Cleveland Browns' Biggest Preseason Disappointments
Every preseason is filled with disappointments. The key is to limit those disappointments as much as possible because that means there is plenty to look forward to. The Cleveland Browns, per usual, have had more than their fair share of preseason letdowns.
The most obvious is the fact the team is losing wide receiver Josh Gordon for the season after his suspension was upheld, per Lindsay H. Jones and Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports. As much as that hurts, it is tough to call it a disappointment because we knew that was probably going to happen since May.
The play on the field has brought plenty of other things to worry about. The offensive line looked like it would be greatly improved, but it has struggled. Still, that is not big enough to make our list.
Here are the top five disappointments from the Cleveland Browns this preseason.
The Quarterback Competition
When the Browns traded up to take Johnny Manziel in the draft fans could not wait to watch the quarterback competition. Finally, the team had a competent quarterback in Brian Hoyer who played well last season and a soon-to-be-star in Manziel who would hold an epic battle for the starting spot.
Not so much.
The competition was a dud with both quarterbacks struggling mightily. Hoyer completed just 50 percent of his passes this offseason, while Manziel completed just 57 percent. Both guys posted a measly five yards-per-attempt number this preseason, which is horrible.
Hoyer won the job by default, and now things look bleak to start the 2014 season. This was not the type of competition everyone had in mind.
Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell
The quarterback competition was not the only one folks were looking forward to this preseason. The running back spot looked like it would have some real talent fighting for three roster spots.
Unfortunately, third-round pick Terrance West and undrafted free agent Isaiah Crowell did not live up to the billing.
West has had a very inconsistent preseason, rushing for just 70 yards on 28 carries. His 2.8 yards-per-carry average is not quite what many had imagined. Some had thought he could challenge for the starting position.
Crowell, on the other hand, never really got a shot. He has carried the ball just three times this preseason and has been buried on the depth chart, limiting his reps in practice.
The Entire Offense
The biggest name to come out of college in over a decade, a new offensive coordinator and four returning Pro Bowl players on offense should be able to make an exciting offense. Unfortunately that has not been the case.
Josh Gordon has been a non-factor because the team had to brace for the loss of his services, Johnny Manziel has struggled to pick up the nuances of being an NFL quarterback, and Kyle Shanahan’s system has left a ton to be desired.
It’s still the preseason, but through three games the Browns offense is ranked 30th in the NFL. The starters did not score a touchdown until nearly halftime of the third preseason game, and that was against the St. Louis Rams backups.
There are always bumps in the road when installing a new offensive system, but this was more than anyone could have expected.
With Josh Gordon’s suspension hanging over the team the Browns desperately needed help at the wide receiver position. They did not find much in the preseason.
A huge reason for that was the health of one of their free-agent signings. Nate Burleson was not available for nearly the entire preseason and will need to prove he can play in the fourth and final game against the Chicago Bears Thursday night.
The leadership and production he could possibly bring to the offense would be invaluable. The problem is that no one knows whether he can actually bring anything to the offense at this point.
If his hamstring is not healthy enough to make an impact then the team will have to rely on some very young and inexperienced receivers, which could turn into a disaster, as we have seen this preseason.
One of the guys who head coach Mike Pettine was really looking forward to coaching has barely been on the field. Fourth-round draft pick Pierre Desir has not seen much time because of injury, and when he was at practice he was one of the worst looking cornerbacks out there.
The Browns lacked depth at cornerback last season and were hoping to correct that issue by drafting both Justin Gilbert in the first round and then Desir. The former has been decent, but the latter has really been nonexistent.
This has created other issues for the Browns. With Desir not practicing or playing it has pushed Leon McFadden into action, and that has not been pretty. McFadden was a guy who was in danger of being cut this year in camp. Instead, he is now just one injury away from heavy playing time.
That is especially scary since both Buster Skrine and Joe Haden have sat out the last two games of the preseason with injuries.