“Although a lot of people point to quarterbacks Norv has impacted over the years, he's had just as much, if not more of an impact, on running backs,” Aikman said. “I expect Brandon Weeden to flourish under Norv. But I also expect Trent Richardson to be among the league leaders in rushing yards this season. You saw what Emmitt (Smith) did in this offense. That balance sets everything up for the quarterback.”
Frerotte played for seven different NFL teams. During his career, he ran a variety of offenses.
“Norv's system is more of a power running attack,” Frerotte said. “You have a fullback, a tailback, a tight end. People call it by the wrong name. It's different personnel than the West Coast.
“In Norv's system you run a lot of play-action, sit in the pocket, be strong and throw deep-ins and deep-outs, comebacks. Those are plays that fit right into what Brandon Weeden likes to do.”
Weeden played well in Cleveland's first two preseason games, but the offense sputtered in the third game. Still, three touchdowns and no interceptions was noticeable improvement over Weeden's rookie season when he threw 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
“You can say it's preseason and it doesn't mean anything,” Weeden said. “It doesn't count on your record but you're still out there playing football. We had some success. That helps your confidence. We know we have a lot of work to do, but no question the offense has shown some improvement.”
The Browns have some weapons to complement Weeden and Richardson, including young but talented tight end Jordan Cameron and wide receiver Josh Gordon, although Gordon must serve a two-game suspension to start the season.
Still, the quarterback is critical in Turner's offense. On a daily basis, Turner provides tips ranging from footwork to instructing Weeden to eliminate patting the ball while receivers are running routes.
“He's coaching me literally every play,” Weeden said. “Regardless whether I make a perfect throw or not-so-good throw he's coaching me whether my feet need to be adjusted or so many other things. He gives you so much confidence.”
Cultivating a new culture
Turner isn't the only new addition in Cleveland. First-time head coach Rob Chudzinski spent two different stints on Turner's San Diego Chargers staffs.
Chudzinski's background is offense, another plus for Weeden. Chudzinski has been the offensive coordinator with the University of Miami, the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns.
“Our entire staff has given us a breath of fresh air,” Weeden said. “The culture around this team is really good. You wouldn't have thought this is a team that won five games last year. We have a lot of confidence. We're hungry. Everybody is excited to see what we can accomplish this season.”
A new culture is needed.
Since Cleveland returned to the NFL as an expansion team 14 years ago, the Browns have compiled a 73-151 record.
One of only four franchises to never play in a Super Bowl, the Browns haven't made the playoffs the past 10 years.
“I'm excited,” Turner said. “Our players are excited. I hope our fans are excited. I'm a realist but I'm excited about what Brandon's been able to do.”
The first step to improving in the standings is faring better in the rugged AFC North.
The Browns haven't posted a winning division record for 15 consecutive seasons dating back to the original Browns that moved to Baltimore. It's the longest sub-.500 intra-division streak in more than 40 years.
Cleveland must start holding its own against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati to have any hope of a .500 season, much less evolve into a playoff contender.
“To me, everything starts with a system that's extremely sound,” Turner said. “This system has been proven over time. You can go back to the '70s with Don Coryell and just keep going through all the different people that played in the system.”
Now it's Weeden's turn to play in Coryell's system. Turner is encouraged by early results.
“We try to keep it as simple as possible for the quarterback and put the burden on some of the other players,” Turner said. “It's like going to the driving range. Everything is smooth and good. Then you get out on the course and it's the real deal.
“Brandon is still learning. That's natural for a guy that hasn't played a lot in this league. But I don't see any of the negatives. I see a lot of positives in terms of where he's going.”
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