The AFC North blog continues its series this week on reasons for hope and reasons to be concerned for teams in the division. On Thursday we take a look at the Cleveland Browns.
Biggest reason for hope: Front office
The Browns appear to be in the right hands with president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert. Both are experienced and come from winning programs, and that appears to be rubbing off after just one year in Cleveland. Holmgren and Heckert had a good first draft in 2010 and recently pulled off a shrewd trade for the Atlanta Falcons' first-round pick in 2012. In terms of talent, the Browns have a lot of ground to make up with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Holmgren and Heckert were smart to realize it won't be a quick fix and are building the team the right way.
Biggest reason for concern: Passing game
Is Colt McCoy a franchise quarterback? Do the Browns have good enough receivers? Can Cleveland make a smooth transition to a West Coast offense? There are numerous questions surrounding the Browns' passing game, and the answers do not look promising. McCoy, who went 2-6 as a starter, showed some flashes but really struggled with his accuracy and arm strength late in the year when the weather became an issue and he played against top defenses in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Cleveland's receivers may be the worst in the league. Mohamed Massaquoi is not a No. 1 receiver and struggles to get open against top corners. Brian Robiskie was forced into the starting lineup last year and hasn't showed much, and rookie Greg Little didn't play football last year. The lockout also has halted progress of learning the new West Coast offense. With all of these factors, Cleveland's passing game could struggle this season, especially early.