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. Moves that were made were highly impactful on the win Sunday against the Bengals.
Not Resigning Phil Dawson
While Billy Cundiff’s 2 missed field goals, 1 that was blocked, did not cost the Browns the game, they did change the way the game was played. To be clear the Browns new regime did offer Dawson a appropriate contract to come back to the team, but Dawson decided he wanted to play for a contender and took a shorter, possibly less money, contract to sign in San Francisco. The Browns hoped they could find a replacement but that has so far not been easy. Cundiff has done fine, and was injured this week, but could be a concern moving forward if the Browns stay in contention.
Hiring Ray Horton as Defensive Coordinator
The Bengals site that we did In the Enemy’s Camp, and the follow up after game, wondered how big of impact Horton had on the team. While the Browns spent the majority of their money on defense to bring in Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant, Quentin Groves and lower level CBs, as well as using a 1st Round Pick on Barkevious Mingo, Horton’s impact cannot be ignored. The Browns have been a reaction based defense for a long time. Even last year under Dick Jauron the team had a good defense, but it was not impactful. Horton’s schemes and plans are to disrupt the other team, for the Browns defense to dictate to the offensive opponent what will happen. So far so GREAT. The defense, even with limited cornerback play outside of Joe Haden, has been dynamic. Even this week without Jabaal Sheard and Groves they were able to hold down the run game of the Bengals and be bothersome enough in the passing game. Horton is probably punching his ticket to a Head Coaching job somewhere, the New York Jets among others may be a possibility.
Hiring Norv Turner
Two coaching moves in one article may not be popular, but Turner’s hire, especially in the last two weeks, has been greatly impactful on the team’s success. New QB Brian Hoyer has been given a lot of praise, much of which deserved, but it is Turner’s play calling that has put him in position to succeed. Instead of 7 step drops and deep balls, Hoyer has lived on 3 and 5 step drops and quick releases which is his strong suite. Turner gave the previous starter, Brandon Weeden, deeper drops in hopes of taking advantage of his strengths but that did not work. Turner is using a rag tag running back group, iffy wide receivers outside Josh Gordon, and a struggling right side of the offensive line, and giving Browns faithful hope. That is a huge off-season addition.
What other moves impacted this game to you? Bengals fans what moves did your team make, or not make, that kept the game closer then maybe it should of been?