Browns Futures: DeShone Kizer Week 1 Starter?

deshone-kizer-browns-starterThe Cleveland Browns waited to pull the trigger on a QB this spring, drafting DeShone Kizer with the 52nd pick. And if Browns’ OTAs are any indication, it might turn out to be a gem of a move.

Few know what to expect from the Notre Dame product at the NFL level. Kizer has offered lofty self-comparisons to Cam Newton and Tom Brady, while vowing that he won’t “sit around and watch from the sidelines.”

Head coach Hue Jackson quieted some of this talk from the rookie. But it’s clear that Kizer is looking good out on the practice field.

“He [Jackson] laid it right to me, and he said ‘look, this is not about you playing right away, this is not about a timetable on when you’re going to play,” Kizer said after signing a four-year rookie contract worth about $4.9 million. “It’s about you just learning as much as you possibly can and becoming a better quarterback and that’s been my mindset since the day he said that. I’m going to continue to believe that until they tell me otherwise.”

It’s clear that with the way the Browns’ quarterback situation is, Kizer will have a chance to do more than just learn in his first year. But for now, he’s just listening to Jackson and picking up the playbook.

“There’s so much I have to learn,” he told “I’m still in the same position I was last time we talked and that’s just trying to put myself in the position to compete one day. I don’t know if that day is now. It’s all about learning as much as you can and becoming as comfortable as you can so I can compete one day for that starting job.”

First QB in the Rotation

Kizer has done a very good job of picking things up during the OTAs. In fact, Jackson put him in as the first quarterback on the second day of minicamp. This marked the first time that anybody besides Cody Kessler has been put in this situation.

deshone-kizer-hue-jackson“It’s awesome,” Kizer said regarding being in with the first team. “When you’re out there with the guys who have done if for a while, some veterans who have completely seen everything, it not only helps me with my confidence, but also it puts me in the best position when I’m wrong to get it right.”

Jackson has yet to offer DeShone anything on why he’s suddenly playing with the starters. He also downplayed the matter to the media, saying that he’s trying different combinations. But whatever the case may be, Kizer is taking full advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s been, once again, an opportunity just to learn as much as I can,” he explained. “We all have the same mindset in the sense of it’s a learning game for me and trying to put myself in a position to compete one day. I think coach believes that it’s the best for me to get out there and learn from the guys who have been doing it for a while.”

Kizer added, “To sit here and say that a month’s worth of learning that offense and being out here is enough to be a starter would be really naive of me. There’s so much more I have to learn. I haven’t gameplanned for a team yet. We haven’t gone in and sat down and put in the hours to prepare for Pittsburgh yet. So to say that I’m in a position to go start against that team, I’d be completely wrong.”

Rookie Mistakes

Despite the progress he’s shown, Kizer isn’t immune the rookie gaffes that all first-year players struggle with. On Tuesday, he thew a short flat pass to rookie David Njoku, only to watch linebacker Jamie Collins jump the route and return it for a pick-six.

“The challenging plays are the more valuable of the two,” Kizer said. “The biggest learning experiences for me are the situations in which a guy who’s a Pro Bowler — who’s won a Super Bowl — plays me like a fiddle and comes off the edge and picks one off.

“Now I get to see what that looks like on film and be able to take those mental reps from that and learn from it. I’ll continue to learn from this great defense throughout all of training camp.”

Studious Player

deshone-kizer-cleveland-browns-week-1Once OTAs end, Kizer will perform workouts with QB expert Tom House in Los Angeles.

He’ll also be studying Cleveland’s playbook during the break as well.

“I was just talking to my parents about it,” Kizer explained. “I like to consider this like a calculus class. You miss one day of a calculus class, you’re set back for the whole semester. So I’ve been in that playbook as much as I possibly can and truly trying to figure out what my process is to learn this as fast as I can so that when it does come time to game plan I understand the offense before he starts throwing different things at me.”

Despite all of the work he’s putting in, Kizer knows that there’s a strong chance he’ll be watching from the sidelines – at least in the beginning. But he also plans to continue working for when his chance does arise.

“It’s obvious that the more time you spend on something the better you’re going to get at it,” he said. “Right now, my mindset is all just about learning and when coach says ‘hey look, here’s the situation’ then I can go out there and change my mindset.”

We won’t have a full idea on where Kizer stands on the depth chart until the preseason begins in August. But right now, it looks like he at least has a shot to compete with Kessler and others for the starting role.

2017-18 Cleveland Browns Futures & Betting

There’s no telling how DeShone Kizer will truly impact the Browns’ upcoming season at this point. But it appears that Kizer could possibly improve a position that was sorely lacking for the Browns last season. So keep this in mind if you make any early bets on Cleveland.

Check for both Cleveland’s Week 1 line and futures (when available). At this time, the Browns open as a +8 underdog at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why Bet on the Cleveland Browns to Win the Super Bowl?

robert-griffin-brownsThe Cleveland Browns are expected to be terrible once again this year. In fact, we have them as finishing dead last in the AFC North with a 4-12 record.

But apparently people are betting on the Browns to win the 2016 Super Bowl. In fact, ESPN reports that several Las Vegas sportsbooks have received serious action on Cleveland Browns futures.

The MGM Grand reports almost 1,000 people wagering on the Browns to win the Lombardi Trophy, Caesars Palace has taken nearly 750 bets, and CG Technology is nearing 500 Browns bettors. One bettor with CG has even placed a $1,000 bet at 175-1 odds, and another $1k wager on 200-1 odds.

So what’s the reasoning behind this madness?

“City of champions, right?” jokes Jeff Stoneback, the assistant manager at MGM. “We’ve had the Cavs; the Indians are good. Why not the Browns?”

cleveland-browns-super-bowl-betJokes are part of the reason why bettors are laying down small wagers on the Browns to win. This is the case with Chris Hovan, a maintenance worker from Ohio who bet on Cleveland during a Vegas trip with friends.

“It was made strictly as a joke,” says Hovan. “I just wanted to place the ticket on the wall of my bar in the basement. I’ve been a season-ticket holder for 14 years, and I know that the Browns are going to be horrible again this year.”

Many Vegas sportsbooks have the Cleveland Browns with the worst odds of winning the 2016 Super Bowl. So it’s easy to see where the joke comes into play.

But the potential payoff is no joke for anybody who would win this Browns futures bet. At 200-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl, a simple $10 bet on Cleveland would yield a $2,000 profit.

This seems more like a pipe dream, though, given how bad the Browns have been ever since re-launching their franchise in 1999. They’ve only had two winning seasons from then until now, and haven’t produced a winning campaign since 2007.

Last year, Cleveland was just 3-13 and finished tied with the Tennessee Titans for the worst-overall record in the league.

Can Cleveland turn it around this season?

There are some new faces in Cleveland, but we don’t know if it will result in a greatly improved record.

Robert Griffin III is looking for redemption with the Browns after flaming out in Washington. The team also brought in former Ohio St. quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who’ll be starting at one of the receiver spots.

Corey Coleman will man the other receiver spot until Josh Gordon gets done serving a 4-game suspension.

But if the Browns are going to do anything this year, their defense will have to get better after giving up 27 PPG in 2015. The squad also ranked last in point differential (-9.6).

All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden will lead this defensive unit, which has a lot of holes and unproven players in other areas. Assuming the defense can exceed expectations, then maybe the Browns won’t be so bad.

But the more-likely scenario is that this will be another wasted season for the Cleveland Browns while they continue trying to get young players who’ll make their team better. And if Griffin doesn’t pan out at quarterback, you can bet that the Browns will be looking to find a talented young QB in the 2017 NFL Draft.


2016 AFC North Betting Preview

Ben Roethlisberger, Pernell McPheeThe AFC North was again a tough division last year, with both the Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) and Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) making the playoffs. These fierce division rivals faced off in the Wild Card round too, with the Steelers winning a gritty game.

The Baltimore Ravens (5-11) had a disappointing season, accumulating too many injuries to be competitive in such a tough division. But they’re expected to bounce back this year and feature another strong team.

It’s déjà vu for the Cleveland Browns (3-13), who once again suffered a terrible season that included cutting ties with first-round pick Johnny Manziel. Now coached by former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, Cleveland hopes to turn things around this year.

Can the Browns finally have a productive season in 2016? Find out as we cover the AFC North along with each team’s betting odds.

AFC North Betting Odds to Win Division (from GTBets)

Baltimore +300
Cincinnati +160
Cleveland +3000
Pittsburgh +120

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Projected Record 12-4

antonio-brown-steelersFew teams have been as lucky in the head coaching department as the Pittsburgh Steelers, who’ve been coached by either Bill Cower or Mike Tomlin for the past 25 years. Tomlin has won a Super Bowl (2008) and guided the team to a 92-52 record in his nine-year tenure.

This history of success doesn’t look to change much in 2016, with a number of offensive weapons back for Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger once again headlines the unit, while he’ll be throwing to Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton – arguably the league’s most-skilled trio of wide receivers.

One potential problem is that Bell, who tore his MCL last year, is suspended for the season’s first four games. Lucky for Pittsburgh, they have D’Angelo Williams to step in if Bell’s appeal isn’t successful.

Like always, the Steelers will have another good defensive unit. This starts with Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward at defensive end, while the secondary looks to be the strongest that it’s been in years.

As long as Pittsburgh stays healthy, they’ll feature an explosive offense that can’t be stopped. Moreover, look for the Steelers to improve upon last year’s 10-6 record and win the division.

2. Cincinnati Bengals: Projected Record 10-6

aj-green-footballOnce again, Cincinnati turned in another good regular season under coach Marvin Lewis, only to lose in the postseason again. This makes Lewis 0-7 lifetime in playoff games, including an 0-5 mark over the last five years.

Perhaps Cincinnati would’ve ended this winless streak last year if quarterback Andy Dalton hadn’t gotten injured. After years of being blamed for Cincy’s postseason struggles, Dalton had his best year ever with 25 TD passes, just 7 interceptions, and a 106.3 passer rating.

Dalton should again have a strong year with the weapons at his disposal. A.J. Green is one of the best receivers in football, while Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill form an elite one-two running back punch. The only question mark is tight end Tyler Eifert, who’s on the PUP list right now.

The defense looks strong all-around, with a good front seven, and Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick locking down opposing receivers.

Expectations are high again in Cincinnati, and fans will expect the team’s first playoff win in the last eight tries. Anything less than this will be considered a failure that might cost Lewis his job.

3. Baltimore Ravens: Projected Record 8-8

joe-flaccoAs mentioned earlier, last year was a big disappointment for Baltimore since they’ve been a perennial playoff team under John Harbaugh. In fact, last season marked just the second time in Harbaugh’s eight-year career that the Ravens failed to make the playoffs.

Injuries were the biggest culprit, as even franchise quarterback Joe Flacco couldn’t stay healthy for more than half the year. His favorite target, Steve Smith, also missed half the year after racking up 670 receiving yards and four touchdowns in just seven games. Add in a season-ending injury to stalwart DE Terrell Suggs, and Baltimore lost most of their leadership on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore hopes to stay healthy this year, and they’ve added some talent just in case. This includes left tackle Ronnie Stanley, a top pick out of Notre Dame, and All-Pro safety Eric Weddle.

The Ravens have a good opportunity to start fast, given that their first four opponents are Buffalo, @Cleveland, @Jacksonville, and Oakland. If they don’t go at least 3-1 in this stand, they could miss the postseason for a second-straight year.

4. Cleveland Browns: Projected Record 4-12

robert-griffin-brownsThe Browns don’t have any illusions about the playoffs, given that they’re 37-91 over the last eight seasons. It would be nice for this franchise to show some potential in 2016.

This begins with new coach Hue Jackson and starting QB Robert Griffin III. After flaming out in Washington, Griffin is looking for redemption in Cleveland, and he has the stage to do so with a rebuilding Browns team. Unfortunately, he won’t have a good offensive line to protect him, outside of left tackle Joe Thomas. The main hope for this offense is that Griffin’s legs can save the team some sacks.

Griffin’s job won’t be any easier considering that the team’s top receiver, Josh Gordon, will miss the first four games of the season. At least the Browns used their top pick on receiver Cory Coleman, who should help fill in while Gordon is gone.

The defense could certainly stand to improve after giving up 27 points per game and ranking dead last in point differential (-9.6). Of course, this could be improved simply by the offense staying on the field to give the defense some rest.

In any case, Cleveland needs improvement in a lot of areas. Hopefully they get this improvement and can be competitive by 2017.

Cleveland poised to start Johnny Manziel Era – But Brian Hoyer not convinced

Cleveland Browns v Washington RedskinsPrior to last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel had attempted just one pass this season. However, he finally got some meaningful time on the field in a game against the Buffalo Bills. Manziel completed 5-of-8 passes for 63 yards and added two rushes for 13 yards. Most importantly, he led the Browns to their only touchdown of the game, taking the ball in himself on a speedy 10-yard run.

Given that the Browns used a first-round pick on Manziel this past spring, it seems like they’re ready to cash in on the investment. But (possibly former) starting QB Brian Hoyer doesn’t think his time is over under center just yet.

“This is my team,” Hoyer said after the game. “I’ve always felt that way. Obviously you never want to see someone else doing your job. It was a coach’s decision.”

Whether or not this is truly Hoyer’s team remains to be seen. Head coach Mike Pettine did not notify him that he’d be benched over the final 12 minutes of the game, with Cleveland trailing 20-3. Pettine also said that he’d decide by Wednesday on who will start the Week 14 contest against Indianapolis.

johnny-manziel-vs-browns-1A few more nights of sleep may do little to influence Pettine’s decision. After all, Hoyer’s play over the past three games has been pretty bad. He’s thrown one touchdown and six interceptions during this period, leading Cleveland to a 1-2 record. The lone victory included a 26-24 win over Atlanta, where Hoyer threw zero TD’s and three interceptions.

Now this isn’t to say that the Cleveland native hasn’t done well for his local team. Hoyer has led the Browns to a respectable 7-5 record and made some excellent plays in crunch time. However, he’s also had some low points and lately hasn’t looked anything like a reliable franchise quarterback. Plus Hoyer had difficulty hooking up with Josh Gordon last game, who’s coming off a 12-game suspension and looking to reprise his explosive role of last year.

Given Cleveland’s record and the fact that they’re still alive in the playoff race, one might question changing quarterbacks at this point. However, it’s also worth noting that the Bengals have a game-and-a-half lead in the AFC North with just four contests remaining, while the Browns are tied with the Ravens and Steelers at 7-5. Seeing as how Cleveland holds none of the tiebreakers, it seems unlikely that they’ll emerge as division champions or even make the postseason.

So it make sense to give Manziel a shot right now, especially considering that Hoyer’s quarterback play isn’t exactly inspiring now. The remaining schedule won’t be entirely rookie-friendly, with home games against Indy and Cincinnati, followed by road contests at Carolina and Baltimore. Then again, it won’t be impossible for Manziel to experience success against this lineup either.

But first thing’s first, Johnny Football must be named the starter on Wednesday. It seems likely, and if that does happen, Hoyer promises that he’ll remained focused:

“I’m never going to just hang my head and feel sorry for myself. We have four games left and whatever coach decides to do, I’ll be here to support this team and obviously I feel like this is my team and this is my job so we’ll see what happens moving forward.”

Cleveland Browns Betting: Gordon Suspension leaves Receiving Corp Thin

josh-gordon-suspensionAs we recently discussed, the Cleveland Browns had a major quarterback battle on their hands between Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer. The latter ended up winning the starting job, although neither candidate really shined in the team’s third preseason game. But Hoyer may soon wish that he didn’t win the starting QB role now that his best target, Josh Gordon, is suspended for the entire season after another drug violation.

Cleveland likely knew that a lengthy suspension was coming for the talented 23-year-old receiver, who tallied 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns in just 14 games last year. Unfortunately, though, it still seems like a train wreck has just happened – especially when you look at what’s left in the Browns’ receiving corp.

Former Cowboys player Miles Austin may be the best wide-receiver threat left. Long removed from his back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2009/10, Austin caught just 24 passes for 244 yards last year. There’s also former Bengals wideout Andrew Hawkins, who stumbled to just 12 catches and 199 yards in an injury-plagued eight games.

josh-gordon-suspension-1The receiver with the best stats from 2013 is Nate Burleson, a 30-year-old who caught 39 balls for 461 yards. However, keep in mind that the aging veteran put these mediocre numbers up while playing opposite Calvin Johnson.

One Browns official summed up what the loss of Gordon means to this team. “He’s arguably the best wide receiver in the league,” the official said. “You don’t replace that guy. This is not ‘next man up.'” This is especially the case when you consider the wideouts who are trying to fill Gordon’s shoes.

If there’s one silver lining in the passing game, it’s tight end Jordan Cameron. In his third year, Cameron really stepped up by collecting 80 passes for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns. There was one four-game stretch were Cameron was absolutely dominant, catching 36 passes for 774 yards and 5 TD’s. However, that was with Gordon on the field and drawing so much attention from defenders. Now Cameron will have to put up numbers with opposing secondaries focusing on him.

jordan-cameronGiven the tough task that Cleveland’s facing without their best offensive player for the year, one has to question some of the Browns’ decisions up to this point. For starters, they found out about Gordon failing another drug test just before the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft began. With 12 wideouts selected in the first two rounds – the most in nearly 50 years – this was definitely a talented class of pass-catchers. However, Cleveland chose not to take advantage in the second round, nor in any other round. Despite knowing that a long suspension was coming for Gordon, they finished the 2014 Draft without taking any receivers.

Their backup plan was to bring in the aging Austin and Burleson. But while these two may have experience, they’re definitely not going to help take the pressure off Cameron, nor will they be dynamic targets for Manziel/Hoyer.

One could definitely argue that there’s little Cleveland could to to replace Gordon. However, it also doesn’t seem like they put forth a huge effort to at least minimize the loss of the best wideout from last year.