May 20, 2013 Leave a comment
Key Arrivals: PK Shayne Graham, RB Dion Lewis, WR David Nelson, QB Jason Campbell, CB Chris Owens, TE Kellen Davis, LB Quentin Groves, DT Desmond Bryant, LB Paul Kruger
Key Departures: LB Emmanuel Acho, QB Colt McCoy, LB Chris Gocong, S Usama Young, QB Josh Johnson, PK Phil Dawson, TE Benjamin Watson, LB Kaluka Maiava, DE Frostee Rucker, WR Josh Cribbs
The Browns should never have pulled the trigger on Brandon Weeden, let’s just get that out the way. They were too ready to move on from Colt McCoy and reached for someone who wasn’t going to succeed on their team or in their system. The fact of the matter is, Colt McCoy wasn’t going to succeed there either, he fit the offense (under Pat Shurmur….which was very conservative), but didn’t have the support around him to get the job done. Now Colt McCoy has been traded to San Francisco, and Head Coach Rob Chudzinki has brought in Jason Campbell to compete with Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Thaddeus Lewis. Campbell is a guy who has been around, as mentioned before, he had the Raiders on track to make a post-season bid for the first time in 10 years before suffering a broken collarbone. The team fell off defensively, after having one of the more successful units in 2011, they allowed roughly 363 yards per game, ranked 25th against the pass and 19th against the run. The receiving core could also use some assistance, Josh Cribbs, who was more of a return specialist, but still thins out an already thin core. Bills WR David Nelson was brought in to try and add some depth, as the two leading receivers for the Browns last season were Josh Gordon (50 Rec, 806 yards, 5 TD), and Greg Little (53 rec, 647 yards, 4 TD). The addition of Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves, and Chris Owens should bolster that defense up a few notches, not quite back to 2011 form, but good enough, as they corralled in 17 INTs, 11th in the league.
Going Into The Offseason, This Team Needed:
A new QB, again, the Browns needed something other than Weeden last season and jumped at the idea, and Weeden needed a team that was a little better off than the Cleveland Browns. Trent Richardson will get a large amount of the work done, bringing in a QB who is ready to go will help things out a little. The team also needs a legitimate #1 WR, as of right now, a tandem of Nelson, Gordon and Little is not going to be enough to intimidate defenses, even though Nelson was a serviceable option under one Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Defensively, the team doesn’t have too much experience at safety. Tashaun Gipson and TJ Ward have a combined 4 years experience and 41 games started…38 of those starts are held by Ward. Ward racked up 50 tackles, 1 sack, 3 Forced Fumbles, 1 INT, and 2 pass deflections, Gipson in 10 games, had 26 tackles, 1 INT and a pass deflection. Can Gipson handle an entire season as the Browns’ last line of defense? Will Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton (aka Ray Ray 2 Chainz, google him) be able to bring in a new scheme that can whip the Browns defense back into shape?
In The Draft, The Team Selected:
Barkevious Mingo, right off the top. The LSU hybrid DE/OLB should fit perfectly into the aforementioned Horton’s scheme of off the wall blitzes all rolled into an old school Steelers-style 3-4 defense. Mingo racked up 29 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and 119 tackles over 3 years of play in the Bayou, perfect for an attack minded defense. In the 3rd round, the Browns selected CB Leon McFadden (SD State), he isn’t of ideal size, but he is considerably strong, quick and possess the ball skills needed to play at the CB position in the NFL. Jamoris Slaughter (Safety, Notre Dame), Armonty Bryant (DE, E Central Oklahoma) and Garrett Gilkey (OG, Chadron State) were all selected in the final two rounds.
The Mingo and McFadden moves could have instant impact on this upcoming season, while the others, if they make the team, would be great for depth purposes. This adds another young crew to an already young defense with a lot of potential.
In 2013, This Team Needs To:
Let Ray Horton take over defensively, he certainly got the job done in Arizona, and has a similar build of players on the Browns to help him get things going. Mingo, Kruger, and Groves can make a nasty trio in certain pass rushing situations, he can create all kinds of blitzing options for the three of them. Haden should have some fun with McFadden and Owens helping him out (Owens was a decent Nickel Corner with the Falcons). Offensively, they need to let Jason Campbell win the starting QB job and guide the team as much as possible, at least giving him a chance to shine this season, if he can’t get the job done, there’s a loaded QB class coming in to help them out for 2014….which is really where their goals should be focused.
Trent Richardson is going to be Trent Richardson, just feed him the ball, keep your QB (Jason Campbell) in as many short yardage situations as possible.
Assessing The Schedule:
The Browns don’t have a rough schedule, but they also don’t have an extremely easy one. They open at home with a Miami team that is promising vast improvement, but they then travel to Baltimore and Minnesota, they then get three straight home games against Cincinnati, Buffalo and Detroit. Two straight road trips to Green Bay and Kansas City could be very harsh, but they get Baltimore at home before a bye week, then get two straight division games (@CIN, home vs PIT). Their final five games are Jacksonville, @ New England, Chicago, @ NYJ, and then they end the season in Pittsburgh.
It has its rough spots (@ Green Bay and then @ Kansas City can be brutal, no matter how bad the Chiefs are, Arrowhead is TOUGH to play in), but it also has some patches that could result in an upset for the Browns (3 straight home games against CIN, BUF, and DET). The main problem for Cleveland will once again be Offense, they aren’t going to put up points, however, if their defense can return to form, and if they can reach their potential, you’re looking at a team that can squeak out of a few 17-13 games with a W.
While they can sneak in a few surprises, I wouldn’t expect anything more than 6-7 wins from the Browns, while my initial thought was 5-11 when I started building the 32 for 32 list, I think having Horton as a DC could work wonders for this team. 2013 will be a learning year, but if things go right, the Browns could really make some noise in 2014, with the right QB.
I’m expecting a 6-10 record for Cleveland.