Thursday, January 2, 2014
Cleveland Browns season wrap-up
By Pat McManamon
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 28
Preseason Power Ranking: 28
Biggest surprise: The decision to fire Rob Chudzinski after one season and the trade of Trent Richardson after two games rank as two of the bigger surprises in recent memory, not just this season. Both came as shocks, and both put the pressure squarely on the front office, not only to replace a coach but to use the first-round draft pick acquired for Richardson wisely. One move also led to the other, as once Richardson was dealt for a first-round pick, the front office never gave Chudzinski a credible running back, which contributed significantly to the team's season-ending losing streak.
Biggest disappointment: There was a lot of proud talk and big chatter when the Browns went to the bye week at 4-5. In retrospect, that chatter was unfounded, as the Browns had lost Brian Hoyer for the season and entered the bye losers of three of four. But they had a chance, and when they started the game in Cincinnati with a 13-0 lead, it actually looked like the Browns might accomplish something. But in a second-quarter implosion in Cincinnati, the Browns had a punt blocked, another tipped and a turnover returned for a touchdown. The Bengals scored a team-record 31 points in one quarter. That 15-minute stretch of play changed an entire season.
Biggest need: Why make it different from any other offseason: The Browns must decide on a quarterback. Before that happens, though, they need a coach to guide the quarterback. Since 1999, the Browns have started 20 different quarterbacks and stuck with zero. The constant shuffling at the position does nothing for stability or team growth. At this point it would appear Hoyer would have the edge to start, backed up by Jason Campbell and a rookie taken in the draft. Whether that’s a long-term answer or short-term answer remains an unknown. Which means the Browns are still looking for the guy they’ve been looking for since they returned to the field in 1999.
Team MVP: Josh Gordon set new standards for himself and the team with his 87 catches and 1,646 yards. Gordon led the league in receiving yards and yards per game (117.6). He set new team marks in both categories. And he did it in 14 games -- after he missed the first two because of a league suspension. Gordon’s size, hands and ability are rare, and his speed separates him from other excellent players at the position. If he can stay out of trouble, the Browns could have a future superstar.