Browns: Bengals Game is Season Turning Point
What is the goal for the 2013 Cleveland Browns? This Sundays game against the Cincinnati Bengals is a turning point in the season. With a victory the Browns become 2-2, 1-1 in the division, and could share the lead in the AFC North. A loss could spark the beginning of another 5-11 season with fans discussing draft options in October.
Nationally, many perceived the Trent Richardson trade as the Cleveland tanking another year for a high draft pick.. Starting the 3rd string quarterback Brian Hoyer paralleled this. Did the big win in Minnesota signify that this team is still trying to win now? The Browns have two options this year. Will Cleveland try to take the next step and make a push for the playoffs? The alternative would be tanking the season in an attempt to draft a franchise quarterback.
Fans are tired of watching there favorite team lose year after year. This offseason, Owner Jimmy Haslam, invested $120 million dollars into renovating First Energy Stadium to improve the “Fan Experience”. Winning is how you improve the fans experience, not updating the sound system. With division rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens seeming having rebuild years, fans think now is finally a changing of the guard. But do the Browns have enough pieces to compete now?
The Browns defense is ranked in the top ten in the NFL, second in stoping the run. Clevelands' front seven shut down future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards last week. The Miami Dolphins managed 23 total rushing yards for a record 0.9 yards per carry. It is safe to say that nobody will be able to run on the Browns this year. Also, the Browns are able to create pressure on the quarterback which in return has drastically helped out the secondary. Browns have a Pro Bowl starting at cornerback in Joe Haden. Buster Skrine tends to be picked on game after game, but there is not a NFL team with 2 Pro Bowl starters at cornerback. T.J Ward is a solid player when healthy. The defense is strong, has depth, and is ready to win now.
Despite 3 interceptions in last weeks game, Brian Hoyer took his team down to score on a game winning drive. Hoyer seems to have the “it” factor. Hoyer also has some attributes that Brandon Weeden lacks. Brian makes quick decisions and gets the ball out of his hand early. He is not a statue in the pocket like Brandon is. He can make all the throws, shows great touch, and has the arm to stretch the field. At only 28 years old, could this home town kid be the quarterback of the future? If Hoyer can prove that he can be the guy, the Browns will not need to worry about drafting high in the first round for a quarterback. In return Cleveland can use both first round picks on other aspects of the team, preferably on the offensive side of the football.
The Browns finally have some playmakers on offense. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are having a Pro Bowl like season. Cameron has 269 yards on 20 receptions with 4 touchdowns. Jordon is a match up nightmare in the red-zone. The former basketball player is making the NFL take notice. Gordon has the potential to become one of the best wide receivers in pro football. He has the size, speed, and hands of Randy Moss. Unfortunately, he also shares the off field distractions and diva like personally Moss had. These two players can make any quarterback look good. If Davone Bess can continue his solid play at the second wide receiver position, the offense should be able to score a lot of points this season.
The Browns elected to stock pile picks for the upcoming draft believing that last season the college crop was just not very good. The emotional win over the Vikings was great, but lets be honest, the Vikings are a bad football team and the Browns needed trick plays and a last minute drive to win. Browns CEO, Joe Banner, stated that all of the holes in this team could not be filled in one offseason.
The general consensus is that Brandon Weeden is not the answer at quarterback and Brian Hoyer will fill in at that position until the Browns draft one next year. There are a couple of college quarterbacks that have potential of becoming fantastic players in the NFL. If the Browns want to draft one, they will need to have a top 5 pick. Gaining a second first round pick from the Colts helps if they need to move up, but in a perfect world the Browns can take there guy and keep the late first round pick to draft another player. If the Browns selection is in the middle of the first round it will be difficult for them to move up because the teams drafting high will also be needing a quarterback.
The Browns have tried in the past taking quarterbacks in rounds 3 and 4. With the improvement in scouting and the 24 hour coverage of NCAA football, talented players rarely fall into the later rounds. The best change for the Browns to get that game changing quarterback will be selecting one high in the first round. The only way the Browns get that option is to lose a lot of games this year.
The fan base is split in Cleveland, and some fans are just confused. Should the Browns tank the season and finally get a quarterback that could potentially start at that position for the next ten years? Should we rally around another young quarterback and hope Brian Hoyer can finally get this team to the promised land? Can the front office afford to blow up another roster? How many times will we hear the front office say the same “this is a process” jargon? This weeks game will have a dramatic impact on how the rest of this season plays out. If Brian Hoyer is able to win in front of his home town fans, perhaps he can win over this coaching staff and remain the starting quarterback.
You can follow me on Twitter @B1ZN1CK