The Ohio Factor

This year the two of the biggest impact players for the Browns are Carlos Hyde and Denzel Ward. Both of whom were born in Ohio. Hyde was born in Cincinnati while Ward was born in Macedonia, just a 45-minute drive to First Energy Stadium. Why does this matter?

The Buckeye state is a powerhouse when it comes to football players. From 2013 through 2017 Ohio produced 4.8% of all four and five-star college football recruits. This is ranked fifth out of all states. A good portion of Ohio State’s roster every year is made up of Ohio recruits.

Could this be because they want the chance to play for the team they cheered for growing up? Possibly. The numbers do not lie, however. There are 42 current NFL players that have played for Ohio State.

When Buckeyes enter the NFL its not in a small way either. In four out of the last five years, there have been at least two Buckeyes drafted in the first round. In 2016 there were five drafted in the first round. Over the past ten years, 56 Buckeyes have been drafted which is the third most out of all football schools.

How many NFL players were born in Ohio you ask? Over 1,000 in the history of the league. Some current big name players are Ben Roethlisberger, Luke Keuchly, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, and Ted Ginn Jr. I guess you could say Ohio is a pretty good football state.

 

We Need Robotic Referees and We Need Them Now

This past Sunday the Browns were so close to starting a winning streak for the first time in what seems like a decade. However, with some very poor calls late in the fourth quarter, this did not happen.

The first stop on this misery train will take place with 6:35 left in the 4th. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr fumbled the football and it was then picked up by Browns’ defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi. Ogunjobi had nothing but open field in front of him and would have ran it back for a Browns touchdown. The Raiders ended up punting on this drive and Browns running back Nick Chubb ran for a 41-yard touchdown a few plays later.

You might think, well they got the points anyway, does it really matter? It does. The defensive touchdown could have killed the remaining hope Raiders fans had. Even ESPN College Football Analyst Kirk Herbstreit showed his confusion on social media.

Our second stop brings us to Carlos Hyde. With only 1:36 left in the 4th the Browns running back ran the ball on a crucial 3rd and 2. After the run officials mark Hyde past the first down marker. Even the chain gang was brought out and confirmed the call.

Replay officials in New York thought different and reversed the call. If called a first down this would have virtually ended the game on the spot. That did not happen, however. The NFL released an explanation for this call but not for the no fumble call.

There has been talk in the MLB about robot umpires for years due to human umps missing crucial calls. It seems very unlikely that robot refs will be introduced to the NFL anytime soon. However, if they are brought in at some point it would give fans a reason to stop complaining about calls and being outraged at the league every fall Sunday. Besides, the NFL cares about the fan experience and not about money, right?

The Blackhole is Collapsing

This Sunday, September 30th, the Browns will take on the Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders are an 8 point favorite at home. The over-under for this game is set at 45 points.

Yes, Baker Mayfield has been one of the top stories of the league since his debut last Thursday. However, the Oakland Raiders are currently 0-3 and sit at 4th place in the AFC West. Things seemed to be looking up for them when Jon Gruden was brought in as head coach this past offseason.

Bringing Gruden in might have been a bad decision even though he is a Super Bowl Champion, sits in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor, and holds the record for most wins as a Tampa Bay Bucs coach, at 57.

A story broke earlier this week that Gruden has his own staff that is separated from those who already work for the Raiders. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, “The way that Jon Gruden handles personnel has caused a divide in that building.”

This comes just weeks after the Raiders did not give their Pro Bowl linebacker the contract extension he wanted. Oakland then did the unthinkable. They traded arguably one of the best defensive players in the league to Chicago.

The Bears immediately made Mack the highest paid defensive player in NFL history with a $141 million extension. This includes $90 million in guaranteed money and an average of $23.5 million a season. Through the first 3 games of the season, Mack has recorded 1 interception, 3 forced fumbles, 4 sacks, and 11 total tackles.

Meanwhile, Oakland’s defense ranks 20th in the league and head coach Gruden said its hard to find a great pass rusher. Makes you stop and think. Maybe Gruden is in fact not listening to the actual team staff.

Will Oakland be able to properly prepare for Baker Mayfield, unlike the Jets? It is unlikely that with Oakland’s slow pass rush and Mayfields ability to release the ball quickly, that Mayfield will be slowed down if pressure does come to him.

 

 

A Birthday to Remember

Last Thursday, September 20th, was Carlos Hyde’s birthday. It was also the night the Browns hosted the New York Jets for Thursday Night football. If that wasn’t exciting enough, his wife went into labor before the game and gave birth to their first child that night.

Before the game started Hyde rushed his wife to the hospital. He then left the hospital for work. Some would call it a pretty exciting night at work.

Hyde ran the ball 23 times for a total of 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 5 receiving yards for a grand total of 103 all-purpose yards. After he helped the Browns to their first victory since 2016 he rushed to the hospital for the birth of his first child.

Hyde announced the next morning on Twitter that his son, Carlos Jr was born weighing 8 pounds and 11 ounces.

Unfortunately for Hyde, the Browns’ next game is in Oakland which means he will have to leave his newborn son for a couple of days. Through the first three games of the season, he has run the ball 61 times for 203 yards with 4 touchdowns. With the help of Hyde, the Browns rushing game is ranked 5th in the league.

Signed to be the Starter, Now He’s the Backup

With 3:01 left in the second quarter of last weeks game, starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was knocked to the ground. As he was brought down by Jets’ linebacker Avery Williamson, Taylor’s head bounced off the ground pretty hard. This led to the first overall pick, Baker Mayfield, making his NFL debut.

Taylor remained out for the rest of the game and Mayfield led the Browns to a 21-17 victory. Up to this point in the season, Taylor has only completed 49% of his passes for 462 yards, only 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He has also run 16 times for a total of 162 rushing yards with 1 touchdown.

After drafting Mayfield in the Spring, head coach Hue Jackson made it clear that he wanted Baker to sit and learn behind Taylor. Last weeks concussion has changed that. Tyrod is now backing up Mayfield but still serving as his mentor.

There was some speculation of Taylor being traded after last weeks win but that will not happen according to Hue Jackson. Besides, if the same situation happens to Mayfield, it would be better to have Taylor as the backup than Drew Stanton.

Taylor is expected to clear concussion protocol and be ready to serve as the back quarterback for the Browns next week in Oakland.

The Baker Era Has Begun

Baker Mayfield led the Cleveland Browns to their first win since 2016. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

During the week 3 edition of Thursday Night Football, Baker Mayfield made his highly anticipated debut. Near the end of the second quarter, starter Tyrod Taylor was knocked out of the game with a concussion. This meant Cleveland would finally be able to see their number one overall pick in regular season action.

At this point in the game starter, Taylor was just 4 for 14 with only 19 passing yards. I think I speak for Browns fans everywhere when I say he did not live up to the expectations. I defended Taylor throughout the offseason and even through the first two regular season games.

Him getting knocked out of the game can possibly be the best thing to happen to this franchise since their return in 1999. Watching the game you could feel the stadium erupt with electricity with every pass Mayfield threw. His first drive ended on a field goal but those were the first points the Browns scored that night.

In the second half, Mayfield showed off his accuracy and his ability to avoid pressure. He showed no signs he was nervous. It was like he has been here before.

He would finish the game 17 of 23 for 201 yards. That’s almost as many yards as Taylor threw for in the entire game against New Orleans. Mayfield did it in just over two quarters which led to the first Browns win since 2016 which meant the victory fridges opened.

Although he has yet to throw his first NFL touchdown, he caught a two-point conversion to tie the game late in the third which sent the football world into pandemonium.

Mayfield was officially named the starting quarterback by Hue Jackson this afternoon even though Taylor cleared concussion protocol. If Taylor was named the starting quarterback petitions and protesting would have probably gathered outside the practice facility in Berea.

The Browns travel to Oakland to take on a struggling Raiders team next Sunday. Mayfield will bring along the momentum from Thursday night. The culture change has taken a huge step with Mayfield now starting. Let’s see how the already high number of bets on the Browns in Vegas from the beginning of the season jump up with the number one pick at the helm of the Browns.

 

Just When You Think They’re Going to Win, They Don’t

The big story this past weekend in the NFL was kickers. Oh, what a terrible time to be a kicker. There were a total of 19 missed kicks in week 2.

The Browns kicker at the time was Zane Gonzalez. The second-year kicker from Arizona State University missed 2 field goals and 2 extra points. A combined 8 total points which would have given the Browns the victory.

Once again the Browns defense was showing how they’re not the problem that’s holding them back from a victory. The defense forced 2 fumbles in the first half and held the Saints to a field goal on a possession in which they got to the Browns 2 yard line.

Cleveland was up 12-3 headed into the 4th quarter. With 2:17 left in the game, Michael Thomas caught a pass from Drew Brees for a touchdown. Alvin Kamara then scored on the 2 point attempt to give New Orleans an 18-12 lead.

Another loss for the Brownies, right? Not so fast. On 4th and 5 from the Saints’ 48-yard line, Tyrod Taylor threw an absolute dime to Antonio Callaway who made a fingertip catch in the back of the end zone.

With 1:16 left all Gonzalez needed to do was make the extra point to give the Browns the lead. He missed for his third missed kick on the day.

The Saints get the ball back and Drew Brees pulls a vintage Drew Brees and brought the Saints within field goal range. With 21 seconds left the Saints hit a field goal giving them the 21-18 lead. Something magical happened next, however.

Taylor showed why he’s a captain and brought the Browns to within field goal range and gave them the chance to send the game into overtime. All the pressure was on Gonzalez who already missed 3 kicks on the day. With 3 seconds left in the game, he missed his 4th kick of the day and handed the Saints the victory.

The very next day the Browns hosted multiple kickers for tryouts and waived Gonzalez. They signed Greg Joseph, a rookie who made less than 70% of his kicks at Florida Atlantic University.

The new kicker will get his chance to prove he’s worth the signing on Thursday Night Football against the New York Jets. This game is in Cleveland and the Browns are going to debut their color rush jerseys for the first time as well. The Browns a strong opportunity to win their first game since December of the 2016 season.

Will the Browns finally put everything together and win or will there be another unthought of way to lose the game? This is the first time they are favored since 2015 which is one very hopeful sign.

The Most Cleveland Way to End a Losing Streak

Last weekend was the first time since December 24th of the 2016 season that the Browns did not lose a game. They still have yet to win a game since then, however. That is correct, the Cleveland Browns’ losing streak came to an end this past weekend on a tie.

The last time there was a tie in the NFL was October 30th, 2016. Almost the same amount of time its been since the Browns won a game.

At the end of the first half of the very rainy game in Cleveland, the Steelers were winning 7-0 and only due to a roughing the passer call which was later announced as a bad call by the NFL. The Browns defense was doing pretty well with 3 interceptions off Big Ben. Two of those came from the first round rookie Denzel Ward.

At the end of the third, the Browns were on the board with a 20 yard run by Tyrod Taylor. Instead of stepping out of bounds once he reached the defenders like most QB’s would, he lowered his shoulder and drove into the end zone. This mentality is part of the reason the Browns traded for him in the offseason.

Trailing 21-7 entering the 4th quarter the chances seemed slim for the Browns. With 7:32 left, team captain Myles Garett forced a fumble from James Connor which Jabrill Peppers returned to the 1-yard line. Very next play was a 1-yard touchdown run from newly acquired running back Carlos Hyde.

The atmosphere instantly changed. The crowd sounded the loudest they’ve been in a long time.

Fast forward to 2:58 left in the 4th quarter. The Steelers backed up on their own 19-yard line are stuffed once again by the Browns defensive line. After the Browns get the ball back and drive down the field, “Flash” Gordon returned. Josh Gordon made an incredible touchdown catch which would send the game to overtime after the extra point.

With 1:44 left in OT, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell had the opportunity to end the game with a field goal. What happened next made the world think, this is it. The Browns are actually going to win the game.

Boswell missed the field goal which turned the ball over to the Browns. After failing to convert yet again, the Browns punted the ball back to the Steelers. With 48 seconds left in the game, on their own 38-yard line, Rothlesburger was hit from behind and the ball fell into the hands of Browns linebacker Joe Schobert.

On 3rd and 11 with 13 seconds left in the game, Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez came out to try to win the game. The kick was blocked by none other than TJ Watt who has been a nightmare for the Browns in the past 3 matchups.

The Browns may have not won but they also did not lose. There is a lot of optimism, however. The Browns defense performed very well forcing 6 turnovers. Myles Garret is continuing to prove he is worth the number one pick in last years draft. He finished the game with 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

The offense, however, has a lot of work to do. Mainly Tyrod Taylor who finished the game just 15 of 40 for 197 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. If the Browns offense can find its rhythm next week against New Orleans, they might bring a win back home with them.