The 2013 NFL regular season is nearing its end. The first year under a new head coach and entirely new front office is meant to be an evaluation year. With two games left in the regular season, here are some quick observations of the Browns offense.
Josh Gordon is a freak.
Josh Gordon has amassed 1,467 yards and 9 touchdowns this season and finds himself as the number-one ranked wide receiver in the NFL at the current moment, despite missing the first two games of the season. Gordon currently averages 122.2 yards per game, 11 yards more than Calvin Johnson and nearly twice as much as the next closest Cleveland receiver. It's safe to say that Gordon possesses elite-level talent.
Jordan Cameron can be a top-tier TE.
Jordan Cameron, a holdover from the previous regime, was set up for success the day Rob Chudzinski was hired. Chud, a former TE at the University of Miami, is known for relying on his TE's heavily. No stranger to the "12" formation (two tight ends), Chud likes to keep an athletic, vertical threat TE on the roster as well as a blocking TE. The hiring of Norv Turner at offensive coordinator only helped Cameron's stock rise. Turner has normally had big-bodied, athletic tight ends find success in his offensive system, most notably Antonio Gates in San Diego. Cameron, like Gates, is a former collegiate basketball player and possesses tremendous athletic talent. Cameron was a consensus sleeper pick in nearly all preseason scouting reports.
And he didn't disappoint.
Cameron exploded onto the scene in Week 1, recording 108 yards and 1 touchdown on 9 receptions against the Miami Dolphins. He has gone on to accrue 848 yards and 7 touchdowns despite the Browns shuffling through 3 different quarterbacks this season. Cameron is only 25 years old and, best of all, is only earning $645,000 dollars in base salary next season.
The offensive line is mediocre.
The Browns go into this offseason possibly looking to upgrade multiple positions along their offensive line. Per Football Outsiders, the Cleveland Browns offensive line ranks 19th in run blocking and 17th in pass protection. Cleveland has given up 43 sacks this season, more than any team in the AFC North, and has seen multiple injuries to their quarterbacks, including Brian Hoyer's torn ACL in Week 5. With Cleveland's abundance of draft picks, it's highly likely that they take a guard in the second or third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
There isn't a franchise QB on the roster.
Brian Hoyer's three game winning streak was a welcome surprise in an otherwise depressing season, yet its painfully obvious that the Browns are hurting for both consistency and talent at their figurehead position. Jason Campbell has proven to be who we thought he was (that's for you, Denny Green), a capable backup quarterback with consistency issues. Brandon Weeden needs to be traded yesterday. He simply isn't a quarterback. There were concerns about Weeden operating solely from the shotgun and rarely being given the power to audible in college. Those concerns have proven to be well-placed, as Weeden has repeatedly shown an inability to read defenses, feel pressure or even throw the ball away.
The Browns have the ammunition to move up and take one of the top rated quarterbacks in the draft, although history has proven trading up for a quarterback to be a risky move that rarely pays off. This year's draft class, while being deep, is devoid of any true, NFL ready quarterbacks. There are concerns with each and every quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater included. There are no Andrew Lucks in this draft. Barring any superstar-esque Senior Bowl performances or unbelievable NFL Combine workouts, the Browns would do well to sit at their current draft position and take one of the four possible NFL-caliber quarterbacks that will be available.
They can't forget about running backs.
After trading away Trent Richardson, the Browns have fielded a multi-headed monster at running back this season. Unfortunately, one of those heads is too old and the rest aren't really that good. Cleveland needs to address the running back position either in Free Agency or through the Draft. Regardless of how they do it, it needs to be done. Norv Turner has had strong rushing attacks throughout most of his career and it seems likely that trend will continue in Cleveland, where passing becomes nearly impossible in the winter months.
Greg Little found his thumbs, sort of.
Greg Little is not leading the team in dropped passes this season.
I'll pause while you Google that.
Greg Little is actually fourth on the team in drops throughout 2013, with 5 dropped passes on the season. He's hardly been the most clutch receiver, actually being demoted early in the season, but Little has finally found his place in the NFL, and that is anywhere other than as a #1 receiver. Little's 452 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season are hardly spectacular, but its better than 12 drops in one season. Little possesses the size and potential to be a solid #2 receiver, but his production has been less than stellar up until this season. Little is still an athletic freak and is a nice option in the receiving game as well as in the running game. Being the third or fourth receiving threat on a team suits him well.
There are some building blocks that Chudzinski and Co. can be proud of. This team is filled with young talent and possesses a sky-high ceiling. Unfortunately, they also possess holes at key positions and lack consistency. This offseason will prove to be a keystone in turning the team from repeated bottom-feeder to perennial playoff contender.