|Travis Benjamin is undoubtedly the most improved Brown, and probably the team MVP in the early going.|
Can it be that Travis Benjamin has more receiving yards (328) than the combined totals of all other Browns wideouts including Brian Hartline (123), Andrew Hawkins (112), Taylor Gabriel (67), Marlon Moore (15) and Dwayne Bowe (0)? Unbelievably, Benjamin trumps the field, 328 to 317.
Benjamin has put his career back on track after being injured in 2013 (knee surgery) and a poor 2014 campaign in which he didn't catch many balls as a wideout, and misjudged a number of punts. Many observers (okay, including me, I admit) were expecting that the Browns would cut Benjamin in order to keep Terrelle Pryor as a recycled wide receiver after flopping as a quarterback. Fortunately that did not happen.
Benjamin has been incredibly valuable as the other wide receivers have all but disappeared. Dwayne Bowe suffered a pulled hamstring and no one has seen him run full speed in a game yet. Last year's star rookie Taylor Gabriel has been very quiet, as well as our star free agent Andrew Hawkins.
It's equally surprising how the combined producion of Bowe, Gabriel and Hawkins has dropped off, while Benjamin has picked up most of the slack.
2014 (16 game avg) 2015 (4 game avg)
Hawkins 51.5 28.0
Gabriel 39.4 16.8
Bowe (KC) 47.1 0.0
Benjamin 19.6 82.0
The Browns are also getting decent production from tight end Gary Barnidge, and rookie running back Duke Johnson seems to want to make a few catches as well. Last year for whatever reason the Browns were very reluctant to throw the ball to running backs Isaiah Crowell, Ben Tate (since cut) or Terrance West (since traded).
The twin mystery is how did Benjamin improve so much, and why have Hawkins, Bowe and Gabriel slid off the face of the earth?