Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

Not Bending For Beckham

New York Giants star wide-receiver Odell Beckham Jr., said he would not step onto a football field without his contract issue being resolved.  The “issue” being that Beckham wants to be the highest paid wide-out in the NFL.  This is a problem for the NY Giants because they are not used to being threatened by a player and because they are generally not known as a team who will overpay for talent – no matter who it is.  But this problem might find a very satisfying remedy if the rumors coming out are true.  The rumor is that the NY Giants are indeed shopping Beckham around – and the price would include a first round pick for this year’s draft.

Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America

The New York Giants were 3-13 last season and find themselves with the number two overall pick in the draft.  The whole direction of the draft kinda-sorta depends on what the Giants want to do with that #2 overall pick.  Now, with the possibility of getting another first round pick – the Giants can try to revamp their roster the right way and look to a bright future that won’t be that distant.

The Giants have options here if they trade Beckham.  “Options” aren’t essentially granted to a team coming off of a three-win season.

The first team that comes up in trade talks with the Giants for Odell Beckham Jr. is – surprise, surprise – the Cleveland Browns.  The Browns have been very aggressive in the off-season and are making moves that actually “make sense” for a change.  The Browns have the money under the cap to pay Beckham what he wants, they already acquired Jarvis Landry (a close friend of Beckham’s), and they have more than enough “draft-pick-capital” to trade to the NY Giants.  The Browns have the 1st and 4th overall picks and also have three picks in the second round.

Source: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images North America

Depending on how the Giants wanted to play this, they could end up with the 2nd and 4th overall picks of this year’s draft, and in addition pick up maybe two more second round picks — if the Browns wanted to get really crazy they might throw in a first or second round pick in the 2019 draft – but that probably wouldn’t be necessary.

With those picks, the Giants could do literally whatever they wanted. They could draft a quarterback and maybe  Bradley Chubb, the pass rusher out of N.C. State.  They could take Quinton Nelson, the offensive lineman from Notre Dame and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley OR they could trade that number two overall pick to a team like Buffalo or Arizona who might trade their first round pick and some more goodies to the Giants so they can grab a quarterback.

The bottom line is, why WOULDN’T the Giants trade Beckham?  Although he is undeniably one of the most talented receivers in the league, he’s also a loud mouth, a self entitled diva -with a target on his back – and he is also coming off of an ankle injury that ended his 2017 campaign.  The Browns would and should do this deal because they can get their QB with the number one overall pick and have him set up with a pretty decent offense (better than what ANY of these top ranked quarterbacks had for themselves at college).

Source: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images North America

The wide-receiver position is NOT the position you pay the big bucks to when you have other needs, and especially if you’re rebuilding.   The Giants have to think “big picture” here and right now they are the third (and maybe even) the fourth best team in their division.  Trading Beckham would help get things in the right direction for them, immediately.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Pile It On

In football, every team has a window.  These windows come and go, but usually once it comes and goes, it’s gone forever.  Some of these teams have “trap” games, or “let down” games.  This week, there are certain teams that need to separate themselves from the pack.  It’s a time to slay their opponent in such fashion that it was an insult to have to play them in the first place. . .

New York Giants +11.5 at Denver Broncos

There are still three win-less teams in the NFL this season.  The first two were predictable: the Browns and the 49ers.  The third is the team from New York. . . no not that one, the other one – the New York Giants.  Before the season started, the Giants were looked upon by many to be a division winner, or a Super Bowl contender.  “Not I,” said the Rabbit.  I couldn’t see how a one dimensional offense with a bottom tier offensive line would survive in today’s NFL.  After last week’s loss to the Chargers, those lofty dreams died, and so did the season for the Giants.  They lost their number one and two receivers for the rest of the season (Beckham and Marshall) and are now clearly the worst in the NFC East.  Eli Manning has been on a downward spiral his last three or four seasons and it’s safe to say the coach, Ben McAdoo has lost his team. On the flip side, the Denver Broncos are 3-1 and have one of the league’s best defenses.  The Broncos are  allowing 260 yards a game, (approximately, 50 rushing yards a game and 210 passing yards a game).  Offensively, this team was supposed to be horrible, but they’ve actually shown a nice balance between the pass and run game. Surprisingly, the rushing pair of CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles (4.5 and 5.3 yards per rush respectively) have helped give quarterback Trevor Simien something to fall back on.  Truth is, 11.5 is a big number and might just get bigger, but the Giants might not put up more than 2 field goals in this game.  Denver wins because of field positions and Eli Manning turnovers.

The Pick: Denver -11.5

Cleveland Browns +9.5 at Houston Texans

Much like the Giants lost their best player in Odell Beckham Jr, the Texans lost their best player in J.J. Watt.  Unlike the Giants though, the Texans still have a chance to win their division, have a lot of upside and aren’t a plague within their community. Bill O’Brien’s Texans are 2-3 but have found some new life with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.  He’s been improving on his completion percentage (now 62%), has thrown 12 touchdowns to his 4 interceptions and is leading the team in rushing with 331 yards.  The Texans defense has been stout but losing JJ Watt and now Whitney Mercilus for the whole season will be huge.  You can’t just say “next man up” when those are the two pairs of shoes to fill.  The Cleveland Browns continue to be the a joke who’s punchline has lost its luster in the league, and it seems that Deshone Kizer project is (mercifully) over in Cleveland, so one would assume that Kevin Hogan will get the nod.  And deservedly so, he has looked better than Kizer whenever given the opportunity.  The Browns rush defense is holding opponents to less than 3 yards a rush, but they also haven’t played against any prolific offenses or seen a QB as athletically versatile as Watson.  Houston has the third most rushing yards in the league, but expect them to take advantage of this horrible pass defense.  Its unfortunate for the Texans, but they know how to play defense without Watt.  Also, if we’re looking at really simple arithmetic-esque patterns, the Texans lost, then won, then lost, then won, then lost. . .guess what’s next?

The Pick: Houston Texas -9.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5 at Arizona Cardinals

The Bucs are 2-2 this year and their best performance was a 5 point LOSS to New England.  This is a team that came into the season with a lot of hype and are now in the reality of “we need to fight every week.”  This week they are playing an Arizona Cardinals team that isn’t very good at all.  We here at Beating Vegas have drank the Kool Aid offered to us by Arizona, not once, but twice and it tasted like trash.  This time, we learned our lesson at Beating Vegas – hopefully.  Carson Palmer is pretty much, literally on his last leg. And although the Cards are second in the league when in comes to passing yards, the average yard per completion is less than 7 and they are completing passes at a rate of 59%.   The rushing game doesn’t help much either considering it is the worst in the league at 2.9 yards a rush.  We all knew losing David Johnson would hurt but not THIS much.  The Cardinals are so desperate they traded for washed up Adrian Peterson.  This is a complete desperation move as Peterson does not fit the Cardinals mold of a back who can catch passes and line up as a wide out so maybe they are looking to go more smash-mouth.  Maybe?  If that’s so, Peterson’s average the last year and a half is somewhere around 3 yards a carry so don’t expect much.  The Tampa Bay Bucs have the talent on both sides of the ball.  There really should be no excuse. I don’t even care that they have to fly from Florida to Arizona.  I’m sure me and my friends from New York could fly out to Arizona on Saturday night and hang about 30 on this Cardinals team.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Cleveland Browns 2015 Preview

Some teams are cursed.  Some teams just do it to themselves.  It doesn’t matter if Cleveland’s woes are a product of black magic or self infliction – they are just a mess, from top to bottom.  Head coach Mike Pettine, opens up his second season as head coach with his best player suspended for the season and his back up quarterback as the talk of the town.

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The Browns have a quarterback battle between a journeyman veteran who looked awful last season and a sophomore quarterback who had a two month long stint in alcohol rehab in the off-season.  Fun times.  Josh McCown, pulled the okey-doke on Tampa, when he looked great in his few starts with Chicago in 2013, leading the Bucs to believe they did the right thing by giving him a contract last season.  McCown really has nothing left to give, and if he beats out Johnny Manziel for the starting job. . . eh.   Manziel, is really the team’s best option.  If not for nothing else, the Browns should start him just because they spent a first round pick on him and this isn’t a team with playoff aspirations anyhow.  The world still wants to see Manziel – fail or succeed – give the fans of the NFL what they want and just start him.

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Somebody needs to tell Manziel to not be so jumpy in the pocket.  The Browns, if they have anything, it’s an offensive line.  Left tackle Joe Thomas is probably the best at his position in the last decade.  The Browns will have some things to deal when this season is done though.  Their center Alex Mack can opt out after this season and tackle Mitchell Schwartz is in the final year of his deal.   Will anybody blame them for abandoning this ship when this season ends?

The backfield isn’t too shabby either.  There is a lot of youth there with a lot of upside.  Unfortunately, as of now two of those three have some nagging injuries that may leak into weak one of the regular season.  Rookie Duke Johnson, might be the best out of the three, but he has been wrestling with a hamstring issue in early practices.  Terrance West should be fine physically when the season starts, but the Browns are losing patience with him (on and off the field apparently).   He’s not a bad kid, just “plays around too much.”  Isiah Crowell is the bruiser back, who might be the lead rusher on this team by default.  Crowell is good, but better suited for goal line and short yardage situations.   The health of this backfield is everything to this offense.  Everyone knows they’re going to run the ball a lot this year so. . .

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Say what you will about Josh Gordon, the truth is: he’s the best receiver we’ve barely seen play.  Without Gordon, this receiver group is just awkward and lame.  Brian Hartline is a career possession guy with limited speed.  Andrew Hawkins isn’t threatening any secondary  in this lifetime; and the Browns signed Dwayne Bowe who was the number one receiver on a team in which not one receiver caught a touchdown.  That right there says it all.

This defensive unit was disappointing last year, but when you have a bad offense continuously putting you in bad spots, there is only so much you can do after a while.  The Browns are hoping for the best by putting their rookie defensive linemen right into the line of fire.  Danny Shelton of Washington and Xavier Cooper of Washington State are two defensive tackles that have the potential to explode offensive lines right up the gut.  Cooper is the more active of the two, while Shelton tries to gobble up space inside.  This is a big defensive line, that needs to get to ball carriers early – but once those ball carriers get to the outside, it’s all on the line backers and secondary to finish the job.

The linebacker group is interesting to say the least.  Barkevious Mingo was drafted in the first-round in 2013 and the Browns have seen little return on that investment.  The potential to be a complete bust looms in the clouds circling Mingo this season.  Nate Orchard out of Utah, might do what Mingo hasn’t and that’s be the pass rusher they want from the linebacker spot.  Paul Kruger is someone people can never figure out.  Sure, he had eleven sacks last season – but what does he do really?  He’s just one of those players you just assume is above average, but he doesn’t really “wow” you, when you watch him.  Karlos Dansby is the veteran of the group who last year only had forty seven tackles in twelve games. . .

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The Browns have studs in the secondary.   Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson make up one of the best safety combinations in the league (it’s going to be hard to dethrone that duo in Seattle. . .) and corner back Joe Haden is consistently in the discussion of “top five corners” in the league.  With Buster Skrine signing with the New York Jets, it’s time for last year’s first round pick Justin Gilbert to wake up and take control of his future.  He showed a lot of promise in college, but seemed like a fish out of water in the pros.  The Browns will surely give him his chance, but they signed veteran Tramon WIlliams just in-case Gilbert is better served as the nickel corner.

The Browns have so many interesting stories on their team, but none of it will amount to much.  There is no doubt they will stay in some games, but it’s going to a one dimensional offense and a lot of inexperience on the defense line that will ultimately hold them back.  Best case scenario is that the youth on this team gain experience in what will be a trying season, while the veterans. . . collect pay checks?

Predicted Record: 4-12

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Joe Haden, Joe Thomas, Donte Whitner

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

Cleveland’s Playing With Dirty Money (Manziel)

Johnny Manziel is en route to becoming a huge laughing stock if he doesn’t shape up quickly.  Half the world was rooting for the cocky quarterback out of Texas A&M, while the other half wanted to see him struggle.  The latter half of that bunch got their wish granted last season.

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“Manziel Mania” was so crazy last year, that when he first saw any action in an NFL game it was in a loss to the Buffalo Bills.  In that loss, Manziel scampered for a 10 yard score and it was all anyone could talk about in a 26-10 BILLS victory.  In games that followed Manziel looked small, unsure and flat out terrible.  During and after the season, reports had come out that Manziel was not putting in the work and he hadn’t made any of the mature, necessary changes he had vowed to make once he made it to the NFL.

After his disappointing rookie campaign, Manziel continued to disappoint the Browns and his fans altogether.  Manziel had not stopped his drinking and partying ways and eventually checked himself into an alcohol addiction center.  Some can see this as a step in maturity, but this goes beyond football – it’s about this kid’s life really.

On the football side of things, the Cleveland Browns didn’t learn anything from watching the Tampa Bay Bucs last season and signed 35 year old quarterback Josh McCown (who turns 36 on Independence Day).   McCown is still living the high life after a nice 4-5 week span in Chicago two years ago.  McCown was awful last season, but for some reason the Browns coaching staff has tricked themselves into believing that he, not Manziel, will be their starter in the upcoming season.

Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo even said “Everything you’re looking for in a quarterback, Josh has.”

Really?  Why has it taken a coach to say that for the first time since 2002, if that’s the case?  McCown is a “fill in” guy.  Everybody knows it.  Everybody also knows he’s just filling in because Manziel can’t get his “you know what” together.

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Manziel’s talents – are limited.   Limited size, limited strength and limited speed.  His arm strength is actually pretty impressive but that’s about it.  What made Manziel remarkable in college was his ability to improvise.  The reason why he had to improvise so much was because he held onto the ball for forever and danced around in the back field.  RG3 played that way and he’s already at the point where the stadium in Washington holds their breath every time he gets bumped or falls.

If anybody ever had to study and be silent when in film study – it’s Johnny Manziel.  When you don’t have the God-given size and strength to play the game, you have to work harder than the next man to prove yourself.  Especially when you have types that are physically and more naturally gifted than you in the league like Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, who have those gifts and still put in the work.

The question is:  Will Manziel put in the work?

Let’s be honest.  If there was a poll of 100 people who had to answer that question anonymously – at least 80 people will say : “no.”

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Manziel would’ve been better suited staying in college for four years and becoming a college legend.  He could’ve stayed partying and improvised all he wanted and along the way could’ve kept A&M in SEC contention – remember he was that good in college.  Now in the NFL, he isn’t looked at in the locker room as a savior to a franchise.  He’s looked upon as a punk kid – and if not a punk kid – a spoiled brat.

Manziel’s “celebrity” exceeds anything he can bring to the table at the moment.  If you google the name “Johnny,” you will see he’s the third name listed, under Depp and Cash.  We’re talking about a back up quarterback who looked like trash last year and committed himself for alcohol abuse.  That “Johnny” is the third most popular search on the internet.

Johnny may finally have some people around him who aren’t “yes men” or maybe he is finally seeing the light.  He’s not as busy on twitter lately (3 tweets in the month of June with his last tweet before those being in January) and even his nearly one and half million followers on Instagram have seen less of the rich kid’s partying ways.  These are small yet important steps for Manziel to work his way back to being a starting quarterback.  Although starting quarterback for the Browns is no great accomplishment.  It’s more about how he plays when he’s given that chance.  Then maybe we can care about Johnny Football again, but even then – even the most dedicated Money Manziel fan can see, that this ride may be over a lot sooner than some thought.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio