BEREA, Ohio -- Most Browns fans were excited for the 2013 season with the anticipation of a much more explosive, vertical and attacking offense.
However, those expectations have not been realized as the offensive production has been very underwhelming--to say the least.
With offensive minded coaches Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner running the offense, it was assumed the Browns would have a much higher octane offense than what the Browns have produced in recent years. In reality, the Browns offense is compared to Pat Shurmur's offense in 2012 when the Browns scored an average of 17.7 points per game for the season. Last year, the Browns scored 302 points, but had three touchdowns scored outside the offense (two by interception return and one by punt return).
In 2013, the Browns have scored 24 points or more just three times and are 3-0. When scoring 20 points or less they are 1-7. The Browns are averaging just 16.8 points per game if you take three touchdowns out that were scored by the defense and special teams. Joe Haden (interception return), T.J. Ward (interception return) and Travis Benjamin (punt return).
Chudzinski said he and the staff are trying to get the offense on track.
“I think it comes from a number of areas and I think that, again, it’s something we’re looking hard at and trying to improve," Chudzinski said. "We've fixed and improved in a number of areas. There’s still more to go. As we fix something, it seems like something else pops up. Offensive football is about rhythm. You have to have 11 guys executing on every play and if there’s one breakdown or one small thing that can happen, that can throw you off.
"Right now that’s what’s happened to us," Chudzinski said. "As I mentioned before, we've had a number of drives that we were moving the ball well at times and were getting into plus territory, down there closer, about where you’re going to get a chance to get some points, either a field goal or pushing it all the way in. And there was a breakdown or a penalty or it was those type of things. You just can’t do that.”
In 2007, when Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator, the offense averaged 23.6 points a game and the Browns were 10-6. The Browns scored 402 points (378 points scored by the offense, 12 on kickoff returns, six on punt returns and six on interception returns). One major difference was the Browns had play makers at a number of positions in 2007. Jamal Lewis rushed for 1,304 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Kellen Winslow caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards with five touchdowns, while Braylon Edwards had a career year with 80 receptions for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. Joe Jurevicius came up big with 50 catches for 614 yards, many on third down.
Charlie Frye started the season opening game against the Steelers and was traded the next day. Derek Anderson started from the second game on and threw for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns on his way to the Pro Bowl.
In comparison, the current Browns roster has Willis McGahee the leading rusher with just 287 yards and one touchdown. Josh Gordon has 988 yards on 54 receptions and five touchdowns, while Jordan Cameron has 59 catches for 661 yards with six touchdowns. After Gordon and Cameron. there is a drop off in production amongst the receivers. Davone Bess has 37 receptions for 315 yards with two touchdowns, while Greg Little has 31 for 361 with just one touchdown.
In recent weeks, Cameron's production has dropped off and Gordon has been the biggest offensive threat, if not the only play maker. Chudzinski knows the Browns have to get more complementary production from the other skill position players.
“Yeah, I think that those opportunities as they come up in the game are going to come up," he said. "A lot of that is you can design plays expecting trying to throw it to a certain place. As defenses have different coverages, those different coverages are going to dictate it to go somewhere else. There’s some things you can do to design (it). The emphasis has been on those guys and everybody producing when they have their opportunities, and we’ll continue to emphasize that. As things come up in the game, we have to be ready to make those plays.”
Chudzinski did admit that the upheaval at quarterback has affected the offense's rhythm. Brandon Weeden is expected to start his fifth game of the season Sunday. Jason Campbell started four games, while Brian Hoyer started three games. The trio of quarterbacks that have started have thrown for a total of 17 touchdowns.
“It’s not easy and it’s not ideal, but it is what it is right now," Chudzinski said. "I think as you look at it, it’s impressive. It says a lot about the character of our guys and those guys in the locker room that they have been able to adjust, rally, re-rally and do it again behind guys. I don’t expect anything different in this case, as well.”
Campbell, Carder Ruled Out: Chudzinski officially ruled QB Jason Campbell (concussion) out for Sunday's game with the Jaguars.
"He's checked in every day," Chudzinski said of Campbell. "He's feeling better and is very close (to getting cleared)."
LB Tank Carder was also ruled out with a shoulder injury. LB Craig Robertson (knee) is listed as doubtful. All three players didn't practice on Friday. OL Martin Wallace (illness), DL Armonty Bryant (back) and TE MarQueis Gray (hamstring) are questionable. DB Buster Skrine (ribs) practiced and is listed as probable.
Carder started last week in place of Robertson, but was injured and replaced by LB Darius Eubanks, who will start in place of the pair. Chudzinski said that Eubanks played well against the Steelers.
“Yeah, I really thought that he stepped in and did a nice job without getting a lot of reps in practice," Chudzinski said. "There’s obviously some things that he can improve on that we can correct, but it was encouraging to see him come in, understand what he needed to do and play well for that position coming in.”
Gordon's Day: Last week, WR Josh Gordon had a career day with 14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown.
"I've been trying to have a great game for a while," Gordon said.
Gordon downplayed tying Ozzie Newsome's record for receptions in a game and eclipsing the record for yardage in a game because the team lost. He has 988 yards on the season and needs just 12 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark on the season, despite missing the first two games of the season under suspension.
"To me, it's just football and as long as I can go out and have fun with it and we can win, that's (all I want)."
Tanney Prepped: QB Alex Tanney will be the backup to QB Brandon Weeden Sunday after signing Tuesday from the Cowboys practice squad. He was working with receivers after practice Friday.
"He's put a lot into it," Chudzinski said. "He's been running through scripts. We have a package of plays if he needs to play."
Chudzinski was asked what he's seen of Tanney in the limited time he's been here.
"He's been very accurate."
Jackson Honored: Browns LB D'Qwell Jacksonhas been nominated by the Browns organization for the third annual Salute to Service Award by USAA, the NFL’s official Military Appreciation sponsor. Jackson was nominated because of his continued commitment to those who serve our country. Jackson was one of a select group of players in 2013 who continued an NFL-USO tour. Prior to his trip, he spent time at the USO of Northern Ohio, meeting and engaging individuals who were enlisted in the US Armed Forces.
“Without a doubt, I feel like I’ve gotten more from this experience than I’ve given," Jackson said about his trip to Afghanistan. "We’ve had a number of troops come up to us, and especially, the guys that were heading over to Afghanistan …I feel like there are a lot of similarities with what I do for a profession, but it’s on a different plane. One is life and death and the other’s a game.”
The award will be given at the NFL Honors awards presented the day before the Super Bowl. Last year, Charles Tillman of the Bears was the recipient.
Lewis Back: The Browns re-signed OL Patrick Lewis to the practice squad and released WR Reggie Dunn. Lewis was on the active roster for most of the season but inactive on game days.