Kessler to start Sunday against Titans

It looks like the Cleveland Browns rookie QB won’t miss any significant time with his rib/chest injury as he’s cleared to start Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the rookie quarterback is expected to play in Week 6 after leaving Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots with injury.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson said Monday that Kessler was day-to-day and is optimistic he will be able to play. Jackson also stated that Josh McCown (shoulder) returns to practice and there’s a small possibility that McCown could play instead of Kessler.

Kessler underwent testing on Monday and “checked out ok” and that leaves Charlie Whitehurst, who is is also day-to-day, enough time to sit and fully heal his sprained knee suffered in the fourth quarter of the same game.


Brady, Patriots Dismantle Browns 33-13

The New England Patriots completely stomped the Cleveland Browns in Tom Brady’s first game back 33-13

The Patriot faithful were strong in attendance at First Energy Stadium as almost half of the fans in the stadium were dressed in Patriot gear. The defense showed up as well as they held the Browns on their first drive to a three and out. On his first drive of the season, Patriots Tom Brady drove the team down to the 2-yard line with the help of TE Rob Gronkowski on a 34-yard catch and run play. RB LeGarrette Blount runs the ball in form the 1-yard line to go up 7-0 on the Browns. The Browns answered back with a nice drive of their own by getting down to the Patriots 11-yard line and QB Cody Kessler tosses the ball to a wide open Andrew Hawkins for the touchdown making the score 7-7.

At the tail end of the first quarter, Brady and the Patriots once again drive inside the Browns 10-yard line and found his other TE Martellus Bennett for another touchdown and go up 14-7. The Browns were pinned inside their own 5-yard line and while dropping back, Kessler was hit and drove into the ground on his shoulder while the ball was thrown behind the line of scrimmage and rolled out of the endzone for the safety. Kessler was taken back to the locker room for evaluation after the play. The Patriots scored again as Brady found Bennett for the second time to go up 23-7 and it looked like it was going to be a very long day for the Browns at this point.

Veteran QB Charlie Whitehurst came in to fill in for Kessler and his first pass was a completion for a first down. After that, they couldn’t convert and were forced to punt. Down at the Browns 1-yard line, the Patriots tried to run the ball in and couldn’t get over the stacked front four of the Browns defense and turned the ball over on downs. Not much happened for the rest of the first half and ended with a rare missed FG by Stephen Gostkowski which kept the score 23-7. The Browns defense started to build momentum after the goal line stand but the offense needs to come alive if the Browns were hoping for a second half comeback.

The Patriots weren’t done taking out their anger on the Browns quite yet. Brady hit Bennett for another touchdown early in the third for 37-yards to continue the onslaught of the Browns 30-7. After a nice looking drive put together by Whitehurst, and some helpful penalties against the Patriots,  a throw to RB Duke Johnson Jr. slipped out of his hands right into Patrick Chung and New England took over and stopped a chance of the Browns getting any points. Whitehurst ended up getting his first touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter to make the score 30-13 and tried for a two point conversion but failed to convert.

The rest of the game was all Patriots at this point on. The Browns defense, although more impressive than people pictured them to be, couldn’t stop Brady for the first three quarters of the game. They started to pick up the pace at the end of the third but it was too late to rally this team for a miracle comeback. Tom Brady was on the warpath and wanted to show that he hasn’t missed a step in his four game suspension. Charlie Whitehurst showed that he can take over if called upon to start for this team. Although he didn’t score in the game and his interception went out of the hands of Duke Johnson Jr, he made decent throws and drove the team down the field the best he could.

Once again, the Browns come away from this game with more questions than answers. With Kessler looking like he was coming into his own every week he played, him going down with injury throws another wrench in the plan for head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns take on the Tennessee Titans still looking for their first win of the season.

Browns Vs Patriots Preview

Tomorrow is the return of the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his first test of the season in down at First Energy Stadium as the Patriots take on the Cleveland Browns.

Brady hasn’t had much trouble when it comes to beating the Browns. In six games against Cleveland, he’s put up 132–198 for 1,541 yards 8TD, 4INT, 85.1 rating while only losing once. The general feeling is that Brady will be playing “pissed” after his four game suspension and he is going to take it out on that young Ray Horton defense. Rookie DE Carl Nassib looks to return to the Browns after breaking his hand in week 1 but things are looking optimistic for a comeback.

The Browns currently lead the league in rushing offense behind the versatile RB duo of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. with 149.3 YPG, 597 yards, 5.7 YPA, and 4TDs, however, they also have 11 fumbles which is 2nd in the league behind the Patriots who have 12. They also have averaged just 4.2 points during the 2nd half of games through the first four games. QB Cody Kessler continues to look like he’s catching on to the starting role and looks to improve off of his game last week when he recorded his first career passing TD to WR Terrelle Pryor who also recorded his first receiving TD.

While Crowell has the 2nd most rushing yards through 4 games with 394 yards, Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount sits in 3rd with 352 yards.The more impressive stat is he has averaged an insane 6.5 YPC. There’s no doubt that Bill Belichick has begun game planning around limiting Crowell on ground. The Patriots, have been inconsistent against the rush. At times, they haven’t been able to properly tackle players and it has led to extra yards.

Browns head coach Hue Jackson is excited about the match up but still know what the Patriots can do.

“We know we have to throw the ball. There is no question about that. You have to be a balanced team against them. You can’t just do one thing,” Jackson stated. “We have to play a balanced football game. We have to be able to throw the ball. We have to be able to run it. We have to do what we are able to do the way we are able to do it.”

The last time the Patriots came to Cleveland in 2010, the Browns surprisingly upset the juggernaut New England offense 34-14. It was the Patriots second and last loss of that season. We shall see if home field advantage will help the Browns this time around.

Friday Five: Things to know before the Browns host the Patriots

Here are five things you should know before the Cleveland Browns host the New England Patriots Sunday at First Energy Stadium. 

1. Terrific Tom Is Back

Patriots QB Tom Brady is back after serving his four game suspension handed out by the league over the”Deflategate” controversy. The future HOF signal caller is licking his chops waiting to play the winless Browns for his first game. There could be a chance that Brady could be a bit rusty in but playing against a young and struggling defense like the Browns is the perfect opportunity for him to get all back into rhythm. The Browns players and coaches alike have expressed nothing but respect for Brady and Pats head coach Bill Belichick but have a plan in place to try and spoil Brady’s return.

2. O-Line Shuffle

Once again, there is going to be a change on the offensive line for the Browns. With backup C Austin Reiter tearing his ACL last Sunday,verteran G John Greco will be sliding over cover the position. Greco had time at center against the Dolphins and moved back to guard last week after Reiter got the starting nod. Reiter was upgraded as the starter after Cam Erving suffered a bruised lung in week 2 and it is still unclear when he will be back on the field. Browns head coach Hue Jackson stated “we’re just going to keep working some guys there, always got to have a backup plan and sometimes your backup plan is better than your other plan. We’ll see as we move through the week.”

3. Duel Threat Duke

With RB Isaiah Crowell carrying the bulk of the load for the run game, Duke Johnson Jr. has been showing that he is the duel threat that the Browns need him to be. His numbers this season don’t show what he has done for the team on third and short situations. the second year back said earlier this week that he is “more comfortable” than he was in his first year and looking to capitalize on his rookie year when he had 913 total yards. So far this season, Johnson ranks second in league with 6.2 yards a carry and has caught 18 passes for 124 yards.

4. Closer than you think

Since the Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999, they are 2-8 against the Patriots but lead the all time series 13-10. The last time the Browns played the Patriots, it took a fourth quarter comeback by Brady and a missed field goal attempt that was short of the goal post to beat the Browns. If you go back to 2010, the Browns actually defeated the Patriots convincly 34-14 with trick plays and a outstanding defensive effort by Cleveland. Only three of the eight game since ’99 have been decided by 11 points or more. Expect a hard fought, entertaining matchup between these two historic franchises. 

5. Growing and Learning

The Browns are a young and raw team. In this years draft, the team drafted 14 rookies and signed them all to the team. That’s a lot of new faces that aren’t used to the NFL speed and overall play. QB Cody Kessler has been shoved into a starting roll on this team due to injuries to Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III. He’s had little time to prepare for the starting roll but is making the best of his situation. In two games, he has 461 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception. Not bad for the former USC Trojan. DE Carl Nassib is looking like he is going to return this week after suffering a broken hand in week 1. Nassib was a stand out in preseason and is a bright spot on this defensive line. The team has done better each week with all the injuries and new faces along the way and are looking to hopefully get over the hump and get their first win of the season this Sunday. 

Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens Preview

Tomorrow afternoon at First Energy Stadium, veteran QB Josh McCown gets his first start of the season as the Cleveland Browns host their first home game of the season as they look to get their first divisional and overall win of the season against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh alone has a record of 14-2 against the Browns and the Ravens have an overall record of 25-9 which doesn’t look good for the Browns who are already on their second quarterback of the season with a new head coach and new system. What does look good is what Josh McCown was able to accomplish during his last start against the AFC North rivals

In his last game against the Ravens, McCown went for 457 yards and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in a 33-30 overtime win. That was his best start at QB at 36 years old in his entire career. During a interview with the media the week, John Harbaugh stated that he knows what Josh can do against his defense.

“He’s had a lot of success against us. He’s been on fire against us. He’s thrown balls up in the air, and a guy catches it with his feet for a touchdown. I just remember this guy having no conscience.”

A big factor of McCown’s success during that game was thanks to Gary Barnidge who was already showing the league that he can be a Pro Bowl caliber tight end. Gary racked up 139 yards and a spectacular between the legs touchdown. Gary wasn’t playing at the level he showed last year dropping two passes from Robert Griffin III last week in Philadelphia and ended up not recording a catch for the whole game. Expect a bounce back game for him this week as he was McCown’s favorite target last year.

This Ravens team has been know to not let any team run over them and have one of the better linebacker cores in the NFL. Head coach Hue Jackson still has faith in his running back Isaiah Crowell.

“We just have to hand it to him enough times,” Jackson said, per the team’s official transcript. “If you have a runner you believe in, you have to give him the ball. He has to get a feel for the game and be able to play within the structure of what you are trying to accomplish with the offensive line. That’s why I said I take responsibility for that. I think he is off to a good start. We just have to give him opportunities to go show his ability.”

Ravens all pro linebacker Terrell Suggs fully expects unique plays from Jackson and his offense tomorrow. He jokingly stated “We’re expecting Hue to thrown the kitchen sink at us. We’re preparing for everything. Some wildcat, polecat, everything. Don’t be surprised if they come out there with the ‘Little Giants’ formation or the Flying V. They’ve got something up their sleeve.”

It’s never a dull moment when these two teams meet. Don’t be surprised to see a better offensive attack from the Browns this week and fully expect Joe Flacco to try and throw on this young, raw defense.

Browns Terminate Contract of Paul Kruger. 

It’s never a dull moment when it comes to Cleveland Browns football. LB Paul Kruger, among 10 other Browns, have been cut from the team while two have peen placed on injured reserve.

None of the names came as a surprise or shock with the exception of Kruger. K Travis Coons hasn’t been consistent enough to be the full time place kicker and QB Austin Davis was Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer’s guy. Hue Jackson has seen from this preseason that with the production he’s getting from veterans, they would have just as much impact with younger talent.

Kruger ended last year with 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Davis had 547 yards with only one touchdown and 3 interceptions while playing in 3 games. 

What Should The Browns Do With Justin Gilbert?

As the last two preseason games have shown us anything, it’s that the Cleveland Browns’ defense has not improved much since last season. Missed tackles and miscommunication have been a theme for the team that’s put them in a 0-2 start but it is preseason and this time is used to see what your team can do and see if you have the right players in the right situations.

This brings me to the Browns 2014 eighth overall draft pick DB Justin Gilbert.

Gilbert was drafted by Mike Pettine because to run his defensive scheme, he needed two solid corners. With DB Joe Haden on one side, they thought that Gilbert would come in and hold down the number two receiver at bay as Haden would lock down the other side of the field. This was not the case as Gilbert was not a strong tackler and would get lost in coverage from looking at the quarterback until the ball was thrown, leaving a man open to catch the throw. 

Gilbert has put up unimpressive numbers since his rookie year. In two years, he’s played in only 19 games which he started only started in three games, 35 tackles, nine passes defended, one interception that he ran back for a touchdown against Andrew Luck and no forced fumbles. Those are not the numbers of a eighth overall pick. Those are practice squad numbers. 

Gilbert wasn’t even living up to expectations off the football field. He was a healthy scratch in four of the last five games of the 2016 season because he was showing up late for practices. He was also involved in a road rage incident when he cut off a driver on the highway and threw a drink at the car. The two drivers got off the highway in Brunswick, OH and drove into a ditch trying to get away from the enraged driver.

This seems like Gilbert’s last chance to redeem himself. Head coach Hue Jackson will be paying close attention to the third year back and even gave him the start last week in the Atlanta game where he had two tackles and one pass defended. He was beat multiple times and missed tackles when the Browns needed them. With Haden possibly returning to action this Friday against Tampa Bay, Gilbert will have only about a game and a half to show that he can elevate his play and be a solid contributor to this team.

My guess is that not only will Gilbert not be on this team next year, but I doubt to see him in an NFL uniform again after this season.