They have begun the season 0-4 and are currently enduring a nine-game losing streak, but the Cleveland Browns can still turn the corner in the 2012 NFL season.
That's because they have a solid, young core in place that for once, actually promises a bright future for their long-suffering and extremely loyal fans. The Browns travelled to Baltimore and ran the Raven close with a rookie quarterback, rookie running back, rookie right tackle and two first-year wide receivers.
On defense a second-year corner didn't look out of place, nor did a youthful linebacker who continues to make plays. The point is that while results have not gone their way, the Browns have still managed to lay the foundation for a turnaround.
This is no deceptive structure either. It's not like the false dawns the team experienced when Kelly Holcomb tooke them to the playoffs, or when Derek Anderson managed 10 wins.
Instead this is a Browns team with real promise at the skill positions and with a defense built to last. Quarterback Brandon Weeden is still raw, but he has recovered from his nightmare Week 1 performance, to prove he can succeed at the pro level.
Weeden passed for 320 yards against a tough and experienced Ravens defensde and made a series of gutsy throws to keep the Browns in the game. In fact, if certain of Cleveland's receivers could ever hold onto the ball, Weeden's numbers would be even more impressive.
It's those drops and some critical turnovers that are preventing the Browns from piling up the points, their burgeoning offensive prowess deserves. Things will improve if head coach Pat Shurmur and coordinator Brad Childress get running back Trent Richardson more involved.
The third-overall pick has four touchdowns in his last three games and rarely goes down after the initial hit. He is attacking defenses with elite speed and power and deserves to be a bigger part of the offense.
Defensively, the Browns can create the big plays they need with their pass rush. They currently have 13 sacks, good enough for second-best in the NFL.
Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson remains the focal point of the unit, but youthful linemen Ahtyba Rubin and Jabaal Sheard are approaching dominant level. The secondary s missing suspended young cover ace Joe Haden and needs to be more opportunisitc.
The Browns are only one or two key plays from turning defeats to victory. A glance at their results shows a combined deficit of 25 points after four weeks.
Losing by a single touchdown on the road against the Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, offers some real hope. As does the single-point, opening-day defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Browns have a young roster and these youths must be given time to correct their mistakes and learn the winning habit. With a new owner in place Shurmur and President Mike Holmgren's regime may not get that time, but they certainly deserve it.787551