Browns improving as they enter key stretch

Posted Oct. 20, 2012 @ 12:33 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that whether the club is moving in a “positive direction” will be part of the criteria on assessing the coaching staff’s job performance down the stretch.

“I think you want to see continued improvement,” Haslam said upon being approved by NFL owners on Oct. 16. “You want to see them play hard, and if you’ve seen our team, we’ve played hard every game.”

Haslam said he told head coach Pat Shurmur that "no decisions have been made" with regard to the coaching staff's future. He noted that the timing of the news of the ownership change, which occurred as the Browns began training camp, was not ideal.

"I’ve said all along, we don’t want to be a distraction. I’ve told Pat, that if there’s anything we can do let us know, otherwise you go out and coach the football team, get the guys ready to play hard," Haslam said. "Let’s win as many games as we can.”

The good news for Shurmur and his staff is the Browns have started to round into form. CB Joe Haden’s return from a four-game suspension has been a big help for the defense. Also, second-year DT Phil Taylor (pectoral) is on schedule in his recovery, Shurmur said leading up to Week Seven. The offense, meanwhile, has a good deal of potential, with the rookie trio of QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson and WR Josh Gordon all showing promise. What’s more, the special teams are getting outstanding play from PK Phil Dawson and RS Joshua Cribbs.

As the Browns try to impress Haslam and new CEO Joe Banner, they appear in better position to put their collective best foot form than in past campaigns, when Cleveland too often faded as the season progressed. By contrast, the 2012 Browns might have some upside.