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Cleveland Browns Progress Report Part One: Offense and Special Teams
Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said that this bye week allowed the coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate their team in terms of personnel, technique and scheme. Whether or not any major changes will be made to the team in regards to any of these things remains to be seen, however it is always good to take some time and evaluate what you have as the Browns have done during their bye week. In honor of this evaluation period, here is part one of the bye week report card for the Cleveland Browns 2013 season so far.
Offensive Line: C-
Last season this was considered a strength of the team. This season, not so much.
While the offensive line got off to a difficult start due to injuries, specifically guards Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston, this group has underperformed all season in both pass and run blocking. Joe Thomas and Alex Mack have been very good if not great, but nobody else has stepped up their game. Mitchell Schwartz had a terrible start to the season; John Greco has appeared to be average and aside from Mack nobody does the running game any favors.
In the 2012 season the Browns o-line allowed only 115 total quarterback pressure (4th best), giving them an 85.3 Pass Blocking Efficiency mark from Pro Football Focus. This season Cleveland’s line has already allowed 132 QB pressures (tied for 5th most), giving them a PBE of 74.9 (20th overall).
Running Backs: D-
Undoubtedly this group is hampered by the struggles of the offensive line, however they haven’t done very well above and beyond those struggles. Willis McGahee is playing like a 32-year old running back with knee issues. Chris Ogbonnaya has struggled as a fullback, but does boast this unit’s best average yards per carry, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt (19 carries for 101 yards). The Browns ground game is 27th overall in total yards with 734 and tied for last in the league in rushing touchdowns with just one (McGahee). The only thing saving them from an F grade was the fact that the offensive line has struggled so much in run blocking.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B-
The Browns offense finds themselves right in the middle of the pack in terms of receptions (208 – 12th), receiving yards (2,339 – 14th), average yards per catch (11.2 – 23rd) and touchdowns (16 – 11th). While there are bright spots in this group, namely Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, others have been up and down. Davone Bess is having a decent season, although it’s not what was expected when he was traded for (31 catches, 285 yards and two TDs) and he is among the league leaders in dropped passes. Greg Little has also had an up and down season. This is a unit that is waiting for a solid second wide receiver to emerge, with each week proving that player might not be on the roster. Browns receivers have also dropped 32 passes this season, tied for second most in the league.
It’s hard to get a grasp on what’s really going on with this group. All three quarterbacks on the roster have played in at least three games with Brandon Weeden leading the group in starts with four (Brian Hoyer has three starts and Jason Campbell has two, but will probably start all of the remaining games at quarterback). Weeden has pretty much played himself right out of Cleveland next season. Hoyer showed some promise but Campbell has been the best of the bunch, not throwing one interception against five touchdowns with 561 passing yards on 61.3 percent completion and being extremely accurate under pressure (63 percent completion). While Hoyer would be the logical candidate for QB of the future because of his age, the future of this position will most likely come from the NFL Draft.
While the loss of Travis Benjamin greatly hurts the return game, up to this point that aspect has been solid for Cleveland. The Browns are averaging 10.3 yards per return on punts (Benjamin 11.7) and 26.8 yards per return on kickoff returns. Spencer Lanning is averaging 45.3 yards per punt, with 18 of his 50 punts inside the 20-yard line. Billy Cundiff has done a fine job kicking the football, averaging 70.2 yards per kickoff with the opposition starting on average just inside the 20-yard line. Cundiff is also 13-of-15 on field goals, including 2-of-2 on field goals of 50-plus (long of 51) and is a perfect 18-of-18 on extra point attempts. Hopefully Armanti Edwards can fill the void left by the injured Benjamin.
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