Stop me if you've heard this one before: September is over, and the Cleveland Browns have yet to win a NFL regular season game. While it's true that it hasn't been all bad for the Browns during their first four games of the campaign, I don't see how anybody could deny that Cleveland is currently the worst team in all of pro football. Are the 2012 Browns already a lost cause? Maybe not, but those "will the Cavs win a game before the Browns do?" jokes are getting less funny with each week.
2012 Cleveland Browns September review: Offensive MVP
Obviously a difficult choice to make considering how inconsistent and largely lackluster the team's offense was throughout the month, but I went with rookie running back Trent Richardson. Richardson's stats, 222 total yards and three rushing touchdowns on 64 carries (3.5 yards per carry average) and 15 catches and a receiving TD, don't jump out at anybody, but they also don't tell the story about how good Richardson has looked while being featured in a very "meh" offense. He has flashed his athleticism and toughness on several occasions, and he has even looked like a leader on the field despite the fact that he has just four NFL games under his belt.
There are plenty of problems with the Cleveland offense right now. I'm not yet sold on Brandon Weeden, his wide receivers struggle holding onto the football, and the offensive line, including Joe Thomas, has looked average at best. Richardson is the real deal, though, a guy who could start for any team. Building around the young RB is key if the Browns are to compete with Baltimore and Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.
2012 Cleveland Browns September review: Defensive MVP
One could argue that Joe Haden proved himself to be the MVP of the Cleveland defense by not being on the field and thus exposing the lack of quality that's in the rest of the team's secondary. I instead chose to be boring and go with the always reliable D'Qwell Jackson. Jackson leads the team in sacks with three, he picked off two passes in September, and he even found the end zone on a single occasion.
Jackson is the definition of a player who has deserved better for years. First came the injuries that cost him nearly two full years of football, and now Jackson is once again on a team that isn't going anywhere. Jackson being one of the more underrated linebackers in the league is nothing new. Upon thinking about the subject for more than a few seconds, I began to wonder if he's the most underrated defensive player of this past decade.
2012 Cleveland Browns September review: One-word description
It may not be the most poignant word to use when describing Cleveland's four September contests, but the one that immediately came to my mind was "mistakes." Rookie LB L.J. Fort dropped a certain interception in the end zone during Philadelphia's final meaningful drive of the season opener, a miscue that allowed the Eagles to score the game-winning TD on the very next play. Missed tackles on two different plays aided Cincy in putting 14 points on the scoreboard in Week 2. The Bengals won that game by seven. Weeden missed WRs on three plays that should have resulted in Cleveland touchdowns when the Browns hosted the Bills. An awful decision coupled with a bad throw made by Weeden cost Cleveland seven points this past Thursday when they were at Baltimore, seven points that made all the difference.
With youth and inexperience comes mistakes. I understand that. This team does not have the talent to get past such mistakes, a fact that's been proven in Weeks 1 through 4. The Browns must concentrate on doing the little things right as they prepare to face the New York Giants next Sunday. Otherwise, that could be one ugly football game.
2012 Cleveland Browns September review: Overall
Fans and Cleveland sports personalities will, if trying to paint a pretty picture, point to several "moral victories" the Browns achieved in the four games that the team lost. It seems like moral victories are all Cleveland football fans have been able to enjoy since 2008. I just can't pretend to care all that much about such things this fall. The Browns went winless in September. There's only one right grade to give them.
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