Earlier this week, we heard from Craig on where the bar is set for the 2013 Cleveland Browns. Given that expectations and predictions are undoubtedly different, we here at WFNY provide you with what we feel will happen between today and the conclusion of the regular season. Do enjoy.
1. Fill in the blanks: Trent Richardson will play ___ games and finish with ____ yards and ____ total touchdowns.
Rick: Trent Richardson will play 15 games and finish with 1300 yards rushing and 16 total touchdowns. He has shown he is willing to play when hurt, and so despite getting banged around he plays the majority of the season. The Browns will ride him all year. He will raise the infamous yards per carry number to 4.1 this year.
Andrew: Trent Richardson will play 15 games and finish with 1,103 yards and 12 TD. I don’t really know what to make of Richardson. Everyone seems to be pretty high on the guy, but I’ve never really seen anything that truly “wows” me about him. I think he’s an average, serviceable NFL running back, and these numbers reflect that.
Craig: Trent Richardson will play all 16 games and finish with 1527 yards rushing and 14 total touchdowns. Trent is willing to play hurt. I think his level of hurt last season was odd for him. I expect a bounce-back kind of year health wise.
Kirk: Trent will miss, let’s say two games (those nagging injuries are just going to happen), but he’s still going to run for 1,000 yards and have double digit touchdowns. I’ll go with 1,265 yards rushing, 325 yards receiving, and 14 total touchdowns (11 rushing).
TD: Trent Richardson will play 15 games, total 1,300 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Jacob: Trent Richardson will play 14 games and finish with 1,100 yards and 13 total touchdowns. A better and more efficient season that his rookie campaign, but some durability issues continue to be a mild factor.
Scott: Trent Richardson will play 13 games, rush for just under 1,200 yards and 13 total touchdowns. The work load will make us wonder what could have been had he stayed healthy, but it will also force him to miss a few games in the second half. The guy is a truck and always gets hit more than once with each carry. Given the lack of depth behind him, I fear it may cost him a bit.
Ben: I’m gonna be super optimistic and say that Trent Richardson will play 16 games and finish with 1,200 yards and 16 total touchdowns. He’s gonna be a beast the entire season and never ever get hurt. Ever. I do think he’ll get loads of touches in cool, interesting situations near the goal line.
2. Now do the same for Brandon Weeden, but add a line for interceptions.
Rick: I’ll go with all 16 games for Brandon Weeden. Let’s say 3,600 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Basically, just enough to make us all wonder in the off-season if he has done enough to keep the starting job or if the Browns will go looking for a new franchise QB.
Andrew: Brandon Weeden will play 16 games and finish with 3,580 yards, 17 TDs, and 16 INTs. I expect the Browns to be behind in a lot of games and Weeden will have to throw a lot. I don’t really expect to see exponential growth, but I do think Weeden will be a little better than what we saw last year.
Craig: Brandon Weeden will play 14 games, throw for 3200 yards and throw 16 TDs and 14 interceptions. I really don’t have any idea why I picked these numbers, but I think it’s going to be another up and down season that will leave fans and the team wondering if he can be the guy. Ultimately this will mean that he isn’t if you don’t know after year two and the Browns will be looking for a QB this off-season. It won’t be so bad that some will say he made progress.
Kirk: Brandon Weeden will miss one game at some point in the middle of the year, but he will throw for 3,655 yards passing, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. I think Weeden shows improvement and the more vertical attack promised leads to some more passing touchdowns. He’s still going to have plenty of those head-scratching picks though, I fear.
TD: Weeden will play 15 games, and throw for 3800 passing yards and 18 TDs
Jacob: Brandon Weeden will play all 16 games, throw for 3,900 yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Again, a better season. The Browns will throw it more often and farther. Several of his passing TDs again will go to Richardson. His season keeps him in the conversation if the best QBs aren’t available at the Browns’ 2014 drafting spot.
Scott: Brandon Weeden will play 15 games, throw for 3,785 yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Browns are going to air it out and take a few more chances than in years past. This will lead to a few punt-by-proxy passes, but will pad the yardage total and lead to an additional touchdown or two when these passes replace what would’ve been a dump-off.
Ben: Continuing the optimism, Brandon Weeden will play 16 games, throw for 3,700 yards with 20 TDs and 13 INTs. Norv’s offense will do wonders for the 30 year old sophomore. He’ll also totally stop staring down his receivers.
3. Fact or Fiction: Billy Cundiff will finish the season as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Rick: I’m going to say fiction because I think that the Browns actually like Brandon Bogotay and will give him another shot sometime this season when he is healthy again.
Andrew: Fact? Projecting kickers is a new thing for post-1999 Browns fans. The Browns front office obviously doesn’t put too much stock in the kicking position, so maybe it’s dumb to think Cundiff will finish the season with the Browns, but we’ll see.
Craig: Fact: Billy Cundiff will play well because he wants a chance at this job next year too.
Kirk: BIG fiction on this one. Cundiff’s lack of distance is going to leave some points on the board, and I could see him falling into an inescapable funk at some point. He’ll hold the job until the bye week, where they’ll sign another young kicker to compete with Brandon Bogotay in 2014.
TD: Fiction – this kicker search has been botched from the get go. If Cundiff was good enough, wouldnt he be kicking for someone else?
Jacob: Fact. Billy Cundiff is an adequate mid-range kicker. Since he returned to the league in 2009, he’s been better than the league average in accuracy within 49 yards. Fans will miss Phil Dawson still, but Cundiff will be adequate. He won’t return in 2014 and the Browns will draft a late-round kicker. Finally.
Scott: Fact, but only due to pure trolling. Cundiff can hit the easy ones. He won’t shorten the field in the way that Phil Dawson did, but it will also force the Browns to take chances for the red zone as opposed to just trying to get to the 35.
Ben: Fiction. One can’t help but be uninspired by the Cundiff signing and. I’d be shocked if Billy was still their kicker at the end of the season.
4. The most surprising player will be…
Rick: The most surprising player? I’m going to go with Craig Robertson. Robertson’s name has come up a number of times throughout camp as a player to watch. Ray Horton gets excited talking about him. He has a shot to be very good in this defense, and because of his speed he will be all over the field.
Andrew: The most surprising player will be Davone Bess. I think Weeden likes to fall back on safety nets a lot, and I think Bess will be his security blanket. I don’t know that Bess will have a lot of yards or TDs, but I do think he will have a lot of receptions and be a steady presence in the Browns passing game.
Craig: The most surprising player will be Desmond Bryant. Maybe a big free agent shouldn’t be, but because he‘s played so sparingly in the pre-season I don’t think Browns fans have a flavor for how good he can be. I expect big things from him this year, and I think he’ll surprise a lot of fans.
Kirk: I’m going to go with Craig Robertson as well. I expect him to fly under the radar and rack up a lot of tackles in the middle of this defense and not get out of position much at all.
TD: Jabaal Sheard. For some reason I have the feeling that he will really take to the 3-4 outside linebacker spot and thrive.
Jacob: Can I just pick Davone Bess? People often forget how reliable he has been for the Miami Dolphins. He’s one of only 10 NFL players to catch 50+ balls in each of the last five seasons. He’ll be a durable, steady and productive safety valve for Weeden. Great pick-up.
Scott: I too will go with Jabaal Sheard. He’s getting overlooked due to the additions of Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo. I think his speed rush will be utilized even more than in the past few seasons. It may get to a point where we’ll all ask ourselves why the Browns had not been running the 3-4 this whole time. Honorable mention: TJ Ward.
Ben: The most surprising player will be Buster Skrine. Maybe he’ll surprise us by not being terrible. Eh?
5. The biggest disappointment (player) will be…
Rick: Let’s get this out of the way. No matter who the kicker is, they will not live up to the gold standard in town. That shouldn’t surprise us though. This said, I’m torn between two players. Paul Kruger is the big money man. He hasn’t been a full time player in the NFL as of yet. I think there will be a bit of an adjustment. His weakness in the running game will be on display, but I think he isn’t the biggest disappointment.
That will be Greg Little I’m afraid.
I know he has been working hard before, during and after practice. He looks better in drills. But during the preseason games and even during 11-on-11 drills he tends to fade into the background.
Andrew: The biggest disappointment will be Trent Richardson. I swear I’m not reverse jinxing the guy (or am I???), but I just don’t see it. He still looks a little hesitant hitting the hole and I don’t think his vision is the quickest. It just seems to take him a while to make up his mind what he wants to do, and that’s a perilous trait for RBs to have.
Craig: The biggest disappointment will be Brandon Weeden. It might not be fair, but with all the advancements I think the rest of the team can make, it’s going to feel a lot like Weeden is the one holding the team back as they improve on defense and also running the ball.
Kirk: With Davone Bess and Josh Gordon getting more looks, I could see Greg Little pouting a bit and having his production slip. I’m going to go with Barkevious Mingo. He’s already got the quirky injury for Week 1, and I think Kruger and Sheard could hold down those starting spots, forcing him to fill in the cracks. I like his potential long-term, but it could be a little underwhelming on the stats sheet this year.
TD: Brandon Weeden – the Browns will be back shopping for a QB in the 2014 draft.
Jacob: Paul Kruger is the easy pick here. This signing reminds me a bit of Nick Swisher: All-Pro money for a solid yet unspectacular cog. I’ll also go with Travis Benjamin, a speedy playmaker who won’t suddenly develop into a go-to target as some fans desire. He’s still an inconsistent youngster.
Scott: D’Qwell Jackson. He may be one of my favorite players on the team, but I think this defense will phase him out in terms of statistical totals. He’ll be the leader this team continues to need, but between the edge rushers and the big bodies on the line, his impact will be a considerable decrease from what we’ve grown used to.
Ben: Brandon Weeden. I know this completely contradicts my answer to number 2, but here we are. I doubt we’ll end the season feeling optimistic about Mr. Weeden.
6. The players who will represent the Browns in the Pro Bowl, if anyone, will be…
Rick: Joe Thomas. The voting is different this year, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Who am I kidding. Nobody cares.
Andrew: I’ll stick with Thomas, but will add Paul Kruger and Joe Haden.
Craig: Joe Thomas and Joe Haden. It’s Haden’s time. He will take this new defense and increased QB pressure and do some remarkable things.
Kirk: Trent Richardson, Joe Haden, and Joe Thomas. I’m highly confident the Browns get more than one player.
TD: Joe Thomas on reputation alone. Im going to say Trent Richardson as well. I think he is going to be a monster this year.
Jacob: Joe Haden, Joe Thomas and Trent Richardson. The studs get their worthy due. Whether Richardson will be healthy enough to play, I’m uncertain. But he’ll certainly receive the nod.
Scott: Joe Thomas, Trent Richardson and Joe Haden. I don’t know if Richardson’s games played will be a point of contention, but the NFC is the side loaded with the quality running backs (AP, Lynch, Morris…). Richardson can easily join Ray Rice, Stevan Ridley and maybe Jamal Charles. I’m struggling to see who else would make it at this point. Also, this is finally Joe Haden’s time.
Ben: The players who will represent the Browns in the Pro Bowl, if anyone, will be Joe Thomas and Travis Benjamin.
7. The Browns record, when it’s all said and done, will be ____. They will finish ___ in the AFC North.
Rick: The Browns record will be 7-9 and they will finish third in the division, above the Steelers.
Andrew: The Browns record will be 6-10. They will finish 4th in the AFC North. I do think that if some breaks go their way, the Browns can finish 8-8 or possibly even 9-7. But when do breaks ever go the way of the Browns? More likely, a couple injuries will hit and the depth issues with this roster will take their toll and wreck what could have been a promising season. I don’t relish being a downer on this team, but I just haven’t seen enough progress to make me believe they can really win more games than they lose.
Craig: The Browns record will be 9-7 and finish second in the AFC North. The Ravens are going to take a step back and so are the Steelers. (Yes, this is wishful thinking. I hate making predictions, and here you’ve forced me to make a bunch of them, so this last one’s for me.)
Kirk: The Browns will go 8-8 and finish third in the AFC North ahead of the Steelers. They’ll grab a win against each of the AFC North teams, gaining traction for the future battles with these three. This team is so much better on paper than the 5-11 team that lost a lot of hard luck games, so I find it hard to believe that they can’t/won’t win 3 more games (at bare minimum two more). Still, as much sunshine as I like to exude, I just can’t see this team doing any better than 8-8 either. They would have to get some truly unforeseen contributions and stay remarkably healthy to go 9-7 (or better).
TD: 6-10, last. They will be more competitive, but this secondary problem is not going away and could be a real problem is a league that has become so pass happy.
Jacob: I’ll go with 7-9 and tied for third. Cincinnati wins the AFC North followed by Baltimore at 8-8. Then, Pittsburgh and the Browns split the season series and tie for last.
Scott: I want to say 7-9 so badly, but I’m leaning toward 6-10. I hope I’m wrong, but between a lack of depth and the fact that Buster Skrine is going to log heavy snap totals, I just don’t know if single-digit loss totals are in the cards. They’ll once again bring home fourth in the AFC North, but it’ll be a lot closer than in years past.
Ben: The Browns record, when it’s all said and done, will be 6-10 They will finish 4th in the AFC North. Would be thrilled to be wrong.