Browns Are A Better Team Than Their Record Shows
The Cleveland Browns record is 0-4, but this doesn’t tell the full story. Instead, the story really starts with the 2nd pick of the 2016 NFL draft. This is because the Cleveland Browns traded this pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. “The Eagles sent five draft picks to the Browns: the No. 8 pick in the first round, a third-round pick (77th overall) and a fourth-round pick (100th overall) in this year’s draft, a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018. Cleveland also sends a fourth-round pick in 2017 to the Eagles.” (ESPN, “Browns’ No. 2 pick to Eagles for multiple picks”)
With the 2nd pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected QB Carson Wentz from North Dakota State University. Meanwhile, the Browns were in the 8th pick but then they traded with the Tennessee Titans and moved to 15. That’s where they drafted Corey Coleman, wide receiver from Baylor University. The Browns also drafted Cody Kessler with pick 93. Including Coleman, the Browns selected five receivers.
Speaking of Baylor, in their continuing search for a franchise QB the Browns went out and signed Robert Griffin III. The franchise thought that he was going to be the QB they had been looking for. In the season opener, the Cleveland Browns traveled to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. On the flip side, the Eagles were not planning on starting Wentz Week 1, however, due to injuries, Wentz started for the Eagles. Isaiah Crowell scored his 1st touchdown of the season and ran for 62 yards. More importantly, RGIII hurt his shoulder in the game. The Browns lost 29-10 to fall to 0-1.
In Week 2, it was the Browns home opener and they were facing another team who also happens to be a AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens. Because RGIII hurt his shoulder in the Week 1 loss to the Eagles, Josh McCown was tabbed the starter. In the 1st quarter, the Browns jumped out to an early 20-0 lead over the Ravens. The first Browns touchdown was also the first TD of Corey Coleman’s career and the 2nd Browns touchdown was an 85-yard sprint by Isaiah Crowell. Crowell went on from there to have a fantastic game as had 18 carries for 133 yards! Corey Coleman had five receptions for 105 yards and Terrelle Pryor had three receptions for 32 yards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for the Browns. Josh McCown got injured and Baltimore was able to come all the way back to win 25-20 to fall to 0-2. But unlike week 1 against Philadelphia, the Browns were in the game and almost won. Unfortunately, the referees made calls that killed Cleveland’s drives and the Browns defense collapsed. Even though Baltimore came back to win, the Browns played them tough. But playing the Ravens tough wasn’t enough as the Ravens spoiled the home opener 25-20. Browns drop to 0-2.
Week 3 was another animal opponent for the Cleveland Browns. But this animal is a marine mammal that is part of the AFC East. It’s the Miami Dolphins and it was in Hard Rock Stadium. Before the game, there was a moment of silence for Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. Very well deserved for a great young pitcher. But then it was game time and it was Cody Kessler’s first career start.
In the first quarter, the Dolphins jumped out to a 7-0 lead but the Browns answered back in the 2nd quarter with 13 points to go into the locker room with a 13-10 lead. In the 3rd quarter, the Browns didn’t score while the Dolphins scored a touchdown to retake the lead 17-13 going into the 4th quarter. This is where things got interesting. The Dolphins scored another touchdown to take a 24-13 lead. But the Browns came back and scored 11 points to tie the game at 24. This showed that the Browns are starting to become a resilient team.
With approximately 5 seconds left, Cody Parkey had a chance to win the game…and he missed it, sending the game into overtime. In OT, neither team did anything on their 1st possessions of OT. But Jay Ajayi scored in OT and the Dolphins beat the Browns 30-24. In his NFL debut, Kessler was 21/33 for 244 yards and Pryor played a little QB going 3/5 for 35 yards. But Pryor did most of his damage as a receiver with eight receptions for 144 yards. Crowell had 15 carries for 79 yards and Duke Johnson had 10 carries for 69 yards. Once again, the Browns played tough and didn’t fall down but once again it wasn’t enough. Browns fall to 0-3.
Week 4 brought the Browns to the country’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins. Cody Kessler was once again starting for the Browns. The Redskins jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter. But in the 2nd quarter, the Browns responded by putting up 17 points of their own while holding Washington to three points. In the 3rd quarter, the Browns scored three points and the Redskins didn’t score any points. The 4th quarter had the worst call by the referee ever. The Redskins were up 24-20 with approximately 9:50 left in the quarter and it was 2nd and 2. Duke Johnson took the handoff and fumbled it but the Browns clearly recovered it. The refs were watching from a different angle and said it was Washington ball. The Skins took advantage of this blown call and went down the field and scored a touchdown and went on to win 31-20. Isaiah Crowell ran for 112 yards and a touchdown and Cody Kessler was 27 of 38 for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But the blown call and three other turnovers cost the Browns a game, in which they outplayed Washington but fell to 0-4 as Washington won 31-20.
I feel that the Cleveland Browns are starting to get on the right track. After that bad season opener in Philadelphia, the Browns are playing teams tough and not getting blown out anymore. In my opinion, what seems to be the problem is that the defense doesn’t seem to have a backbone. What this means is that the Browns aren’t generating a pass rush and the cornerbacks and safeties don’t seem to be physical enough. I think that if the Browns defense plays more like this, then they could be in good shape. On the offensive side of the ball, I understand that the Browns want to be a run-first team but, in my opinion, the only threat in the passing game is Pryor. I feel that the Browns can get more guys involved in the passing offense. By getting more guys in the passing game, it will give the defense more to worry about.
The one guy that I really want the Browns to get more involved in the passing game is Gary Barnidge. In 2015, Barnidge played all 16 games and had 79 receptions for 1,043 yards with nine touchdowns. While this season in four games, he has 16 receptions for 160 yards and no touchdowns! I think that if the Browns get Gary Barnidge more involved in the passing game, it will not only open up the passing game, but it will also help the #1 rushing attack in the NFL. The Browns could potentially be 3-1, but the referees have robbed them and they just have not been able to finish games. But if Hue Jackson is allowed to be the coach for more than two years, then the Browns could potentially become a playoff team.