More concerns than just the play of Weeden
By now you may be tired of reading about Brandon Weeden’s slow release and all the gory details of the pass that never should have been last Sunday.
As a public service, this column will not dive back into the Weeden story. That will be left for other times, starting when he meets with reporters today to rehash last week and look ahead to the Green Bay Packers.
You guys deserve a break. If anything, it might be a therapeutic experience just to let it all go for a day.
There are other issues that might not be as important as the quarterback but, nonetheless, will play pivotal roles in determining if the Browns are truly a playoff contender.
On the positive side, Greg Little and Josh Gordon haven’t been contacted by Richard Childress Racing about possible employment in NASCAR, which is a good thing. That means neither of the two, as far as anyone knows, has set off radar guns on the Cleveland highways lately.
Gordon was in the news last week when it was reported that his name has been mentioned in another possible trade. I get the feeling that general manager Michael Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner would like to own every pick in the first round of the 2014 draft.
If you thought the trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts shook the fan base, dealing Gordon might rattle the Richter scale. Gordon is one more sip of cough syrup away from a one-year suspension, but he’s the closest thing the Browns have had to Paul Warfield in a long time.
By the way, the front office is starting to look very good in regards to the Richardson trade. In four games since joining the Colts, Richardson has rushed for 191 yards on 61 carries with two touchdowns with two receptions for 19 yards.
Richardson’s inadequacies as a blocker were spotlighted on Monday Night Football this week in a 19-9 loss to the Chargers when he missed a block that led to a sack of quarterback Andrew Luck. Now we know why he was taken off the field on most third downs in favor of Chris Ogbonnaya.
The news on the defensive side has dealt with the vanishing pass rush. Barkevious Mingo has been silent since recording a sack in each of his first three games. Paul Kruger on the other side has also been noticeably quiet.
When defensive coordinator Ray Horton was introduced to the media last winter, he must have said a hundred times that his philosophy was to find “big people that can run and little people that can tackle.”
Horton expressed the desire to establish a hybrid style of play, with an emphasis on aggressive quarterback hunting. Other than one sack of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford when he almost reached the line of scrimmage on a scramble last Sunday, the pass rush was anemic.
The Browns had another defensive coordinator here a few years ago that talked a big game (you might remember Rob Ryan), but his defenses didn’t always back up his bravado. Horton must be careful about promises of pressure and sacks that can’t be delivered on a consistent basis.
On special teams, the Browns really haven’t missed the kicking of Phil Dawson, while Travis Benjamin makes you say “Josh who?” on punt returns. Billy Cundiff is 9-of-11, and his kickoffs are rarely returned. Benjamin needs to be timed on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Then again, Cundiff hasn’t been asked to attempt a potential game-winning kick in front of 70,000 fans at First Energy stadium, most of whom are still wondering why Dawson wasn’t re-signed. Weeden has done a good job of funneling most of the blame for the three defeats in his direction.
Sorry about that. The plan was to not mention Weeden for one day. Sometimes you just can’t help yourself.