Are the Cleveland Browns Building the NFL's Next Must-See Offense?
Rob Chudzinski and the Cleveland Browns offensive roster are one heck of a match.
Not only because the 45-year-old is a legitimate up-and-comer in the NFL coaching world, but because he has the ideal personnel to cater to his vertically threatening attack.
As the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, Chudzinski molded the supposedly raw Cam Newton into a downfield passing machine while silencing plenty of critics in the process.
Newton's career yards per attempt average is 7.9, which places him behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning (Manning having played one year since 2011) for quarterbacks who attempted at least 400 passes during that stretch.
Per ProFootballFocus, Newton's accuracy percentage—a stat that measures completion percentage counting drops as catches—on passes made at least 20 yards down the field was third in the NFL behind Rodgers and Manning in 2012.
How does Newton's vertical success all translate to the 2013 Browns?
Well, although Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled last year, and he isn't nearly as gifted as Newton, the former Oklahoma State signal-caller possesses a strong arm and has a gifted outside receiver in Josh Gordon at his disposal.
Gordon, who just turned 22, averaged 16.1 yards per catch last year and caught touchdowns of 44, 62 and 71 yards.
At 6'3'' and 225 pounds with deceptive long speed, Gordon has a legitimate chance to emerge as an elite deep threat in Chudzinski's offense, a development which, in theory, would aid Weeden's development and subsequent production.
Furthermore, bulldozing running back Trent Richardson looms in the backfield. Although he's coming off an injury-plagued and rather underwhelming debut season of his own—one in which he averaged a pedestrian 3.56 yards per carry—he will demand the respect of opposing defenses.
More stacked boxes means more downfield opportunities for the Weeden and Gordon connection.
Along with Gordon in the Browns' pass-catching contingent is a group of talented guys who should have no trouble carving out a niche in Chud's offense.
Tight end Jordan Cameron is physical specimen, and remember, Chudzinski coached Kellen Winslow Jr. and Antonio Gates during a handful of their best professional seasons.
Greg Little has the athletic tools to slide into the No. 2 receiver role but must concentrate on his dropping issue. Lastly, the fleet-footed Davone Bess was snagged from the Miami Dolphins and the tall and lanky David Nelson was added in free agency. They're two players who should occupy the ever-important slot positions.
Cleveland's accomplishment this season will likely hinge on the play of Weeden, but with the necessary components in place—many of which are young—the Browns are quietly building what could morph into one of the more entertaining offenses in the NFL.
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