Redskins Week 15: Scouting the Browns

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Jeffrey Tomik

1 A much-improved Browns team? » After starting 0-5, Cleveland has gone 5-3 and heads to Washington on a three-game winning streak. Those three wins haven't exactly been impressive, though. The Browns beat a Steelers team down to its 37-year-old, third-string quarterback, a Raiders team that hasn't won a game since October and a Chiefs team that has its sights set on the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL Draft. But for a franchise that hasn't had a three-game winning streak since 2009, it's not time to nitpick. Even when the Browns were struggling early in the season, they remained competitive, suffering only one loss by more than 10 points all year.

2 Turning to the young guys ... or at least rookies » He may be 29 years old, but Brandon Weeden is a rookie dealing with the same issues that come with being a first-year quarterback in the NFL. While Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson have caught on quickly for playoff-hopeful teams, Weeden hasn't been as successful. He has thrown for 3,037 yards, 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and has a passer rating of 72.8. Weeden's rookie backfield mate, Trent Richardson, also has had an up-and-down season. He has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry but has nine touchdowns, including four during the Browns' three-game winning streak. In total, the Browns have had a league-leading 72 starts by rookies this season.

3 Going deep » Another rookie, Josh Gordon, has emerged as one of the top deep threats in the league. Among receivers with more than 40 catches, only Vincent Jackson (20.4 yards per catch), Cecil Shorts (19.2 ypc) and Torrey Smith (17.5 ypc) have a higher average than Gordon's 17.4. Gordon has five touchdowns, including four of 33 yards or longer. As a team, the Browns have 43 passes of 20 yards or more, tied with the pass-heavy Patriots, Giants and Eagles for 11th most in the NFL.

4 Pretty average defensively » The Browns' defense ranks 18th or worse in total yards (23rd, 363.2 ypg), passing yards (21st, 242.7 ypg) and rushing yards (18th, 120.5 ypg). But the area in which the unit excels is at forcing turnovers. Cleveland has forced 27, tied for second most in the AFC, and has a plus-8 turnover margin.

jtomik@washingtonexaminer.com

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Jeffrey Tomik

Sports editor
The Washington Examiner