NFL 2012: Cleveland Browns Season Outlook

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NFL 2012: Cleveland Browns Season Outlook
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When will Brandon Weeden become the Browns starting quarterback?

Quick Review of 2011

Offense—No. 24 passing, No. 28 rushing, No. 29 total.

Defense—No. 2 passing, No. 30 rushing, No. 10 total.

For the Cleveland Browns, the 2011 season was hopefully one of the last of what seems like an endless series of last-place finishes.

The Browns were 4-12, and last again in the AFC North. It was their seventh last-place finish in the past 10 seasons.

To make matters worse, they were 0-6 in the division for the first time since 2006.

Despite a defense that finished second against the pass—and 10th overall—the Browns were doomed by an offense among the league's worst.

The Browns were 24th in passing, 28th in rushing, 29th in total offense and 30th in scoring. Quarterback Colt McCoy was 27th in passer rating.

First-year coach Pat Shurmur didn't get much from the running game, either. His leading rusher Peyton Hillis—since departed in free agency—gained only 587 yards, with just three rushing touchdowns. It didn't help that he missed six games.

How many games will the Browns win in 2012?

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So bad were they, that they scored 20 points only twice, and lost their last six games.

 

New Additions

DE Juqua Parker, DE Frostee Rucker.

 

Draft Choices

RB Trent Richardson, QB Brandon Weeden, OT Mitchell Schwartz, DT John Hughes, WR Travis Benjamin, LB James-Michael Johnson, G Ryan Miller, LB Emmanuel Acho, DT Billy Winn, CB Trevin Wade, TE Brad Smelley, WR Josh Gordon.

 

Undrafted Free Agents

CB Mike Allen, OT Jake Anderson, S Johnson Bademosi, G Matt Cleveland, WR Josh Cooper, CB Emanuel Davis, LB L.J. Fort, C Garth Gerhart, S Tashuan Gipson, RB William Green, CB Antwuan Reed, WR Bert Reed, WR Jermaine Saffold, OT J.B. Shugarts, RB Adonis Thomas.

 

Subtractions

S Mike Adams, G Artis Hicks, RB Peyton Hillis, P Brad Maynard, DE Jayme Mitchell, OT Tony Pashos, G Eric Steinbach, C Steve Vallos.

Al Bello/Getty Images
Trent Richardson could be a fixture in Cleveland for many years.

 

Outlook for 2012

The Browns are once again in a re-building mode. For the third time since 1999, they drafted a quarterback in the first round.

Instead of trading up and entering the Robert Griffin III Sweepstakes, they used their second first-round pick to select 28-year-old Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State.

Weeden is a former baseball player who was drafted by the Yankees in the second round in 2002.

The million dollar question: When will he become the starter?

With their other first-round pick they chose Alabama running back Trent Richardson. In a perfect world, these two will be the heart of the Browns offense for years to come.

The Browns were rich in draft picks in 2012. They had 11 picks in April, and selected wide receiver Josh Gordon of Baylor in the supplemental draft last week.

The Browns have the pieces in place for the long-haul, but 2012 could be another difficult season, filled with growing pains, for this team.

 

Schedule

Who will start more games at quarterback for the Browns in 2012?

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Sep.  9      Philadelphia

Sep. 16 at Cincinnati

Sep. 23     Buffalo

Sep. 27 at Baltimore

Oct.   7 at New York Giants

Oct. 14    Cincinnati

Oct. 21 at Indianapolis

Oct. 28    San Diego

Nov.  4     Baltimore

Nov. 18 at Dallas

Nov. 25    Pittsburgh

Dec.  2 at Oakland

Dec.  9     Kansas City

Dec. 16    Washington

Dec. 23 at Denver

Dec. 30 at Pittsburgh

The first six weeks are brutal, and the rest of the schedule won't be much, if any, easier.

The only prime-time game will be on Thursday September 27 at Baltimore.

 

Prediction

Looking at their schedule, and considering that this is a team that is offensively challenged—and might possibly have a rookie quarterback—it's hard to expect much from this team.

Though they are developing a nucleus for the future, the 2012 season will be another long year in Cleveland.

Expect another year of four, or fewer, wins.

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