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Musings: On the Cleveland Browns owners, Josh Gordon, and Shon Coleman

Brent Sobleski takes a look at Dee Haslam's increasing influence on the organization, Shon Coleman's immense potential, and everyone's favorite "should-be" #1 receiver, Josh Gordon

Back to work.

There really isn’t an NFL offseason, and only a short period in July can actually be considered down time. But that time is over, and training camp kicked into full swing this weekend.

For the  Cleveland Browns, it’s another new beginning with numerous questions surrounding the team, coaching staff and overall potential as an exasperated fan base continues to wait for the impossible to happen—the Browns actually getting over the hump and becoming a playoff contender.

It’s unlikely to happen this year, though. For the first time in a very long time, there is a cohesive vision in Berea. However, the upcoming season should be considered the initial step toward a long-term goal.

A long-term goal now shared by the ownership group, which saw its share of change in recent months.

  1. Since Jimmy Haslam became majority owner, the ensuing three years haven’t been successful—which is a kind way of saying the franchise experienced constant turnover, turmoil and very few victories. It’s important to note Dee Haslam is now taking a far more active role within the organization, and her impact has been very important to the team’s current direction. One source even told the OBR she’s basically running the show at this point.

  2. When rookie quarterback Cody Kessler mentioned it "felt like you want to win games for them to pay them back” after Jimmy and Dee Haslam spoke to the team before the start of camp, it wasn’t coincidence. Nor should it be overlooked Dee Haslam is even mentioned. The players have gravitated toward Mrs. Haslam. Those within the organization look at her as fair and enjoy her approach to the business.

  3. The question most often asked about the current Browns is: “How is this year any different than previous seasons and regimes?” Hue Jackson’s presence is very important for the franchise’s overall mindset—as many continue to concentrate on with another season starting—but Dee Haslam’s presence behind the scenes have been a positive driving force behind the franchise’s current direction.

  4. Josh Gordon dominated headlines this past week when the NFL reinstated the wide receiver on a conditional basis. From a football perspective, it’s hard to forget the then–23-year-old Gordon leading the NFL in receiving yardage during the 2013 campaign. No one can deny his raw ability. Physically, he’s as talented as any wide receiver currently found in the NFL. However, the organization remains in a wait-and-see approach. Gordon needs to prove he can be relied upon both on and off the field before anyone trusts him again. This includes his teammates.

  5. As one veteran teammate stated, “Josh’s career is up to Josh. He’s a great player, but he has to prove he’s grown up and moved past his demons.” Not only does Gordon need to prove to himself he can stay clean and produce again, he needs to prove himself to the rest of the men in Cleveland’s locker room. The 2013 campaign seems so long ago, and there is only a handful of teammates actually left who know Gordon, the person.

  6. If it isn’t clear by now, the starting quarterback spot is Robert Griffin III’s to lose. When Jackson said he wanted to name a starter by the first preseason game, it all but sealed the deal. Josh McCown might be a better quarterback at this point, but he’s also a veteran who experienced multiple systems during his 13-year career and played in 27 games over the last three seasons. He should be further ahead. That’s not important. What’s important is building a system conducive to RG3’s particular skill set. This is where Jackson excels.

  7. What isn’t being taken into account is how the offense will likely look with Griffin behind center. Everyone should expect an offense where the ball is out of the quarterback’s hand quickly. The reason is twofold. First, RG3 excels when he can made quick reads instead of trying to survey the entire field. In order to highlight this strength, the offense should feature RPOs (run-pass options) and plenty of pocket movement. This also aligns with the team’s newfound talent at wide receiver where the incoming rookies and Gordon excel after the catch.

  8. An important note likely slipped under the radar of Browns fans earlier this month at SEC media days. Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett is the potential No. 1 overall pick for the 2017 NFL draft and a monster pass-rusher. When asked which offensive tackle gave him the most trouble during the last two seasons, his answer surprised. It wasn’t Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil or Alabama’s Cameron Robinson. Instead, he named former Auburn Tigers left tackle and current Browns rookie Shon Coleman.

  9. “Humongous,“ Garrett described Coleman, per’s Wesley Sinor. ”He was already big, but his footwork really improved that next year. It made it a task to try to get by him. It’s already hard enough to try to go through him. You have to find a way to exploit his weaknesses, and he did a good job at lessening and working on those."

  10. This lends credence to the possibility of Coleman eventually taking over at left tackle for future Hall of Fame blocker Joe Thomas. Since being drafted, the Auburn product has been viewed as the answer at right tackle. Coleman, Alvin Bailey and Spencer Drango will legitimately compete to start on the strong side, but the third-round rookie might not stay at right tackle for long depending on Thomas’ situation.


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