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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cleveland Browns: NFL's version of "Groundhog Day?"

The Cleveland Browns suck, plain and simple. Unlike other fans and Cleveland media types, I won't sugarcoat it. Honestly, I would be shocked if the Browns ended the season better than 4-12.

In fact, after watching Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, I am convinced that the Browns are the NFL's version of the film 'Groundhog Day,' doomed to repeat the same season year after year.

I had hope that the new management team of Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Mike Lombardi would bring in the talent necessary to compete in the AFC. To that end, they have upgraded the roster, but there are significant holes that remain. They also seemed to keep two players--Brandon Weeden and Greg Little--who are mostly dead weight (more on that in a bit).

I was initially skeptical of the Rob Chudzinski hiring, but I liked how he filled his assistant positions. Norv Turner and Ray Horton were two of the more respected coordinators in the league. Add to that the enthusiasm that 'Chud' brought to the table, and we might have the makings of something special here in Cleveland.

The reality is that this team is no different than the five previous versions. The defense is just good enough to keep the games close, but not good enough to win the game by itself. The offense is absolutely putrid, to the point I'd almost rather have a root canal without the novocaine.

One would think that a head coach--Rob Chudzinski--who is also a fan of the organization would be aware of the slow starts Cleveland has had in recent years. Yet going into the game versus Minnesota, here Cleveland is 0-2 once again. 

And the manner in which Cleveland has lost their first two games has made it even more frustrating. A team that was among the most penalized in the NFL last year, the Browns have committed 14 penalties through two contests in 2013. They consistently put themselves in 3rd and long situations, something even the Denver Broncos would find hard converting into first downs. Red Zone opportunities end in field goals rather than touchdowns as well.

But if I were to point out Cleveland's biggest problem, it might be starting quarterback Brandon Weeden. Despite the fact that this article calls Weeden an NFL quarterback, I just don't see it. In fact, Sunday's performance might be the worst by a QB who completed 21 of 33 passes for 227 yards and no TDs. If his delay of game penalties weren't bad enough (could someone please explain to me how you get called for a delay of game after you just called a timeout), he also failed to lead receivers past the first down marker on several 3rd and short situations. And even the most average college qb wouldn't have overthrown a wide open Davone Bess, who was ready to take the ball to the house.

Of course, it didn't help Weeden that his No. 1 receiving option, Josh Gordon, was in street clothes, and his top alternative receiver, Greg Little, couldn't catch pneumonia if it was thrown to him. I am not sure if the NFL officially keeps track of drops, but Little might actually have more drops through two games than receptions.

And then there's Trent Richardson. The No. 3 overall pick of the 2012 draft, he's starting to remind fans of William Green more than Jim Brown. In two games this year he has 105 yards and no TDs.  He is on pace to end the season with 840 yards and 7 rushing TDs (I'm being generous with the latter stat, of course).

Of course, with Brandon Weeden now sidelined for the Minnesota game due to a thumb injury, fans will get to see how good the offense can be with Jason Campbell at the helm. Funny thing is it really can't get any worse.

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