Too Easy for that Low-Hanging Fruit
It’s pick on the Browns time, everyone has been quiet during the NFL season but now all come out with their slings and arrows. Topics include Josh Gordon, Johnny Manziel, “textgate”, and the highly debated article that Jason LaCanfora wrote. For a franchise that has not won a postseason game since the 1994 season, it’s so easy to pick on them. But many still chose to, for whatever reason. Playing devil’s advocate – let’s look at the positives for this franchise in orange and brown.
The Defense is Improving and (Relatively) In Tact
Primarily speaking about the secondary, but the Browns’ defense was much better late in the season than it was during their first few games of 2014. Understandably, they need a solid anchor in the middle of the trenches to slow down opposing rushers. Phil Taylor is a solid defender but Ahtyba Rubin will likely leave via free agency – so it is imperative that this front office finds a run stopper or two this offseason. If they are successful in this aspect, the sky is limit for this defense in 2015.
Many Offensive Personnel Should be Ready for Year Two
The systems will likely be altered in some ways (formations, play calls, etc.) – but this is not going from a Norv Turner offense to a Kyle Shanahan one. The offensive linemen and running backs should be familiar with the types of zones that will be centered on rushing attempts. Add in the fact that turnover for these positions will be relatively low, there ought to be improvement there. The key parts are clearly the quarterback and wide receivers. Many question marks surround this part of the team, but I’m confident that there will be improvement by both.
No Key Losses
Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon, Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, and Brian Hoyer are a few of the several free agents (or suspended players) on this roster. I’m ok with missing out on the first three, and the final two will only be missed if there are no reliable replacements to fill their void. The bottom line is that Peyton Manning (in his prime) is not leaving the Browns this season. Therefore, I trust that Ray Farmer and his staff can not only supplement any losses but also strengthen this roster through the draft. It all starts in round one, and the Browns are past due there.
Another Year with the Pettine Regime
The first year was laying the foundation of “Play Like a Brown”. Expectations were set, and some athletes bought into this new system. Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby gave a rough and tumble attitude for this defense, while the offense was stable under the leadership of Alex Mack and Joe Thomas. I anticipate this foundation will continued to strengthen in 2015; and for the team to be successful as a result. I’m excited for the draft and free agency in the coming months and am confident that players will be joining a better locker room than there was a few years ago in Cleveland.
Conclusion: While many are giving doomsday scenarios for the Cleveland Browns, it’s not all bad for the franchise. Heck, some can actually be optimistic for parts of this team. I’m still faithful that they will get things on track and will build off their 7 – 9 season from 2014. Winning next fall will make all these negative stories fall by the wayside.