Cleveland Browns Need to Improve in These 5 Areas During Training Camp
Cleveland Browns' Improvements Start with Training Camp
The Cleveland Browns haven’t tasted a playoff win since 1994, and have added yet another losing record to a franchise that is going on 49 years without ever appearing in the Super Bowl, not even once.
Despite the misery and hardships Browns fans have endured, things could be looking up for their beloved team who finished 5-11 in 2012.
If the Browns can improve in five key areas during their training camp, Browns' faithful could see a renewed franchise and an energetic team that is ready to add a “fresh” start to a team that has been accustomed to being labeled as “losers” year in and year out.
Though their record may suggest that the Browns were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, it only tells half the story.
Offensively, the Browns were ranked 19th in passing with 214.7 yards per game and ranked 24th in rushing with 99.6 yards per game. Ironically, the Browns were a better passing team than rushing, though they lacked a true No. 1 receiver in 2012.
Despite their rankings, there were moments where the Browns looked excellent in a division that has always been considered one of the toughest in the NFL.
Overall, the Browns will not be able to move forward, as they have yet to find a true franchise quarterback ever since the curse started when they selected Tim Couch in 1999.
Defensively, the Browns have indeed improved, but suffered due to the inability of the offense being able to sustain their drives. They were ranked 25th in passing, allowing 245.2 yards per game, and ranked 19th in rushing yards with 118.6 per game.
The Browns have much to work on if they want to compete in 2013, but if they can find some answers in five specific areas, the Browns could be a Cinderella team and turn a few heads come game time.
5. Protect Your Quarterback
In 2012, the Browns' offensive linemen had a disappointing year in which they allowed 36 sacks, and created little to zero running lanes for their promising young running back.
With stalwart Joe Thomas and Alex Mack anchoring the line, they will need to step up their game and protect their quarterback.
In a division where defenses excel in pressuring the quarterback with exotic blitzes, the Browns must improve in this area if quarterback Brandon Weeden is going to have any chance at all in becoming a much-improved player.
The Browns offensive linemen are the secret service, and their job is to protect their president, who happens to be Weeden. Whether they have to take a bullet or create room for him, it has to happen if the Browns want to continue moving forward.
4. Feed the Beast
Besides the one-year wonder of Peyton Hillis, the Browns have had a tough time in finding a consistent running back, but not anymore. With the team drafting Trent Richardson in 2012, the Browns have finally found a franchise running back for years to come.
Richardson rushed for 950 yards, 11 touchdowns and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Though Richardson’s yards per carry are a little concerning, he still had a strong rookie year.
Though offensive coordinator Norv Turner is known as a passing guru, with a talented runner in the backfield, Turner and the Browns must make an effort in feeding the “Beast.” With Richardson expected to have an even bigger impact in 2013, the Browns will need to figure out a way during training camp in maximizing the skills and talents that Richardson possesses.
With any quarterback, his best friend will be his running back, and Weeden is lucky to have an emerging star player as his right hand man.
3. Cleveland Browns Prized Free Agents becoming Leaders
During the offseason, the Browns went out of their way and dug deep in their wallets in acquiring big names in defensive tackle Desmond Bryant and linebacker Paul Kruger.
As the Browns try to amp up defensively, they will need both Bryant and Kruger to help improve their defense dramatically. Bryant will be expected to start on the defensive line and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as the Browns failed to do so on a consistent basis in 2012.
Kruger, who was a popular player in free agency, comes to the Browns after having a spectacular season with the Baltimore Ravens. After notching 42 tackles and recording nine sacks, the Browns are hoping that he will make the linebacker unit one of the best in 2013.
2. Get on the Same Page With your Offensive and Defensive Coordinator
Usually when a franchise clears out their house and puts a whole new coaching staff into order, it takes a hit with both the team chemistry and the players in general. Going into 2013, however, the Browns might have one of the best coaching staffs in the history of their franchise.
Although time will tell, it will be critical for the Browns to not only learn new schemes, but to improve at the same time.
As the Browns hired Rob Chudzinski as their new head coach, he might have made bigger headlines when he announced that his offensive coordinator was Turner and his defensive coordinator would be Ray Horton.
Under Turner, his stint with the San Diego Chargers might have been less than stellar; he is still considered one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. His schemes will without a doubt improve the Browns’ offense overall, but it will be key for his new quarterback to have a good grasp of what he expects.
With Horton taking control of the Browns’ defense, expect the defense to be very active in terms of their looks, blitzes and multiple fronts they will display in trying to confuse their opponents.
Both the defensive and offensive units will need to learn new schemes, and how well they can understand it will show up in how they execute it on the field.
1. Brandon Weeden Needs to Step Up
For any team in the NFL to have a chance of improving and start cultivating a winning culture, it all starts with the quarterback of the team.
Using an analogy, think of the quarterback as the head of a snake. No matter how long or lethal a snake is, without its head, the body will wither and die away.
In the same sense, the quarterback of the team is the most essential and important position. Going into his second year, the 29-year-old Weeden had a decent year, but given his age, he either needs to step up this year and make drastic improvements, or the Browns will suffer again in 2013 no matter how many star or talented players they bring in.
The Browns need Weeden to develop good decision-making, as he threw more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14). However, Weeden did display a good arm and his leadership was strong off and on the field.
If Weeden can take a faster learning curve and have a phenomenal sophomore season, the Browns can finally have faith in their young quarterback. However, should Weeden fail to meet expectations and hinder, the Browns will yet again go through this process every single year until they find a franchise quarterback.