If we envision Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski as a chef, did he have the right ingredients to succeed over the past month, a stretch of games that would include games against Kansas City, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh? The answer is "no."
Although Chudzinski still had some of his main ingredients, the finer ingredients that can be the key to completing the recipe -- guys like WR Travis Benjamin, TE MarQueis Gray, ILB Craig Robertson, OLB Quentin Groves, and QB Jason Campbell -- have been missing due to injuries.
For most of the first half of the season, we didn't have to worry about injuries very much, which covered up the fact that the front office was basically using the back-end of our roster as an extension of the practice squad. In other words, those back-end roster spots were fluid, full of players who weren't seen as depth, but rather developmental players. Without the necessary substitute ingredients for some of those players, we've seen the negative side effects:
- There is literally no threat in the punt return game for Cleveland, which has hurt our field position.
- In the Bengals game, the shuffling of players due to injuries helped lead to two miscues in punt protection, which potentially cost us the game.
- Ever since Jason Campbell hurt his ribs, he hasn't played as well.
- The Browns were already think at inside linebacker, but after another injury to Tank Carder, they are down to an undrafted free agent who was signed a few weeks ago.
- Quentin Groves, who was having a high level of success as a pass rusher in limited attempts, isn't available anymore.
- The one back-end/fluid player who did show some potential, Josh Aubrey, landed on injured reserve earlier in the season.
Cleveland hasn't been hit with injuries nearly as bad as some other teams, but it's another sign that besides acquiring some more high-impact players on offense in 2014, they'll also need to improve their depth at various positions so a collapse like we've seen over the past month doesn't happen again.