As if this offseason couldn’t get any more off-track from the lockout, the Browns have to install a new offense on top of it. Coach Pat Shurmur is bringing the West Coast offense to town, which means there is a lot of learning for the offensive players to do before they suit up for Week One. Thankfully, the Camp Colt practices organized by Colt McCoy were great for building chemistry amongst the offense. However, a number of things need to go right in order for the Browns to see any sort of offensive success this season:
- Will a go-to receiver please step forward? – When Mohammed Massaquoi showed up to camp with a cast around his leg, the reality of the Browns’ receiving corps was reinforced – we are thin. Brian Robiskie and Josh Cribbs took the first-team snaps, which means so far the receivers are exactly where they were last season. It would be spectacular if Greg Little was able to step out and produce right away, but that isn’t a realistic expectation. I see good things in the West Coast offense for Robiskie and I think he can take a step forward in his third season. The front office is reportedly very high on Carlton Mitchell, who can use his terrific running ability to stretch the defense. I’d also love to see the team sign a veteran to replace Chansi Stuckey and round out the group of receivers. Someone will need to step up and produce, or else it could be another long season of frustrating check-down passes on third-and-ten.
- Young players in the fire – The Browns will be aggressive this season in using their young players, starting with McCoy. He showed no fear in playing as a rookie. If McCoy can step into the full-time job of starting quarterback and stay healthy, the offense should at least remain on the tracks. Second-year lineman Shawn Lauvao is expected to contend for a starting job this season. He also needs to stay healthy and prove he is ready for a full-time role. Lauvao’s regular presence on the line would do wonders for chemistry and continuity in the running game. Speaking of the running game, I am very excited about Owen Marecic. Marecic is in line to begin the season atop the depth chart at fullback. His ability to block, run, and catch out of the West Coast’s two-back sets will be as important to Peyton Hillis’ effectiveness as Montario Hardesty will.
- Don’t jump to conclusions until the pads are on – Any player will tell you that practice in shorts won’t tell you much. Everything seen during a shorts-practice must be taken with a handful of salt. The way I see it, we won’t know exactly what’s there on the roster until after the third preseason game. Having said that, the offseason camps have hopefully prepared the offense somewhat, so that they are at least semi-ready to go full-speed in pads. If the offense can come out of the preseason looking like they know what they’re doing, they could surprise some people. Just remember that expectations need to be tempered until something is actually happening.