Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Browns: Just When You Thought It Was Safe

I cannot remember a longer off-season than this. For over a decade I have watched the Cleveland Browns and throughout that entire time I have expected the same dismal results. 4-12, 6-10, 2-14, ect. It just doesn't get old. Yes, there were certain fluke situations like in 2001 and 2007 when we had winning records. When the Browns went to the playoffs in 2001, playing the long-time rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card game, we thought "this is our year."  We were wrong and the Browns, in their usual fashion, blew a double digit lead going into the 3rd quarter.

But something has been tremendously different this year. For the first time since... well... 1994 and the two year "regime" of Bill Belichick we have actually had a legitimate team all around, ranging from the front office to the very core of our personnel. Randy Lerner is a good owner, despite fans' complaints in the recent past. Yes, maybe he cares way too much about his European Triumph, the British Premier League stars Aston Villa. However, that has recently been outshined by the hiring of Superbowl winning coach, now president, Mike Holmgren.
There is so much that this man brings to the table, not only his skills as a coach and his resume of being consistently successful, but his mutual staff that he brings with him. I don't think many fans have yet to realize what an asset Gil Haskell serves as our Senior Adviser to the President. Can anyone say "Hall of Fame?"

So what does Holmgren do in his first act as President? He goes and hires a GM. Not just any old GM, but one coming from another dominant team of the past decade, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns have never tread in these foreign waters before. Tom Heckert has a track record of drafting some of today's and tomorrow's Pro Bowlers, including greats like Brian Westbook, Sheldon Brown, and Brent Celek.

With all of this in place, Browns fans still were skeptical. We have, after all, seen this before with Carmen Policy and Butch Davis, which didn't turn out so well. But, once again, the Holmgren administration makes all of the right moves. First, we cured the cancer of last season by getting rid of the two worst quarterbacks in the NFL, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Then, we bring in one of Sports Illustrated's Top 5 NFL Backups in Seneca Wallace, but Holmgren doesn't stop there. The signing of former Pro Bowler and quarterback of Super Bowl XXXVIII Jake Delhomme was arguably the best acquisition of the off-season. Other great signings were those such as OLB Scott Fujita and TE Ben Watson. Then, our GM made his best move by trading mediocre prospect LB Alex Hall and our 4th and 5th round picks to the Eagles for Pro Bowl DB Sheldon Brown and a solid MLB in Chris Gocong. Suddenly, our defense is starting to look legitimate.

Then, drafting Joe Haden and TJ Ward provided some extra depth with young players sure to break the mold. But it wasn't all about defense in Cleveland as the Browns traded up in the second round to grab Montario Hardesty, who some scouts called "the next Adrian Peterson." We also drafted a hard-nosed offensive linemen, Shawn Lavao, and one of the most successful college Quarterbacks in history, Colt McCoy. Everything seemed to be in place and the chemistry was nothing short of perfect, as shown in spring OTAs, minicamps, and finally training camp. Even with criticisms about our lack of a true #1 wide receiver and a weak defensive line, we were still stunning everyone who came through Berea, even the national media.

Everything looked perfect... until today. Reported in the late morning after the first daily practice, top CB Eric Wright injured his hamstring and was in a leg brace for the rest of practice. To make matters worse, Tony Pashos did not practice today either. He is going to be heavily relied on as a solid force on the right side of the O-Line. Marcus Bernard, who was a sack machine last year, was carted off the field with an as-of-yet undisclosed injury. Finally, Brian Schafering exited the building with a knee injury. I know I am probably overreacting, especially since all other 32 NFL teams are having the same issues right now. But because of such high expectations around Brown's Town, every little play, every injury, every mishap, is being closely watched. Guys, please get healthy and remain that way.

The Browns will be 8-8 in 2010. Write that down.


  1. Not sure who was hyped for the Browns in the first place. The national media wasn't "stunned" whatsoever. The Browns were ranked 28th in ESPN's training camp power rankings (25th at the end of last season) with James walker saying, "This team lacks talent across the board." http://espn.go.com/nfl/powerrankings?year=2010&week=0

    Also, Since when is Marcus Bernard a sack machine? He had 3.5 sacks last year which tied him at 98th in the league with Andra Davis.

    Write this down: The Browns finish 6-10 at best.

  2. Sir, consider that Marcus Bernard had those 3.5 sacks and played in only the last 4 games of the season. Translate that to a full season of work and there you go. I forgot that ESPN was the only national sport outlet in existence. LOL.

  3. A.) The Browns have much more talent across the board right now than they had going into last season, especially on defense.

    B.) ESPN rarely knows what they're talking about unless it comes to teams in Boston, New York or ( to a lesser extent) LA.

  4. Nice write up man
    Im usually overly optimistic about the browns this time of year however this year in light of what i have seen so far i have went from highly optimistic to hopeless and still hovering in between.

    I have become fairly skeptical of holmgrens decision to keep both mangini and daboll simply because i see nothing going on offensively that indicates anything other than exactly what we had last year only with some new faces..

    I have kind of stepped back and went into a prove it type mood..i really dont want to judge anyone just yet however things are becoming more obvious by the practice and my hope for a decent season are declining..

    Just a gut feeling that went from we are going to kick head this year to with daboll and mangini running things our offense is going to sputter and fail..

    However i believe the defense may be vastly improved but not enough to carry the offense...

  5. shabang ! Lets gro brownies !!

  6. Marcus Bernard played in six games and two of his sacks came against the Steelers, who led the league in sacks allowed last season. Hank Poteat even had a sack against Pittsburgh.

    The Browns might be on the right track, but they won't win 8 games. Sure, they've improved in virtually every position, but it was hard to get any worse. They might win 8 games next year, but I just don't see it happening in 2010. If the Browns do improve, however, and become a 7-8-9-win team, the AFC North might just become the toughest division in football.