Know Your Opponent: Cleveland Browns

Posted Aug 22, 2014

Here's everything you need to know about the Cleveland Browns ahead of Saturday's game at First Energy Field.

Anyone who knows anything about the NFL has heard about the Browns’ quarterback competition -- namely the well-traveled veteran Brian Hoyer versus the most talked about rookie in the NFL, Johnny Manziel. But what else is there to know about the team that plays on the shores of Lake Erie?


The Browns' coaching search came to an end with Mike Pettine, the former defensive coordinator of the Bills and Jets. Pettine was Rex Ryan’s right hand man both in New York and back in Baltimore, when Ryan was the defensive coordinator and Pettine served as his outside linebackers coach. Pettine is known for creating tough, hard-nosed defenses that can cover well and put up a strong pass rush. In his only year in Buffalo, Pettine helped lead a defense that came second in the league in sacks with 57.

Owner Jimmy Haslam also promoted Ray Farmer to General Manager in February of this year. Prior to being hired as the Browns’ assistant GM in 2013, Farmer spent time as the Director of Pro Personnel for the Chiefs and a scout for the Atlanta Falcons.


Cleveland struggled mightily running the ball last season, ranking 27th in yards (1383) and last in touchdowns (four). To improve that, the Browns brought in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan -- who’s known for his strong run schemes -- signed free agent Ben Tate, and drafted Terrance West in the third round. West set FCS records at Towson in 2013 with 2,509 yards rushing and 41 rushing touchdowns.


The Browns have one of the best cover guys in the league in cornerback Joe Haden. The former first-round pick had four interceptions and came in third in the league with 20 passes defended in 2013, spurring him to his first Pro Bowl selection. Cleveland continued to beef up its secondary by signing free-agent safety Donte Whitner and drafting corner Justin Gilbert in May. The eighth overall pick was a unanimous All-American last year, and intercepted 12 passes in his collegiate career.


OK, to the part you’ve all been waiting for -- Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel. Neither has looked great in the preseason, but Pettine nevertheless named Hoyer Cleveland’s opening day quarterback this week. Manziel has said that he didn’t necessarily feel ready to take over the starting position just yet, which does make sense considering how difficult it can be for a player to transition to the NFL -- let alone a 21-year-old quarterback who started only two years in college.

Johnny Football should play Saturday night, and there’s a decent chance that he’ll see time on the field in the regular season. And he still has a great opportunity to become a good quarterback in the NFL. But for now, the hometown hero Hoyer will lead the starting offense.