Browns show promise in training camp

Published: Monday, July 31, 2017 @ 5:02 PM

BEREA, OH - JULY 29, 2017: Center JC Tretter #64 of the Cleveland Browns takes part in a drill during a training camp practice on July 29, 2017 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
Diamond Images/Diamond Images/Getty Images
BEREA, OH - JULY 29, 2017: Center JC Tretter #64 of the Cleveland Browns takes part in a drill during a training camp practice on July 29, 2017 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)(Diamond Images/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

BEREA — The Cleveland Browns have taken a positive approach to improving their 1-15 record from a season ago. The Browns were one of the biggest winners on draft day and did an admirable job addressing some needs in free agency. Now it’s time to see if the offseason acquisitions will mesh with existing talent and help win games.  

Judging by the first few days of training camp the team is showing promise.  

Quarterback quandary  

The million dollar question is who will be the starting quarterback for the season opener: Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler or rookie DeShone Kizer?  

Kessler appears to have a leg up on the competition after spending a season in the system. He made some nice throws with touch and showed that he can push the ball down the field, connecting with receiver Kenny Britt for a touchdown. Kessler also had a few passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and forced an interception.  

Coach Hue Jackson likely will have Kessler on a short leash as No. 1 throughout this evaluation process.  

Osweiler prospered while substituting for future Hall Famer Peyton Manning during the Denver Broncos Super Bowl run two seasons ago. The quarterback’s performance earned him a monstrous free agent contact with the Houston Texans, when then shipped him off after one disappointing season.  

Now in Cleveland, Osweiler finds himself in the midst of a three-way competition. Early on, he’s been precise with his intermediate passes and throwing into tight windows. He made nice reads while going through his progressions but did have a couple of miscues on timing routes. He was fairly accurate, poised in the pocket and showed a quick release.  

Of the three quarterbacks, Kizer, the second-round draft pick from Notre Dame, shows the most promise. He matched the veterans throw-for-throw completing passes. Kizer stands tall and poised in the pocket when making his reads and shows good velocity on his throws, with a nice delivery. He possesses a big-league arm and demonstrated that ability by throwing passes that ripped through the gusty wind. The rookie also showed his athleticism, making plays with his feet.  

Kizer fit some passes into tight widows and throws a nice deep ball, but he stared down his intended targets and held the ball too long at times. The talent is clearly visible, but there is much work to be done.  

Too hot to handle  

Perhaps the most intriguing rookie is tight end David Njoku who was selected 29th overall from Miami.  

Njoku is very talented with tremendous upside. He’s explosive off the line with good acceleration and shows great leaping ability catching the ball at its highest point over defenders. However, the rookie has serious issues with dropped and fumbled passes so far.  

Despite that, Njoku is taking a businesslike approach to the learning curve.  

“The playbook is a lot more complex than college, but this is my job now,” he said. “Everyone is a professional here, everyone is getting paid to play, and at any moment you can get cut or fired. I’m going to make sure I work that much harder learning the playbook so I can be here as long as possible.”  

The coaching staff is pleased with the progress of tight end Seth DeValve, who was injured much of last season. DeValve is not the most dazzling receiver but catches everything and knows how to get open. He’s a good blocker and plays well in line and flanked to the slot position.  

DeValve did fumble once after being thumped by safety Derrick Kindred running up the sideline after a catch.  

Overall, there is much for Cleveland fans to be charged about in the early stages of training camp.

Mike Brown explains why Marvin Lewis is still Cincinnati Bengals coach

Published: Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ 9:35 AM

What had been suspected is now confirmed: That late-season winning streak saved Marvin Lewis’ job.

Owner Mike Brown, who rarely speaks publicly during the year, explained as much to the team website Friday afternoon:

“We made some changes to do that. I respect that,” Brown said of the two wins that put the final record at 7-9. “I thought he took a team that was failing and turned it around the last couple of games. We didn’t get back quite to where I would like to see us, but we got back to a high enough level where we could play two good  teams and beat them when they were on the spot to win.”

Lewis and the team were widely expected to part ways when they’re 15th season together ended in early January.

Instead, Lewis signed a new two-year contract.

Brown, who has been part of the organization since his father Paul founded it in the late 1960s, explained to team writer Geoff Hobson he saw a need for change after two losing seasons but thought Lewis the man to oversee a roster that needs supplemented rather than rebuilt.

To that end, the staff under Lewis was overhauled, including the hiring of new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

Is it time for tempo adjustment in Cincinnati?

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:11 AM

The indications the Cincinnati Bengals could try tempo as a way to rev up their offense in 2018 are mounting.

Bengals.com notes new quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt has experience with hurry-up offenses both as a player in Buffalo and as a coach at multiple stops in the NFL: 

“It gives the defense less time to communicate, usually simplifying their calls. If the quarterback is comfortable with it, you can really simplify what you’re going to see against you,” Van Pelt said of the up-tempo. “We did it in Green Bay. If the quarterback can handle it and I think Andy would be great at it, you can definitely use it as a weapon.  There are benefits to it. It’s a whole different language at the line of scrimmage. It’s fun. I always liked it.”

The Bengals had some success with speeding up the tempo late in the season as new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor got more comfortable with his personnel.

Of course, the franchise has a history with the philosophy, too.

Sam Wyche installed a hurry-up attack when he was head coach in the 1980s, a strategy that helped the team win the AFC in 1988.

Who were the best Bengals this season?

Published: Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 5:59 AM

Marvin Lewis’ Cincinnati Bengals had a season to forget, but there were some great individual performances.

Fan favorites might be subjective. Pro Football Focus is not.

Here are the top five Bengals according to the site:

Any surprises there?

Not really — unless you were worried about how William Jackson would look coming back from an injury that kept him out for all of 2016.

Turns out he wasn’t just great this season when he was in the spotlight, eh?

And four of the top five coming from the defense? That feels about right, too.

NFL releases playoff schedule

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 9:25 PM

The 2017 playoffs are officially upon us.

Shortly after Sunday’s Week 17 games the NFL released the postseason schedule.

The Tennessee Titans got a big win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Tennessee will travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs on Saturday, Jan. 6 in the first AFC Wild Card matchup.

Atlanta defeated the Carolina Panthers in a crucial NFC South showdown. As a result, the Falcons will fly west to play the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, Jan. 6.

Sunday, Jan. 7 will feature the Buffalo Bills at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Buffalo needed help from the Cincinnati Bengals and they got it. Cincinnati defeated the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17. Baltimore’s loss moved Buffalo into the six and final playoff spot while the Ravens are forced to go home. The Jaguars, losers of two-straight games, are back pedaling into the playoffs.

The Panthers and New Orleans Saints will meet for the third time this season, albeit this time the postseason. Both clubs lost to a NFC South division rival in Week 17 (Panthers lost to Atlanta and the Saints lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).  The Saints host Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 7.

2017 NFL Playoff information

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