2015 NFL Preview: Cleveland Browns

2015 NFL Preview: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns have started 22 different quarterbacks since 1999, the year they rejoined the NFL. For those who don’t really keep up on all things professional football, that’s horrifyingly awful. To put that in perspective, the New England Patriots have started three guys under center during that same span: Drew Bledsoe, Matt Cassel, and that dirty rotten deflating cheater Tom Brady. But enough about the, ahem, world champions. The Browns have been in constant disarray for eight years, and based on what they did this offseason, evidence suggests it could be another long year in the great state of Ohio. That said, General Manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine are in Year 2 of the most recent franchise makeover, so there’s still time to turn things around as long as they don’t get canned. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Cleveland Browns.

Outlook: Barring a Johnny Manziel resurrection, the Browns will start their 23rd different signal-caller once Week 1 rolls around in September. Josh Gordon is suspended again, this time for a full year. The skilled positions as a whole are a bit of a mess with no clear-cut number one option at wide receiver, running back, or tight end. The same defense that ranked dead last against the rush returns with few improvements. See a pattern forming here? Pettine has a solid defensive mind, but new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has never been a shotcaller and is blessed with very little talent to mold. The secondary led by Joe Haden is a strength, but that alone isn’t enough to make this team competitive on a weekly basis.

Later, dude: The Brian Hoyer show was kinda sorta fun while it lasted, but there’s a good reason why he will be playing for his fifth team in seven years: he kinda sorta stinks. Tight end Jordan Cameron was massive in 2013 only to crash and burn in 2014 due in large part to nagging injuries. Cleveland wanted him back, but Cameron chose Miami for essentially the same amount of money because Ryan Tannehill is believed to be on the cusp of stardom. Buster Skrine fled to the Jets after being awarded a 4-year, $25 million ($13 mil guaranteed) deal to presumably be their nickel cornerback. Like most free agent corners, Skrine was overpaid. Miles Austin was adequate in 2014, just not worthy enough to bring back in 2015.

Welcome aboard: Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartlne will likely be the opening day starters at wide receiver. The former has caught 13 touchdowns since 2011, including zero last season, while the latter has caught 12 career touchdowns in six seasons. Throwing to this dynamic duo will be journeyman Josh McCown, who somehow warranted a three-year contract after going 1-10 for the Bucs in 2014. Defensive tackle Randy Starks should help the porous run defense, and ex-Packer Tramon Williams will fill the void left by Skrine opposite of Haden. Rookie first-rounder Danny Shelton is a beast at defensive tackle and could crack the opening day lineup. Former Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson is undersized but explosive.

Over/Under wins – 6.5: With the AFC West and NFC West on the schedule, plus the always rough division slate, reaching 7 wins seems improbable. The defense will be fun to watch. The offense? Not so much.

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