Dawgs By Nature:
- Browns fans’ confidence drops to 32%; fans still interested in seeing the final two games (Chris Pokorny) - Heading into Week 17, 32% of Browns fans are confident in the direction of the team, an decrease of 25 percentage points from last week. Win or lose, I bet the confidence level will end up staying around this level for the final two weeks. That’s because the playoffs are out of the question, there is some uncertainty with the team, but we know what needs to be addressed this offseason.
- 8-9 vs 6-11: How last 2 games impact where 2022 lands in Browns history (Jared Mueller) - The Cleveland Browns will not have a winning record in 2022. Knowing what we know now, with two weeks left in the season, it would have taken at least nine, and more likely 10, wins to make the playoffs in the AFC this year. (Does not include the AFC South where the winner could be below .500). In franchise history, this season will not rank very high. Cleveland has had 19 years with double-digit wins and 13 more with nine victories.
- Browns made the right call with Deshaun Watson (Thomas Moore) - The Cleveland Browns faced a major decision at the quarterback position at the close of the 2021 regular season. And while the final chapter is still far from being written, it appears from purely a football perspective that the team made the right call in acquiring Deshaun Watson.
- Browns aren’t following “analytics” in at least one way this season (Jared Mueller) - Recently, fans and media of the Cleveland Browns have went back to an old faithful thing to blame: “Analytics!” This time, instead of focusing on Sashi Brown, the lawyer turned GM, the focus has been on chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta. DePodesta, who the character Peter Brand is based on in “Moneyball,” is the man behind the curtain for many.
- Browns center Ethan Pocic says re-signing with Cleveland ‘would be a dream come true’ (Beacon Journal) - Ethan Pocic played well for the Browns in a pinch and then fought back from injury in an attempt to finish the season. Now he’s hoping to stay in Cleveland despite his one-year contract being scheduled to expire in March.
- Myles Garrett respects Kevin Stefanski’s decision to bench him for start of Saints game, says it won’t happen again (Browns Zone) - Myles Garrett blamed his benching on a failure to communicate, vowed not to make the same mistake in the future and said it’s already in the past. The Pro Bowl defensive end and captain didn’t start and was held out for the first three defensive plays last Saturday in the 17-10 loss to the Saints for a violation of team rules.
- Reggie Ragland looking to build on Week 16 team-best defensive performance, secure future in Cleveland (cleveland.com) - In his first real game action with the Cleveland Browns, linebacker Reggie Ragland performed about as well as Cleveland could have hoped.
- Why the Browns badly need a win Sunday vs. Washington, even in what’s a lost season (The Athletic) - Onward the Browns go. They’re 6-9 and not making the playoffs. They’re trying to get Deshaun Watson comfortable playing football again. They’re trying to rev up the offense — and they’re trying to get a strong finish out of a defense that’s been good at times but mostly has been inconsistent and has struggled against the run. There are lots of reasons this season hasn’t gone the way anyone involved wanted it to, and there are lots of reasons many of the key figures want — and need — it to end so the Browns can move toward the future for which they focused on with last March’s mega-trade for Watson.
- Lamar Jackson, Marcus Peters Ruled Out vs. Steelers (baltimoreravens.com) - Lamar Jackson has been ruled out for Sunday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after not practicing for a fourth straight week. Jackson suffered a reported knee sprain on Dec. 4 against the Denver Broncos and hasn’t taken the field since. He will miss his fourth straight game, paving the way for Tyler Huntley to make his fourth consecutive start.
- Millions in NFL bonuses on the line in last two weeks (ESPN) - Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith’s resurgence should set him up for a nice payday when his contract expires after this season, but in the meantime, the veteran has a chance to add millions to his current deal. It’s a long shot, but achieving the unexpected has defined this season for Smith, who wasn’t even supposed to be the starter this year.
- What’s next for the Raiders and Derek Carr? (The Ringer) - The quarterback and his longtime team are heading toward a split. But there are many moving parts and no easy answers.
- ‘Citizen hero’ Blaine Gabbert recounts his role in Davis Islands helicopter rescue (tampabay.com) - A Bucs season rife with subpar moments produced its most surreal and ironic one Friday afternoon. Blaine Gabbert, a portrait of anonymity the last three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup, suddenly was commanding the national stage and being dubbed a “citizen hero.” Roughly 20 hours earlier, Gabbert, 33, and his two younger brothers were Jet Skiing off Davis Islands, checking out the sailboats at the nearby yacht club, when he gazed westward and spotted what “almost looked like a crew boat in the water that had broken up in about four pieces.”