Browns fans should rejoice as positive vibes are flowing throughout Browns camp from top to bottom.
First we start with the owner as Jimmy Haslam has officially endorsed Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer by stating the team win-loss record will not affect the future of the coach and general manager. “I think we’re on the right track, so we’re not going to blow things up,” Haslam claims. The owner realizes that the Cleveland Browns have a good foundation and vows not to tear it down.
It must be a relief not to have to worry about being on the hot seat. The coaching staff can experience some comfort and implement their system. They can build relationships and form bonds, which everyone can benefit from. Chemistry and trust can go a long way in this business.
Furthermore, the organization has handled the quarterback situation better than last season. They appear committed to Josh McCown as the current starter, but it’s more than just that. The veteran is great for the locker room and is a key component in the development of Johnny Manziel. Without the pressure to start, the former first round pick can relax and learn the game without the spotlight or hype.
So far, we have seen progress. Not saying Manziel is ready to take the reins, but he has strung together three consecutive commendable performances, something we didn’t witness last training camp. We are also witnessing a different, toned down Johnny Manziel. He has matured on and off the field, staying out of headlines and seldom making TV appearances. Johnny Football participated in his first interview after about three days of camp. Manziel is showing up to practice early and staying late and it’s becoming evident on the football field.
Correspondingly, when you look at the actions of the Texas native, there is a more serious demeanor surrounding him. Farmer and Pettine have both commended the quarterback’s newfound dedication to his craft. It’s still early to tell, but he looks effective, sharp after a week of training camp. The mobile escape artist is working himself into a pocket passer. During a scrimmage at Ohio State University, Manziel completed nine of 11 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
While the quarterback position is taking shape, the Cleveland Browns are also solidifying other positions of weakness. Wide receiver is one of those positions with Josh Gordon facing a year suspension. The Browns address the situation this off-season by signing free agents Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline. The bigger story is Terrelle Pryor because his true potential hasn’t been achieved yet.
As the former quarterback transitions to wide receiver, he has displayed a dedication to his craft. Pryor even reached out to Randy Moss to train with and pick his brain for some advice. Pryor may still be developing as a receiver, but he possesses a great skill set and explosive athleticism.
Although these traits can translate into positive on-field production, it’s his off the field learning that is impressive. He is committed to learning route-running and blocking techniques while still trying to understand in-huddle play calls. The Ohio State product even puts in extra work before practice learning how to avoid press coverage. He spends roughly five to ten minutes working with Tramon Williams and Joe Haden, one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
Additionally, Cleveland has made critical defensive improvements to produce a more balanced defense. Last season, the Browns were ranked eighth against the pass, but allowed 2,265 rushing yards, the most in the league. That’s why the Browns drafted Danny Shelton, a 340 pound defensive tackle. He is surprisingly mobile, puts pressure on the quarterback and (for a rookie) is outspoken in the locker room and on the field.
Not only did Cleveland upgrade their run defense, their secondary improved as well. The Browns now possess a deeper roster than previous years. They signed veteran Tramon Williams this off-season and Tashaun Gibson, who led the league with six interceptions before being injured, is returning healthy and ready to contribute. Not to mention, sophomores Pierre Desir and Justin Gilbert, who continue to progress.
Although a Super Bowl appearance isn’t a realistic outcome this year, Browns fans should stay positive about their team. This team is trending upwards and the near future is looking bright, so don’t be surprised if the Cleveland Browns are more entertaining and competitive than years past.
Image Credited to: photos.cleveland.com