PFW correspondent Tony Grossi, the Browns' beat writer for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, recently answered five questions about the state of the club as it nears the end of another playoff-less season. Here are our questions and his answers:
PFW: Is the team closer to being a playoff contender than it was a season ago at this time?
Grossi: I believe it is, because there is more youth on the field and those players have acquired experience that will expedite the team's success.
PFW: Do you believe the Browns are any closer to having an answer on whether to continue on with Colt McCoy as the starter in 2012?
Grossi: Yes, I believe they have seen enough to conclude they have to get much better at the quarterback position.
PFW: The starting running back in 2012 is (a) Peyton Hillis, (b) Montario Hardesty or (c) someone currently not on the team?
Grossi: I would choose b or c.
PFW: What has Pat Shurmur done best in his first season on the job, and where has he fallen most short?
Grossi: Shurmur was very organized at the outset and was able to implement a very professional training camp in a short period of time due to the owners' lockout. Once the season got under way, however, he had issues in game and time management. I now believe he overburdened himself by not appointing an offensive coordinator. At times, the games appeared to be playing out too fast for him. He also had trouble identifying who were his best playmakers on offense early on and seemed to give his young quarterback too much to handle too fast.
PFW: Has this team met, exceeded or failed to perform to your expectations?
Grossi: The offense has woefully underperformed. The special teams have been a disaster. The defense has exceeded expectations.
Tony Grossi's work can be found in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (Cleveland.com/browns). He can be followed on Twitter @TonyGrossi.