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Eazy Picks 08-08-2013 10:56 PM

Browns Season Preview
 
Breaking Out of the Dawg Pound
Browns Season Preview


You have to respect the loyalty of the Cleveland Browns’ fans. The team has made the playoffs twice since 1990 and is in the midst of a ten-year playoff drought, yet the Browns’ fan base and attendance figures remain strong. The team’s most loyal fans sit in a section known as the “Dawg Pound”, which is somewhat fitting considering the Browns have been held captive in the dungeon of the AFC north for a considerable time now. However, there is good reason for optimism in Cleveland this year. The team won only five games last year, but played tough against stiff competition and showed they can be more than the division’s doormat.

Offseason Overhaul
The Browns’ didn’t let last season’s subtle positive progress stop them from being aggressive this offseason. They realized they had some nice pieces in place and wanted to bring in the help they needed to make it all come together. The team completely overhauled their coaching staff with Rob Chudzinski taking over the reigns as Head Coach, but the most important changes may be at offensive and defensive coordinator. Norv Turner has not been successful as a head coach, but his track record as an offensive coordinator is impeccable. The vertical passing game and power running game he is expected to install will fit the team’s offensive personnel, giving good cause for excitement in Cleveland. Ray Horton did an excellent job in Arizona, and will be bringing that 3-4 scheme to the Browns, who once again have the right players in tow to make a successful transition. After carefully picking their coaches, the team got aggressive in free-agency and did not pinch pennies when it came to signing the players they were targeting. The Browns will need these moves to pan out just right if they are going to emerge out of the rugged AFC North.

Offense



When you’re a 28 year-old rookie, teams aren’t likely to take a patient approach with you. That is the reality Brandon Weeden faces right now, as the Browns feel they are putting him in position to succeed and expect him to perform. Having Joe Thomas protecting his blindside will ease the pressure for Weeden, who will need time in the pocket to let deep routes develop. After getting a great return on center Alex Mack, the Browns decided to spend an early pick on a California offensive lineman and seem to have found another quality starter in right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. LG John Greco emerged as a strong run-blocker in his first full season starting, while the team would like to see improvement from RG Shawn Lauvao.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon was a dynamic rookie who caught 50 passes at a clip of 16 yards per reception last season, but has been suspended the first two games of the season for a failed drug test and needs to put his troubled past behind him and focus on becoming a star player for the Browns. Greg Little is a big receiver with special talent, but his receiving skills are still raw and the team needs him to make a leap in his third year. Davone Bess should do a lot of damage working out of the slot and give Weeden a reliable target in the short passing game, making him one of the league’s most underrated offseason acquisitions. An interesting player to watch will be TE Jordan Cameron, who Norv Turner will likely use to attack the deep middle of the field. This will be a great opportunity for the young tight end to show his worth as a pass-catcher, but he also needs to improve his blocking if he wants to stay on the field.

Key Player: HB Trent Richardson
Richardson was slowed by injuries his rookie year, but he is the locomotive that needs to drive this offense. Richardson has the tools to be a three-down back who can pound the ball between the tackles, provide big-play spark, and provide a legitimate receiving option out of the backfield. While 1317 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns isn’t a bad rookie season by any stretch, we only saw the tip off the iceberg from Richardson last year. Dion Lewis could carve out a role for himself as a change-of-pace back and Hardesty can be a decent backup if healthy, but the Browns should be expected to lean heavily on Richardson in his second year.


Defense



The emphasis for the Browns this off-season was improving their pass-rush. They started free agency by spending big bucks on Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant and then used the sixth overall pick on Berkevious Mingo, a tantalizing speed-rushing prospect. All three of those additions can be expected to fit quite nicely into their 3-4, while Jabaal Sheard will try to transition to the hybrid OLB role. This group has serious boom-or-bust potential, and will likely determine the fate of the Cleveland defense.
The Browns have some strong players in place to support their young group of pass-rushers. Phil Taylor is a prototypical lane-clogging nose tackle who I could see really excelling in this role and Rubin should have a strong presence inside as well. TJ Ward has proved himself to be an intimidating presence and valuable playmaker in the secondary, but he needs to stay on the field in his fourth season. Veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has been the team’s steadist performer for the past half-decade, and the team hopes Craig Robertson can improve his play and emerge as a solid starter alongside Jackson. Cornerback Joe Haden is a rising star who quarterbacks are quickly learned to avoid. He was a big part of the Tebow dynasty at the University of Florida and instantly became a quality starter after the Browns made him the 7th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Cause for Concern: Secondary Depth
Avoiding Haden won’t be much problem if teams are able to pick on the rest of the Browns’ corners at will. The Browns will be looking for some immediate contributions from some young defensive backs, with third-year pro Buster Skrine fighting with rookie Leon McFadden for the starting job opposite Haden and second-year pro Tashaun Gipson expected to start at FS. Chris Owens offers solid depth as a slot cornerback. It would be unwise to expect too much out of this group, but if the Browns’ front seven can be a dominant group, it could mask the team’s shortcomings on the back end.

Special Teams
K: Shayne Graham
P: TJ Conley
RS: Travis Benjamin

The Browns are dealing with some turnover on special teams, and will need to replace two of the team’s best players over the past decade: K Phil Dawson and return specialist Josh Cribbs. At 35, Graham is a journeyman kicker with a lot of starting experience and should be an adequate replacement for Dawson. Benjamin has flashed game-breaking ability, but it will be hard for him to make fans forget about Cribbs.

Schedule Analysis
Divisional Opponents: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
Inter-Divisional Play: AFC East, NFC North
Uncommon Opponents: vs Jacksonville, at Kansas City

The Browns got very lucky with their two uncommon opponents. The Jaguars and Chiefs picked second and first in this year’s draft, and the Browns can get a leg up on their division by winning those two games. Playing the NFC North will be difficult, but the rest of their division has to play those teams as well. Ultimately, the Browns will need to win divisional games to win what should be a very tight race.

jth1331 08-09-2013 08:05 AM

Reading that, and I was starting to believe maybe the Browns have a shot at the playoffs.
Then reality sunk in and I remembered this is the Browns we are talking about.

Rosebud 08-09-2013 08:52 AM

Old man Weeden will lead the Browns to the promised land!!! And then instead of picking a franchise QB with the pick he'll earn them they'll trade down a few times.

PoopSandwich 08-09-2013 10:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jth1331 (Post 3421226)
Reading that, and I was starting to believe maybe the Browns have a shot at the playoffs.
Then reality sunk in and I remembered this is the Browns we are talking about.

We looked really damn good against St. Louis first team yesterday, not like it matters.

Was encouraging though, the game looked completely different from when Mangini/Shurmur were coaching.

robert pancake gallery 08-09-2013 02:27 PM

dion lewis is the best deion/dion to ever play professional sports.

K Train 08-09-2013 02:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rosebud (Post 3421265)
Old man Weeden will lead the Browns to the promised land!!! And then instead of picking a franchise QB with the pick he'll earn them they'll trade down a few times.

"Why take julio jones 6th when we can take greg little 56th!"

:facepalm:

I did/do like little though, and gordon

keylime_5 08-09-2013 02:52 PM

People act like Weeden is terrible. He's not terrible, he'll probably turn out to be a pretty decent pro, maybe like Matt Schaub or even Trent Green. The issue is that he won't be a great, franchise QB cornerstone and he'll be 30 this year as a sophomore. I think he'll play pretty decent and the Browns will win some games, maybe 8 or 9. Good young talent on that team. They lost a lot of close games last year, and that was with a worse roster and coaches than they'll have this year.

robert pancake gallery 08-09-2013 02:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by keylime_5 (Post 3421666)
People act like Weeden is terrible. He's not terrible, he'll probably turn out to be a pretty decent pro, maybe like Matt Schaub or even Trent Green. The issue is that he won't be a great, franchise QB cornerstone and he'll be 30 this year as a sophomore. I think he'll play pretty decent and the Browns will win some games, maybe 8 or 9. Good young talent on that team. They lost a lot of close games last year, and that was with a worse roster and coaches than they'll have this year.

BUT HES LIKE 30 HE STARTS MEDICARE IN LIKE 3 MONTHS LOL SO FUNNY

gpngc 08-09-2013 02:55 PM

The NFL is a week to week league. I don't see how Weeden being 30, 31, or 32 in any way limits them.

BECUZ HE WONT BE THE SAME IN 2017!!!

If we're worried about a pocket passer declining that far into the future, chances are he was pretty good to begin with...

PoopSandwich 08-09-2013 03:05 PM

I just wonder what Rich Gannon's up to.

WCH 08-09-2013 04:10 PM

God damn, you guys are going to make me put together the dataset and post about QB-Age progressions. I hate you all.

Rosebud 08-09-2013 04:12 PM

The problem with Weeden's age isn't even his physical decline, it's that he's so inexperienced with so much still to improve at such an advanced age with his body starting to decline. Weeden just doesn't have the time to become a legitimately capable QB, nor does he have the potential to be more than just capable. It was a ****** pick and he's still a dumb bet that needs to be replaced as soon as you get a shot at QB you can groom who could actually be really good or better.

gpngc 08-09-2013 04:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rosebud (Post 3421721)
The problem with Weeden's age isn't even his physical decline, it's that he's so inexperienced with so much still to improve at such an advanced age with his body starting to decline. Weeden just doesn't have the time to become a legitimately capable QB, nor does he have the potential to be more than just capable. It was a ****** pick and he's still a dumb bet that needs to be replaced as soon as you get a shot at QB you can groom who could actually be really good or better.

This makes no sense.

If you don't think he has the capability of being a good NFL QB based on his college performance, that's fine. But his age has nothing to do with it whatsoever. His ability, mental and physical, do.

Rosebud 08-09-2013 04:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gpngc (Post 3421727)
This makes no sense.

If you don't think he has the capability of being a good NFL QB based on his college performance, that's fine. But his age has nothing to do with it whatsoever. His ability, mental and physical, do.

Of course they do, his age means he won't be improving physically from this point out and it also means he doesn't have very long to figure out all of his issues because his career is gunna be half over at best in a couple years.

gpngc 08-09-2013 04:39 PM

I'll just let this play out. I've had this argument far too many times.

If Weeden isn't the starter for Week 1 in 2015, it will be because he didn't earn the job based on his performance during his opportunity. He will be considered a "bust" or "bad pick" because of his play on the field - NOT his age.

If Weeden is the starter for Week 1 in 2015, that's a very, very, very good thing for the Browns and they'll have a franchise QB, a pocket passer, who will be 31 years old, the current age of Eli Manning, and multiple years younger than Brees, Brady, and Peyton.

Pat Sims 90 08-09-2013 04:44 PM

Weeden will keep the Browns good enough from drafting a franchise QB, but not good enough to compete for a playoff spot.

PoopSandwich 08-10-2013 10:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pat Sims 90 (Post 3421759)
Weeden will keep the Browns good enough from drafting a franchise QB, but not good enough to compete for a playoff spot.

That makes no sense. If he can't keep us competitive enough for a playoff spot in the next 2-3 years then he's gonna be replaced by us trying to draft a franchise qb. This whole new mindset of being aggressive brought in by Chud Turner and Horton, with Banner Lombardi and Haslem at the helm leads me to believe they aren't gonna sit around and hold Weeden's hand if he doesn't start to show promise this year.

BuckeyeDan17 08-10-2013 12:18 PM

TJ Ward sucks.

Eazy Picks 08-11-2013 11:57 AM

I would say the evaluation of a 30-year old rookie QB is differerent from a typical QB. You dont draft a 30-year old rookie without the expectation he is pro-ready. You are not willing to be as patient as you would with a 21-year old. You expect maturity, on and off the field, and you expect them to have a somewhat advanced understanding of the game compared to your ordinary rookie. And I think if the Browns dont see results from Weeden this season, they will be shopping for a new quarterback next year. He could still have a nice 5-year or so run here if he plays good, but the Browns arent gonna sit around developing him with a patient approach. If Tannehill, RG3, Luck, or Russell Wilson sucks ass this year, the teams will just accept it as growing pains and get ready for next year with the same QB and not think twice about it. If Weeden doesnt show he can win now, hell be moved to the side for a veteran who can win now or a younger talent that they want to develop.

Rosebud 08-11-2013 01:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gpngc (Post 3421753)
I'll just let this play out. I've had this argument far too many times.

If Weeden isn't the starter for Week 1 in 2015, it will be because he didn't earn the job based on his performance during his opportunity. He will be considered a "bust" or "bad pick" because of his play on the field - NOT his age.

If Weeden is the starter for Week 1 in 2015, that's a very, very, very good thing for the Browns and they'll have a franchise QB, a pocket passer, who will be 31 years old, the current age of Eli Manning, and multiple years younger than Brees, Brady, and Peyton.

That's silly. A team is much more willing to stick with a guy through his growing pains when he could help the team for well over a decade than they will with a guy who's looking at a 5-7 years if he doesn't get any more injuries to shoulder.

Sure Weeden not being much good will also be a big part in that, but his age is also obviously part of it.

stlouisfan37 08-11-2013 04:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by keylime_5 (Post 3421666)
People act like Weeden is terrible. He's not terrible, he'll probably turn out to be a pretty decent pro, maybe like Matt Schaub or even Trent Green. The issue is that he won't be a great, franchise QB cornerstone and he'll be 30 this year as a sophomore. I think he'll play pretty decent and the Browns will win some games, maybe 8 or 9. Good young talent on that team. They lost a lot of close games last year, and that was with a worse roster and coaches than they'll have this year.

I think this is the key that people keep missing. Everyone is so worried about whether or not Weeden is "the guy" that no one has taken notice that the Browns have accumulated a lot of young talent in the last 2-3 drafts. I think they are as talented as the Bengals and Ravens, and more talented than the Steelers. They do have to put it together on the field, of course, but it isn't like they don't have anything to work with. I'm not ready to call them a playoff team; I think they are much like the Rams, a team that is in building mode with a lot of young talent but little experience. But if they won 9 games and squeaked into a wild card spot, it wouldn't surprise me either.

Eazy Picks 08-11-2013 09:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stlouisfan37 (Post 3423355)
I think this is the key that people keep missing. Everyone is so worried about whether or not Weeden is "the guy" that no one has taken notice that the Browns have accumulated a lot of young talent in the last 2-3 drafts. I think they are as talented as the Bengals and Ravens, and more talented than the Steelers. They do have to put it together on the field, of course, but it isn't like they don't have anything to work with. I'm not ready to call them a playoff team; I think they are much like the Rams, a team that is in building mode with a lot of young talent but little experience. But if they won 9 games and squeaked into a wild card spot, it wouldn't surprise me either.

yes this is the thing. to me, this is also why the pressure on weeden is increased. This team has a good shot at making the playoffs this year. but only if weeden plays good. I think he is in a pretty good sitation here, so theres not a lot of excuses if he doesnt show some serious improvement on both his numbers and the teams win total.

Pat Sims 90 08-12-2013 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WinslowBodden (Post 3422632)
That makes no sense. If he can't keep us competitive enough for a playoff spot in the next 2-3 years then he's gonna be replaced by us trying to draft a franchise qb. This whole new mindset of being aggressive brought in by Chud Turner and Horton, with Banner Lombardi and Haslem at the helm leads me to believe they aren't gonna sit around and hold Weeden's hand if he doesn't start to show promise this year.

If the Browns are getting 7-9 wins a year that has them picking 15-20 range. Unless the Browns are willing to give up the farm and find a team willing to make that trade up into the top 8. The Browns are unlikely to find a franchise signal caller outside of the top 10 and highly unlikely to find one in FA or making a trade. So it does make sense if you think about it.

stlouisfan37 08-12-2013 02:12 AM

I'm gonna go on record as saying that I think Weeden is good enough to take this team and make them a perennial playoff team.

FUNBUNCHER 08-12-2013 03:21 AM

Weeden should get on his knees every night and thank God Norval is his OC.
Perfect match for his skillset and this offense.

I think Weeden looks like a solid NFL QB this season and shows glimmers of the player he was at OSU.

It'll be somewhat shocking to me if the Browns don't win 8 games at least in 2013.
A healthy Trent Richardson for 14+ games and Cleveland is a sleeper playoff contender.

Trent Green/Gannon/Jeff Garcia/Warner/Steve Young were all QBs who got their shot after the age of 28(?). If Weeden is a decent QB for the Browns for at least 6 years, IMO he was worth the pick.


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