The bye week is over and the Cleveland Browns begin to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday in Dallas. With the mathematical chances of winning the AFC North division or making the playoffs pretty much gone, these next seven games offer possibilities of some feel-good stories. Let’s take a look at some goals for the rest of the season.
It’s time to raise the level of competitiveness. Too many times we are seeing the Browns fall just short or come oh-so-close. All facets of the game must be sharpened up. Maybe then, we will see games won at the end instead of the opposite. Dropped balls for potential game-winning touchdowns or interceptions must be eliminated. After nine games, there are no more excuses for rookie mistakes or blunders. Having a large goal of a raised level of competition, better preparation, and increased mental toughness may be the difference in a few of these last seven games.
Thank you to the football gods for Trent Richardson. Thank you for not being a spitting image of Ki-Jana Carter. This season has become the TRich show: Richardson is only 425 yards away from his first 1,000-yard season, and only 260 yards away from 500 yards receiving. To get 1,500 all-purpose yards out of Richardson would exceed all expectations Cleveland had going in. The amazing thing about the tough Richardson is he missed most of training camp and all of the pre-season games because of his knee scope and recovery.
Please calm down, Mr. Brandon Weeden. During these next seven games, all eyes will be on Weeden. The individual goal of throwing for over 3,ooo yards is great, but it’s not the most important ambition. Weeden needs to relax and just play football. At times, his pocket presence is very shaky and bad decisions have been made as a result. The number-one goal for Weeden should be to cut down the interceptions and stay clear of pick-sixes.
The defensive line should set a goal of stopping the run and getting to the quarterback more. The Browns as a whole are not good enough to keep giving up over 120 yards a game on the ground, and it is killing them. It would be nice to see second-year man Jabaal Sheard make an impact in these final games. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron would be smart to dial up the pressure for the rest of the season. What would Jauron have to lose by doing so?
Come on Josh Cribbs, you are so close. Although Cribbs has lost a step, for the most part he has done a fine job returning this year. Cribbs will get a handful of more tries in each of the last seven contests to take one to the house. Both Cribbs and the Dawg Pound deserve it.
Phil Dawson might as well stay perfect. The automatic veteran kicker for the Browns is a perfect 17/17 in field goals for the 2012 campaign. Why can’t Dawson finish the year at 100%? At this point, the only thing that could ruin his perfection is something out of his control like a blocked kick.
Each and every one of these players on the 53 man roster are playing for their Browns career in these final contests. Setting goals for this final run is the smart thing to do for all of them.
If only one of these goals can come true, please let it be staying competitive and never giving up. The fans don’t ever give up, so why should the players? Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers would not be too bad either.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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