Blog

Do the Browns Finally Win? Big $ Not Putting his Money Down

The North Coast Posse are a top Browns follow on Twitter. @northcoastposse

I don’t think the Browns are going to win. There are red flags, and then there are RED flags.

I'm on a bit of a heater as it relates to making sports picks (for entertainment purposes only). The person who takes said sports picks (once again, for entertainment purposes ) made a call to me (slightly unorthodox) after I nailed the under this past Monday night. The reason for the call was to see if I had any interest in rolling over my winnings (entertainment) onto the Browns on Thursday. Sadly, as a (slightly buzzed) Browns fan, I considered his offer for a few seconds, before I realized people in his position don't usually make calls to inspire decisions that are not firmly headed in their favor. The rush of reality prompted me to decline the offer. This guy (or girl, no names please) who has a stake in game outcomes is literally trying to get people to bet the Browns. No Thanks.


This is the trap game of trap games for player, coaches and fans alike. Everyone clutching their "WE WERE SO CLOSE' silver linings so tight that they miss just how dysfunctional this team is right now. The OC hates the HC, the special teams are trash, and penalties and mental miscues are adding up by the dozen. Folks, that ball Tyrod threw was well on its way to Houston, The Browns were lucky to be close to enough to feel heart ache.The greenish stench of 1-32-1 is rising and thickening and may reach critical mass on Thursday night.

With that said, I aint betting the Jets either. Go Browns.

Can Gary Patterson and TCU's defense slow down Ohio State's offense? - Baver answers Colin's questions

You can hear Baver every Friday at 7:40 am on CD1025 with Brian Phillips. Follow @baverbuckeyebag

Colin: Ok, everyone is losing their minds over this Buckeye offense but I suppose it’s worth noting that OSU beat Rutgers 58-0 and 56-0 the past two years with JT Barrett putting up huge passing numbers as well. So technically 2018 is a step backwards. Are we getting ahead of ourselves or is this offense destined for greatness? 

Baver: The upside of this Buckeye offense is the highest it’s been since Urban’s arrival.  But yeah, Rutgers is not good, and Oregon St’s defense is as bad as it gets. We will know a lot more around 11:30 pm Saturday night. 

Colin: Could we lose Haskins to the NFL after one season? 

Baver: Yes…and Haskins is currently running either 3rdor 4thin the Heisman odds, depending on the sportsbook. I see Todd McShay is already talking about Haskins NFL upside. And if Dwayne has a big game Saturday night, then you will hear a lot more talk about Haskins bolting after this season. Still, there isn’t much of a sample size right now in terms of Haskins’ performances against good competition. He played less than a half against Michigan last year - that’s it. Again, we will know more after Saturday.

Colin: What does TCU have to do to slow down the Buckeye attack and are they capable of doing it? 

Baver: Phil Steele has each of TCU’s three units on defense (DL, LBs & DBs) as the top units in the B12. Now, the B12 isn’t known for playing much D, so let’s not mistake this for Alabama’s defense. But if there is one coach that is capable of getting a high-powered tempo offense in a funk, it’s Gary Patterson. TCU’s 4-2-5 defense doesn’t have to substitute much to match up with the personnel on opposing offenses. And tempo offenses often feel a need to slow down to study the Horn Frogs’ alignment. But TCU is going to have to apply consistent pressure on Haskins and force some critical mistakes, otherwise I can’t see them winning this game.  

Colin: The defense faces its first test this weekend against TCU. Are they prepared to stop a top flight mobile QB in Shawn Robinson? 

Baver: I re-watched the Rutgers game focusing on the linebackers, and although the defense played much better than they did a week prior, the LB play is just plain bad in terms of what we are used to seeing in Columbus. Like Oklahoma and Iowa last year, I think TCU will try to expose the Buckeye LBs with the short passing game. Luckily, TCU doesn’t throw to the TE much, so that part of the nightmare from last year’s Iowa game shouldn’t reoccur. I think Robinson will make some plays with his legs, and the WR combo of Kavontae Turpin & Jalen Reagor (4.32 speed) will hit a few big plays. But the OSU D-line will force Robinson into making some key mistakes. Nick Bosa is possessed right now, and it’s like nothing I have seen before out of an OSU DE, and we’ve had some good ones. 

Colin: Forgot a Ted Ginn style punt return, can we just fair catch the ball without it hitting the turf? What gives? 

Baver: After McCall misplayed the first one, you’d have thought that he would have made damn sure he caught the 2nd one cleanly. Nope. Ohio State has too much talent on this team to give McCall many more shots. Yeah, I am too the point where I just want the punt fielded cleanly and let the offense put the ball in the end zone. 

Colin: Final thoughts and prediction? 

Baver: I am going to guess Urban Meyer has spent the better part of the last three weeks scouting TCU’s defense. I think even with a first-year starter at QB, Meyer and Ryan Day will have this offense well prepared for the TCU defense. I do worry you will see some chinks in the armor with the OSU O-line, but Haskins, the tailbacks, and the WRs should be too much for the TCU D. On the other side of the ball, as mentioned, the Bucks will surrender some big plays and some points, but the Buckeye D-line will cause too many problems for TCU and Shawn Robinson. Prediction: Ohio State 42 TCU 24, and I’d feel comfortable laying the 13 pts here.

Colin: What other games and lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend? 

Baver: I think Joe Burrow is now settling in and I see LSU hanging tough with Auburn. So getting 10 pts looks like a solid play to me. Of course, LSU is coached by Ed Orgeron, so I make look foolish here. I tend to think Boise St gets it done at Ok State, so I like the Smurfs catching 2 pts there. Best Boise team in a while. And I think the Bama train keeps rolling and covers the 21½ at Ole Miss. Bama usually wins Nat’l Titles with an average QB, and Tua is far better than average.

 

 

 

The North Coast Posse are Back for Another Season of Browns Football

The North Coast Posse are a top five twitter follow for the Cleveland Browns @northcoastposse

The NCP has new blood.  K-Dubs, the Soldier has been jumped out of the gang, and he needed an ass whoopin’ after his arrest this summer.  We wish him the worst as he goes from the Boston Market to the San Quentin salad bar. Punter Supreme joins the squad for 2018 to answer questions from Pencil Storm

 

  1. Having the Browns on Hard Knocks has been a blast. Who were the winners and losers of the HBO series?  Who looks good / bad ? Offense? Defense? Cajuste? 

 Big $: For my mental health I have come to the conclusion that OL coach, Bob Wylie, was simply a character actor paid by HBO to add color to the program. While the country was giggling at his jiggling, I was simply mortified that this jag-off was the leader of an instrumental cog of a professional football franchise. Animal videos???? Championing jumping jacks??? You have to be freaking kidding me. This guy drove me crazy and its no surprise that a quick look at his coaching career shows that he has been tied to Hue at the hip.

 As for who looked good? I’d say it’s a tie between Carl Nassib’s financial institution and Cajuste (so the ladies say).

 2) Cleveland is absolutely hyped for the opening game against the Steelers. Even nosebleed tiks in the alcohol free zone are going for $150. Can the Browns win this game or should people hold out for 50 yard line tickets for $20 by October?

 Punter Supreme: Hell yes, the Browns can win this one.  Sure, history is against them. They have not won a season opener since 2004, and unbelievably (and so how completely believably) Ben Roethlisberger is the all-time leader in wins by any QB (including Browns’ QBs) at First Energy Stadium.  Throw out all of that. This is a brand-new era. Unlike all the previous new eras. I mean it this time. The team has a new front office that has a track record of success, a new offensive coordinator in Todd Haley that directed an explosive Steelers’ attack the last few years, and nearly half a new roster that gives them quality depth at key positions.  

 Chances for victory got better this week because Pittsburgh’s all-world running back, Le’Veon Bell, is still a contract holdout and will not play.  In his place, they are starting James Conner, a second-year player that has just 32 career carries. The Steelers still have Big Ben and wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is as close to unstoppable as it gets.  But the Browns have a lot more strength in the defensive backfield this year. Keep an eye on AB’s match-ups with Cleveland rookie and Buckeye product Denzel Ward.

 Still, Charlie Brown had a lot hope every time Lucy teed up the football for him, but he always ended up with heartbreak and a red ass.  I’ll be watching from the couch this Sunday, sipping some Four String, waiting this team to prove me right. If all goes right, you’ll be saving up for the $150 nose-bleeds in December.  

 Big $: My biggest concern is Desmond Harrison getting his first start at LT. If he plays like an undrafted rookie who was dinged up a bunch in the preseason, it’s a loss, regardless of how the other 21 starters play. I can not stress how concerned I am about this kid playing the most important position on the field, Left Tackles have to be grinders who love football. Harrison showed up to the combine and did (gasp) 10 reps (gasp) of 225 on the bench. If he put in even a sliver of effort at his size, he would throw up a ho-hum 20 in his sleep. I have seen people champion his 4.78 40 time, but I think this is a shaky barometer considering LT stalwarts like JT and Jason Peters ran 4.9 plus. The lack of a quality strategy to replace 73 may be the anchor on the season.

 

  1. The Browns projected win total is 5.5. Would you take the over / under and what are the must wins on the schedule. 

 

Big $: The NFL is designed for each team to go 8-8 each year, which is what makes the 1-31 streak even more unbelievable. With that said, there isn’t enough kool aid in the cupboard to make me believe this team is winning 8 games. 6 or 7 wins would be highly optimistic, but due to my OL concerns I’m leaning towards pessimism, I’ll take the under all day.

 Punter Supreme: I’m feeling over … by a hair.  Like Big $ said, the biggest question mark is how the team will replace the retired Joe Thomas at left tackle.  Many of the reps there during camp have gone to starting left guard Joel Bitonio, with rookie Austin Corbett sliding in to Bitonio’s place.  There are some concerns that Bitonio, who is a solid guard, does not have the size to anchor the left edge on the reg. The staff is high on Harrison to take over at tackle, but he was very uneven in the last preseason game.  If he or Greg Robinson, the 2nd overall pick of the 2014 draft, can make the most of his shot, Bitonio can move back inside. Once Hue can figure out the best five start on the line, the Browns should be able to get the running game rolling with RBs Carlos Hyde and rookie Nick Chubb.  If they can keep the heat off new QB Tyrod Taylor, the O will put up more points this season. Last year, the three quarterbacks on the roster had a combined NFL win total of zero, and the wide receiver with the most catches was Rashard Higgins with 27. This year, Taylor, who led the Bills to the playoffs last year, will be throwing to former Dolphin Jarvis Landry, who has caught at least 84 balls in each of his four years in the league, a returning Josh Gordon, and rookie Antonio Callaway, who is a dude that can go the distance whenever he has the rock.  Duke Johnson returns too, and he’s Crisco greasy. Expect a breakout year from second-year TE David Njoku, who will reap the benefit of having more speed on the outside, and he will no doubt emerge as a top red-zone target in the league. I know there is a lot of “ifs” but this is Week 1, and there ain’t nothin’ but “ifs” for the whole league.

 I think the defense will be the strength of the team.  D-end Miles Garrett will have a lot of big Sundays, and with Emmanuel Ogbah on the other side, the Browns should disrupt the passing game a lot better this year, especially with the help of a revamped secondary that includes Ward, Terrance Mitchell, Demarious Randall, T.J. Carrie, and E.J. Gaines.  Hopefully ballhawk Jamie Collins will stay healthy for the whole year. I just can’t see anything but improvement from the minus 28 turnover margin that we endured last year. More points on O and more turnovers on D, should get them to at least 6 wins.

 4) How long does Hue Jackson survive? 

 Big$: There are few to any excuses for going 1-31 over a 2 year span. Sashi demolished the roster, but Hue’s coaching blunders were evident whether it be depth chart decisions or clock management. Even with this current reality, Jimmy Haslam seems to value Hue’s leadership. At this point,  I cannot imagine a catastrophe big enough for Jimmy to pull the trigger. However…… If Jimmy washes his hands Pontius Pilate style and leaves the decision to Johnny D, I believe 2-5 would get Hue the axe. At that point we would see Coach Haley leading the team into week 8.

 Punter Supreme: Amen.  Teflon Jackson has somehow kept his job during the absolute worst stretch in NFL history, but a bad first half of the season after the complete overhaul of the roster and front office should put his tenure to an end.

 5) How long until Baker starts under center?

Punter Supreme: God I hope we don’t see Baker in any meaningful time until at least 2019.  If we do, that means the season has already gone to shit.

Big$: Full disclosure, I would be way more pumped for this season if Baker was starting. I celebrate the young man’s entire catalog, However, if Hue insists on starting a LT who repped out at 10 on the 225 bench press, it may be best if we protect the future of the franchise. I agree with PS, if Baker is playing the season is on the skids.

Is this Buckeye D-line the best yet? - Baver Answers Colin's Questions

Colin: Do you think the offensive play calling would have been the same with Urban on the sideline? 

Baver: You would have seen more designed runs with Haskins, and the pace would have been slower with the play calls ultimately going through Urban. Maybe Meyer will learn a bit from watching things from afar, and allow Day and Wilson to manage the play calling a bit more going forward. On the flip side, I wonder if Schiano took more chances with his aggressive scheme while Urban was watching at home. I tend to think both teams would have scored less had Urban been calling the shots.

Colin: What else on offense jumped out at you? 

Baver: Mike Weber….what strides this kid has made under RB coach Tony Alford, and probably from watching a lot of film. He’s mainly a north/south runner, but on the one play in the 2ndhalf where the middle was congested on 3rd& 1, he made a quick decision to step back and cut outside picking up the first. I’m sure NFL scouts took notice.

What else can be said about Haskins? So comfortable, gets rid of the ball so quickly, adjusts the touch he puts on the ball when he needs to, hits receivers in stride, etc. The kid’s upside is crazy, but it of course won’t be that easy against a good D. 

Colin: I was at the game and Bosa and C Young were literally racing each other to sack the QB on most plays. We have had some great lines but could this one be special or will the relative lack of depth be a problem in tough games? 

Baver: If Dre’Mont, Bosa and Young stay healthy, this line may indeed go down as the best OSU has ever had. The LT for Oregon St, Blake Brandel, is actually one of the better tackles in the Pac-12, and the dude got abused by Bosa. Dre’Mont has done some work since we last saw him, and his athleticism was on full display against the Beavers. Chase Young? He may have had some mental mistakes, but he couldn’t be blocked either. Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard were very good but Bosa and Young are at another level. There are depth concerns at DE, but this team has a pretty deep set of DTs.

Colin: But...the defense got gashed for HUGE plays multiple times. Should we be worried? What gives? 

Baver: You had a combination of inexperienced guys out of position, an extremely aggressive Greg Schiano defense, and they pulled Bosa and Dre’Mont at halftime. In fact, the four best OSU defenders, Bosa, Dre’Mont, Borland, and Fuller were not on the field when Artavis Pierce had his two long runs. 

Still, the expectations are a lot higher than what we saw out of the OSU D this past Saturday. I don’t think the LBs are going to be ready for the big time anytime soon, and the safety play was horrific. The good thing is, if the D-line starters stay healthy, the coaches can devote so much extra time to the back-7. They of course have 4 and 5-star guys to work with, so it may be a night and day difference come November.

Colin: Let’s skip Rutgers talk and look around the rest of the Big Ten, especially the vaunted East division. What were your take always from week one? 

Baver: You would have thought Michigan would have been fired up and ready to break a 3-game losing streak with a lineup that’s playoff caliber. Not. And the defense that many have raved about (myself included) has not fared well against high-caliber offenses. Michigan is underachieving like nobody’s business. 

Sparty? Slow starts are par for the course for them early in the season, but one has to wonder if they have the talent to challenge in the east. Penn State? I think it’s going to take a while for this team to adjust with all the guys they lost. Wisconsin? Hornibrook looked poor again throwing the ball. That would be concerning to me if I were a cheese head. But that’s still a top-10 Badger team in my opinion.

Colin: What other games and lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend? 

Baver: I’ve got Ohio State covering the 35 this week; I’m calling OSU 56-17. That would mirror the 2014 score, which is the closest RU has come to Ohio St since joining the Big Ten. 

In the other big ones, I like the favorites for a change. That would be Georgia laying the 10 at South Carolina, Clemson laying the 12 at A&M, and Stanford at home laying 6 against USC. Too much of a talent gap I think in the each of first two gms I mentioned, and I tend to think So Cal true freshman JT Daniels is going to get a rude awakening in Stanford Stadium.

 

 

Baver Answers Beaver Week Questions: Part Two - Brent Baver

Colin: Our receivers work hard and have so much depth blah blah blah blah. Is anybody going to step up and be the man who puts fear in the opposing defense? 

Baver: I think the short answer is no. I mean, a defensive coordinator seeing Parris Campbell get in the open field is nightmare for him, but I know that’s not what you mean. Campbell really isn’t a true receiver. I must say that Zone-6 did finally grow on me last year and you saw OSU’s overall depth take its toll against several of its opponents, including Penn State and Michigan in huge comeback wins for the Buckeyes. 

But if the old fashion go-to WR is what you want, it’s very unlikely you are going to see that this season. The guy with the biggest upside of the bunch is Binjamen Victor, but he brings the biggest downside as well. A sleeper to watch would be CJ Saunders. 

The depth argument isn’t sexy, but Phil Steele and Athlon both ranked Ohio State’s WRs as the best WR group in the Big Ten.

Colin: Should I even ask about the tights ends? 

Baver: If you are into blocking schemes, sure…..

Colin: The defense should be stout again. How would you attack them if you were coaching Oregon State? 

Baver: Not that Oregon State has the talent or scheme to do it, but Oklahoma and Iowa exposed Ohio State big time with their short passing games in upset wins against Ohio State last season. These games were a low point for Buckeye LBs since Urban arrived in 2012. And I guess I’d use your “…so much depth blah blah blah..” comment when looking at this LB group. With the talent OSU brings in year in and year out, maybe one or even two guys explode like Darren Lee did in ’14, but I am taking a wait and see approach with this group. 

Colin: Meanwhile Michigan is taking on Notre Dame. Considering the Wolverines closed out 2017 with three straight losses, how big a game is this for Harbaugh and his non chicken eaters? 

Baver: Huge. Jimmy was surviving last year’s rebuilding year, but then his team blew a 14-0 lead losing to Ohio State once again. But at least UM followed that up with a 2ndhalf collapse against a hapless South Carolina team in the Outback bowl, earning the Big Ten its only bowl lost last season.

On paper, this Michigan team clearly looks like Harbaugh’s best. Their defense lost everybody after the 2016 season, and still had a top ranked D last season. They may have the best D in the nation this year. They finally have a QB, and they have a lot of very highly rated guys that got good work as true freshmen in ‘17. 

Still, this has been a Michigan team that couldn’t win a tight game against a decent opponent to save their lives. But I guess I will play the fool again and pick Jimmy to finally get the road win against a ranked team, in a 17-14 type game. But this is a game that can go either way.

Colin: Any other games and lines you will be keeping an eye on this weekend? 

Baver: Washington vs Auburn in Atlanta is the game of the week. Both are legit top-10 teams nationally on paper. Chris Peterson has done a phenomenal job so far at Auburn, but has lost most of his matchups against elite opponents. Auburn doesn’t get the pub like Bama does in this neck of the woods, but Gus and his assistants have been recruiting like gangbusters, and like Washington, the Tigers are stacked this year. I would have these teams probably about even on a neutral field, so I would have lean Auburn with the Huskies traveling across the country to play to play Gus’ boys.

Other gms…..I am really interested in seeing Joe Burrow in action against the Mark Richt’s Hurricanes, although I don’t have a good feel for how that one will turn out. I tend to think Joe won’t be ready yet, as he’s had little time to adjust in Baton Rouge. Still, I will be rooting for him.

I will pass on picking games against the spread this week and just enjoy the return of college football with the nightmare of an August we have had in Buckeye country….I’ll make one exception and pick the OSU vs OSU game ATS.

I’d say take the Beavers getting 38.5 against Ohio State with all the uncertainty with this Buckeye team. I also wonder if you will see OSU play true freshmen for much of the second half with the new redshirt rule. I’ve got Ohio State winning 48-14.

Baver Answers Beaver Week Questions: Part One - Brent Baver

 

Colin: Might as well get this out of the way, do you feel the Urban suspension was too long, too short or just right? 

Baver: My first thought after reading the report was that Urban was lucky to have a job. Knowing that Gene Smith provided Urban with an easy plan to address questions at Big Ten Media Days, and that Urban did the opposite of what Gene suggested, is pretty hard to swallow. Add to it the findings that indicate Meyer likely deleted text messages, knowing his phone would likely be looked at, and there was almost no way Urban could have gotten by without a suspension. Were it not for all that things Urban has done for Ohio State on and off the football field, he almost certainly would have been out of a job. 

Trying to reconcile his failure to drop the hammer on Zach Smith with all the things Urban has done for this program, aside from winning at a ridiculously high level, is tough to do. Meyer has completely raised the bar at Ohio State in every possible manner. 

Urban took a lot of heat when he was at Florida because of player arrests and other off-the-field players issues. He made this area of responsibility a personal project when he arrived at Ohio State, and the results are a night and day difference. These kind of player incidents are way, way down at OSU since Urban arrived in Columbus. Football graduation rates and Academic All-Big Ten selections? Meyer has knocked the ball out of the park here as well. And Urban and Shelley do more for women’s causes than just about any other current head coach/wife combo in college football. And the things they do are absolutely NOT “just for show”. If you missed OSU commit Harry Miller's mother's heartbreaking story, and her unequivocal support of Urban, you absolutely need to check it out HERE. Kristina Miller is a domestic abuse survivor.

It’s hard for me to have a beef with the 3-game suspension, but I think Ohio State definitely made the right move in keeping Meyer. Still, with perception and reality becoming so easily blurred in today’s society, Urban may not ultimately make it through this. If he doesn’t, I will be crushed.

Colin: Along those lines, Urban is notoriously wired pretty tight, how do you think this whole affair is impacting his ability to stay healthy and continue coaching? 

Baver: A definite big concern. Many questioned whether Urban would coach into his 60s before this ordeal got underway. This is a head coach that turned his back to the field, not being able to watch his kicker attempt a 4thquarter field goal in the Big Ten Title game last December. Tightly wired indeed. But Ohio St’s recruiting over that following 6-mth period was off-the-charts, and I had renewed hope for Urban’s longevity prior to things blowing up with Zach Smith.

I think back at first hearing him say “…coach like your hairs on fire.” That’s Urban - spot on. I really hope his health holds up and that Urban is here 5 years from now, but I have my doubts.

Colin: On to football... It all starts up front, the line is reshuffling and replacing a Center and Left Tackle. What should we expect from this unit?

Baver: A big question mark. And as you know….and it’s not just “a” center that has to be replaced; it’s the Remington Award winner. So we now know Mike Jordan will slide from LG to center, while Malcolm Pridgeon will fill Jordan’s vacated LG spot. Word on the street is that Pridgeon has made huge strides. Sophomore Thayer Munford will be at left tackle when healthy, but is dinged up right now, and would be replaced by Joshua Alibi if he can’t go in the opener. LT is a major concern, but I think Munford will eventually be a good one. In the short run, Munfort is going to have major problems dealing with TCU’s Ben Banogu in Wk 3. Banogu is the B12 pre-season Defensive Player of the Year selection.

Colin: It's no secret the offense became predictable and stagnant at times last year with JT under center. Will we see a different offense with the change to Dwayne Haskins?

Baver: You know me, I am almost always going to defend JT. So I have to start by saying, in ’17, JT led the Big Ten in passing efficiency, threw for 3,053 yds, 35 TDs, ran for 798 yds with another 12 TDs on the ground, and played the entire B10 title game 6 days after a knee operation. And JTs ability that was taken for granted, to pick up the needed 1st down on third or fourth and short, was unlike any college QB I can remember.

But I love Dwayne Haskins’ upside. He certainly has a bigger, more accurate arm than JT. There will be fewer read options with DH, and fewer designed runs, but still probably too many called keepers if/when Urban returns. If I were the head coach (and I thank God I am not), I would want to limit the hits Haskins takes. I don’t think OSU can win the rugged Big Ten East with Tate Martell at QB as the #1 guy behind center.

follow @baverbuckeyebag