Cleveland Browns Midseason Report Card

Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | It's report card time for the Cleveland Browns.


At the halfway point of the 2013 NFL season, the Browns are 3-5 and likely headed towards their sixth straight losing season. Cleveland's play this year has been a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that is also the case when ranking the Browns by position.

So without further ado, let's get to the grades:

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Since Cleveland trotted out three different starting quarterbacks in the first eight weeks of 2013, this is going to be a difficult position to grade.

Opening day starter Brandon Weeden was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL when he was finally benched before Week 8 in favor of Jason Campbell. Despite losing to the Kansas City Chiefs, Campbell did play well, so there is at least a sliver of hope that the Browns can be more consistent offensively going forward.

What brings up Cleveland's grade in this area significantly was the play of Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was a revelation in leading the Browns to consecutive victories in Weeks 3 and 4 before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills.

Grade: C

Running Backs

There isn't much to say about Cleveland's running game, because simply put, Cleveland does not have much of a running game.

Trent Richardson only ran for 105 yards in two games before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts on September 18. His successor, Willis McGahee, isn't doing much better, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on his 79 rushes in 2013.

The only bright spot in Cleveland's ground game this year has been the play of fullback Chris Ogbonnaya. Ogbonnaya has caught 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in 2013.

Grade: C-

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Heading into 2013, a lot of folks thought that tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Josh Gordon could flourish in Cleveland's revamped offense.

They have yet to disappoint.

Cameron and Gordon are both on pace for over 1,000 receiving yards in 2013, and they have both played well enough to likely earn their first trips to the Pro Bowl this year. Unfortunately though, after Cameron and Gordon, there's not much good that can be said about the rest of Cleveland's wideouts, as the play of Davone Bess and Greg Little through eight games has left a lot to be desired for Browns fans.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line

Despite the presence of former Pro Bowlers Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, Cleveland's offensive line has been a big part of the Browns' offensive struggles in 2013.

Cleveland's line has allowed 28 sacks on the year, the fourth-highest total in the NFL. While some of that can be blamed on Weeden's penchant for standing in the pocket way too long, there's still the fact that Cleveland hasn't been able to create big holes in the running game, either. The Browns are averaging a so-so 3.9 yards per carry on the season.

Grade: C

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

This unit has been a strength for the Browns in 2013.

With Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor leading the way, the Browns have allowed opponents to rush for just 3.7 yards per carry in 2013. That number is good enough for sixth-best in the league this season. Desmond Bryant has been a nice addition as well, pitching in with 3.5 sacks so far on the year.

Grade: B+

Linebackers

The play of Cleveland's linebackers in 2013 is not why they are 3-5, that's for sure.

Unleashed constantly on opposing quarterbacks in defensive coordinator Ray Horton's aggressive 3-4 scheme, Cleveland's linebackers are a big reason why the Browns have 26 sacks on the year, the third-highest total in the NFL.

D'Qwell Jackson is having another solid year, Craig Robertson is emerging as a quality player, and newcomer Paul Kruger has played well so far in 2013. First-round draft pick Barkevious Mingo has wreaked havoc on quarterbacks when he has had the opportunity, with 4 sacks in limited action in 2013.

Grade: A-

Defensive Secondary

Cleveland's secondary is much like the 2013 Browns -- inconsistent.

What else can you say about a team that got picked apart by the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, yet managed to shut down the powerful passing game of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4?

While he doesn't have any interceptions to show for it, Joe Haden is having another decent season in 2013, while fellow cornerback Buster Skrine is slowly improving as the season progresses. Safeties Tashaun Gipson and T.J. Ward each have a pair of interceptions on the year for a Browns pass defense that ranks in the middle of the pack in the NFL.

Grade: B-

Special Teams

Special teams has long been a strength of the Browns, and 2013 has been no different.

Before going down for the year with a knee injury in week 8, Travis Benjamin continued to show why he is one of the best young return men in the NFL. Benjamin took back a punt 79 yards for a touchdown against the Bills, and also had an 86-yard kickoff return in Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers.

Kicker Billy Cundiff has been reliable in connecting on 12 of his 14 field-goal attempts, and punter Spencer Lanning has been respectable in his first NFL season.

Grade: A-

Overall Team Grade: C+

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for over 25 years.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Baseball
View Comments