The Cleveland Browns first training camp practice open to fans is Saturday, July 28. Finally, after months of rehashing another losing season and debating possible free agency signees and draft picks, the attention turns to the 2012 season.
As evident by the discussion on theOBR forums, there are plenty of areas to discuss about a young Browns team full of potential. The staff at theOBR zeroed in on five questions relevant to this year's squad:
1. Are you happy with the job Tom Heckert has done since becoming GM in January 2010? Read the guys' takes here.
2. Which area of this team do you think is the most improved since the end of the 2011 season, and which area needs the most work entering 2012? Read the guys' takes here.
3. What will you be looking for in the first few weeks of camp leading into the Browns' preseason opener Friday, Aug. 10 at Detroit?
4. Last season, the Browns defense allowed an NFL fifth-best 19.2 points per game. Yet they were third-worst against the run allowing 147.4 yards per game. Well, are you glass-half full with this defense or is it just more of the same?
5. Is it too simplistic to say that the only way to win in today's NFL is to have a top-tier quarterback? Will Brandon Weeden be that guy or is it more likely he'll join the long list of never-have-beens?
Join the fellas by providing your take in the comments below.
Next up, question No. 3.
What will you be looking for in the first few weeks of camp leading into the Browns' preseason opener Friday, Aug. 10 at Detroit?
Whether or not Josh Gordon can run routes effectively, or if he has habits from Baylor's wide-open offense that need to be unlearned before he can effective in Cleveland's modified WCO. The physical potential is there, but our collective experience with second-round receivers not named "Kevin Johnson" encourages us to patiently wait to see if that potential emerges on the playing field.
Getting the young players on the field to gain that ever-important feeling of the speed of the game and difference in collective talent within a unit is a necessity. Those early days of camp are the next step in getting a young player from the film and board to the actual activity, when reaction is necessary without thought.
With the large number of young receivers on the player roster and a rookie QB under center, the expectation will be for some rocky practice sessions early in camp until familiarity with one another, as well as the understanding of the playbook becomes a natural progression.
Getting this youth, what is believed to be the core of the team for years to come on the field absorbing as much as possible in preparation for the upcoming season
Alll eyes will be on quarterback to see if Brandon Weeden shows the development throughout training camp to take the Browns into the season. The background battle between Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace will be key, as well. Will Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon show the progress expected to improve the receiving corps.
Until I see Weeden's "maturity" and "cannon arm" matched up against a live NFL defense, I don't want to debate his validity as a starting quarterback. Nor am I worried about Richardson's outside running ability, Gordon's 40-yard dash time, Phil Dawson pouting over his contract, Scott Fujita's morality or Phil Taylor's pecs. Throw in the shrinking of practice time based on last year's CBA and NFL training camps are becoming less important.
What I will be interested in after the first preseason game is whether Pat Shurmur's tepid 1992-esque offense of a season ago evolves with the roster's talent. Or whether Pat Shurmur continually looks like he's ready to cry on the sidelines.
Whether or not Colt McCoy will be wearing orange and brown.
It is time to rid this team of any perceived quarterback controversy, and that means the Browns must trade or release Colt McCoy. Yes, McCoy can be a serviceable backup quarterback for an NFL team. The Browns cannot be one of those NFL teams.
I would expect the Browns make this move before the preseason's first game. Brandon Weeden needs to get most of the snaps in practice, as well as the preseason games. He needs to quickly get acclimated to the NFL game.
Once the season starts, having McCoy still in a Browns uniform would only be detrimental to the Browns and Weeden's development. McCoy is a natural leader, but this is no longer his team. It's Weeden's team. Yet because he's a rookie, he will no doubt have a bad game or two this season. We don't need to hear or even waste time hearing the rumblings that maybe they should play McCoy.
For everyone's sake, McCoy needs to find work elsewhere and I'll be watching (and hoping) that happens in the next few weeks.