If you take a look at the Cleveland Browns remaining schedule it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see them finish .500, or dare I say maybe 9-7.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a big reach there is no question about it.
However, if you look at the remaining schedule after this weekend’s game in Kansas City, there a several winnable games left on the docket.
With that being said, the Browns need to fix a few glaring issues to achieve this goal, but it’s not totally out of the question. If they can get improved play at the quarterback position, it would be a huge start to making this thought a reality. Whether it’s Brandon Weeden somehow digging down deep to elevate his game or Jason Campbell taking over and playing the best football of his career it is possible. It would certainly help this Browns team score enough points to let this top ranked defense handle the rest.
Speaking of the defense, as good as they have been all year, they would need to be a bit better. I know you are asking, “How can they play better than they have been”, and the answer is to get off the field on third downs.
The Browns defense is currently leading the league in yards per play, but on third downs they are ranked 26th in the league. This stat shows the Browns defense is just not able to keep opposing offenses on the bench. With that being said, they have allowed opposing teams to keep drives alive by staying on the field, which have resulted in points.
Last week, defensive coordinator Ray Horton alluded to the fact the Browns have far more defensive plays than the top defenses in the league, which attributes to this poor ranking on third downs. One could argue however, that their lack of stops on third down is the reason for the high-ranking, not the amount of plays.
Last but not least is the running game.
There is no question the running game needs to improve if the Browns want to make it a possibility to get to .500 or better. Their current league rank of 23rd will definitely not get it done that’s for sure. What will help though, is completing more passes by having a legitimate passing attack.
Take for instance last week in Green Bay. Weeden was 17 of 42 for 149 yards and a completion percentage of 40.5. With Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron at his disposal, these numbers are just inexcusable. Take Aaron Rodgers last week, he was without half his offense and still managed to go 25 of 36 for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The point is if you have no real threat behind center that defenses need to be concerned about your not gonna be able to run the ball. If Weeden was able to complete some passes and sustain some drives, you would be amazed at how that would open up the run game, even with a journeyman like Willis McGahee. But until that happens, the run game will continue to be inconsistent.
So depending on how easy you think all or some of these fixes can be, determines whether the Browns are able to get to .500, get above or just continue down the path they are on.
Let us know what you think below.