The 1-6 record for the Cleveland Browns is not one that shows improvement for a team that finished 4-12 last year. The record, however, does not reflect some of the progress that is being made with some players on the team. The current coaching staff may not be in place to see the fruits of their labor, but the table is being set for success in the future. You also don’t get to be 1-6 without players failing to improve.
The Browns have seen a lot of improvement in players who were not on the roster last year. The question for the Browns is whether or not this in-season improvement can result in wins. Will the Browns coaches be able to get the underachieving players to improve enough down the stretch to save their jobs? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have answers to these questions.
Most Improved Players
After the opening game against the Eagles it didn’t look good for several offensive players for the Cleveland Browns. It took some of them longer than others, but a couple of them have bounced back.
The 29-year-old rookie couldn’t have started out the season any worse with four interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 1. Weeden has rebounded to throw nine touchdowns and has slowed his interception rate down. He is on pace to throw for over 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. He still has room for improvement, such as going two games in a row with no interceptions and increasing his completion percentage above 60. The good news is if Brandon Weeden keeps improving, the Browns may have found their quarterback.
The second-round supplemental pick was lost in the early part of the season. In the first four games the most catches he had in a game was three and the most yards was 40. In those first four games Gordon also had no touchdowns.
In Week 5 he had his coming out party with two catches and two touchdowns. Gordon’s first score of the season was on a 62-yard bomb, which has started to become his trademark. Since then, he has had at least one touchdown in every game, with at least one catch over 30 yards in each game.
Least Improved Players
Some players have not played well after the Week 1 loss to the Eagles. Others have continued their less than impressive play.
The second-year safety had a very impressive offseason and training camp. His improved play put him in the starting lineup over Usama Young.
Hagg played well enough in Week 1 to maintain his starter status. In Week 2 he was exposed along with the rest of the secondary when Joe Haden was out on his four-week suspension.
Hagg makes the list because he was counted on being the starter at safety in a talent-starved secondary. He has not registered a tackle since Week 2 because he has been inactive or has not played.
The wide receiver started off the year by dropping what could have been a touchdown in Game 1, which turned into an interception.
He continued to drop passes and had one game with no catches in the subsequent weeks. He started celebrating catches when the Browns were losing games and got into a twitter argument with fans. Little may make the most improved list by the end of the season. He has played well in the last two games by not dropping any passes and eliminating the celebrations.
While Browns have several candidates for the list, these four players stand out the most. While Hagg is the least known on this list because he was put on a milk carton by the coaching staff, the expectation for his performance is what puts him and the others on the list.
You could make a case for other players such as Buster Skrine, Trent Richardson, Sheldon Brown, T.J. Ward and Ben Watson. I might give you Trent Richardson, but he leads the team in rushing, receptions and touchdowns.
T.J. Ward is not playing great, but his injured has been a factor. The other players, based on their roles, are playing at a level where they are expected to play. When you are a 1-6 team some of your players are just average at best and leave little room for improvement.