Browns Version of “What If?”

Monday, September 9th–

After years of losing the season opener, the Cleveland Browns finally got it right, defeating the Miami Dolphins in the opener 24-17.

Since the other three teams in the AFC North all lost, new coach Rob Chudzinski’s team has an early advantage in the division and have an opportunity to put a severe dent in the Ravens hopes with a win next week against Baltimore.

Hometown starter Brian Hoyer led an efficient attack, hitting on 26 of 42 passes for 289 yards and two touchdown throws, one each to Jordan Cameron and the other to Trent RIchardson. 

Monday, September 16th–

The Browns’ new regime is off to a flying start and the members of the Dawg Pound have to have thoughts of playoffs dancing in their heads as Cleveland won its second straight game, ruining the Ravens’ opener with a 16-14 win to raise their record to 2-0. 

Brian Hoyer had another strong outing, throwing for 286 yards on 24 completions in 33 attempts, including a strike to TE Jordan Cameron for a touchdown.  Cameron caught 8 passes for 131 yards as Hoyer repeatedly found him to keep the chains moving.

The Cleveland offensive line provided good protection for the second straight week as Hoyer was sacked just twice by the Baltimore defense.

Of course, this is fiction, but you have to wonder what the Browns record would be if the coaching staff had opted for either of the other quarterbacks on the roster instead of starting the season with Brandon Weeden.

Through the performances of both Hoyer and Jason Campbell in their appearances this year, it is obvious that Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner gave four starts to the team’s third best signal caller.

Let’s face it, the offensive looks much better with either Hoyer or Campbell at the controls, and it is in all phases of the game.

Last Sunday, the fear was the Cleveland passer being sacked repeatedly by a Chiefs’ rush that led the NFL in sacks, averaging five per contest.

Campbell went down for a loss just once.

Why?  Because he reads the defense quickly and gets rid of the football.  Hoyer’s style was similar when he started against the Vikings and Bengals.  The offensive line looked much better than when Weeden was in the game, mostly because of the latter’s habit of waiting and waiting before throwing the football.

All of the quarterbacks have played under the handicap of virtually no running game, as only in the Buffalo game has a Cleveland running back gained over 75 yards.

Browns’ passers have thrown nine interceptions for the season, with Weeden throwing six of those.  To be fair, Hoyer threw three in his first start, which he won, and Weeden has played the majority of the games, starting four and playing most of the Thursday night win against Buffalo.

Hoyer and Campbell have more accurate too, hitting for a combined 58.8% of their passes, compared to Weeden’s 52.8%.

Not to degrade the new coach, but you have to wonder why they started the season with Weeden?  Is it because he was a first round draft pick?  Was it his big arm?

You would have to think the offense runs much smoother with Hoyer or Campbell in practice as well.

Maybe it was the desire to see what Weeden could do under a new coaching staff, just as Chudzinski alluded to earlier this season.  If that’s the case, how many wins did the staff cost this team.

What if the Browns had started Hoyer or Campbell right from the start?  Would they be 5-3?  Or 6-2?

The difference is so dramatic, it makes you pause and wonder.

JD

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