2013 Record: 4-12
The Browns generated plenty of headlines before the 2012 season for their renovation of offensive talent, trying to cater to a fan base sick of a revolving door at quarterback and general mediocrity at running back. Brandon Weeden, last year’s 29-year-old rookie, was okay in his first NFL season, which wasn’t what was supposed to happen. The Browns claimed his age and experience made more likely for immediate success. Instead, the rookie looked like…well, a rookie. They also drafted Alabama’s Trent Richardson, and although he ended up with 11 touchdowns with many late in the year, he was given virtually no support. Montario Hardesty got some carries, but neither him nor Richardson had a strong yards per carry ratio. Richardson should only get better, though. At wide receiver, Greg Little and Josh Gordon showed that they are the receivers of the future in Cleveland. Gordon had 805 receiving yards in his rookie year. The problem here is that Weeden, given his age, is not a long-term solution. So the search for a new quarterback begins in just a few years if not earlier.
On defense, the Browns were typically bad in 2012. D’Qwell Jackson has developed into one of the more reliable middle linebackers in the league, recording over 110 tackles last year. He will line up beside Barkevious Mingo at right outside linebacker, their early first-round draft pick that was highly controversial. The Browns feel in love with his athleticism; critics said he doesn’t have the pure talent to warrant that high of a pick, and that the Browns have committed yet another draft day blunder. But Mingo could learn a few things from signee Paul Kruger from the Ravens, one of the biggest defensive free agents out there this offseason. The Browns are strong at corner too with Joe Haden and new draftee Leon McFadden. They signed defensive tackle Desmond Bryant out of Oakland. These signings show the Browns are actually trying to rebuild a defense that has been not only bad, but boring and lacking excitement in recent years. Owner Jimmy Haslam has also been instrumental in the hiring of Coach Rob Chudzinski. Changes are coming to Cleveland under his ownership, and selling naming rights to the stadium was just the first step. A rebuilt defense and rising offense should make the Browns better in 2013.