Cleveland Browns: On the Bright Side

Is there a bright side? Sure! Just need to look hard enough, but you can find it!

With all the negativity surrounding the team,1 I thought I’d at least point out a couple of the good things that happened in the Giants game this weekend. I thought long and hard, but couldn’t come up with any on defense. So, I’ll lead off with…

Joe Haden is back! Joe Haden talked to reporters yesterday, apologized, owned up to his substance of choice2 and is ready to go against A.J. Green this weekend. Nobody is happy that he missed all the time for something so stupid, but tell me you aren’t happy to see him back on the field this weekend. You’re going to cheer for him, right? If we learned anything at all during his suspension, it is that the Browns need Joe Haden on the field.

Josh Gordon might be worth the 2013 second rounder. Granted, we don’t know how high that second round pick might end up being, but in his fifth professional game, Josh Gordon made one big play taking advantage of a linebacker and a safety on his 62 yard TD reception. He also caught another touchdown tying the single-game Browns rookie record. Lastly, Gordon impressed me greatly when he caught the second TD. The Browns were down, so he made a quick celebratory hand gesture toward his QB, dropped the ball and ran to the sidelines. Loved to see that. Maybe he is just like that on his own, or maybe he learned from Greg Little’s “Bolt” episode. Either way, good to see.

Jordan Norwood is earning time on the field. After being mysteriously inactive, and stumbling out of the gate in his first bout of playing time, Jordan Norwood showed why most of us who watched training camp thought he was the most polished receiver on the Browns roster. Norwood runs professional routes3 and generally has great hands. He didn’t show them in his first action of the year, but he looked pretty good against the Giants catching nine balls for 81 yards on nine targets. He needs to play going forward, and I’m looking forward to seeing him build chemistry with the Browns’ rookie QB.

Trent Richardson. Again, Trent Richardson found the end zone. Again Trent Richardson played and looked like a guy who belongs on a professional football field. Even when the gains weren’t there, he was making Giants miss. As Browns PR pointed out today, Trent Richardson is first in points scored (30,) second in rushing yards (222,) and second in first downs (18.) The Browns haven’t had an offensive player like Trent Richardson on the team since most of us were children or not even born yet. He shows the level of ability at his position that Kellen Winslow showed, but at a much more important and potentially dominant position. He’s not afraid of the game and never seems to shrink even in the face of adversity.

The Browns special teams coverage unit played well against the Giants. Five kickoff returns for 67 yards is a 13.4 yard average. The Browns gave up a long of 21 yards. Special teams coverage is best when you don’t have reason to talk about them, but I forced the issue considering this game.

Any other bright spots (or relatively bright spots) that I missed?

  1. Shurmur’s press relations, losing and Shurmur’s press relations all come to mind. []
  2. I still think it is a drug of abuse and not one of a performance-enhancing nature, but Haden was smart to own up to his mistake just the same. []
  3. Including being open on a certain 3rd and 1 play! []

  • Garry_Owen

    Come on, guys. It’s not that hard to find bright spots – but thank you for pointing out the ones that you have, Sir Rookie Ball.
    Perspective: So far this year, we have played the Eagles, the Bengals, the Bills, the Ravens, and the Giants. Did anyone – anyone – think prior to the season that we would be anything other than 0-5 or 1-4 (maybe 2-3)? So we’re 0-5. It’s not that far from 1-4 or 2-3, and in fact, those aren’t the ugliest 5 losses we have ever had. As we’ve gone over ad nauseum, having Haden back might, alone, reverse a major course of this record.
    And as for Shurmur’s PR blunders, just get over it. Ignore it. Who cares? It doesn’t matter, not one whit – and besides, that is the single negative thing that we fans can completely control. Negativity or positivity is entirely within our dominion. We can’t control how the Browns perform on the field, but we certainly can control how we respond to the performance. Remove those “PR blunders” from the list of negatives, and what we’re left with is the 0-5 record. See above. Perspective.
    I’m shooting for a record number of down votes, so let me have it!

  • Clown Baby

    I think Weeden is looking a little more like an NFL QB every game, so I’d throw him in there. I feel like we are a legit, #1 WR and competent offensive coordinator away from having a dangerous offense.

  • thepaledragon

    Billy Winn has been a force on the defensive line.

    Brandon Weeden has made some bonehead (aka rookie) mistakes but he has also made a number of really great throws (not all of which have been catches, unfortunately). He has the highest ceiling of any Browns quarterback since Couch.

  • Mike Zelina

    You were very right not to include Weeden. Every clutch situation – meaning we are driving to tie or close the gap – he has thrown an interception. Philly, Bills (two series in a row), Baltimore, Giants. Watch the tapes, folks. His two forward passes on a play against the Giants should remind us that his head is nowhere near ready for the NFL. Which means he is a project that may pan out, someday, maybe. Like Greg Little he does some OK stuff but totally whiffs the ball when you need him to make a play.

  • CBI

    +1 on the “Sir Rookie Ball”

  • boomhauertjs

    re: TRich – Hopefully, he doesn’t own a motorcycle…

  • BenRM

    There were times where we looked like a real NFL offense. I couldn’t say that last year and could only say that for one or two games the year before that.

  • maxfnmloans

    sorry. up voted instead. seriously, what else did people think was coming? And Randy Lerner is gone. At least now there’s hope to go with our sub .500 record

  • BenRM

    Agreed on Weeden. Unfortunately for him, he is 29 years old. I don’t think half the vitriol that is hurled his way would be present if he were 20 or 21 like a traditional rookie.

    To that end, the FO didn’t help matters, stressing his “maturity” and “professionalism” and whatnot. But what else were they supposed to do in that situation (besides not draft Weeden, I suppose).

  • mgbode

    bright spots:

    Point Differential = -39 in 5 games. there are 5 teams in the AFC with worse differentials and that is despite the fact we are the only team without at least 1 win.

    Weeden – after his wk1 debacle, he has the following stats:
    60% 7.0YPA 293yds/game 5TDs 5INTs

  • Jerod

    I think Mitchell Schwartz has continued to develop and I thought tho O-Line honestly gave pretty solid pass protection. The Giants D-line is obviously no joke and I thought the Browns O-line held their own.

  • mgbode

    see above. Weeden is a rookie QB learning how to play and win in the NFL. But, after the wk1 debacle he is averaging nearly 300yds per game completing 60% of his passes for a 7.0YPA. Despite the games all being close (so no real garbage time stat-padding going on here).

    he will struggle. but, if you are not encouraged by what you have seen so far from Weeden, then you already had your mind made up on him. and, this is coming from someone that hated the pick at the time.

  • mgbode

    on his age, it was a reason to not like him before the draft and to downgrade his overall grade. however, at this point, he is on the team and all that matters is how well he plays here.

    i understand you are just pointing out the age as a reason for the vitrol, it just infuriates me that there are people that use it that way. his age will matter in 6-7years (if he is successful). for now, it doesn’t.

  • In hindsight if he doesn’t throw an interception on the next play, the two forward passes was actually a blessing…may have been a 5 yard penalty but there was no way that he was getting into the endzone running the ball and it actually bought the Browns another down to play with.

  • BenRM

    It gets to me as well. A fan can hate the pick, and they could (for God knows what reason) prefer Colt McCoy. But to assume that Weeden wouldn’t have numerous “rookie moments” because he is 29 is just dumb.

  • Hopwin

    Agreed, Schwartz, Pinkston and Luovao looked much better than I expected them to. Also Thomas looked much more focused than previous efforts this year.

  • Hopwin

    Billy Winn doesn’t get enough praise.
    Other than the fumble Cribbs looked much more explosive and appeared to have regained that downfield vision he had two years ago.
    Weeden gets too much of a pass from pie in the sky Browns fans. Go compare him to Tannehill, Wilson, RGIII, Luck. Stop giving him a pass for being a rookie, the rookies above are turning in much much better performances.

  • Mike Zelina

    Maybe this is a front office failure. The word from those guys was that everyone should expect greatness, he would make the receivers better, would require little ramp up and be way better than Colt. None of that has been shown. Who cares if you throw for 600 yards a game if those gains are truncated by bone head plays? I guess the fantasy folks care.

    Everyone needs to stop playing the “He’s a rookie” card. Even Patty Shurmur said that one has gotten old.

  • Weeden def. shows promise. Unfortunately, he’ll be 35 before they get a playoff team around him.

  • mgbode

    why hasn’t it been shown? he is putting up great stats. he needs to get better in game situations and know when to just eat the ball.

    and how is he not way better than Colt? i seem to forget that 4 game stretch where Colt averaged numbers like that. also, scoring is increased to 20pts/game rather than the 13pts/game from last season.

    if you cannot see that he is developing as a QB, then like I said, you already have your mind made up.

  • Mike Zelina

    If 0-5 is a bright spot then 0-16 should be like a sunny day on the beach. Palm trees and warm sand here we come! 🙂

  • Garry_Owen

    0-5 is not a bright spot. It’s just a reality (that we all could have easily anticipated). The brightness is found elsewhere.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Realistically I was thinking 1-4 through the first 5, maybe 2-3 at best. Thought we would beat either Cincy or Buffalo, maybe both with a couple breaks.

    With you on the “perspective” paragraph. Not so much on the Shurmur one. I have been patient…but after a while, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…well…

  • Garry_Owen

    The worst part about the Bills game, to me, is that it is the one game of the five that was the most winnable, and also the one game of the five in which the Browns least “showed up.” Among all of the specious things to hold Shurmur responsibile for this year, this is a legitimate one.

  • Eric D

    Not saying he knew this, because there is no way to know what he was thinking, but throwing that second pass for a TD was the best thing he could have done there. If he went down, it’s 4th down. Bat the ball down, 4th down. Chuck it out the back of the end zone, penalty declined and it’s 4th down. Assuming you are going to go for it on 4th down anyways, move it back 5 yards and take 2 cracks at a TD. It sucks he threw a pick on the second play, but throwing the second pass was best case scenario.

  • gbac16

    I’m shocked that more people haven’t said this. The line was better than they have been, especially Schwartz. Now the D-Line…

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Browns may end up with the first pick next year. On the bright side I think they trade back because they dont need Barkley. Since they dont have a second rounder next year because of Josh Gordon im sure they could pick one up that way. On the bright side……

  • BigBrown

    I agree the line looked much improved (and has since week one). That said, Luovao looks like the weak spot week in week out.

  • BigBrown

    Agreed but Weeden has been looking much better. Aside from Miami, none of those other teams are even close to as young as the Browns. I am already convinced Weeden is way better than McCoy and has been playing better as the season moves along.

  • BigBrown

    or start referring to himself in third person or get a chosen one tatoo….

  • BigBrown

    He is playing way better than McCoy and the offensive scoring is proof. I hated the pick as well and damn near had a heart attack after week one but I have seen clear progress. He isnt staring down receivers from the snap anymore, he is getting rid of the ball when nothings there (still needs improvement there), he is and has been good in the short game, and finally hit a deep ball. All in all, if the browns take an elite CB, WR, LB or G with their high pick next year (or two if they work a good trade), they will be very competative next year.

  • mgbode

    please explain how Tannehill or Wilson is turning in much better performances than Weeden.

    RGIII has been the best rookie w/ 8 total TDs and only 1 INT (until his concussion).

    Luck had a great comeback vs. GB and looks like he is going to be very, very good (but isn’t there yet). He is averaging 300yds/game 54% 6.8YPA 7TDs 5INTs. that is slightly better than Weeden’s last 4 games.

    Wilson has been mostly a game-manager and there was talk of him being replaced but Flynn’s shoulder not being healthy.

    Tannehill had 1 blowup week (in a loss) and has been marginal otherwise.

  • popeye

    On a bright side we are number 1 for the 1st pick of the next draft

  • mgbode

    add DE to that list too

  • Ok plain and simple were 2-3 or 3-2 with Haden in their and not suspended. AJ Green, Stevie Johnson, Victor Cruz, Anquan Boldin….all shut down or limited by Haden, instead they murdered Skrine/Patterson. Haden is back, Taylor is almost back, were going to turn it around, first with Cincy when we shut down AJ Green like we did with Desean Jackson which allowed the defense to get pressure and make turnovers.

  • Mr. Sense

    If the pass had been dropped or he had been tackled, we’d at least have had a field goal out of it.

  • Phil “The Thrill” Dawson. Guy is straight money. He’s better now than in his earlier years. Durable, consistent, reliable. Love the guy.

  • CBI

    Plus a few more 1st rounders as well, rebember what the Rams got for RGIII.

  • steve-o

    The positives:
    1) We have several young players in almost all areas who are either playing well or at least showing some promise.
    2) We will presumably have a very early first round pick and a ton of cap space to play with next year. (I glanced at our payroll/cap and it looks like about 30-40M will be available – i’m no expert so pls correct me if I’m wrong)
    3) Consequently, we should be able to adddress nearly every weakness on the team if we so choose.
    4) A new owner is coming who cares about football and will not accept failure.
    5) A better coaching staff should be in place next year.
    6) Add it all up and there is every reason to believe this team will be dramatically improved next season.
    The negatives:
    1) We have to endure yet another lost season before things can get better.
    2) The possibility that some of our promising young players could go down with injuries.
    3) I have finally committed to memory the correct spelling of Shurmur, and it’s in vein.

  • Keep the pick, grab Geno Smith, and build around a talented guy who won’t be a 30 year old sophomore next October.

  • Rorey Wesney

    Colt had no help. No run game for play action and no recievers to make plays when he was running for his life because the o-line, minus Thomas, could hold their man long enough for the WRs to get open. Weeden has a strong arm and a good RB to free up some options McCoy didn’t have, but McCoy is a winner too.

  • Garry_Owen

    I wish we could combine Weeden’s arm, maturity, and vision (when he’s not staring down receivers) with McCoy’s ability to protect the ball.

  • brownstowner

    If the Browns get the #1 pick (it’s gonna be Geno Smith) they should trade it to the either the Bills or Jets. We’ll start the bidding at three first-rounders and a second. Depending on the return we could hope for Jarvis Jones or Manti Te’o.
    Oh and we sign Greg Jennings or Wes Welker too.
    Yay Browns

  • brownstowner

    Yay Browns

  • I agree Mike. Lack of clutch play and leadership ability continue to be Weeden’s problems. Most the other rookies are clearly leading their teams and pulling out wins. Weeden starts making mistakes as soon as the script runs out before the end of the first quarter.

    Quarterbacks who are real leaders come to the huddle to begin a drive late in the game with “We’re going to win this game.” and convince everyone in the huddle and get the win.

    If Weeden said that in the huddle, with his track record, everyone would be polite enough not to laugh, but they wouldn’t believe him.

  • The O-Line is playing really well and Shurmur has finally figured out that he can have tackles pull and lead a Richardson run if the guards aren’t fast enough to do it.

    The running game was working well in the first half, but Shurmur pretty much abandoned it in the second half.