Time to Grow Up: Is Dwayne Bowe the Answer for the Cleveland Browns?

I’ve already discussed the importance of the Cleveland Browns bringing in legitimate receiving options for the trio of Manziel, McCown and Lewis, and how Brian Hartline was a step in the right direction.  But on Sunday, Browns fans were treated to this bit of information:

Of course, the first question that came to my mind is whether this was a good thing or not.  I certainly think Bowe has some talent, but is he a fit for the Browns?  Let’s take a look first at what we know about Bowe from his time in Kansas City.

Dwayne-Bowe for Cleveland Browns?

Bowe was selected 23rd overall in the first round by the Chiefs in the 2007 NFL Draft.  And for a time, Bowe looked like the long term answer at wide receiver.  In fact, Bowe had more than 1,000 yards for 3 of his first 5 seasons (averaging just over 7 touchdowns per season), missing in his rookie season by just 5 yards and in 2009 due to suspension.  His performance earned him a Pro Bowl visit in 2010 after leading the NFL in touchdown receptions, and prompted a franchise tag from the Chiefs in 2012.  But 2012 through 2014 was a different story, as Bowe proceeded to average only 742 yards a year with just 8 TOTAL touchdowns.  What was the difference?  Well honestly, not much.

Dwayne Bowe 2007-2011

  • 56.1% reception percentage
  • 8.5 targets per game
  • Approx. 13.8 average yards per reception

Dwayne Bowe 2012-2014

  • 55.9% reception percentage
  • 7.3 targets per game
  • Approx. 12.6 average yards per reception

As you can see, the only real difference was the number of targets per game.  Not surprisingly, Bowe needs targets in order to be productive.  And with more targets, there’s greater opportunity to break longer plays, which may impact his average yards per reception.  But before we draw conclusions, let’s look at whether the Chiefs’ passing game impacted Bowe’s performance by analyzing the number of annual passing attempts and associated completion percentage:

  • 2007 – 563 – 59.5%
  • 2008 – 541 – 57.3%
  • 2009 – 536 – 55.2%
  • 2010 – 475 – 57.7%
  • 2011 – 500 – 59.8%
  • 2012 – 475 – 57.5%
  • 2013 – 546 – 61.0%
  • 2014 – 493 – 64.9%

Again, as can be seen, the Chiefs have been running a relatively conservative passing offense since Bowe has been part of the team.  And that seems to fit him well.  Which actually bodes well for joining the Cleveland Browns.

As I discussed last time, both quarterback options currently in Cleveland (outside of Johnny Football, whom we don’t have much history with yet) have numbers in line with, and are probably best used in, a conservative passing offense primarily as game managers.  Like, oh say, Alex Smith in Kansas City for instance.  In fact, McCown and Lewis have completion percentages of 58.8% and 60.8% respectively, well within the range of what Bowe was used to in Kansas City.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Although Bowe has a tarnished reputation, mostly because he’s had progressively less impressive years since his breakout in 2010, he’s a solid wide receiver with a significant potential.  He played his entire career for the Chiefs and is the franchise record holder for most catches by wide receiver.  Really, his solid, yet less than stellar numbers are most likely more a product of the system he was in than his ability.  This recent history should allow the Browns to acquire Bowe at a discount.  And as I’ve said before, I think a drafted first round wide receiver, like Jaelen Strong, could benefit from a veteran presence like Bowe.  A 2 to 3 year incentive laden contract makes a lot of sense here.  So where are we now?

Well, here’s hoping Rapaport wasn’t wrong and the Browns don’t let Bowe go without a contract.

And really, if Cleveland Brown can find a way to move up from being a deli owner to a cable installer to being a therapist, surely the Cleveland Browns can take the next step as well.

Of course, in a recent episode of Family Guy, we found out Cleveland actually wasn’t any good as a therapist.  So, yeah, perhaps we don’t want to be exactly like Cleveland.


UPDATE 3/19/15 – Bowe was signed by the Browns.  In my opinion, a good move.

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

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