Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Krunch Time With Katelin: Five Stories and Thoughts from the 2016 Cleveland Browns

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

2016 was tough year for the Browns. A number of different quarterbacks, a ton of injuries, and the lack of wins resulting in the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft. We knew this past season was going to be rough and the start of a tear-down rebuild, but not many expected the Browns to end up 1-15 at seasons end. With 1-15 there aren't a lot of stories to tell but here are five stories that will help recap this 2016 season.

5. Let's start with the number of quarterbacks this past season. Not counting Terrelle Pryor and Duke Johnson who threw passes this season, the Browns had five different quarterbacks lineup under center for them. Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, and Robert Griffin III started this past season with Kevin Hogan and Charlie Whitehurst taking snaps in relief of Cody Kessler. The quarterback problems started week one when RGIII broke a bone in his shoulder. Then, in week two, McCown ended up breaking his collar bone which sidelined him for a month and a half. Cody Kessler didn't play terrible for a rookie quarterback but he didn't do enough to keep the job for the entire season. RGIII ended up started the last four weeks and didn't help solidify anything for the 2017 season.

4. Jamie Collins, one of the best linebackers in the NFL, got traded from the New England Patriots to Cleveland. The Browns gave up a third round pick for his services. After the Browns traded for Collins it was weird to see on the field. Everyone could tell how good he was and at some points he seemed frustrated with the lack of talent around him. It was also weird to hear the speculation of why Collins was traded out of New England. Whether it was locker room stuff or him being a free agent in will hopefully help the Browns going forward.

3. Even though the year was tough a number of players stepped up and made a giant leap. Guys like Christian Kirksey, Jamar Taylor, Danny Shelton and Isaiah Crowell improved immensely because of the opportunity given. Danny Shelton played like a top tier nose tackle. He was constantly disrupting the flow of the opposing offensive line even if statistically the Browns defense didn't play well. Christian Kirksey ranked 6th in total tackles with 143. The past two years he was spelling Karlos Dansby but this year he was all over and was a three down player. He improved on his run defense and has always been a solid in pass coverage. Jamar Taylor was traded to Cleveland from Miami for a handful of the seventh round of the 2016 draft.
Taylor was a former second round pick who seemed to be a bust for Miami. For his growth this past season the Browns ended up rewarding him with a 3yr/$15 million extension. And finally Isaiah Crowell...who ended up 48 rushing yards short of 1000 for the season. The First few weeks of the season Crowell was lighting it up and was in the top 5 in rushing yards. Because of injuries at offensive line Crowell's 1000 yard season dream came up short, but it was positive in the sense of how the Browns found their starting running back going forward.

2. Terrelle Pryor's transition from quarterback to wide receiver was amazing to see...even if former and opposing players criticized him for being emotional on the field. Its not that people didn't think he could do it, he's a freak athlete, but if he was going to become selfish and become a "diva" on and off the field. While off the field some took their shots at him on the field he played extremely well. 77 catches 1007 yards and four touchdowns in his first full season at receiver is pretty dang good. Hell fans wanted the Browns to sign Pryor to an extension after his crazy game in Miami where he caught eight passes for 144 yards, ran for 21 yards and a touchdown...and threw the ball for 35 yards on 3/5 passing. It will be interesting to see if Pryor has a future in the Browns and Orange but even if he doesn't he was one of (if not the main reason) people still tuned in on Sundays to watch the Browns.

1. The Browns only winning one game this season has to be the number one story. Whether it was speculation Hue Jackson and company were going to get fired at the end of the season...which turned out to be kinda true. Or the number of odd ways the Browns found themselves on the short end of the win column. Like when The Browns stormed to a 20-2 lead against the Ravens and ended up losing 25-20 because of a blocked PAT that was returned for a touchdown and a missed field goal. (and lets not forget about the stupid flag on Terrelle Pryor when he went to give the official the ball) Or when Cody Parkey missed three field goals in one game including a potential game winner, And the Duke Johnson fumble that he obviously recovered but the lady official completely messed up calling a Redskins recovery when Johnson had the ball five yards behind her. And that all happened in consecutive weeks...And the 0-16 parade which divided Browns fans on many social media platforms. Heck, it ended up having one of Cleveland's top radio personalities threatening to run over people who were participating in the parade.(I guess anything for ratings). But All in all the Browns won a game and ten's of thousands of dollars were donated to the Cleveland Food Bank because of the fan funded 0-16 parade and the contributions from the Cleveland Browns and others.

This season was a trip. Remembering all these stories and seeing how social media was during this headache of a season was something to remember...if people didn't pay that close of attention because of the Indians playoff success or the Ohio State University during their thing on Saturday's. But the "try-out year" as I coined in my season preview was a success. I think the Browns have a good idea of were their weaknesses are and now have the tools to fix this team the correct way. And that starts with making smart signing during free agency with the large amount of cap room they have and the number one overall pick in April's draft.  

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