2015 Browns Schedule Sets Up Well
As most Cleveland Browns fan know, the team's 2015 Schedule was going to be tough based on the opponents. The Browns face recent playoff teams in 12 of their 16 games. Most of those 12 games are against teams that are settled at the QB position, most important on the field, and who have systems in place for years.
The Browns have had neither of those things. Instead the team once again enters a season with a quarterbacks competition, and no clear answer, and a new offensive coordinator. Whether Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw, Thad Lewis or another QB acquired later, can lead the team is a big question. How John DeFilippo integrates his offense with what the Browns ran last year will also be interesting.
A tough schedule, no sure fire QB and a change with the key offensive coaches all signals a very difficult season for the Browns.However, the schedule makers did the Browns some favors.
As Fred noted last night, the Browns have a chance to get off to a fast start. Facing off with the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and the Oakland Raiders in the first 3 weeks is a blessing for a young team going through changes. Combined those 3 teams won 9 games last season. The Jets have a new coach and a whole new defensive backfield but besides that the upgrades of those 3 are not significant.
A 2-1, 3-0 start to the season is a reasonable expectation. It would give the team time to settle in with whoever is at QB while gaining confidence in the system and letting young players find their footing in their new roles. It would also help veterans, whether that is Joe Thomas who has been here awhile or Dwayne Bowe who just arrived, to stay focused and positive about the season.
The schedule makers didn't stop there tho. The Browns have a bye week in the middle of the season, Week 11, which most players love. Some teams have to deal with bye weeks as early as the 4th week. They then have to go 13 straight games to try to make it to the Playoffs. The Browns will put in 10 games before their break, including two straight away games, but get their break before the final 6 game push. A big benefit for the team, even though a late bye last year didn't help.
On the other side of the bye, the Browns get their big primetime game against the rival Baltimore Ravens. This is the Browns chance to prove they are not the same old Browns, and they get 2 weeks to prepare for it. The Ravens on the other hand will be coming off a game against the St. Louis Rams and their physical defense. The team is in the best shape to show what they can do on a national stage against a division rival. Best case scenario.
Even the one of the negatives of the Browns schedule is not terrible. The Browns have three sets of back to back road games. The most important of those, facing division opponents back to back, are also the Browns shortest road trips of the year. The Browns face the Bengals on Thursday Night Football in Week 9 before facing the Steelers 10 days later. While both are road games, they are manageable ones.
The 2015 Browns schedule is by no means easy and there are some difficult quirks in the schedule. Traveling to San Diego and then to Baltimore early in the season and late in the season having to fly out to Seattle in Week 15 and then Kansas City the following week are both tough travel schedules and teams. Facing so many high quality quarterbacks and teams with long standing systems in place will make wins hard to come by.
However the schedule makers did do the Browns some favors and hopefully the team can take advantage of those in the 2015 NFL Season.
What sticks out to you about the Browns schedule, good or bad?