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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Off the bye: Cleveland Browns

By Jamison Hensley

Here are three second-half goals for the Browns coming off the bye:

1. Figure out whether Brandon Weeden is a franchise quarterback. This is the biggest question facing the Browns organization under new owner Jimmy Haslam. No one knows the answer to this right now, and it might not be clear by the end of the season. But Weeden was drafted by the previous regime and the current one has to decide whether it has to draft a new one next April.

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So, what do the Browns know about Weeden at this point? He has an NFL arm who can stretch the field but he hasn't shown great football instincts. Weeden has improved since the start of the season. His fumbling problems have disappeared and his interceptions have decreased. But he hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in his past nine quarters and looked awful in the red zone against Baltimore in his last game. There's no chance of benching Weeden. The Browns need the next seven weeks to get some answers.

2. Finish games. This season would have a different feel to it if the Browns had come through in clutch situations. There was the one-point loss to the Eagles in the season opener and the couple failed shots to the end zone in a seven-point loss at Baltimore. The Browns also would've won the last two games they lost if Josh Gordon had caught that pass around the goal line in Indianapolis and they held onto the fourth-quarter lead against the Ravens.

3. Figure out the third-and-1 conundrum. Many talk about how football is a game of inches. For the Browns this season, it's been about one lousy yard on third down. Cleveland has been dreadful in short-yardage situations, converting only 8 of 18 chances on third-and-1. This shouldn't be a problem with a tough runner like Trent Richardson. But he's been 2-of-7 on third-and-1 tries.