I have been putting off writing this post because I am at THAT point in the season. If you’re a Browns fan, you know what point I’m talking about. The point where you want to pretend like you don’t care anymore because the season seems like it’s tanking, but you don’t know how to not care about the Browns. So you resort to trying not to think about them Brownies too much. You know what I’m talking about right? It’s the point in the season right before you admit that the season is a waste and allow yourself to go back to enjoying Browns games. How, you ask? Because you have accepted your fate, and any wins are a bonus. This attitude allows you to enjoy the good moments—the sacks, the trick plays, and the occasional nice passes—without getting overly upset about the near certainty of loss.
So, I’m at THAT point in the season, and writing this post is just going to be slightly painful because it requires me to think about the Browns way more than I want to right now. Which is to say, at all.
But since I have resigned myself to thinking about them, I might as well share those thoughts:
(PS—I am going to start with some positives because I otherwise will not make it through this.)
1. Fozzy Whittaker may turn out to be a nice addition to the Browns ground game.
Whittaker has returned three kicks for an average of 34.3 yards. That’s pretty good. His longest kick return was 56 yards last week against the Packers and was one of the few bright spots in that game. The Browns have struggled to find a decent kick returner, with Rainey (released) and Little (just awful) struggling to perform and Benjamin just being too small to effectively and safely fill that role. In addition, Whittaker adds a third option on run plays, after McGahee and Ogbonnaya, and that should take some additional pressure off the pass game.
2. Jordan Cameron is awesome.
I haven’t said this in a while, but it needs repeating. Against the Packers, Cameron converted all but two passes thrown his way, catching seven for 55 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown catch was amazing. Weeden threw a perfectly placed bullet into double coverage in the endzone (Why can’t you do that all the time, buddy? But, I digress.), and Cameron made the rest look easy. Needless to say, the ball needs to get into Cameron’s hands more often. This should not be hard. The man is a giant who has hauled in some pretty ugly lobs this season. Just toss it in his general direction, and see what happens. I’m betting on good things.
3. Warning: Lofty projection! The defense will look better against the Chiefs.
The defense hasn’t looked so hot over the past two weeks. This is a relative statement, as the Browns are still ranked seventh in overall defense. But, they have been struggling on third down allowing too many points overall.
If, like me, you thought the defense looked different (and by different, I mean worse) over the last two weeks, there was a reason. This week defensive coordinator Ray Horton explained that he changed up the defense to deal with the dual NFC North arm cannons of Matt Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. (Probably not a great idea, but I am inclined to cut Ray Horton some slack.) Horton said, however, that he is planning to return to the strategy he employed in the first 5 weeks when the Browns defense looked incredible. Part of his decision is likely fueled by the recognition of a clear miscalculation and part by the relatively unintimidating arm of the Chiefs’ QB Alex Smith. Either way, I am excited to watch the Browns defense ball out this weekend.
4. I am not afraid of Jamaal Charles!
There, I said it! He may be one of the best running backs in the league (and pretty much the Chiefs’ entire offense), but I am not afraid of him. And the Browns shouldn’t be either. Why not? Because Adrian Peterson has those same qualifications—one of the best running backs in the league (if not the best) and (actually) the Vikings’ entire offense—and the Browns had no problem containing him to 88 total offensive yards in Week 3.
Now, admittedly, facing Charles may be more difficult. He is more of a double threat than Peterson because he is an incredible runner and the Chiefs’ number one receiver. In addition, the Chiefs have a much better offensive line than the Vikings. But still. If the Browns defense from Weeks 1 through 5 shows up in Kansas City, I think they can contain Charles.
5. God, why do I have to talk about Browns quarterbacks?
Seriously. It’s painful. If I hadn’t saved this topic for last, I never would have finished this post. It’s so depressing.
Anyway, as I’m sure many of you are aware, the Browns will be starting their third quarterback of the season, Jason Campbell, on Sunday. He will also be the 20th quarterback the Browns have started since 1999 when they returned to Cleveland. This, by the way, is the only NFL category that the Browns are winning right now—teams with the most starting quarterbacks since 1999—and it’s not something to brag about.
But, here goes… I will now struggle to sound even remotely optimistic about this…
Jason Campbell looked awful in the preseason. (I know, I said I was going to be optimistic. I will try harder. I promise.) But, Weeden has looked even more awful in the last two weeks. (Really, it’ll get positive at some point. I swear.) So, the Browns are going to give Campbell a shot. Now, here’s the upside: Campbell has much more experience than Weeden, and some of that experience has been pretty good. In his two years in Oakland, Campbell clocked 11 wins to 7 losses in games he started. In 2011, he started the season 4-2 for the Raiders. In fact, the only reason he didn’t finish the season for the Raiders was that he broke his collarbone playing in a game against the Browns. He has an all-time quarterback rating of 82.4 compared to Weeden’s 70.9. (Weeden’s QB rating this season is only a pathetic 66.5.) So maybe, just maybe, Campbell could be an improvement over Weeden going forward. (See? Optimism.)
But probably not. (Sorry.)