Bowe talks a good game
A quick glance at Dwayne Bowe’s body of work in eight seasons in the National Football League is a bit deceiving, but it’s also easy to see why Browns fans are sanguine about the club’s wide receivers corps this season.
Averaging 66½ catches and 13.4 yards per catch along with 75 touchdown grabs can’t help but improve the club’s passing game, right? And Bowe will be the first one to tell you that even though he hasn’t caught a touchdown pass in 17 straight games.
So when the free-agent signee talks about how he’s going to take Cleveland by storm this season, one has to wonder whether he is more talk than walk.
“If I get (a touchdown) in the (home) opener in the first quarter, the floodgates are open and the Dawg Pound is going crazy,” Bowe said recently. “It’s going to be awesome. Once I start, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I might go crazy.”
Talk like that is laughable from a player who hasn’t caught a forward pass in the opposition’s end zone since Dec. 8, 2013, when he latched on to a 22-yard strike from Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith with a minute left in the first quarter of a 45-10 romp in Washington.
After that? Nothing, nada, zero. Squadouche.
So when he says he has “been to the top (15 TD catches in 2010) and I’ve been to the bottom (last season) and now it’s time to get back to the top,” you can take that literally.
Replicating that 15-TD season seems to be his goal. “That’s what I’m going to show you guys,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting, especially with a new uniform, a new city, new everything. I’m going to feel good.”
Sounds as though Browns fans are in for a treat from the 31-year-old (in September) veteran. Forget that Josh Gordon will be a spectator for at least the 2015 season. Dwayne Bowe is in town.
“When Josh was here, he was the touchdown man and I’m here to fill his shoes,” said the extremely boastful and confident Bowe at the club’s minicamp recently. “It’s my job to do that in this offense and I believe I can do that.”
Nothing wrong with believing in your talents. But when it is obvious those talents are declining rapidly, that’s an entirely different matter. And there is no question Bowe’s talents are clearly headed in that direction.
He was brought to Cleveland ostensibly to be the No. 1 receiver, the guy quarterback Josh McCown will look for more than any other wideout this season. That right there tells you how low the talent at that position has sunk. That’s probably why the Browns this season will place a major emphasis on the run game.
Is Bowe a legitimate No. 1? “I have a lot left,” he said, “especially after not scoring any touchdowns last year. Do you think I’ve still got it? I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have it.” That’s being boastful with nothing to back it up in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately category.
This is not to say he will play 16 games and not reach the end zone. Odds are clearly in his favor to score at least once on a pass this season. Besides, he loves his new quarterback.
“He’s amazing,” said Bowe of McCown. “He’s a crafty vet and knows his matchups, the playbook front and back and he knows the personnel. In the red zone, he knows who to come to, how to hit the checkdown, the audible and he’s a great fit for this offense. . . . I’ve never had a quarterback . . . that tall and could see the mismatch and really go to it. He’s got my confidence level high right now.”
Bowe also needs to work on his memory regarding tall quarterbacks. He was on the receiving end of passes in Kansas City from 6-5 Matt Cassel, 6-4 Brady Quinn and for the last two seasons 6-4 Alex Smith. McCown is 6-4. In his 15-TD season, Bowe caught 72 passes for 1,162 yards with Cassel under center.
Nevertheless, that’s strangely high praise for McCown, the ultimate NFL journeyman. But it’s also the kind of rhetoric fans love to hear, especially those who annually hold out hope this is the year the Browns become relevant once again in the NFL.
With training camp opening in just eight days, optimism is running rampant as Mike Pettine begins season two as the club’s head coach. And the so-called improved group of receivers is at the tip of the list on offense.
With Bowe and fellow newcomer Brian Hartline on board along with returnees Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Marlon Moore and Travis Benjamin, rookie Vince Mayle and maybe Terrelle Pryor, the only strength there is in numbers. It certainly will not be in production.
Unless, of course, Bowe prove us all wrong. Chances are, though, he will turn out to be this season’s Miles Austin, who caught 47 passes last season for 568 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns.