CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Browns are ready to embark on a brand-new season, though this one has had its fair share of turmoil already. But a win in Week 1 would do a lot to right the ship.
With that in mind, here are six things you need to know about the Browns heading into their matchup with the Jets:
1. The Browns just keep on Browns-ing
In the week leading up to the first game of the season, you’d expect a team to be a ready, well-oiled machine. But when it comes to the Cleveland Browns, you pretty much have to embrace the opposite of all logic at every turn.
In the past week, the team traded running back Terrance West, suspended their offensive line coach after he allegedly assaulted his fiancee, waived Terrelle Pryor (after doing everything in their power to keep him on the roster throughout the preseason) and endured a road rage incident with cornerback Justin Gilbert that ended in him crashing his car.
Oh yeah, and GM Ray Farmer has begun his four-game suspension!
These types of things always have some sort of impact on a team trying to prepare for a game. It affects everyone – from the players to the coaches – in different ways, but good teams don’t typically have to endure such madness. Just when you think the Browns couldn’t possibly top the last ridiculous thing that happened to them, they blow your expectations right out of the water.
2. Dwayne Bowe will be inactive
Thanks to multiple reports around the league, we learned early Sunday that Bowe will be inactive Week 1 with a hamstring injury. But it certainly goes deeper than that. Bowe was listed as third on the depth chart going into the game – behind Brian Hartline and Travis Benjamin – and it’s pretty obvious that the team’s patience with the oft-troubled receiver has already worn thin. I wouldn’t expect to him to make much of an impact at all this season. He’ll just have to get by on that $9 million guaranteed from the Browns.
But now that the Browns waived Pryor, they will be incredibly thin at receiver against the Jets. Benjamin, Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel are all going to be relied upon heavily, but their small sizes puts the Browns at a distinct disadvantage overall. If only the team had a tall receiver they hadn’t waived…
3. Josh McCown won’t be saving the offense
The Browns have very few playmakers on offense. We’re talking expansion-level bad here.
Some people will try to say, “Hey, maybe the Browns don’t need a true No. 1 receiver.” Those people are very wrong. There is no team in the NFL worse at drafting wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks than the Browns, and the pains of those mistakes will, as always, come back to hurt the team.
The real problem is that Josh McCown is not the type of quarterback who can elevate the play of those around him. He needs playmakers to help him out; right now, he’s on an island, and it’s already sinking into the ocean.
4. Duke Johnson might save the offense, though
We didn’t see much of Johnson throughout training camp and the preseason thanks to a nagging hamstring injury and a concussion. But Johnson is apparently ready to go now, and the Browns will quickly pin their hopes on the rookie running back.
If the Browns are going to beat the Jets, Johnson is the guy who is going to make it happen.
5. The defense will keep the Browns in the game…until it gets gassed
It’s the same old story. For the most part, the Browns have a traditionally stingy defense, but the offense rarely does it any favors. This season, the Browns expect to have an elite defensive unit, but as far as I know, they aren’t cyborgs; a rest on the sideline would be appreciated every once in a while.
If the Browns’ offense comes out completely flat to start the season – a very distinct and likely possibility – the fourth quarter of Week 1 might feel like déjà vu. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Jets’ current starting quarterback, and he’s at least capable of taking advantage of a tired defense. Plus, the Jets actually have some very capable wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. If the game is close heading into the fourth, and I suspect it will be, don’t be surprised to see a very familiar outcome for Cleveland.
6. Robert Turbin won’t be helping the team this week…or next week…or the weeks after
As you know, the Browns waived Pryor this week and picked up Seattle running back Robert Turbin to take his place. The thing is, he’s dealing with an ankle injury that will keep him out for another 2-4 weeks. So…there’s that. It’s not like the Browns need playmakers right away or anything, right?