After hiring Hue Jackson and releasing Johnny Manziel, the Cleveland Browns made at least two good decisions this offseason. Whether those choices alone can prevent their 12th 10-loss season in 14 years, however, remains to be seen.
“It feels like it is moving in the right direction,” Cleveland Plain Dealer Browns reporter Mary Kay Cabot said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It definitely is. But I really do think that people are going to have to be patient with this. It’s a work in progress in so many areas. It’s a very young team. There are certain positions where the jury is way still out, including quarterback. We just still don’t know yet if (Robert Griffin) is going to be able to do all the things that (Jackson) wants him to do. So you just don’t know how this is going to get yet in terms of him trying to be a little bit more of a pocket passer, run the read-option – all the different things he’s going to have to do.
“There’s a feel-good vibe going on in the city,” Cabot continued. “There’s no question about that. The hangover of winning the championship is not over yet. The euphoria is still going on here. It’s still an incredible, title-town feeling, and it has spilled over into the Indians. So I think more so than anything, it’s brought a feeling to the Browns of, ‘We want some of that. We want to bring our fans some of that. We don’t want to be the laughingstock of the NFL anymore. We want to be a team that Cleveland can be proud of, and some day we want to hoist a trophy of our own.’”
That trophy-hoisting starts first and foremost with who’s under center. Griffin, who sat out the entire 2015 season, will be trusted with the starter’s job this year. It’ll be interesting to see if a change of scenery does the former No. 2 overall pick some good.
“The relationship (between Griffin and his teammates) is good – and I think in part by design,” Cabot said. “They drafted Corey Coleman, who went to Baylor, and he was already very close with RG3. Now they brought Josh Gordon back into the fold. They played together at Baylor. So you obviously have some goodwill going on for RG3, even before the season starts. So far, he’s doing good in that regard, and Josh McCown has really helped him kind of fit in and be one of the guys and be the kind of leader that a team needs – more down-to-earth and all about the team. He’s really working hard on that, so from that standpoint, I think he’s going to be okay. However, there are still some concerns about the on-the-field stuff.”
Still, Cabot has been impressed by Griffin’s attitude.
“I think he’s been really humble,” she said. “When you get demoted to third-team quarterback when you’ve been regarded as a superstar in your career and you’re playing safety on the scout team, yes, that has a tendency to change you – and I do firmly believe that he has been changed. I can see it in things that he’s doing different. He’s sliding, he’s throwing the ball away, and he really is trying to get along with his teammates and plan team outings and things like that. So he’s doing things to back up his words, and I do believe he has changed.”
Griffin, at the very least, should have a strong receiving corps at his disposal.
“Corey Coleman, their No. 1 pick, has looked really good,” Cabot said. “Terrelle Pryor looks amazing. I think he’s really turned the corner here in becoming a bonafide NFL receiver, and then there’s more after that. Josh Gordon is on his way back. and they have a full complement of receivers for once. The only problem is a lot of them are banged up right now, but once they get healthy, they should be pretty good.”
Pryor, a former Ohio State quarterback, had one catch for 42 yards in three games last season.
“It’s coming along,” Cabot said of the 27-year-old’s development. “For as big as he is – 6-4 and I think even closer to 6-5 – it’s at times a little bit tough for a guy that big and lanky to make the sharp cuts and things like that that he’s going to have to do. He’s taking pointers from the little guys on the team – and there are still some of those with Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel – and he’s working really, really hard at it. But for now, his strength is send him on a go route, send him on a fly and let him jump up over a smaller DB and catch the football.”