1. The word on Brandon Weeden coming out of college was that he was themost NFL ready quarterback outside of Andrew Luck and RGIII. And yet hehas struggled and has the lowest QB rating among starting quarterbacks.What happened?
I don't like to look at Weeden's quarterback rating by itself, because I think that number has been dragged down by two really poor performances by Weeden in Week 1 against the Eagles and Week 9 against the Raiders. In all of the other weeks, I've seen a lot of progress from Weeden as a rookie. His arm strength is an asset that this offense lacked under Colt McCoy, and he's surprised a few people by showing some decent mobility (he looked like a statue and constantly fumbled in the preseason). If there is an area Weeden can improve on, it would probably be that he needs to take a few more risks. He is getting some of the best pass protection in the league, but has failed to make opposing defenses pay for not getting to the quarterback.
2. The Browns seem to be competitive in their games but usually can't seem to pull out a win. What is the main reason for this?
The issue has been that every week, there seemed to be one little thing that Cleveland failed on when it came time to close out a game. Sometimes, the team had controversial play calls or personnel decisions on 3rd-and-1's, or the red zone execution was poor. CB Joe Haden has missed five games this year, which has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw at will if he's not in there. The starting defensive tackles missed a lot of action, which exposed the run defense in certain games. A few games involved a critical drop by a Browns receiver. One game involved ridiculous blown calls by an officiating crew. It was always something else, which is why head coach Pat Shurmur faced a lot of criticism. Fortunately, when the Browns had Haden and both of their starting defensive tackles playing together for the first time all season against Pittsburgh last week, the team finally finished a game.
3. Who on this Browns team has been a pleasant surprise this season?
Sixth-round draft pick Billy Winn, a defensive tackle out of Boise State, has been very good. He was thrust into the starting lineup for the first half of the season while last year's first-round pick, Phil Taylor, was out with an injury. Winn has shown a tremendous amount of energy and has registered five tackles for losses, one sack, two fumble recoveries, and one interception. Without his presence, Cleveland's run defense would have suffered big time. The other pleasant surprise has been second-round draft pick Mitchell Schwartz, who has been as stable as one could ask for at right tackle all year.
4. What are the Browns three biggest strengths?
This is a tough question to ask, because the dynamic of the Browns' defense seems to change dramatically when CB Joe Haden, DT Ahtyba Rubin, and DT Phil Taylor all play. Therefore, some of these strengths might not seem reflective of what we've seen all season. The first strength is the secondary, which has only allowed two touchdown passes over the past five games (and both of those touchdowns came in a game that Haden missed with an oblique injury). The second strength is the Browns' offensive line, which has decent run blocking but probably some of the best pass protection in the league. The third strength is at kicker, where Phil Dawson is always reliable, particularly this year since he hasn't missed once despite having several attempts beyond 50 yards.
5. What are the Browns three biggest weaknesses?
The first weakness would be short yardage situations, specifically on 3rd-and-1 and 3rd-and-2. The run-pass distribution has been backwards in the sense that Cleveland passes way more on these downs than they run the ball, and the execution rate isn't good either. When the Browns do run in those situations, the problems are a combination of the offensive line not getting a great push and Trent Richardson trying to "dance" his way to a first down versus hitting the hole hard. The second weakness would be at punter, where Reggie Hodges has not had a good year trying to come back from an Achilles injury. His distance and hang time just hasn't cut it, which is a shame because when he was healthy two years ago, he was becoming a fan favorite. The third weakness is the play of our outside linebackers, who are either inexperienced or ineffective on gameday.
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