7-30-14: Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer’s battle for the starting quarterback gig may not be as close as some had hoped. Despite performing solidly in camp, reports have surfaced that the Browns’ brass has grown “alarmed” by Manziels’ off the field persona, while the rookie passer has also supposedly “regressed” in practice due to not submerging himself in the team’s playbook. While Manziel could still make up the ground he’s lost during the preseason, Cleveland insiders are already predicting Hoyer will be under center come week one. The other big news in Cleveland surrounds star wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was thought to be lost for the year due to suspension but may have a shot at winning his appeal. Gordon’s defense is that his failed drug test was a result of second hand smoke. If he wins the appeal, Gordon could have his season long ban dramatically reduced.
7-15-14: Johnny Football has been the talk of the summer and we haven’t even gotten to training camp yet. Manziel’s trips to Vegas are what we’ve been hearing and seeing but everyone will know what he’s really all about when he dives into his competition with Brian Hoyer when camp opens on July 23rd. While Manziel has been a controversial topic since being drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, he’s still far from being the disappointment star wide receiver Josh Gordon has been. Despite still waiting for league punishment for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Gordon got himself in further hot water by driving under the influence on July 5th. The breakout receiver from 2012 is now fully expected to be suspended for the entire 2014 season, while some fear his career may be over.
6-17-14: The Browns have officially inked first round pick Johnny Manziel to a four year contract. Rumored to be worth $8.3 million, 94% of the deal is guaranteed. The signing bonus for the former Heisman Trophy winner is $4.3 million. Manziel is arguably already the Browns most popular player and accounted for an increase in demand of Browns tickets after his selection.
6-5-14: The Browns have done a pretty good job of maintaining the circus that comes with selecting Johnny Manziel as their new franchise quarterback, but that doesn’t mean you don’t hear about him. Much was made about a Memorial Day Weekend trip to Las Vegas, while Manziel was also in the news due to a hoax lawsuit. On the bright side, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had only good things to say about Manziel, suggesting he and Robert Griffin III are “very similar” and that Manziel can have the same type of rookie success RG3 had two years ago in Washington. Cleveland has also worked to get Manziel some extra weapons with star receiver Josh Gordon facing a year-long ban. The team brought in veteran receivers Miles Austin and Earl Bennett to help alleviate the loss a bit. Wide receiver Nate Burleson (broken arm) also added to the good news at receiver, as he’s expected to be ready for camp.
5-19-14: The Cleveland Browns had been a franchise in turmoil for as long as anyone could remember. Then owner Jimmy Haslam made major changes in the front office and let Ray Farmer take complete control over personnel decisions. After a solid showing in free agency, Farmer appeared to make Haslam look smart with a solid draft. Let’s break down his top picks and see how he and the Browns did in the 2014 NFL Draft:
Round 1. Pick 08 Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma St.
Round 1. Pick 22 Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Round 2. Pick 03 Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
Round 3. Pick 07 Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa
Round 3. Pick 30 Terrance West, RB, Towson
Round 4. Pick 27 Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Cleveland really did a fine job on hitting on just about every major need. They probably should have taken a wide receiver early after hearing about wide receiver Josh Gordon’s looming suspension, but kudos to them for sticking to their draft plan, regardless.
That plan consisted of landing a stud corner to pair with Joe Haden, as well as getting a franchise passer. Justin Gilbert was easily the draft’s most physically gifted cornerback, potentially giving the Browns the league’s toughest secondary, just like that.
Then there was the selection of Johnny Manziel. Love it or hate it, it was a move that had to be made. Not only did the drafting of Manziel immediately sell thousands of Cleveland Browns tickets, but it also brought inspiration and hope. Whether or not it will work out remains to be determined, but for now it looks like the right call.
Cleveland made another fine pick with Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio in round two, which was an arguable steal considering his immense upside and how much they need another body for the o-line. Running back Terrance West was another excellent depth add, as newly signed free agent running back Ben Tate has a checkered injury history.
5-9-14: Heeeeere’s Johnny! Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had to wait until the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to hear his name called, but the Browns knew they had to have their guy and traded back with the Eagles to land him. Manziel is a polarizing figure and he’s not sure bet at the next level, but he’s the kind of high upside player that gives a franchise hope. That’s exactly what the Browns and their fans needed. While landing Manziel is the story of the first round and probably what ends up making their draft, Cleveland also should get credit for trading back with their first selection to land Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Easily the most talented corner in the draft, Gilbert will pair with lock down corner Joe Haden to give Cleveland one of the best secondaries in the game.
4-28-14: The Cleveland Browns have been a mess in the front office, but with Ray Farmer handed full control of the team, it does appear things might finally be headed in the right direction. Now that Cleveland might be on course, though, they actually need to get the right talent. Brian Hoyer is their only competent passer, so adding a franchise quarterback is crucial for future success. Holding two first round selections, it’s unlikely the Browns take a huge risk early, which means they should go after a quarterback with their second first round pick. That puts Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger on the board for them later in round one, while likely makes their first pick Clemson’s Sammy Watkins (if he’s available). Cleveland traded away Trent Richardson last year, too, so they’ll also need to find a running back. Homegrown Ohio State masher Carlos Hyde makes a ton of sense.
4-18-14: The Cleveland Browns have started over with a new head coach and front office regime, and could possibly be starting a new quarterback under center as early as this preseason, as well. The road through August won’t exactly be easy, as the Cleveland Browns preseason schedule kicks off with a road game against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions, followed by a second straight road test against the Washington Redskins on primetime television. Week three is where it’s at in preseason, though, where the Browns will welcome the St. Louis Rams to Cleveland. There we’ll get a good look at the likely starting quarterback for the 2014 season for the Browns, as well as the entire starting roster. The Browns will cap the 2014 preseason with one more home game in week four, as Marc Trestman’s Chicago Bears come into town.
4-7-14: It was an odd offseason for the Browns, who fired their head coach after one season and replaced him with Mike Pettine, and then cleaned house in their front office again shortly after, handing the keys to the team to Ray Farmer. Farmer quickly shed dead weight in failed quarterback Brandon Weeden, while spicing up the offense with former Texans running back Ben Tate and shifty slot man Andrew Hawkins. Cleveland also cut D’Qwell Jackson early in the offseason, but somehow found an upgrade in Karlos Dansby, while also finding a solid safety in Donte Whitner to replace the departed T.J. Ward. The Browns even transition tagged star center Alex Mack, leaving them with few gaping holes other than at quarterback heading into the 2014 NFL Draft.
3-21-14: Talk about turnover. Even before free agency got rolling, the Browns made waves, as they changed head coaches and even flipped things around in their front office. Ray Farmer is now calling the shots, and already seems to know the direction he wants the Browns to head in. Cleveland wasted no time cutting dead weight, handing underperforming quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell their walking papers, along with troubled slot receiver Davone Bess. On the bright side, Cleveland addressed their massive hole at running back with former Texan Ben Tate, while also filling a hole left by T.J. Ward going to Denver by signing hard-hitting safety Donte Whitner. The Browns also nabbed Karlos Dansby on the open market, who should prove to be a solid upgrade over D’Qwell Jackson, who the Browns released. As bad as things looked only a few weeks ago, the Browns do appear headed in the right direction with a very solid free agency showing.
12-31-13: Josh Gordon continued his stellar season, hauling in seven catches for over 80 yards, but the Browns just couldn’t get enough going in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers won, 20-7. Jason Campbell added a late touchdown but it wasn’t enough as the Browns closed 2013 at just 4-12.
12-24-13: The Browns had been having success with their explosive passing game over the last several weeks and were hoping to take advantage of rookie corner Dee Milliner in week 16. That never happened, as Jason Campbell took three sacks and tossed two picks in a tough 24-13 road loss to the New York Jets.
12-17-13: Jason Campbell and the Browns struggled early and needed some miscues from Jay Cutler to stay in this one. Unfortunately, Cutler rebounded from his mistakes to throw three touchdowns and steal the road win, 38-31. Campbell would connect with star wide receiver Josh Gordon with just over a minute to go, but it was too little, too late as Cleveland dropped to 4-10.
12-10-13: The Browns got burned on a late penalty and a 58-yard field goal couldn’t be true, as Cleveland blew an early 12-0 lead in New England, falling to the Patriots, 27-26. Jason Campbell nearly passed for 400 yards and Josh Gordon once again went off, but it wasn’t enough to top the Pats on the road.
12-3-13: Brandon Weeden was almost the hero. Instead, he’ll be looked at as the scapegoat. Weeden passed for a whopping 370 yards and three touchdowns, but had three horrible turnovers as Cleveland fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home, 32-28. Wide receiver Josh Gordon had an epic 10-catch, 261-yard and two touchdown effort wasted in the loss.
Josh Gordon had a day for the ages, catching a whopping 14 balls for over 200 receiving yards and a touchdown, but even that wasn’t enough for the Browns in a 27-11 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jason Campbell left this one due to injury and Cleveland fans once again had to endure the inconsistency of quarterback Brandon Weeden in defeat.
11-19-13: Cleveland shocked the Bengals with an early 13-0 lead thanks to two Andy Dalton interceptions, but ultimately had struggles of their own on offense and special teams that contributed to a 41-20-loss on the road. The Browns saw the Bengals block two punts and return two turnovers for scores during a 31-0 run that gave Cincy the lead for good and ended with a 41-20 win.
11-5-13: The Cleveland Browns hadn’t beaten the Baltimore Ravens in 11 tries. That horrid streak came to an end in week nine. Jason Campbell was poised and controlled for the second straight week, as he hooked up with slot receiver Davone Bess for two scores and moved the ball enough late to help Cleveland pull off the huge upset over their division rivals with a 24-18 victory.
10-30-13: The Browns switched ineffective quarterback Brandon Weeden out for backup Jason Campbell and were supposed to have a rough outing on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead, they almost won. The Browns pulled out some trickery and scored on a flea-flicker to keep this one interesting but would inevitably fall in week eight, 23-17.
10-22-13: Brandon Weeden continued his steady decline on the road against the Green Bay Packers in week seven, as he barely completed over 40% of his passes and took three sacks in a 31-13 loss. Weeden was ineffective throughout, but was able to connect with tight end Jordan Cameron on a late touchdown, despite the game being out of reach. Willis McGahee and the Browns running game didn’t offer Weeden much help, however, as McGahee ran for just 39 yards on 11 carries as Cleveland dropped to 3-4 with it’s second straight loss.
10-15-13: Brandon Weeden took what was a decent game and a close contest and turned it into a horrible, lop-sided one. Despite being down just seven points late in the game, Weeden tossed possibly the most careless pass of all-time and watched on the sidelines as the Lions put on the finishing touches of a 31-17 road win. The loss was Cleveland’s first in the past four weeks and it dropped them to 3-3 and into a second place tie in the AFC North.
10-1-13: The Cleveland Browns live on. Despite many assuming the Browns were tanking for the 2014 NFL Draft, the team followed up the trading of would-be franchise running back Trent Richardson with an unlikely second straight win in week four. Cleveland dominate the visiting Cincinnati Bengals as stud corner Joe Haden kept elite receiver A.J. Green in check all game, allowing him to secure just seven of 15 targets for 51 yards. Cleveland’s defense was easily the star of this one, as they forced two turnovers, registered two sacks and held the Bengals to just six points. Reserve quarterback Brian Hoyer looked like a seasoned vet for the second week in a row, as he connected with Jordan Cameron for the pair’s fourth touchdown in two weeks en route to a convincing 17-6 home win.
9-18-13: The Browns and Ravens were expected to engage in a defensive battle and they did just that in week two, as neither team’s passing game could light up the field. Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden did enough early to help the Browns to a 6-0 lead, but couldn’t generate any points in the second half and exited due to injury. The Browns offense suffered on the ground, as well, as star running back Trent Richardson could only muster 3.2 yards per carry in the 14-6 loss in Baltimore. Next week, the Browns head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.
9-10-13: The Miami Dolphins took it to the Cleveland Browns on the road in week one, forcing three interceptions out of second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden, while also silencing stud running back Trent Richardson. Ryan Tannehill improved his steady development under center for the Fins in this one, as he connected with Brian Hartline nine times (one for a score) in a 23-10 road win. Cleveland briefly held a 7-6 lead at the half off of a nice touchdown by emerging tight end Jordan Cameron, but was ultimately doomed by turnovers and inefficient play. The Browns head to Baltimore next week to take on the World Champion Ravens.
9-3-13: Cleveland Browns final roster cuts: OL Braxton Cave, WR Mike Edwards, TE Dan Gronkowski, DB Abdul Kanneh, RB Miquel Maysonet, WR David Nelson, DB Kent Richardson, P Colton Schmidt, LB Justin Cole, S Jamoris Slaughter, LB James-Michael Johnson, OL Aaron Adams, DB Akeem Auguste, RB Jamaine Cook, DL Hall Davis, WR Tori Gurley, WR Naaman Roosevelt, DL Brian Sanford, LB Justin Staples, K Shayne Graham, K Brandon Bogotay.
8-16-13:Brandon Weeden had a very nice game in week 2 of the preseason for the Browns at they defeated the Lions 24-6. Weeden completed 8 of 12 passes for 117 yards and two TDs, leading the Browns to a 17-0 lead. Both TDs were caught by Jordan Cameron. Josh Gordon caught 3 balls for a team-leading 72 receiving yards. Trent Richardson carried it 6 times for 33 yards. Next week the Browns head to Indy to take on Andrew Luck and the Colts.
8-11-13: The Browns beat the Rams 27-19 in their preseason opener. Brandon Weeden completed 10 of his 13 passes for 112 yards and a touch down while leading the team on two scoring drives. Travis Benjamin also returned a punt 91 yards for a TD.
7-10-13: No longer a laughing stock, the Browns are slowly progressing with the young talent they drafted on offense last season. The team will have to withstand a two-game suspension for explosive receiver Josh Gordon to start the year, but should otherwise be ready to compete behind Trent Richardson and a power running game. A transition to a more aggressive 3-4 scheme, with the likes of free agent acquisition Paul Kruger and rookie Barkevious Mingo could also help put the Browns back on the map.
6-12-13: The Cleveland Browns were an inconsistent bunch in 2012, but that’s to be expected with a rookie quarterback, wide receiver and tight end starting in your offense. However, the first year learning curve won’t be a viable excuse in 2013, as new head coach Rob Chudzinski tries to weed out the lesser talent and do something the Browns haven’t able to do consistently in years: win some football games. He brings Norv Turner’s vertical offense from San Diego to help get the job done, and will rely on second-year starting quarterback Brandon Weeden to take the next step. At the same time, he’ll probably be hoping running back Trent Richardson can evolve into the next Adrian Peterson and Josh Morgan can do his best Terrell Owens impression. Perhaps all of that happening in the same season is a bit of a stretch (and a little wishful thinking), but in the AFC North, where the Browns will face three playoff caliber teams twice a year, it has to be the aim.
2013 Browns Draft Overview:
Round 1, Pick 6: Barkevious Mingo, DE, Louisiana State
Round 3, Pick 6: Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
Round 6, Pick 7: Jamoris Slaughter, SS, Notre Dame
Round 7, Pick 11 (from Miami): Armonty Bryant, DE, East Central (Okla.)
Round 7, Pick 21(from Cincinnati through San Francisco): Garrett Gilkey, OT, Chadron State
12-4-12: Starting the season 0-5 didn’t help the Browns at all but since then they have a winning record at 4-3 with an impressive win over the Steelers two weeks ago. The Browns won’t make the playoff but have a bright future ahead of them with RB Trent Richardson. Richardson is on pace for over 1000 yards rushing and already has seven touchdowns. Coming off a win against the Raiders, the Browns next opponent will be the Kansas City Chiefs at home.