Since the start of the season, I have been called a lot of things. Apologist, optimist, heck one reader even asked if I was working for the front office.
After losses, I have been one of the most out-spoken supporters of what is happening here in Cleveland.
I was excited about the loss against Philly. Obviously I wanted the offense to look better, but that was one of the best defensive performances of the NFL season, let alone the Browns season.
We then went toe-to-toe with a playoff team from last year in Cincinnati on the road, and lo and behold, the offense looked loads better.
Week 3 was a match-up with Buffalo that many fans thought we had a chance to win. After over coming an early Bills onslaught, the Browns fought back and made the Bills earn the win.
And finally, Brandon Weeden led the Browns into Baltimore, and was a sailed Hail Mary away from tying the football game.
Are the results what we want? Probably not. But when you look at the positives, I can't understand how Browns fans aren't pleased with the first four games of 2012.
Let's get started with the Quarterback position. I'm impressed with Brandon Weeden. He has come in and done something a Browns Quarterback hasn't done in a very long time. He has taken the job by the throat. Anyone who still makes noise about Colt McCoy doesn't want to see the truth. You can't help them.
Trent Richardson is still looking to get in a groove. Many have blamed the play calling, but I think it has more to do with the adjustment to not having gaping holes to run through. The good thing is, I think he will adapt, and when he does, he should be the player we are all hoping for. You can see the glimpses of "special" when he gets the ball in the open field. It will come.
Greg Little has been a lightning rod. He drops passes. He flexes after "rare" catches. The toughest part about Little is that you have to stick with him. There is a reason that he was a second round pick. There is a reason that the Browns continue to make him a starter. He's a talent. Unlike Richardson, I'm not sure he will ever round the corner, but it is a gamble that the Browns need to take.
Outside of Little, the Browns are getting some talent on the outside. Travis Benjamin looks like a legit field stretcher and if he can get on the same page with Weeden, that could be a great combo. Josh Gordon has struggled, but I am cutting him some slack. Four months ago he was learning the Utah playbook. Once he gets his legs under him, he has the tools to be a legit WR. Jordan Cameron continues to impress, had a drop against the Ravens, but he has the ability to get open. Something we haven't had in a tight end since Kellen Winslow.
I think for the most part, the offensive line has been okay. We haven't seen a week when the whole group plays well, once that happens, I think the offense as a whole will break out. I'm worried about Joe Thomas, I am hoping that he is fighting an injury, not declining. Never been a fan of Lauavo, but he can be good enough to get us through the year. Would like to see John Greco get his reps at some point in time. Mitchell Schwartz has been exactly what I expected. Solid, mean and a fit for the next 10 years.
On the defensive side, I really like what we have seen from our defensive line. We are 14th in league against the run in yards per rush. Considering we are down one of our biggest run stoppers in Phil Taylor, I love that number. Frostee Rucker has been solid against the run, and Jabaal Sheard looks to have improved in that facet as well.
Can I take a second to talk about maybe my favorite rookie of all? Billy Winn. He has done nothing but make plays since he got here. John Hughes has been okay, but Winn has out shined him. That isn't a down grade on Hughes, it is a tip of the cap to Winn. Once we get Taylor back, we have 4 DT's that can play at any time, on any down. We have DEPTH!
Can't wait to see what we have in James Michael-Johnson. He was another kid who jumped off the screen in pre-season. He should make some plays when he gets back in the line-up. And speaking of making plays, Craig Robertson is doing just that. Since when have we had a LB that has made plays in the passing game? I can't wait for Roger Goodell to suspend Scott Fujita again.
In the secondary, we miss Joe Haden. But as some other posters have pointed out, this could actually work out for us in the long haul. A lot of guys have gotten good playing time and have had to step up their games. That will help out when Patterson goes back to nickel and Buster Skrine to the dime.
I'm excited. We as Browns fans fall into the trap of "woe is me". We are always waiting for the shoe to drop. But at some time, this is going to get turned around. Don't take my word for it, ask Phil Dawson, a man who has seen plenty of bad football in his day:
Hey Cleveland, what u r seeing is not the same old Browns.Trust me.I feel it.I can hardly wait until it explodes.— Phil Dawson (@phil_dawson_4) September 28, 2012
Me either Phil.