A 24th rated passing offense and 28th rated rushing offense in the 2011 season. Sound familiar, it should and the steps the Cleveland Browns are taking are proactive, something often talked about but rarely successful in achieving a positive result.
Some players were solid individual performers, the overall state of the Browns offense struggled like a rudderless ship due to inconsistency and poor play.
Whether you buy into the belief that Colt McCoy is a starter quality QB or RB Montario Hardesty is healthy and ready to show why the Browns traded up in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft means nothing today.
That ship has sailed.
CO Mike Holmgren and XO Tom Heckert had witnessed enough poor offensive football to realize drastic measures were essential to save their sinking ship.
As the season progressed to its end, Holmgren was determined the Browns would not field such a product heading into the 2012 season.
"Knowing Mike (Holmgren) and how competitive he is, there is absolutely no way he was going to sit idly by and let his QB situation fester any further," an NFL personnel director tells theOBR. "Holmgren had hoped McCoy would show enough to lead the team as the talent level improved, but he proved to be what he is, a smallish, average type player with limited physical ability for the professional game."
The Browns personnel department, along with the likes of Holmgren, Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur scoured film on the Browns, other NFL teams and college players alike, the defining moment was when Holmgren and Heckert decided significant change was necessary if ‘their plan' to reform the Cleveland Browns was to see the light of day.
As a group it was determined the Browns needed to find a QB with the makeup and arm strength to be a factor on game-day. Far too often in the 2011 season, McCoy was unable to execute the called play, either due to inaccuracy, the inability to find and get the ball out or due to the opposition penetrating the backfield, forcing the young signal-caller to scramble.
Film study proved McCoy was his own worst enemy. During the season Shurmur attempted to get McCoy on the same page as he (Shurmur is the play-caller), but inconsistency prevailed.
"When we played the Browns, we knew they could not attack the middle deep portion of the field due to the ball floating on McCoy. We know unless we completely screwed up, the Browns could not get the ball down the field from the hash-marks out," the personnel director said. "
"Our philosophy, which most teams utilized against the Browns was to bring pressure and pressure the box. Beating us over the top was something we were not concerned with overall, as long as we played our schemes correctly."
The situation with the Browns wasn't helped when McCoy's father openly questioned the Browns organization following his son suffering a concussion and going back onto the field of play. While the Browns seriously dropped the ball and put the young QB in jeopardy, the words from McCoy's father stung more than what anybody led on.
It was evident early and often if the collective group in the front office was to enable this Browns team the ability to win, change needed to be made.
In Cleveland, a QB was rest-assured when the Browns attempted to deal multiple draft selections to the St. Louis Rams to acquire the second selection in the draft to select QB Robert Griffith III from Baylor.
"Cleveland was in it to win it on RG3. Some of us believe the Rams did an end around on the Browns when they finalized their deal with Washington" the personnel director continued.
Finishing runner-up to Washington in gaining the second pick in the draft turned out to not be too bad. Due to the non-deal, the Browns were in position to move up one spot and secure the services of a RB widely considered to be the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson from the University of Alabama.
The Tennessee Titans selected Wright with the 20th selection, two positions before the Browns at #22.
"For a team in the position the Browns are, they should be thankful the deal for RG3 wasn't consummated. Ending up with Richardson, Weeden and (Mitchell) Schwartz through the first two rounds will help that team immensely," the personnel direction said. "Let's not under-estimate the impact a potential franchise type RB, QB and solid RT will provide the Browns.""The Browns did exceptionally well in selecting WR Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft, he is every bit the player Wright is and more. He has the ability to be a #1 WR in this league, but that a story for another day."
Throughout the early off-season, the Browns were coy as to what they were seeking to accomplish. An occasion tidbit that the team was satisfied with McCoy would slip out to the public, but the reality was the Browns had been closely following Weeden's progress at the collegiate level.
Not to say the Browns had penciled Weeden as the heir-apparent at that early juncture, but the scouting process led them to Weeden, as well as Andrew Luck, Griffith III and Matt Barkley. Barkley removed himself from the picture when he decided he was staying in school.
Luck and Griffith III went #1 and #2 in the draft.
"Cleveland got the right guy (Weeden) at this time for them. He's very mature, has a very good understanding of the game and position and is the most likely of the QB's from this draft to step-in and play at an acceptable level from the onset," the personnel direction said. "The support staff Weeden will have with the Browns is very solid and stable."
"The Browns just need to get him all the reps he can in camp and let him play his game and let the game come to him."
For a Browns attempting to change their fortunes, this would be a sight to see.