A few weeks back I wrote about what the new Cleveland Browns Organization. I discussed how they seemed to value physical talent and upside over gritty, high football IQ kind of guys. Teams need both but the Browns seemed far more focused on the former than the latter. They also showed that they believe in their coaches ability to turn physical traits into on field performance.
Now, we have the team's 53 man roster going into Week 1. (Don't be shocked if between one and three more moves are made Monday or Tuesday.)
Three pieces of the Cleveland Browns identity that we can clearly identify:
Previous Regimes Were Clueless
Of the players that were highly invested in by the previous regimes, few remain. In the last 10 days the Browns have turned Andy Lee, Barkevious Mingo and Justin Gilbert into 4th, 5th and 6th Round picks.Lee and Gilbert were brought in by Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine while Mingo was Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi's 1st Round pick. They are joined by a number of other players who have been cut including Johnny Manziel, Pierre Desir, Taylor Gabriel, K'Waun Williams, et al.
Without even looking it up, it is easy to name the players left that were a part of the foundation of years passed: Joe Haden, Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio and Christian Kirksey. Josh Gordon, Danny Shelton, Xavier Cooper, Nate Orchard and Cameron Erving are still on the team but haven't yet gotten strong endorsements from the new group. They still have time.
There are 25 players, almost 50%, on today's roster that were not on the team last year. That is the most telling statement that the Browns are distancing themselves from the past.
Perhaps because of this belief, we come to our second piece of the Browns identity:
Youth and Draft Picks Are Key
With the initial 53 man roster, 16 rookies (all of the draft picks) had made the team. Even though some of those young guys were out-performed by more veteran players, the Browns show that they value young guys on longer contracts. Some of this can be connected to the first point, that they wanted their guys over the previous regimes.
With a draft class of 14 last year, the team currently looks set to have 13 picks next year. They have also already added a couple picks for the 2018 Draft as well.
Whether it is because of the contract cost, lack of options, upside, moldability or too much pride in their own picks, the Browns will continue to value draft picks as a way to get young players on their team.
They weren't committed to only holding on to young players. DeMario Davis, Andrew Hawkins and Tramon Williams join Haden and Thomas as veteran leaders who can help set the tone for the younger guys, as well as produce (though Williams hasn't proven that yet as a Brown).
Finally, there was one specific skillset that will clearly be a piece of the Browns identity under this regime:
Speed, Speed, Speed
The Browns have added speed all over the field since hiring Hue Jackson. Robert Griffin III, Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Joe Schobert, and Ricardo Louis have great speed for their positions.
Then they added speed in Tyrone Holmes, Corey Lemonier, George Atkinson and Briean Boddy-Calhoun in waiver claims. Those four all have speed to continue the team's search to be able to run around and passed people. Take a look at two of these guys, Holmes and Atkinson, show their speed during Preseason action:
With Terrelle Pryor and Duke Johnson already here, the Browns have quickly upgraded the overall speed on that side of the ball. The team also added some offensive linemen who can get out in front of the ball on run plays and screens, something the team has struggled with for years.
On defense, the Browns need speed to finally get after the quarterback and to end runs before they the back can get away. Ogbah, Nassib, Schobert, Holmes and Lemonier are expected to play and put that speed to use.
Overall, the Browns have struggled to be dynamic for years. Whether it was by design or struggles of fast players, like Mingo, to adjust to what is needed to produce at the NFL level, the Browns just haven't had players who jump off the screen as fast. That changes this season. That changes with this regime.
In one offseason, the new Cleveland Browns have made their identity certain: Moving on from previous regimes, looking for youth (via draft picks) and looking to add speed.
Time, give them at least 3 years Browns fans (please!), will tell if their new identity will translate into wins.
At least the identity is clear.
What do you think of who the Browns have become under this new regime?