Red-zone futility is an all too familiar theme for the Cleveland Browns' offense.
Phil Dawson is one of the NFL's all-time great kickers, but his importance to the Browns' fortunes was greatly inflated by the team's inability to put the ball in the end zone.
Billy Cundiff is proving to be a reliable successor to Dawson, but seeing him provide all of the Browns' points with four field goals in Saturday's preseason-opening loss at Detroit provided a disturbing sense of déjà vu.
Although the Browns have a new coach, a new general manager, and many new players (including, potentially, a new starting quarterback), they have the same item sitting high on the list of priorities for the regular season: score touchdowns in the red zone. Besides failing to do so against the Lions, the Browns' offense has shown similar struggles through training-camp practices, regardless of the quarterback.
Generally speaking, the Browns need to get better and more consistent play from their wide receivers. One plus for Monday night's preseason game at Washington is the expected return of one of the team's best red-zone targets, tight end Jordan Cameron, who missed the Detroit game with shoulder injury.
"It's definitely something that we need to improve on as an offense, not just at the quarterback position," quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains said. "We need to finish some drives. I felt good about how we moved the ball. We need to finish some of those drives and end with seven points instead of three."
Red-zone performance is a large part of what coach Mike Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Loggains discuss when they ponder who should be the Browns' starting quarterback for the Sept. 7 season-opener at Pittsburgh: Brian Hoyer or Duke Johnson Jr..
"The bottom line is we want to see who leads the team and gets in the end zone the most," Loggains said. "Both those guys have done a really good job, and I'm excited to see the process as it goes on."
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE NFL …
FORMER LOS ANGELES LAKERSstar Magic Johnson is optimistic that L.A. soon will be getting an NFL team. "I think for the first time, I truly believe we're going to get a team," Johnson was quoted as saying on Yahoo! Sports. "Finally. Everybody is on board. The city is on board. The business community is on board. The NFL is on board. Finally we have momentum. In the next couple years, at least in the next 24 months, I think one team will be coming. I don't know what team that will be, but I believe in the next two years we'll have a team."
MINNESOTA VIKINGS WIDE RECEIVERGreg Jennings said the balance the team showed on a touchdown drive in its preseason-opener against the Oakland Raiders, with three receivers catching passes (including Jennings), should be a blueprint for the season. "If we can get better at that, being unselfish, and allowing other guys to make plays within the play we make, we can be a really good football team," Jennings told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. >>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for "Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford" on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com. We take your questions at 216-578-0850 and via Twitter @Browns_Daily.