Forget the Uniform Frenzy, The Browns Are Improving Under the Radar

Tonight’s the night!

Unfortunately, a lot of attention will be given to the Cleveland Browns unveiling their new uniform scheme this evening.

We guess it will be interesting to see what the powers that be came up with, but in reality, they could wear Lady Gaga’s famous meat dress if they went to the Super Bowl.

We understand that a great deal of sports talk conversation on Wednesday will involve the analysis of clothing, not the Cavaliers’ impending playoff series or the Indians start to their season.

It’s Browns’ Town.  We get it. However, if you want to talk about the Cleveland Browns, why not focus on the improvements the team has made this off-season. We understand this doesn’t fit in with the “Browns are dysfunctional” narrative that both the national and local media have portrayed, but there is no question here that GM Ray Farmer is addressing the team’s needs and remember, he has 11 draft picks coming from April 30th-May 2nd.

We’ve heard about the lack of quality wide receivers for more than a year, and since the season ended, Farmer signed veteran wide outs Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline. And we feel another young pass catcher will be added in the first few rounds in the draft.

There is no question the Mike Pettine’s team had a hard time stopping the run in 2014, and they lost veteran Ahtyba Rubin to free agency.  Rubin was replaced by Randy Starks, a two-time Pro Bowl player. Yes, Starks is three years older than the man he replaced, but again, many draft experts have the Browns taking another defensive lineman in either the first or second round of the draft. So, they are upgrading for not only next year, but for the future.

They lost CB Buster Skrine in free agency, and replaced him in the short-term with former Green Bay starter Tramon Williams.  Ultimately, one of last year’s draft choices, Justin Gilbert or Pierre Desir, will replace Skrine.

Their other major loss was TE Jordan Cameron, and Farmer addressed this by signing Rob Housler last week.  Housler is five months older than the man he replaces, and actually has more seasons with more than 30 catches. Outside of Cameron’s Pro Bowl season in 2013 when he caught 80 passes, his next best year was 24 catches in 2014. Housler caught 45 passes in ’12 and 39 in 2013.  And he doesn’t have the concussion issues that have plagued Cameron.

Of course, the one position everyone focuses on is quarterback, and that’s why any optimism is muted.

We have said this before, but when they Browns have just decent quarterback play, they can win.

A passer rating of 80 is below average in today’s NFL.  In fact, it would rank 27th last season, so it is barely passable.

Last year, when the Browns QB had a rating of over 80, the team went 6-3.  When it was below that mark, they were 1-6.

So, if the Browns get competent play at the position, they have a pretty good record.

While it would be nice to have Andrew Luck or even Joe Flacco, what the Browns really need is someone to not be terrible.  That’s the low bar set for Josh McCown and/or Johnny Manziel.

And that’s how Farmer and Pettine have built this team, to find ways to win without having a great quarterback.  That’s not to say they don’t want one, but you can’t just lose because you don’t have one.

Pettine’s offense centers around a strong running game and a QB that doesn’t make mistakes until he gets THE GUY.

Still, seeing what the Browns do in the draft is more important than the new uniforms.  Unfortunately, that will be all the talk tomorrow.



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