match.

The biggest fault I could find with the Browns was their inability to generate an effective running game.  Peyton Hillis was only able to muster up 48 yard on 21 carriers.  Jacksonville is not one of the elite run stopping teams in the league so there was no reason for kind of poor performance.  Hillis wasn’t helped at all by the lack of creativity in the offensive play calling.  Over the past few weeks we have seen trick plays and creative formations.  This week there was none of that and as a result the offense stalled.

Colt McCoy had another strong performance as the quarterback of the Browns.  He was able to put up solid numbers and showed good mobility in the pocket.  More importantly, he continued to look like a leader on the field.  As McCoy has grown more confident he has shown more of that “it” quality and the ability to lead men.  This is something that all of the other elite quarterbacks in the league are able to do.  This is a promising development in what is hopefully a turn in the right direction.

However, as mentioned, the story of the game was the Browns defense.  They were able to put pressure on David Garrard all game long, forcing him into four turnovers.  Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for the other two.  The only real mistake all game was their inability to tackle Jones-Drew on his gallop towards the end zone in the waning minutes of the games.  Then again, had the Browns been able to convert any of their turnover into points this would have been a moot point.  By failing to convert turnovers into points the Browns wasted a truly one of a kind defensive performance.

Did we find what we were looking for?

  1. Can Peyton Hillis take advantage of Jacksonville’s 21st ranked rush defense and dominate once again.  The success of the Browns’ offense is directly related to how well “The Juggernaut” is running the ball.  No… Hillis was impressive catching the ball out of the back field, but was unable to punish the Jaguars on the ground and as a result, the Browns lost.
  2. How will Colt McCoy deal with his ever-growing popularity and success?  McCoy has done well against 4 elite teams.  How will he fair against a middle of the road team?  He played well, 17-28 for 241 yards and a touchdown.  Unfortunately, he was unable to guide the team to scores in the second half and put the game away.  This was truly a bittersweet performance.
  3. Going along with #2, how will the rest of the team perform against a middle of the road team?  The Browns should win this game.  So far this year it appears they perform better when they’re expected to lose.  Let’s see how they handle the new-found pressure.  This was a repeat of week one.  There was no reason whatsoever why the Browns should have lost this game.  Plain and simple they could get it done versus a lower tier team.
  4. Can the Eric Wright play the type of game we all thought he could play when he was drafted?  He’s been burned repeatedly all year and gave up the winning touchdown against the Jets.  Will he bounce back or is his confidence completely shot at this point?  Eric Wright hurt his knee early in the game, so we’ll never really know.  What we do know is that Joe Haden, TJ Ward, Sheldon Browns, and Abe Elam played swarming defense all game long.  The picked the ball off, forced fumbles, and showed a level of physicality we haven’t seen in a long while.
  5. Jacksonville won last week on a miraculous Hail Mary pass in the final seconds.  Can they capitalize and build on that type of momentum or will this game serve as a letdown the Browns can take advantage of.  They sure did try to make this a letdown game.  Unfortunately the Browns couldn’t take advantage of the several Jacksonville mistakes.  If the Jaguars are able to make the playoffs they will certainly point to this game and last week’s against Houston as the turning point of their season.

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Game Day: Week 11

It’s game day kids!  The most wonderful time of the week, especially since the Browns have decided to become a real NFL team once again.  Three hours where I can sit, lay back, and just zone out and forget about everything that’s happened this past week.

The Browns are in Jacksonville taking on the Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars.  As I outlined on Friday it should be a good game.  Both teams are very evenly matched.  The Jaguars come in looking to bolster their playoff chances.  The Browns are looking to break some hearts.  I have a feeling that the latter is about to take place.  That’s why I’m taking the Browns in this one, 28-24.

Here are the five things to look for today as outlined on Friday.

  1. Can Peyton Hillis take advantage of Jacksonville’s 21st ranked rush defense and dominate once again.  The success of the Browns’ offense is directly related to how well “The Juggernaut” is running the ball.
  2. How will Colt McCoy deal with his ever growing popularity and success?  McCoy has done well against 4 elite teams.  How will he fair against a middle of the road team?
  3. Going along with #2, how will the rest of the team perform against a middle of the road team?  The Browns should win this game.  So far this year it appears they perform better when they’re expected to lose.  Let’s see how they handle the new found pressure.
  4. Can the Eric Wright play the type of game we all thought he could play when he was drafted?  He’s been burned repeatedly all year and gave up the winning touchdown against the Jets.  Will he bounce back or is his confidence completely shot at this point?
  5. Jacksonville won last week on a miraculous Hail Mary pass in the final seconds.  Can they capitalize and build on that type of momentum or will this game serve as a let down the Browns can take advantage of.

Elsewhere around the NFL in week 11:

  1. The Bills look to continue their newfound winning ways against a Bengals team that hasn’t won in forever.  With that in mind I’m tempted to take the Bills, but I think Cincinnati is due.  Bengals, 24-21.
  2. The Lions and Cowboys face off in a battle of 2-7 teams.  Detroit is better than people give them credit for.  The Cowboys are worse than we think they are.  Lions, 27-14.
  3. The Redskins go into Tennessee to face a Titans team fighting for their playoff lives.  The Titans will live to fight another day.  Titans win, 35-21
  4. Cardinals at the Chiefs… The Cardinals don’t stand a chance.  Chiefs, 28-17.
  5. The Packers go into Minnesota looking to put the wooden stake into the heart of Brett Favre.  I don’t think Favre loses to his former team again.  I’m taking the Vikings, 24-21.
  6. The Jets take on the Texans in New York.  More importantly the Jets keep pace with the Patriots.  Jets win a shootout, 30-27.
  7. Oakland. Pittsburgh. Old time football for the new age.  The Raiders are a good story, but the Steelers are the Steelers.  Pittsburgh in a laugher, 27-7.
  8. Ravens at Panthers.  Ravens win this scrimmage in another laugher, 28-0.
  9. The Falcons look like the best team in the NFC.  Quality teams don’t lose games like this to the Rams.  Atlanta wins a close one, 21-20.
  10. The Saints are on the rise.  The Seahawks are slightly overrated because of the division they play in.  Peter King suggested a blowout…I think he’s right.  Saints win, 38-14.
  11. Troy Smith just wins football games.  He’ll win another today against Tampa Bay.  49ers, 27-17.
  12. The game of the week, Patriots vs. Colts… Manning vs. Brady.  What’s not to love.  Well for starters, how about all of Indianapolis’ injuries.  The Patriots look like they’re back to what they do best.  Beating Manning in convincing fashion.  Patriots win a close one, 27-24.
  13. Michael Vick.  Michael Vick.  Michael Vick.  The Eagles take on the Giants Sunday night.  One team has Michael Vick.  The other doesn’t.  Eagles win convincingly, further establishing themselves as one of the NFC elite, 35-17.
  14. San Diego is primed for their typical late season run.  It starts this week against the Broncos on Monday Night.  Chargers 24-14.

Are you ready for some football?

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Looking Ahead at Browns vs. Jaguars

This Sunday the Browns travel down to Florida to take on the suddenly resurgent Jacksonville Jaguars.  Analyzing the schedule earlier in the year, many felt that this was the start of the “easy” part of the Browns’ schedule.  Unfortunately the football gods have had to play a cruel game on the Browns by making Jacksonville one of the more surprising teams in the league.

Jacksonville, who comes into the game with a 5-4 record, is in prime position for a playoff spot.  They currently sit one game out of first behind the Indianapolis Colts, whom they defeated earlier this season in Jacksonville.  The talent they possess on both sides of the ball could give the Browns some real issues, especially considering the absence of Scott Fujita and the mix and match schemes it will take to replace him. Continue reading

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