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NFL Preview 2013: Cleveland Browns

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A look at last season, training camp and the upcoming 2013 season for Trent Richardson and the Browns.

NFL Preview 2013: Cleveland Browns

In this article…

  

The NFL Season is getting closer and closer. The Baltimore Ravens took home the Super Bowl last year, but this next season will surely come with plenty of surprises. It's time to get ready for the start of the year by taking a look at all 32 teams to gauge where they are, starting with the worst and ending with the defending Super Bowl champions. It's the CHARGED.fm 2013 NFL Preview, and today we're previewing the Cleveland Browns.

Last Season

What can we say about last year for Cleveland. There was some improvement from 2011, ending the year at 5-11 instead of 4-12, but they still managed to place fourth in the AFC North. The Browns also failed to make it to the playoffs, a drought they've suffered now for nine years (the longest in franchise history). The bottom line seems to be all too familiar for Cleveland the past few years. They ended their season with a 24-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, effectively making it their fifth straight season that ends at either 5-11 or 4-12. More so, they haven't won a playoff game on the road since 1969. The Browns, of course, have never played in the Super Bowl. Let's just say, Browns fans usually hold modest expectations for their teams season. 

Brandon Weeden had a very rookie season last year, which would have been fine if it wasn't true he was turning 30 this fall. Here's a quarterback that was supposed to be at big show level by this point. It's still unsure whether he can lead any offense. This could be a lack of a decent coaching around him, or it could be just a lack of talent. That being said, there was a few season highlights. 

The Browns beat Pittsburgh, a feat they've only accomplished four times out of the past 13 years. Of course we all remember LB Scot Fujita (along with 3 other current/former Saints players) was accused of participating in a bounty system, allegedly including payments for illegal hits and cart offs of opponents during the 2009 playoffs. However, Fujita was cleared of any charges in December. Then we had Jimmy Haslam buy the Browns, effectively ending Holmgren's career, who said goodbye to the team on October 23rd. Finally, general manager Tom Keckert and coach Pat Shurmer were fired after the final game of the season. The Browns came close in a lot of their 2012 match ups, and in reality could have ended their season far better.

Also, rookie running back Trent Richardson was a beast.

Season Highlights

Offseason

Alongside several other teams, the Browns have a ton of salary cap space, and they had no problem spending it. Early on in free ageny they signed former Ravens OLB Paul Kruger to a five year deal. Days later they signed former Raiders DL Desmond Bryant to a five year deal too. Combined, their contracts are worth $75 Million. While they are both solid players, their contracts seem more on the high end. Browns also signed DE Juqua Parker to a one year $1 million deal and a handful of others at $1 million. 

Weeden looks like he's still the starter, but Cleveland signed former Patriot QB Brian Hoyer this year. They also picked up veteran Jason Campbell, most likely to fill a back-up position. It doesn't look like much is improving in the QB department at the Browns, but there are some changes going on. Like other teams that are concentrating on getting a younger team, the Browns have let go some of their veteran contributors. Starting CB Sheldon Brown was not resigned. LB Chris Cocong was released, LB Scott Fujita retired and Kaluka Maiva was let go too. S Usama Young was released for salary-saving purposes, TEs Ben Watson and Alex Smith have also found new homes. Add on to that DE Frostee Rucker, and you can see that Cleveland has parted ways with a lot. It's up in the air whether some of these younger players can replace the veterans. 

It seems like right now Cleveland's O-Line is looking the strongest. Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas, one of the best in the NFL, should continue to protect the blind side. Mitchell Schwartz, who was sort of unknown as a rookie, became a very good RT very quickly. Alex Mack at Center is still one of the best kept secrets in the league. He's started every game for Cleveland in his four years, and made it to the pro bowl in 2010. There are three potential contributors at guard; Jason Pinkston, John Greco, and Shawn Lauvao. It's not a "perfect" unit, but with some chemistry development they should develop in the 2013 season. 

2013 Season Outlook 

It's been hard for Cleveland to break through the AFC North. I'm not sure if dedicating $75 million over five years to two career back-ups and drafting a 28 year old QB in the first round are franchise changing moves. This season they will start off with an entire new coaching staff as well as changes on either side of the ball. Hiring offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ray Horton will prove to be a godsend for the faithful of Cleveland. I think it's safe to say that Trent Richardson will break 1,000 yards rushing. I'd say he's scoring at least 9 rushing touchdowns. I think Weeden will continue to improve drastically, passing for around 4,000 yards. 

The Browns defense has been one of a few bright spots for the team in recent seasons, and I think Horton will make them even better. With the additions they've made to this side of the ball in the offseason, I'd expect a pretty scary defense here. Those of you who follow the AFC North know that the Browns usually put up a good fight. The only problem is, the fights usually aren't good enough. Still, there's some space here for a competitive season. While Cleveland fans are just as passionate as any other fans in the NFL, they do have a season of around 6-10 to look forward to. That's progress, right?      

Let CHARGED.fm get you Cleveland Browns tickets this year! 


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