The Cleveland Browns are probably the worst 3-3 team I have ever seen in twenty plus years of watching NFL football and now six writing about it. They are one of the few teams I have seen play live in their own building this year (thanks to my membership in a Browns Backer club). The question has got to be what is wrong with this team, if anything?
I think the Browns have a number of problems. The offense is not very good, and is adapting to a new offense. New Head Coach Pat Shurmur has changed a lot of things and I am not a big believer in the Head Coach taking on the offensive coordinator job as well. It seems evident that Shurmur is overmatched as an offensive play caller. They rank 27th in points scored averaging just 16.2 points per game. They are averaging over 300 yards of total offense a game, but that has them ranked just 23rd. They rank 22nd in passing yards per game and just 29th in rushing yards.
Of course the bigger problem here may be the attitude of RB Peyton Hillis. I truly believe, despite what many of my Browns Backer friend think (granted they have rooted for this team far longer than I have), that Hillis has let his 2010 success and his presence on the Madden Cover to go to his head. I also happen to think his agent is not doing him nay favors, and that this situation has severely distracted a pretty young locker room. That is all bad.
Beyond the questions about Colt McCoy who is having a pretty forgettable sophomore campaign. He has 14 passing TD's but has also thrown 13 picks. I really think that this team has a wide receiver problem. Greg Little and Joshua Cribbs have talent, but they do not have a wide out who can stretch the field. Little is averaging less than 10 yards a completion and looks to be an ok piece, but this is an offense that still needs a legit deep threat. Cribbs feels like more of a game changer than a legit wide out talent and is only averaging 12.8 yards per catch. Mohamed Massaquuoi drops a lot of passes put is averaging 13.3 yards per catch. However it does not feel like enough.
Sure, some of those numbers may be due to McCoy's arm. At this point this team and its fans have to question everything. However, it does not look like they go down the field enough, and the problems with Hillis are disturbing the flow of the running attack. I truly believe that the offense is the problem here.
The defense, under Dick Jauron, is fifth in total average yards allowed at 291 per game. They are second in passing yard allowed where they give up just 172 yards through the air on average. However they are 19th in rush defense and that speaks to a weaker LB corps or problems along the Defensive Line. That could be explained away by the switch to the 4-3 scheme and the fact that two rookies are starting on the D line.
We see this a lot, teams that look pretty good one year taking a big step back the next. We have also seen new Head Coaches come to teams, and those rosters take a little bit of time to get use to new systems and new expectations. In the end that is what I see when I look at the 2011 Cleveland Browns.
Before I made a final decision on Colt McCoy I would like to see this team get him some legit talent in the WR corps and see if that makes the difference. Of course the Browns have not had a ton of luck in developing young QB's recently.