2014 NFL Season Preview- Cleveland Browns
After head coach Pat Shurmur was fired after the 2012 season, The Browns hired Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was hired to be the next head coach.
It was a hope that he would be able to do to quarterback Brandon Weeden what he did for Cam Newton. The team also hired former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner to be the new offensive coordinator in a hope of develop an offense centered around running back Trent Richardson. They also hired Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton for the same position as a hope of improving the teams overall defense.
In the 2013 NFL Draft, the Browns selected LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo with the sixth overall pick. The Preseason showed much promise for the team. All the players the Browns expected to be impact players (Weeden, Richardson, and wide receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon) showed much improvement. But when the regular season started, it was like a completely different team on the field.
They lost their first two games of the season and the offense provided no sense of production. In those two games Weeden threw three interceptions, was sacked 11 times, and was knocked out in the second game. Greg Little dropped passes consistently and Barkevious Mingo was drastically inconsistent.
In a surprise move, the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round draft pick. Over the next three games, quarterback Brian Hoyer brought a spark to the offense and the team won their next three games. Unfortunately, Hoyer was lost for the year with a torn ACL after the teams victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Without consistent quarterback to lead the team, the Browns finished the season wit a 4-12 record. Including a franchise worst seven game losing streak to close out the season. In another surprising move, the team fired Chudzinski after just one season as head coach.
There were several bright spots in the season. The browns had six Pro Bowlers including wide receiver Josh Gordon, tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack, tight end Jordan Cameron, cornerback Joe Haden, and safety T.J. Ward. Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards and set an NFL record for being the first player in history to have back to back games with over 200 yards receiving.
Browns 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponenet Rushing Yards
252.9 yards per game
86.4 yards per game
221.1 yards per game
111.3 yards per game
339.4 yards per game
332.4 yards per game
NFL Rank- 11th
NFL Rank- 27th
NFL Rank- 8th
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 17th
NFL Rank- 9th
The 2014 offseason brought on many changes for the organization. Rob Chudzinski was fired, Norv Turner left to be the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, Ray Horton left to be the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, and much of the front office staff jumped ship. The head coaching search eventually brought them to Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
Petting had previously been the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets for three years under Rex Ryan. He brought his coaching assistants from Buffalo to be his defensive staff. The team also hired Kyle Shanahan to be the new offensive coordinator and Ray Farmer to be the teams new general manager.
It was later found that Josh Gordon had failed a second drug test and could be suspended for the entire 2014 season. When his appeal date was approaching, Gordon was a rested for a DWI.
Notable auditions- WR Miles Austin, WR Nate Burleson, LB Karlos Dansby, RB Ben Tate, SS Donte Whitner
Notable departures- SS T.J. Ward, LB D' Quell Jackson, WR Greg Little
Josh Gordon Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
When the draft came along, the Browns had two, first round picks thanks to the Trent Richardson trade. They had picks at number 4 and number 26. It became obvious that the team was going to take a quarterback with one of the two picks. Brandon Weeden was getting it done, Jason Campbell has had to learn a new offense every year he's been in the league, and Brian Hoyer is coming off a severe knee injury. But the team also needed to address their problems at running back and cornerback.
As the evaluation process went on, the Browns decided that Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel was the quarterback they wanted but they didn't want to take him at number 4. They also didn't want him to fall to another team.
The team sign Houston Texans running back Ben Tate in free agency t fill the void left by Trent Richardson. But Tate has a history with knee injuries. So that would cause the Browns to look in the draft for a second runner in case Tate goes down.
Joe Haden has proven to be one of the top cornerbacks in the league but playing with guys like Buster Shrine on the opposite side leaves an easy target for offensives. The Browns need to have a corner opposite Haden that will instill the same amount of fear in quarterbacks as he does.
When draft day came along, the team traded out of the number 4 pick with Buffalo to move to 9 so that the Bills could draft Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The team then traded up one spot with Minnesota to draft the top rated cornerback in the draft, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. The Browns then trade up four spots with the Philadelphia Eagles to draft Johnny Manziel at number 22.
The team also drafted Towson running back Terrance West in the third round to play along side Ben Tate.
Johnny Manziel Highlights
What to Expect
Coach Pettine has already stated that Brian Hoyer will be the starter going into training camp. It will take time for Johnny Manziel to grasp this new style of offense and they don't want to repeat the same mistake they made with Brandon Weeden. With Josh Gordon facing a possible year long suspension, Hoyer will have to rely heavily on tight end Jordan Cameron and veteran receivers like Miles Austin, Nate Burleson, and Travis Benjamin.
Defensively, their pass defense will be greatly improved with the additions of Donte Whitner and Justin Gilbert. Gilbert has to improve on his tackling but is the ideal corner to play opposite Joe Haden. My biggest concern is with their run defense. With Karlos Dansby replacing longtime middle linebacker D' Quell Jackson, he will have to step up as a the leader of the defense.
The big thing to remember is that this is another rebuilding year. Both sides of the ball are going through changes in style and it will take time before they can be truly competitive. Especially while in a division that boast top 10 defenses year after year.
Best record they can hope for- 6-10