General Manager: Michael Lombardi
Head Coach: Rob Chudzinski
Offensive Coordinator: Norv Turner
Defensive Coordinator: Ray Horton
Special Teams Coach: Chris Tabor
Overview: The Browns have had it rough for quite a while now. They are one of those teams that in recent years have been looking for there quarterback of the future, but have had no luck locating their guy. The other problem for Cleveland is their division is extremely competitive. Over the past few years the AFC North has sent multiple teams to the playoffs each year and in 2012 the Ravens were Super Bowl champions. The Browns also seem to switch coaching staffs annually, which is no help to the players and their development. The pieces are slowly coming together for Cleveland, but don’t expect them to win the division any time soon.
Offense: Total Offense (25th), Passing (19th), Rushing (24th), and Scoring (24th).
Without a franchise quarterback your offense will tend to struggle. There are certain situations where teams will succeed without a franchise guy under center, but usually those are teams with outstanding talent all around the rest of the team. The Browns do not have that. I personally like Brandon Weeden, but for the talent on the Browns and his age being a factor, I do not see him getting the job done. For Weeden the window of opportunity is too short. The addition of Josh Gordon and Trent Richardson made a huge impact for the Browns in 2012, and both players should continue to make an impact in 2013. Cleveland has had a solid offensive line for the past few seasons due to Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. If they can add an impact player or two this offensive squad could do some damage.
Defense: Total Yards (10th), Passing (8th), Rushing (14st), and Sacks (3rd).
The Browns don’t hold up to the AFC North tough defense reputation, but they are getting there. Joe Haden is one of the better corners in the NFL. He has the ability to shutdown his side of the field, but that means nothing if you are the only one reliable in coverage. That’s only speaking for the Browns corners. T.J. Ward is a beast in the run game, but he won’t be that safety to match-up well against the elite tight ends in the league. D’Quell Jackson is probably the only reliable player in the front seven, but the Browns could have some up and comers in Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard. This defense is definitely lacking a pass rush and without a pass rush, Haden will be doing all of the work.
Special Teams: Field Goals (T – 7th), Kick Returns (19th), and Punting (15th).
Most people acknowledge the Browns special teams as Josh Cribbs, but he was injured in 2012 taking the Browns from one of the better kick return teams in the league to middle of the pack. Having a great kick returner like Cribbs would have really benefited Weeden and the Browns offense.
2012 Off-season Impact:
Key Acquisitions: DE Frostee Rucker. DE Juqua Thomas-Parker
Key Losses: RB Payton Hillis, OT Tony Pashos, G Eric Steinbach, DE Jayme Maitchell, S Mike Adams
Round 1, Pick 22: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Round 2, Pick 37: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal
Round 3, Pick 87: John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati
Round 4, Pick 100: Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami
Round 4, Pick 120: James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada
Round 5, Pick 156: Ryan Miller, OG, Colorado
Round 6, Pick 204: Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas
Round 6, Pick 205: Billy Winn, DE/DT, Boise State
Round 7, Pick 245: Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
Round 7, Pick 247: Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama
The Browns had a lousy free agency, but in the Draft I believe they did a really nice job. Trent Richardson is a beast and instantly a feature back for the Browns. Anyone that says that feature backs are lacking in the NFL is wrong. Adrian Peterson single-handedly kept the Vikings alive in 2012. A good amount of Browns fans and analysts excoriated the Brandon Weeden pick, but in the right system Weeden could be pretty good. Weeden was a baseball pitcher causing him to be 28 years old when drafted, but it also added to his maturity and his ability to sling the ball. If Schwartz comes into his own, the Browns would have nice bookend tackles and overall a solid line. Benjamin can fly. He was a really nice option in the slot for the Browns in 2012, and could fill the loss of Cribbs returning kicks in 2013. My favorite Browns pick was Billy Winn in the 6th round. He was one of those players pre-draft that could go as high as round two or as low as round four. In round six he was a steal. He should be a starting end by 2014.
Key Acquisitions: CB Chris Owens, TE Kellen Davis, LS Christian Yount, WR Jordan Norwood, RB Chris Ogbonnaya, TE Gary Barnidge, LB Quinton Groves, DT Desmond Bryant, WR Davone Bess, RB Dion Lewis, QB Jason Campbell and LB Paul Kruger.
Key Losses: K Phil Dawson, TE Ben Watson, LB Kaluka Maiava, WR Josh Cribbs, QB Colt McCoy, and LB Emmanuel Acho
Round 1, Pick 6: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Round 3, Pick 68: Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
Round 6, Pick 175: Jamoris Slaughter, S, Notre Dame
Round 7, Pick 217: Armonty Bryant, DE, East Central Oklahoma
Round 7, Pick Garrett Gilkey, OG, Chadron State
This off-season was much better as far as free agency goes. Kruger and Bryant should make an impact instantly. Guys like Groves and Davis should be solid rotation guys who will make a play or two this season. The biggest loss for the Browns is Josh Cribbs, but it’s not like they had him in 2012 due to injury. As far as the draft goes for the Browns, they had a smart draft. A smart draft meaning that they will have picks stacked for the 2014 Draft. Mingo has a ton of potential, but he also has the “boom or bust” label already. Their second round pick was used on Josh Gordon in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. Gordon was totally worth giving up that pick. They get a starting outside receiver and a whole year under his belt instead of a rookie with no NFL experience. Cleveland’s 6th and two 7ths weren’t known picks, but we will see how they are a few years down the road.
Some analyst have the Browns lower on their rankings, but I believe they are better than they play. They tend to drown in a powerful division. A lot of analysts also rank them low because they don’t believe Weeden can be the guy in Cleveland, but he has the tools to be as serviceable as a Trent Dilfer. I’m not saying that the Browns are going to make a run for the playoffs anytime soon, but I like the direction they are going. It’s helpful to have a franchise back and a All-Pro left tackle to alleviate all of the pressure off of your second year quarterback. The Browns addressed their pass rush need in Kruger and Mingo this off-season which will also help a rough secondary. The Browns are on track that if a team or two in the AFC North stumble they could capitalize.
Being ranked 26th in my power rankings is pretty good for the Browns. They are in much better shape than teams like the Jets, Jaguars, Bills, and so on. If Mingo booms instead of busting he will be a monster off the edge and Kruger will be able to clean up the rest. You also can’t count out D’Quell Jackson. On the back end Haden and Ward will hopefully continue their high level of play and rookie Leon McFadden will try to prove himself worthy of the #2 corner spot. On the offensive side of things, Trent Richardson may make a run at Marshawn Lynch’s title of Beast-Mode. Richardson should probably set aside a nice chunk of his paycheck for the new helmet crown rule. At the end of the day everyone on the Browns roster needs to come in and play hard on every down for this team to be successful.