Browns’ silver linings in a stormy start

Dan Armelli

Dan Armelli

LeBron James broke the Cleveland curse, but it appears the King’s power does not extend to the coast of Lake Erie.

The 0-3 Cleveland Browns, not the target of high expectations before the season, are already limping game to game, and even day to day.

Browns fans had a limited number of players to be excited about and already some of those players will miss multiple weeks due to injury.

Robert Griffin III is expected to miss eight-12 weeks because of a broken bone in his non-throwing shoulder. His backup, Josh McCown, broke his collarbone last week and is week-to-week. The Browns now have to rely on rookie third-rounder Cody Kessler for at least the next few weeks, unless he’s unable to escape the injury bug biting the entire roster.

Speaking of rookies, first-round wide receiver Corey Coleman showed out in week two against the Ravens with five caches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He was really looking like a player that could gives fans excitement each weekend while watching a team competing for the first overall pick. However, Coleman will be out for four to six weeks after breaking his hand in practice.

Also hurt in practice was kicker Patrick Murray, who hasn’t had a particularly good first 18 games of his career. But when you only employ one kicker and he gets hurt on a Friday walkthrough, that’s not great.

And I haven’t even touched on the injuries of center Cam Erving and rookie defensive end Carl Nassib, who are disappointing in their own rights and for different reasons.

In this early season, a season in which the bar was low for Cleveland, the Browns look like they won’t be able to reach that bar.

In a season like this, fans need something to hold onto, to keep from going insane. Here are some of the players good Browns fans should hang their hat on as we head toward the final 14-week stretch.

First and foremost, left tackle Joe Thomas is still playing like Thomas, and I feel like I need to keep saying his name because he’s been the best at his position for almost a decade, and you won’t be able to say that about a Browns player for at least that long again.

Thomas will once again garner interest from contenders looking for a left tackle, as the Broncos almost completed a deal for him at last year’s deadline. With little hope left in this season for the Browns, maybe this year will be the year they pull the trigger on a deal for Thomas to broaden their collection of picks for the 2017 Draft.

Third-year linebacker Christian Kirksey is another bright spot, and has seemed to improve each year after being a third-round pick of the Browns in 2014. Kirksey was well regarded as a coverage guy and a player who moved well in space, but as a pro he’s been able to improve into an all-around linebacker.

Demario Davis, who’s been in the NFL since 2012, has also had a solid couple first weeks with the Browns since coming over from the New York Jets. Davis has been impressive in coverage so far, making this a hard duo to throw in the middle of.

In the first two weeks, Pro Football Focus graded the pair out as top five defensive players for the Browns: Kirksey first and Davis second in Week one, and Davis fourth and Kirksey fifth in week two. As a bonus, both of these players a considered high-character people, which is what you love to see from guys at their position.

Lastly, it seems like every week for the last couple years, I’ve see some debate over how good Isaiah Crowell is. His critics will say he doesn’t have great vision or balance. I’m usually fond of the guy, but I think both sides can agree that his 195 yards and two touchdowns are a big credit to the great job done by the offensive line.

The Browns’ beasts up front have been dominating the opposition with a combo of young guys and veterans. All you have to do is look at the hole they opened up for Crowell on his 85-yard touchdown against the Ravens and you’ll see what this units been all about.

Cam Erving has been the only player along the line to not receive a top five offensive grade from PFF in the first two weeks, while Thomas has done it twice. Expect Crowell to keep eating.

Contact Dan Armelli at [email protected].