Isaiah Crowell’s inconsistency: As good as the running game has been, the weekly inconsistency of Crowell could be a source of concern the rest of the season.
While he leads the team with 524 rushing yards, Crowell rushed for 253 of those yards in the games against Baltimore and Washington. In his other six games he has combined for just 271 yards and averaged 3.7 yards per carry, which is more in line with his career average.
If those two games turn out to be the exception rather than the norm, the Browns are going to struggle the rest of the way to consistently run the football.
Cameron Erving: The struggles that Cameron Erving had as a rookie where chalked up by many as resulting from the incompetence of the coaching staff. Well, there is a new staff in place this season and Erving is still having major problems, so where does the blame lie now?
The good news is that Erving tries hard and is always moving. The bad news is that he is not a good center, especially when it comes to pass blocking. The Browns have been better with John Greco and Austin Reiter at center than with Erving, which makes it entirely possible that Erving will be looking at a position switch in the off-season.
It would be ridiculous for the Browns to give up on Erving, but it is also fair to wonder why anyone projected him to be a center in the first place. The Browns don’t have many options right now so Erving will remain at center for the rest of the season, but if they don’t address the problem in the off-season it is going to be another long year in 2017.
Rookie wide receivers: With first-round selection Corey Coleman missing the past eight games with a broken hand and Josh Gordon still suspended, there have been ample opportunities for rookies Ricardo Louis, Jordan Payton and Rashard Higgins to show what they can do.
But no one in the group has taken advantage of the situation to earn additional playing time as they have combined to catch just 21 passes for 228 yards — which Louis having 16 of the receptions and 183 of the yards.
With Coleman expected to return to the lineup on Sunday, it’s going to be a quiet second half for the other rookie receivers.
The secondary: Probably the weakest position group on a defense that is the weakest part of the team, the Browns secondary has been horrific.
Cleveland has given up 19 touchdown passes, second most in the league; is 24th in passing yards allowed; has surrendered 33 completions of more than 20 yards, second most in the league; and opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 103.4 against the Browns, third highest in the NFL.
Cornerback Joe Haden continues to deal with injuries, safeties Ibraheim Campbell and Derrick Kindred are horrible in pass coverage, age continues to catch up with cornerback Tramon Williams, leaving cornerback Jamar Taylor as the best player in the secondary — which tells you all you need to know.
Ray Horton: The return of defensive coordinator Ray Horton to Cleveland was met with enthusiasm in the off-season. Horton talks a good game with his “little guys who can hit and big guys who can run” and his desire to “hit the quarterback coming off the bus.” Most importantly in the eyes of many, the fact that he was not Jim O’Neil was enough to seal the deal.
Eight games into the season, the Browns are 32nd in total defense, 24th against the pass and 31st against the run. More importantly, they are on pace to allow 476 points this season, which would be a franchise record.
The lesson in this? Just because you might be better than the last guy that held your job doesn’t mean you are good at it.
Robert Griffin III: It was always a pleasant fiction that RG3 would resurrect his career with the Cleveland Browns despite the reality that not a single other team in the league was willing to give him an opportunity to be the starter.
That fiction lasted all of one game as Griffin went down with yet another injury in the opening game. Even if Griffin is healthy enough to be the one player the Browns bring back from injured reserve this season, there is little reason to do that or even play him.
Griffin does one thing very well — throw the deep ball — and little else. His game has not progressed since his rookie year and after so many injuries there is little to be gained by putting him back on the field, let alone entertaining the idea of signing him to a new contract.
The plan was never to have Griffin be more than the latest bridge quarterback, but the Browns certainly expected that he would last more than one game.