After finishing 3-13 a year ago, probably no team wants to be under the radar more than the Cleveland Browns.
With the Cavaliers winning a title about six weeks ago, and the Indians currently in first place, it seems like no one is paying a great deal of attention to the opening of training camp in Berea.
With a new front office and new coaching staff, the lack of a spotlight should be refreshing to the new men in place in these positions.
The first thing that stands out here is the experience level of the coaching staff. Whereas Mike Pettine was a young coach and surrounded himself with other inexperienced coordinators (and yes, it was a tough blow to lose your offensive line coach right before the season), Hue Jackson has been a head coach in the NFL before.
He also has on staff a bunch of guys who have been around the league for a long, long time. Ray Horton, Al Saunders, Pep Hamilton, Hal Hunter, Johnny Holland, and the rest of the coaches know how to do the job at the professional level.
Besides the 14 draft picks in camp, of which we would expect at least 10 will make the team, we are anxious to see what happens to last year’s rookie class, who we feel we not developed by the prior regime.
It will be very interesting to see what last year’s first round picks, Danny Shelton and Cam Erving do under the new coaches, and both have made body changes.
Shelton lost about 30+ pounds, which should translate into being quicker off the ball, and Erving looks noticeably stronger in his bid to be the starting center.
In addition to those two, will players like Xavier Cooper, Ibraheim Campbell, Duke Johnson, and Nate Orchard get more of an opportunity than they received under Pettine and his staff.
Campbell looked like he had some promise when Donte Whitner was injured a year ago, but as soon as Whitner returned, Campbell disappeared.
Johnson seemed to disappear at halftime. He would be very effective in the first half, but rarely touched the ball in the second half in most games.
We are more confident that Jackson and his staff won’t go away from things that are working.
Being patient and working with young players will be of high importance for Jackson because it is very likely that at least 25% of his roster will be first or second year players.
Under the prior regime, they wouldn’t be able to find enough players to put on the field because of the hesitancy to play inexperienced guys.
We also feel there will be a clear direction for the players, especially on defense, so the “read and determine” scheme will be gone. We saw a lot of players thinking when the other team had the ball, rather than just playing.
On offense, the Browns may actually use weapons. We love that he seems to be trying to find out if Terrelle Pryor can play, knowing if the Browns can put him on the field, defenses will have to account for him.
Last year, he was cut, then brought back, and rarely used when he was returned. Considering they were 3-13, he couldn’t have played more?
We are anxious to see how the pre-season plays out, not in terms of wins and losses, but in terms of who is getting time, and how the young players are progressing.
However, the way the Browns are being low profiled, will anyone know the exhibition games are being played? That is probably just how the organization likes it.