The Cleveland Browns won their first game of the season this week and have fans a little more excited than this time last week. Yet some moves, or lack of moves, from the off-season really set off the chain of events that led to this Sunday's win. We will run this series after every game for as long as it has value.
So we take a look at three offseason moves that helped lead to the Browns victory on Sunday. To be clear, these are not statements about Week 1 or about the future, just about Week 2 and the Browns victory.
Giving Value to Special Teams
I have been critical of the Browns keeping Marlon Moore, Tank Carder and Johnson Bademosi instead of players who can play both special teams AND contribute in other areas. The Browns however made it clear that special teams were going to be important to them all offseason. Keeping those three was just a piece of the puzzle. The Browns traded for punter Andy Lee and invested in Travis Benjamin as their primary returning while also giving time to Justin Gilbert, Duke Johnson, Taylor Gabriel and others to make sure the return game was strong.
On this day, the combination of punts by Lee, coverage by the team and Benjamin returning punts paid dividends.
Sticking with Travis Benjamin, The Receiver
If most of us were honest, we would admit that we thought Benjamin would be cut before the start of the season. Some of us thought he SHOULD be cut to keep a player like Josh Lenz or Terrelle Pryor. The Browns instead saw a lot of value in Benjamin, not only as a returner but also as a deep threat in the passing game. That has paid off so far as he is tied for 2nd, behind Gronk, in receiving TDs while being 4th overall in receiving yardage in the entire NFL.
It took some guts to stick with The Rabbit, and so far it has paid off. Sunday's win doesn't happen without his 2 receiving, and 3 overall, TDs. Keeping Benjamin was a huge decision this offseason for the Browns.
Not Adding Another QB
Johnny Manziel was obviously a huge part of the Browns victory on Sunday. That isn't to say he was perfect, is certainly the QB of the Future or even should start in Week 3. Instead, Manziel played well enough to win, made smart plays and used his legs to extend the play that put the nail in the coffin on the last TD.
Yet, if the Browns had followed most people's advice, they could have added another QB this offseason that may have kept Manziel from the field. Even after adding Josh McCown, many thought the Browns would have added another QB this offseason. Drafting a developmental guy like Brett Hundley or trading for a guy like Austin Davis, could have led to Manziel, and his ailing elbow, to have stayed on the bench when McCown got hurt in Week 1.
Instead we have a QB controversy over whether McCown or Manziel should start in Week 3. If Davis was with the team all offseason, it's possible he would have taken the snaps in Week 2 and who knows where we would be right now.
What offseason moves, or lack thereof, do you think impacted the win most for the Browns?