Cleveland Browns: 8 Reasons Their Anemic Offense Is Among NFL's Worst
The Cleveland Browns have struggled to keep their head above water during the 2011 season, and some fans are already circling the 2012 NFL draft on their calendars after this Sunday's loss to the St.Louis Rams.
Offense has been the name of the game for the struggling Browns, as Cleveland went yet another game without scoring a touchdown and eventually lost because of their inability to put points on the board.
Some fans and experts are saying that this Cleveland team may have the worst offensive unit in the entire NFL.
Here are eight things that have contributed to the downfall of the Browns offense during the 2011 season.
No. 8: Where's the Offensive Coordinator?
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Brian Daboll was a far cry from one of the best offensive coordinators in 2010, but many Browns fans would gladly take him back over not having any coordinator at all.
When Pat Shurmur took over the head coaching position after last season, it was assumed that the proclaimed "offensive guru" would be handling much of the play-calling duties and eventually just control the unit entirely.
This led to the decision to not hire an offensive coordinator for the 2011 season, and the results have been less than productive.
Shurmur now looks like he may be in over his head as he tries to juggle the duties of being both an offensive coordinator and head coach.
It would be surprising to see the Browns continue after the 2011-12 season without hiring someone to take on at least a small portion of the offensive responsibilities.
No. 7: The West Coast on Lake Erie
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The 2011 preseason came with so much optimism for the new offensive system that Pat Shurmur and Mark Whipple were going to implement within the Browns organization.
A West Coast passing offense was supposed to fit in perfectly with the type of game that Colt McCoy brought to the table, and the wide receivers were supposed to finally show that they could compete with the sturdy defenses of the NFL.
Fast-forward to the present day, and almost all of those preseason aspirations have been long forgotten.
A pass-first offense like the West Coast counts on big-time receivers making great plays and a quarterback that can deliver the ball accurately on every down.
It also requires an offensive line that can protect their quarterback and give him enough time to scan the field.
The Browns have lacked in all three areas of this offensive system so far this season and really show no signs of improving as the weeks drag on.
No. 6: Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren
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Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert have one simple job in the Cleveland Browns organization:
Get players on the field that can make plays and help win football games.
Both of these men have failed miserably in their duties when it comes down to getting the talent needed for this Cleveland team to compete at any sort of NFL level.
The Browns were simply stagnant all season as players like Brandon Lloyd, Lee Evans, Sidney Rice and even Chad Ochocinco came on and off the market of potential playmakers.
Many fans can look at this and say "this Cleveland team had no chance of competing this season."
But who is to blame for the Browns' lack of talent and the simple fact that they cannot compete in the NFL?
The front office is the only direction anyone can point a finger when it comes to the personnel Cleveland brings to the field on Sundays.
No. 5: Eric Steinbach Injury
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When Eric Steinbach went down with a season-ending back injury during training camp, it was easy to see that the Browns offensive line were going to have their troubles.
However, nobody could have ever predicted the completely inept offensive line that has shown up for much of the 2011 season.
Cleveland has done everything they could possibly think of from starting rookies to signing veterans in order to sure up what has become a glaring weakness on the offensive side of the ball.
Nothing has really worked for the Browns, as their offensive line is still having trouble pass protecting and have not paved the way for a successful rushing attack since Week 2.
Steinbach was clearly a leader for this Browns offense and was a valuable piece that Cleveland could not afford to lose so early in the season.
No. 4: Mohammed Massaquoi
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Mohammed Massaquoi was drafted by the Browns to be the explosive playmaker that Cleveland has lacked since the 1990s.
Unfortunately, "MoMass" has really done nothing to impress throughout his time with the Browns and is clearly being outplayed by Greg Little and Josh Cribbs.
Massaqoui always seems to show flashes of brilliance during every season but can never put up solid enough numbers to even be considered a viable threat.
Now, concussion issues seem to be threatening his availability for the rest of the season—and maybe even his career.
The Browns clearly missed with Massaqoui, and the fact that he has lined up as the No. 1 receiver all season is a good indication of why the passing game has struggled.
Other teams around the league have some very good targets to catch the big passes, and Cleveland has nothing more than another draft bust occasionally showing up on Sundays.
No. 3: Colt McCoy
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Colt McCoy's scouting report has basically been the same ever since his high school playing days.
Critics mostly agreed that McCoy has great accuracy in the pocket but lacks the arm strength to make it in the NFL.
Throw in a poor offensive line, no rushing attack and a newfound ability to throw ducks, and you have what McCoy has become in 2011.
McCoy is still on pace to set Browns passing records throughout the 2011 season, but he has simply not shown the ability to lead this offense when the team needs him most.
The Browns have failed to score touchdowns twice this season, and over 50 percent of McCoy's touchdown passes were thrown way after Cleveland had already lost their games.
McCoy needs to play better if this offense is going to move forward in the coming weeks and months.
Unfortunately, it will be hard for a young quarterback to win with no offensive talent surrounding him. So it may be another long winter for fans in northeast Ohio.
No. 2: Pat Shurmur
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The problems with Pat Shurmur seem to have started ever since the first day he was named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Shurmur insisted on calling the offensive plays throughout this season and even went as far as to not hire an offensive coordinator to help with any of the offensive responsibility.
Now, the Browns have one of the lowest-ranked offenses in every category, and there is really every reason to blame Shurmur.
Shurmur has clearly done a poor job establishing his West Coast system to this Browns offense and is not doing a good job at putting his players in a position to win games.
Shurmur has also had questionable play-calling in some of the biggest moments of the season and seems to fail miserably every time he has the opportunity to make a significant impact.
The Browns offense will only go as far as where Shurmur can take them, and right now that path leads toward a very high pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Shurmur better hope his players catch on quickly during the last few weeks of the 2011 season, or he may be out of a job very quickly in 2012.
No. 1: Peyton Hillis
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The Cleveland Browns and Peyton Hillis became national icons during the 2011 offseason, as the Madden cover voting and media attention finally put the city in a positive light.
Six months later, Hillis has not only destroyed his personal image, but has embarrassed the Browns franchise with his lack of motivation, class and production on the field.
Hillis was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest sports icons the city of Cleveland had ever seen.
Now, fans cannot wait until the end of this season so they can rid their hands of what has become a franchise cancer and blemish on an already tumultuous season.
The Browns' rushing attack has been nothing better than a mediocre college program since Hillis was sidelined with strep throat and hamstring problems earlier this season.
Losing him meant more to the franchise than any of the players and coaches are willing to admit, and now it seems that it is only a matter of time before the "albino rhino" takes his talents elsewhere.
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The clear thing this slideshow should point out is the absolute lack of direction this entire Browns team has at every offensive position and coaching level.
Cleveland has become synonymous with losing over the last decade, and Pat Shurmur, Colt McCoy and the other members of the Browns organization are not doing anything to help turn this franchise around.
The first things that need to change with this Cleveland team are the culture and the attitude. Without either one of those factors, this team will continue to be a loser for years to come.
Until then, Browns fans around the nation will continue to turn on their television sets on Sundays and watch what has become the most inept show on turf.
Thankfully, there's always next year.