This off-season the Browns started under their new regime with Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski under new owner Jimmy Haslam. The Browns had a large amount of cap space and all but their 2nd round pick in the draft. To say that the Browns had assets to make changes to their team is a understatement. Yet it was moves not made that had a greater impact on Sunday’s Week 2 match-up.
Signing and Drafting CBs under 6′ Tall
This week the Browns were once again impacted by their cornerback decision making process from this off-season. The team signed Chris Owens and drafted Leon McFadden to add to Joe Haden and Buster Skrine. Owens, McFadden and Skrine are all listed at 5’9″ while Haden, the best of them all by a long shot, is listed at 5’11”. Some weeks the height of the CBs may not be as big of an issue as the talent. This week it was both. Without tall corners the Browns 2nd and 3rd defensive backs were lined up against 6’5″ rookie Marlon Brown and 6’2″ Brandon Stokley while Haden covered the shorter, but vastly more talented, 6′ Torrey Smith. Brown used his height to his advantage on his receptions, even on his TD catch his height allowed him to over match the Browns shorter DBs. In the draft and free agency next year the Browns need talent in the secondary; height isn’t the most important thing but it should be a factor. Seattle’s DBs are a great example how size does matter in the defensive backfield.
Failing to Sign a Veteran Receiver
The Browns had the assets to sign one of the many veteran receivers available this off-season. While they were unaware of Josh Gordon’s suspension at the time, and did trade for Devone Bess, the team lacks a sizable veteran to take pressure off in the passing game. On many of the third downs the Browns had Brandon Weeden was left without a player who was able to create separation, or understood to break his route off early as the QB was facing pressure. An Anquan Boldin type receiver has the size, strength and moxy to make the necessary adjustments on big third downs, especially those greater then 5 yards. Bess does a great job of getting open on 5 or less yard routes, but seemed to be running deeper routes on most third downs, mainly in the second half.
Leaving Trent Richardson Alone at the Halfback Position
This off-season the Browns and their fans were excited to see scatback Dion Lewis move like Darren Sproles in Norv Turner’s offense. Following his injury the Browns have brought in undrafted players to be behind Richardson on the depth chart. Yet they have not seen important game action. Often on third down the Browns take Richardson off the field and bring in FB Chris Ogbonnaya. While Ogbonnaya is not a typical fullback, as he has been a halfback for his career, he is far less dynamic then needed on 3rd down. The Browns had the option to sign a multitude of veteran RBs who could backup Richardson, and provide similar needs as a veteran receiver could of as noted above. Willis McGahee, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner and others were available. While none is in their prime, each could provide something for a team trying to learn to win. Instead the team went young and cheap, but at sometime they need to bring in people who know how to win, much like they did with Paul Kruger on defense.
What other moves impacted this game to you? Ravens fans what moves did your team make, or not make, that kept the game closer then maybe it should of been?