Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – You need elite offensive talent to win in the NFL.
Just look around the league.
The New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and New Orleans Saints are among those that have it. They’re 2-0.
Even the 1-1 Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens have it.
The now 0-2 Cleveland Browns don’t.
Norv Turner’s new explosive vertical offense is a dud.
Turner’s offense has produced 1 touchdown and 16 points in 2 games. They mustered 2 field goals against a Ravens defense that just gave up a franchise record 49 points in their opener at Denver.
Believe it or not the Browns could be 2-0 or 1-1 considering how well the defense has played – even with a deficient secondary.
But you can’t win in the NFL if you can’t score. Right now the Browns don’t have anybody that can.
The Browns issues transcend a 2-game suspension served by Josh Gordon.
Sure, he’ll return this week and fingers crossed will provide the deep threat missing the first 2 weeks. But Gordon won’t be able to salvage an already sinking ship by himself – and expecting him to is flat out foolish.
Here’s what we’ve seen in 2 games.
Poor communication getting plays in. Pre-snap penalties. The offensive line can’t block anybody. Receivers can’t get open or catch. They can’t run – although that doesn’t matter because even in a 1 score game, Turner doesn’t want to run anyway.
So what’s changed under Rob Chudzinski and Turner that we didn’t see under Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress?
Hey, at least the Browns converted 4 of 15 3rd downs on Sunday after an impressive 1 of 14 performance in week 1.
Shurmur would call that progress.
Trent Richardson doesn’t appear to be an elite back. How else do you explain shelving him on 3rd down while the Ravens readily use Ray Rice – even on 3rd and long?
Richardson’s longest carry went for 9 yards Sunday. His longest carry through 2 games is 10 yards.
He’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry (31 for 105 yards) through the first 2 games after averaging 3.6 per tote with 2 broken ribs and a bad knee as a rookie.
That doesn’t cut it. Not for a No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft who is now healthy.
Richardson is certainly not being put in a position to show that he can be one either.
That’s on the coaches and a major problem.
No matter how much time Greg Little spends on a JUGS machine, he still can’t catch a pass in traffic. Actually Little can’t catch passes regularly period. It’s not for a lack of effort.
It comes down to talent and Little, who is in his 3rd season, doesn’t appear to have it. That’s disappointing considering how hard he works.
Then there’s Brandon Weeden, who after being sacked 11 times and hit 28 times in 2 games, is afraid of his own shadow. But when he has opportunities to make plays he doesn’t.
Weeden can’t even hit a wide open back streaking up the sideline in stride for an easy touchdown. Or throw a pass with touch. Or on time.
Also a problem.
Whether or not Weeden, who has completed just 54.6 percent of his passes through 2 games, remains the starter might be decided by his sprained right thumb but it appears the game moves too fast for him to process and keep up.
It’s not helping that Weeden’s landing on his back more than he stays on his feet. When the entire Ravens front 7 is piled on him following a play, that’s a problem.
The only bright spot offensively has been tight end Jordan Cameron, who for the second straight week led the team in receiving (5 catches for 95 yards). He has 13 catches for 203 yards and the only touchdown this season.
There’s a lot of football left and a lot can change over the final 14 games and the hope is that it will but the reality is that 0-2 typically ends in 4-12 or 5-11 regularly in Cleveland where football seasons rarely get better.
They just get worse.
If the Browns can’t get their act together this week at Minnesota, yet another season could be flushed before September ends and we’ll be scouting college quarterbacks for next May’s draft before you know it.
And Michael Lombardi will have to do what he probably has been dying to do since the day he walked in the door – blow it all up again.
We know what that means.
A. Lot. More. Losing.
In a season that was supposed to be different and full of improvement, not much seems to have changed through the first 2 weeks.
That’s a shame.
The good news is that there are 14 more games left.
That could also be the bad news.
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