Cleveland Browns leading the league in good guys
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns have sent a clear message this off-season that they no longer want to deal with players who bring off-the-field issues to the team.
The Cleveland Browns are taking a decidedly different approach during their latest rebuilding efforts.
The team will feature a new offense under head coach Hue Jackson and associate head coach-offense Pep Hamilton, and the return of an old defense under defensive coordinator Ray Horton. They are also taking a renewed look at how analytics can assist the process. It has also found its way to the weight room, where director of high performance Adam Beard is reshaping the way the players look at training.
The changes are also extending to the roster, where the Browns are actively avoiding the type of players who make regular appearances on sites like TMZ. Instead, the team is embracing players who, when away from the team, are as quiet as a puppy walking on cotton.
Related: Who is Adam Beard?
Players that embrace the Northeast Ohio ethos of nothing is given, everything is earned.
“I’m looking for high-character guys.” – Hue Jackson
That includes veteran wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, who went from Toledo to the CFL before returning to the NFL and turning himself into one of the league’s better slot receivers. This off-season Hawkins has continued working on his master’s program in sports management at Columbia University.
It also extended to the 2016 NFL Draft, where Cleveland selected offensive lineman Shon Coleman, who was diagnosed with leukemia while at Auburn; defensive end Carl Nassib and linebacker Joe Schobert, who went from walk-ons to Big Ten stardom; and quarterback Cody Kessler, who went through five coaches during his time at USC.
Included in the new wave is running back Terrell Watson, who was left on the doorstep of his grandparents’ home when he was just two weeks old.
According to a profile on Watson in The Guardian, that was just the beginning of his journey against the odds to reach the NFL (if you read nothing else the rest of today, be sure to read that entire story):
"The baby with the beautiful green eyes would grow up as their son; a happy bubbly child, always making friends. And Terrell Watson needed everything Billy and Janice could give, because things that came easily to others did not for him. He couldn’t sound words. He struggled to read. His school years would be spent in special education classes where teachers sometimes wondered what kind of future he’d have."
"But there was also this about the boy left in the basket on the doorstep: he was determined to read. “I don’t have no disability,” he told his parents, trying to decipher the jumble of letters in the school books before him. When he was done agonizing over his words he went to the football field, where he too was determined to be great: building his body, straining to run faster while refusing to listen to those who said a kid in special education could never play professional football."
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- Payne Durham would fit the Browns offense perfectly
- Cleveland Browns critics continue to misplace their judgement
- 3 Cleveland Browns players who don’t deserve another season in 2023
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
Watson would go on to have a stellar career at Azusa Pacific, leading all of college football in rushing with 2,153 yards in 2014, before spending the 2015 season on the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals, where he caught Jackson’s eye, then the Bengals offensive coordinator. Once Jackson was hired as head coach of the Browns, the team quickly moved to sign Watson.
The 6-foot-1 and 240-pound Watson may not make the final roster, and if he does he may not see much playing time behind Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, but his signing sends an undeniable message that the Browns are taking a different approach under the new regime.
While it can be difficult to write for a Browns-dedicated website during the quiet period between the end of minicamp and the opening of training camp, that fact that the past few weeks has been quiet is a welcome change.
The days may be over where Browns fans have to think about inflatable swans and weekend parties. Or about arguments with fans and players getting up to shenanigans in downtown Cleveland. Or road rage incidents involving girlfriends or the general public.
Now, the Browns are letting other teams – like the Dallas Cowboys – earn the kind of off-the-field headlines that keep head coaches up at night.
The unanswered question, of course, is if these kind of players can turn the Browns into winners where it matters the most. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance on a player, but if that player can’t stay out of trouble and stay on the field, it doesn’t really matter how talented they are.
Next: Is the 1950 Browns team the best ever?
The Browns are currently undergoing a complete rebuild at every level of the organization, and they have made one thing crystal clear.
When it comes to the make-up of the roster, it will most certainly not be business as usual.