In the annuals of crazy weeks of being a Cleveland Browns fan, this past week sure ranks toward the top.
“They did what?!?!”
No doubt, those words or some more explicit versions of them rang out almost in unison throughout Browns Nation last Wednesday evening, as fans found out that running back Trent Richardson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts.
Four days later, the winless Browns will take the field in Minnesota against the winless Vikings.
An already punch-less Browns’ offense is now without arms.
Brian Hoyer gets the start at quarterback. He is the 19th quarterback to start for the Cleveland Browns since 1999. We all know how the last 18 have performed and it is hard to expect much from Hoyer, who just last week was listed behind Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell on the team’s quarterback depth chart.
Hoyer made his first start last December as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Hoyer finished 19-for-34 passing for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He hooked up with Michael Floyd eight times for 166 yards and a touchdown, including a 37-yard touchdown pass late in the game. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t stuck-under-the-American-flag-in-pregame bad.
Speaking of wide receivers, Josh Gordon returns to the Browns line up this week and Hoyer, more than anyone else, must be happy to see him. With all due respect to old man McGahee, Gordon instantly becomes the only beacon of light on the offensive side of the ball.
Hoyer-to-Gordon. Sounds good, no? Kinda rolls off the tongue like Marino-to-Clayton. Montana-to-Rice. Rogers- or Brady-to-a-slightly-above-average-wide-receiver-they-turn-into-a-star.
Let’s face it. Whether it is this week or the next 13 with or without Brandon Weeden, we’ve come to expect the worst from the Browns offense and hope for the best. What is the best? How about two touchdowns and a couple — two or three — field goals? It’s not like the Vikings defense has been world beaters, giving up 34 and 31 points, respectively, in losses to the Lions and Bears.
If the Browns can score 20-23 points, the defense has shown that could be enough to make it a close game. But those two games have also shown getting to 20 points is going to be a “battle.” No, sorry, it is just going to be a “process.”
Wait, I hate that word, too. It’s going to be difficult.
So far, the Dolphins and Ravens found it difficult to run on the Browns defense. Well, there is no better test to tell us whether or not the Browns’ run defense is for real than Adrian Peterson.
Last season, Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards after coming off a ACL reconstruction. He did it with a rookie left tackle, limited (and injured) talent at the wide receiver position and the average Christian Ponder at quarterback.
In short, Peterson is really good.
The game plan is simple: Load up to limit Peterson and make Ponder beat you. In two starts, Ponder has completed 58.6 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s doing a damn good impression of a Cleveland Browns quarterback this year, eh?
Sunday marks the end of a long, confusing, disappointing, stressful and frustrating week as a Browns fan for so many reasons beyond Trent Richardson. It also marks the beginning of a 14-game, 15-week stretch in which the Browns will be attempting to do something call football.
Oh, boy. Hey, most cable providers offer the Red Zone Channel, so there’s your fallback plan.