Cleat Geeks

HOMER’S NFL ODYSSEY(8): Cleveland Rocks!

Welcome to Homer’s NFL Odyssey! Like the original hero Odysseus we will journey from NFL shore to NFL shore. Casting a light on each NFL squad and their 2015 fortunes from the perspective of a “Homer”. An upbeat tale of NFL fandom illuminating the chances of the your favorite team in a completely favorable light. This is the ultimate guide to your favorite team told from the perspective of a “Homer”.


QB: 2015 is going to be the year the entire NFL is put on notice by the man with the surname Football. Johnny Manziel is a gamer. A skill that cannot be judged by statistical production nor practice evaluation. When the game is real and you are playing for keeps, Manziel is at his best. Come game time Manziel becomes Johnny on the spot. Through intensity, pure will and elusive scrambling Manziel creates positives out of negatives. A thoroughly electric and magnetizing force at the QB position. Make no mistake, McCown is a backup. Whether game 1 or game 4 Manziel will be the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns in 2015 and beyond.


RB: The Browns have a 3 headed monster lurking in the backfield. 3 exceptionally talented young backs, each on the verge of great production. Led by Isaiah Crowell and his inside running ability. A true in between the tackles NFL RB. The ability to absorb contact, make contact first and surge forward at the point of impact makes for a superior talent in the trenches.  Rookie Duke Johnson is a shifty, speedy and versatile space player who will contribute greatly in this offense. More in the passing game than the running game, but nonetheless great production. Terrance West is a jack of all trades. Providing a superior breather or injury plug in depth. With some thump, some speed and some versatility the Cleveland Browns have one of the best RB situations in the NFL.


WR/TE: Somewhere over the Dwayne Bowe skies are great. Especially when they are filled with TD passes from Manziel. Saved from the bogged down KC Offense Bowe will once again know WR supremacy. Expect an immediate impact from the big bodied dominant talent. Stretching the field or converting the short gain Bowe is an absolute star on the edges. I expect Josh Gordon to be reinstated for week 9 of the 2016 schedule. The entire world knows exactly what Gordon brings to the table. There is no WR in the NFL greater than Gordon and his dominating skill level. Frankly, his suspension is an assault on personal liberty. These two star WRs will become the best tandem in the NFL by the end of the 2016 regular season. If it was just these two that would be enough. But wait, there is more. Behind these two studs is a bevy of talented pass catchers. Most notably Andrew Hawkins a reliable slot weapon and Brian Hartline a steady possession receiver. The receivers in Cleveland are on par with any group in the NFL. Get ready for the highlights.


OL: The Offensive Line is just that, offensive. To NFL defenses anyway. Joe Thomas is one of the best Offensive Tackles in all of football. Alex Mack is a stud interior lineman capable of playing multiple positions. 2015 1st rounder C Cameron Erving is a superstar lineman in the making. 2012 2nd rounder Mitchell Schwartz and 2014 2nd rounder Joel Bitonio are rising talents primed to make an impact in 2015. Add in the veteran presence of John Greco and Eric Long and you have the formula for a dominant frontline.


Defense: I will be clear when I say this. From a talent perspective there is no team that can boast a better defensive roster than the Browns. Star studded from top to bottom. Starting in the trenches with 2015 1st round nose tackle Danny Shelton. A monster of a man at 6’2″ and 339 pounds of run stuffing prowess. A centerpiece type Nose Tackle. Next to him the ends consist of a myriad of talent and versatility led by Desmond Bryant, a playmaker from the edge. The LB group is where Cleveland really starts to stand out.  This unit is loaded with talent from top to bottom. Starting with the young studs. Craig Robertson showed his true playmaking ability in 2014. Totaling 76 tackles in the final 8 games. Project that out to 16. Damn is right.  Next we have former #6 overall pick the sensational pass rushing LB Barkevious Mingo.  Barkevious is the real deal. Versatile ultra skilled pass rusher who is no slouch in rush defense either. A superstar on the cusp of greatness. Iowa standout Christian Kirksey was a 3rd round steal paying huge dividends for the Browns Defense. Coming off a very strong rookie year this talented run stopping LB is perched in a position of impact. 2015 2nd round beast Nate Orchard joins the cast at 6’4″ 255 pounds. Possessing unusual strength and leverage Orchard is every bit a steal in the 2nd round.  Led by the veteran studs Karlos Dansby and Paul Kruger the Browns boast the best LB group in all of football.  This unit will dominate. The defensive backfield has Joe Haden at corner. Quite possibly the best cover corner in the NFL. No matter who is making the list Haden is a consensus top 5 NFL CB. Haden shuts down his entire side of the field. An ultra elite NFL player. If that is all Cleveland had to boast about in the secondary it would be fine. But there is more. 2014 1st round stud Justin Gilbert. An athletic nightmare capable of playing CB, Nickel CB and Safety. 2015 signee Tramon Williams joins the CB stable and provides veteran leadership mixed with creating turnovers. Something Tramon was known for in Green Bay. Donte “Big Hitner” Whitner is a force at Safety. Striking fear into the hearts of field crossing receivers. This DB unit is a group of spectacular playmaking talents that can rival any DB unit in the NFL.


Coaching: After 10 years as a Defensive Coordinator in the NFL Mike Pettine enters his second year as the Browns Head Coach. A defensive first mentality. Run the ball, play defense and win games. It is a formula for success and Pettine has had plenty of that with his schemes. Joining Pettine is Offensive Coordinator is long time NFL guru Kyle Shanahan. A perfect compliment to Pettine’s style with his zone blocking run schemes. The Defensive Coordinator is Jim O’Neil who has worked with Kyle Shanahan for much of his career as a coach. O’Neil also holds the same run first and play defense ideology as both Pettine and Shanahan. This is a trifecta meant to work together.



Division Outlook:

The Pittsburgh Steelers won the division last season by one game over these Bengals. That will not happen again in 2015. Big Ben is aging poorly. His arm strength is diminishing rapidly. Frankly, Ben is really, really Big. Like fat not phat.  Leveon Bell smokes too much weed to stay on the field. Even when he is on the field he is hardly the ultra talented RB some claim. Bell is a product of volume, a sophomore slump is to be expected.  Antonio Brown is another volume player. With no other verifiable weapon of real merit Brown is constantly targeted. Allowing the small framed average speed WR to appear greater than his sums. Martavis Bryant is a flash in the pan. Heath Miller a 5 yard threat. The OLine is aging and porous. The defense is frankly a PITTiful shell of a once great unit. Old in many places and devoid of LB talent. They either get hurt or cannot play at the NFL level. Pittifulsberg is on the way down. Browns are on the way up. Probably passing each other in the Divisional elevator.


The Cincinnati Bungles finished second in the division in 2014. In 2015 they find themselves with a bevy of problems on their roster. There is a QB controversy already between Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron. No matter the winner Cincinnati is a loser. Who is the RB and how will we split touches. Both of these RBs, Hill and Bernard, have a little talent. But a 2 headed RB attack seems to take the sails out of offensive production. AJ Green could never be considered a bust. Green is overrated for a WR who lives off the deep ball and comes with injury issues. Not a game changing talent. Beyond Green there is nothing else of note in the receiving depth of the Bengals. The offense is in position battle chaos. Offensive depth is nonexistent. The defense is aging and underwhelming. The OLine consists of 2 over the hill tackles and 3 NFL infants. Cincinnati was a horrible team masquerading as an average team in 2014. In 2015 the mask comes off.


Quote for the Baltimore Raven, Nevermore will you lead the AFC North. Joe Flacco is a hack as an NFL QB. Glorified game manager at best. Joe Hacko?  The starting and only decent RB on the team is a 51 year old journeyman coming off a career year. May have gained more yards in 2014 than Forsett’s entire previous career combined. Did I mention he is 57 years old. Which is young when compared to the only recognizable receiving threat on the team. Steve Smith turned 234 years old in May. Let us just say his best days, hell any even kind of good days, are far behind him. A rook WR who can’t catch. But lets not get into Breshad Heshad drama.  A rook TE that is meh at Max.  A depleted and underwhelming OLine. A defense with old guys imitating football players and young guys making a name off hype with nothing to support it. Roster turnover and overall lack of talent makes the Ravens a flightless bird in 2015. Cleveland will defensively dominate this O unit.



Fatty Fatty two by four could no longer get to through the divisional door. Humongous Ben and the Steelers are fading. Dalton and McCarron are fighting it out Road House style, “Nobody ever wins a fight”. Well there is no winning for the Bungles either way in 2015. Baltimore is a once was who ain’t no more. A un-concerning void of mediocrity at best. The Cleveland Browns will own the AFC North in 2015 on the backs of the best back end defense in the league, a commitment to the run game and the heroics of a certain Mr. Football. Into the playoffs they go where the magic takes hold. In February 2016 the world will finally get to celebrate the most overdue championship in sports history as these Browns hoist the Lombardi Trophy.


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