The oddball saga surrounding running back Peyton Hillis is crippling the team, stopping progress and generally causing consternation amongst fans.
While that may be nothing new for Cleveland Browns fans, there is disappointment because no one expected due to something with the fan-favorite running back.
Without even considering the off-field happenings, Hillis is having a questionable start to the season. He's only averaging 3.6 yards per carry, down almost a full yard from his breakout 2010. Most startling was a 10-carry game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 4. It's a ghastly low number for someone who is supposed to be the focal point of the offense.
The Browns have won all four games in which Hillis carried the ball 25 times or more. The team is 2-13 in the other games during Hillis' short tenure with the Browns. Hillis wore out at the end of last season because of the heavy workload, but he needs to be the featured piece of the offense.
Then, there is the missed third game of the season where Hillis had strep throat. Or didn't he? Or did he miss the game because of the ongoing contract talks between the Browns and Hillis' agent Kennard McGuire? It's a mystery.
Still, it seems whatever Hillis, Browns coach Pat Shurmur or McGuire say, it comes across as unbelievable. At least that's what Cleveland media members think since they continue to write and ask questions about it.
It may be time for team president Mike Holmgren to open up and let the fans know the situation with the team's most popular player. Otherwise, it could remain an issue until he does.
Surprise surrounds the play of tight end Evan Moore
When tight end Evan Moore signed a two-year contract extension in September, it seemed like a given that he would have an increased role in the Browns' offense this season.
ClevelandBrowns senior editor Vic Carucci expected Moore to be the team's leading receiver this season. Through four games this season, nothing could be further from reality.
Moore has just seven catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He's only been targeted 12 times all season. What's more surprising is that third tight end Alex Smith has been targeted 11 times. Dig a little deeper in the stats, and it's more telling. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has been in 84 plays to Moore's 46.
Moore has been taken out of the game on most running plays, run blocking on just eight snaps, PFF notes. That's always been the knock on Moore's game and why Smith has been in the game on 42 run plays. The lack of playing time may also have something to do with Moore hot dogging two easy catches by using only one hand.
Still, on a team that is severely lacking a deep-ball threat, Moore has a chance to have a larger role through the final 12 games of the season. Don't forget that last year Moore averaged 20.1 yards per catch, so he knows how to get up the field vertically. He just have to show more effort and skill as a blocker.
As frustrating as Moore's lack of playing time has been for fans, it's probably two-fold for coaches.