To say that the destroyer of locker rooms, Terrell Owens, could be the savior of a franchise might seem a little asinine. Yet, he could very well be the piece that saves the Browns a lot of time, frustration and wrong decisions.
While there is no denying that Owens has been an off-field distraction in the past, his stint with the Bengals proved that with age comes maturity, and it appears his character issues are under control.
For a young, rebuilding team, really, what do they have to lose? The benefits far outweigh the negatives, so let's take a look.
The Assessment of Colt McCoy
For months, the supporters of Cleveland's young quarterback has stated that his struggles have been primarily due to his receivers' inconsistent route-running and under-development. As a six-time Pro Bowler, Owens could put an end to that argument once and for all. If Owens steps up and performs as he did last season in Cincinnati, it proves that McCoy can hang in the NFL, but just lacks the weapons.
Is it any real coincidence that his favorite target, and typically his leading receiver, is veteran tight end Benjamin Watson? As a consistent and experienced member of the offense, Watson's routes are sharp, and McCoy rarely misses him on the field. Owens would bring that experience that McCoy so desperately needs.
The Development of Cleveland's Receivers
Cleveland's receiving core is a classic case of the blind leading the blind. When the receiver who has been on the Browns the longest is a college quarterback, turned NFL kick returner to NFL wide receiver, he may not be the best teacher. Josh Cribbs is still struggling to pick up the nuances of playing the position, yet he is the most experienced out of the group of Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Greg Little, Jordan Norwood and Carlton Mitchell.
With Owens in orange and brown, he would be able to teach the inexperienced group and ease their transition into the league. Many fans have noted the confidence and border-line arrogance of rookie Greg Little, the same way that Owens came into the NFL. For Owens to have lived through and learned the life lessons of that path he chose, it could only serve as a benefit to Little in not making the same mistakes T.O. did.
Let's be honest, any general manager bringing in Owens is aware of his profile and fan attraction. He is an exciting player to watch, attracts media attention and is likable to fans of the team he plays for. For a Cleveland team that has been under the radar, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Owens can put excited fans in the seats and give the disgruntled ones something to cheer about.
The wave of pessimism over the stagnant offense has led many to make references to the 2009 and 2010 one that was led by former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, an insult in some circles. Bringing in T.O. at a cheap price, makes him a low-risk but high-reward player. If he comes in and plays well, great, if he doesn't, then he is expendable. He is a difference-maker that is definitely worth the risk.
Taking Pressure Off the Young Offense
It's no secret that a big receiver like Owens typically would command a double-team, or at least a safety to protect a bit closer to his side of the field. Whether T.O. still has the ability to take it to the house or not isn't the question, the man is an athletic freak regardless of his age. On any play, he remains a threat. For this point alone, Owens will naturally take pressure off Cleveland's receivers by taking the lead as the No. 1 target.
Since Braylon Edwards' departure, the Browns have lacked the deep threat receiver. One can argue that in a West Coast offense, one isn't needed, but taking a look at the defending Super Bowl champion Packers would suggest otherwise. While Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are great receivers in the middle of the field, they also have the rare ability to stretch the field as well.
As a former member of the Philadelphia Eagles, Owens already knows the principles of the West Coast offense. Andy Reid was a former assistant of President Mike Holmgren and taught Owens the basics of the system in the past, therefore his learning curve would be minimal.
He would be able to step in nearly seamlessly right away and be productive, something Cleveland definitely needs in McCoy is to keep throwing as many times as he has been.
It may sound crazy to say that Owens could be the missing piece, but the writing is on the wall, and a star receiver like T.O. could very well make the Browns take the next step back to the top.