The Cleveland Browns haven’t been expected to compete for much in quite some time, so it shouldn’t shock anyone that they have sheepish Super Bowl odds at just 75/1. However, while they’re certainly not getting many bets to take home the NFL title in 2013, they’re not the doormat they once were. In fact, there’s reason to believe Cleveland could even push for a wild card playoff spot in 2013.
Most 5-11 teams don’t enter the next season with overwhelming optimism, but things change when a team gets a new owner, new coaching staff and new philosophy. That especially rings true when that new philosophy perfectly fits your new franchise quarterback and offensive weapons.
That could very well be the case in 2013, as second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden could potentially erupt in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s vertical scheme, where he could put down-field play-makers Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to terrific use. There are questions with Gordon starting 2013 with a two-game suspension and Cameron having little experience, but the upside is pretty difficult to deny.
Even aside from the down-field philosophy, the Browns figure to be in good shape on offense with a solid offensive line parting the waters for second-year running back Trent Richardson. T-Rich battled through injuries as a rookie in 2012, but looked every bit the part of an elite back on his way to 11 rushing scores and nearly 1,000 rushing yards in his first season.
If all goes well, Richardson will punish defenses early, and keep them honest enough to allow Weeden to attempt to take the top off with the vertical routes.
The only question is, will the positive changes and talent level on offense be enough to off-set a transitioning defense that doesn’t have the right personnel just yet for their new 3-4 scheme?