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Despite record, Browns show improvement

Posted Dec 24, 2013

Despite their 4-11 record, the Cleveland Browns have made improvements in many areas under first-year coach Rob Chudzinski.

The Cleveland Browns may carry a 4-11 record into this weekend’s regular-season finale at the Pittsburgh Steelers following a 24-13 loss at the New York Jets Sunday, but first-year coach Rob Chudzinski feels confident in the direction of the team going forward.

When looking toward the future on the offensive side of the football, the Browns have a pair of budding playmakers in wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron.

Gordon has nearly doubled his yardage and touchdowns output from 2012, despite playing in two less games because of a league-mandated suspension at the start of the 2013 regular season, and Cameron continued to build impressive statistics after the first three games of the season after eclipsing career bests in yards, receptions and touchdowns.

“I’m very confident in our future, and the success that we’ll have in the future,” Chudzinski said. “We have a lot of work to do. There’s no doubt in that. I’m not immune to what our record is. It’s not good enough. It needs to be better, and we’ll improve on that.”

Gordon leads all NFL wide receivers with 1,564 receiving yards, 120.3 yards-per-game average, the longest touchdown (95 yards against Jacksonville), 28 catches of 20 or more yards, nine catches of 40 or more yards, and is tied for ninth with nine touchdowns. He also eclipsed the Browns’ single-season receiving yards record, which was previously set by former Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who gained 1,289 in 2007.

Cameron’s 75 receptions and 848 yards rank second in the NFL among tight ends, while his 60.6 yards-per-game average (fourth), seven touchdowns (tied for fifth), and 45 first-down receptions (fourth) all rank in the top ten.

Defensively, the Browns entered their Week 16 game at the New York Jets top ten against the pass (222.4 yards per game allowed), rush (98.0), and in total yardage allowed (320.4). Last season, the Browns were 19th against the run (118.7), 25th against the pass (245.2) and 23rd in yardage allowed (363.8).

“I think that we’ve made strides in some areas,” Chudzinski said. “Certainly, after (Sunday’s) game, I’m not happy, and nobody’s happy with the outcome. Overall, I think there’s a group of guys, a core of what we’re doing that’s going to be the foundation of the future.”

One of the other reasons Chudzinski is confident going forward is the fact that despite having to play three different quarterbacks, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell, because of injuries and production reasons, the team won games with each player at the helm, and all threw for 300 or more yards in at least one of their starts this season.

The Browns were the sixth team in NFL history to have three players surpass the 300-yard mark in a game during the same season.

“I’ve always felt like whatever situation you’re in, whatever you’re doing, whoever you have, you have to figure out a way to make it work,” Chudzinski said. “It’s a puzzle. You have to figure out how you can put that puzzle together. Obviously, we haven’t been able to do that this year well enough.

“I understood the challenges that we had. I know what it takes here. Specifically, I go back to the plan that we have as an organization to establish the type of success, long-term, that we want, and that would take some time to get to. I know what I signed up for.”

And by signing up to coach the Browns, Chudzinski is committed to helping the team improve in all areas, including red-zone offense and defense, third-down defense, rushing the passer and protecting the quarterback.

“I know how important this team is to this region and to our fans, and we’re going to keep fighting to get this thing turned around,” Chudzinski said.

“I grew up as a Browns fan. I know the frustration; I understand the frustration. I’ve lived it, and I can only say, there’s nothing more that I want than for this place to be a winner, for us to turn it around, and we’ll get that done.”