Another year and the losses are piling up. After going through not one, not two, but three starting quarterbacks this year, the Browns are headed towards a 4-12 season and another top 10 draft pick.
When Jimmy Haslam III bought the team last October he and Joe Banner were supposed to bring change and more importantly, winning to the Browns organization. But as of yet it hasn’t happened. The Browns have gone through three starting quarterbacks, in large part due to injuries but also Brandon Weeden’s inept play. They’ve lost five straight and will probably lose the next two to close out the season. More importantly, they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars!
Usually when the Browns finish 4-12 the fans are in uproar, and while many fans are this year (See the Angry Browns Fan YouTube Videos), I’m not. Yes, I’m unhappy that the Browns stank this season. But without a NFL starting quarterback, its a rebuilding year. And the “new regime” has said this time and time again. While I know its been said over and over, for once, I believe there’s hope, and this time not false hope.
The Browns management, top to bottom, seems to know what they’re doing. Banner and Haslam came in and cleaned house, hiring respectable, experienced coaches to run this team. Norv Turner is an excellent offensive coordinator, and Ray Horton has turned this Browns defense around, albeit not in the fourth quarter.
This year’s draft hasn’t been as successful as hoped. But I believe in Barkevious Mingo, and in reality you need to wait three years to evaluate a draft class, most draft picks don’t make it in their first year.
The Browns’ free agent signees: Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves, Desmond Bryant and Jason Campbell, and trades: Davone Bess and Dion Lewis, have all worked out, when they’ve been on the field. Kruger is second on the team in sacks, with 4.5, and Bryant had 3.5 before he had a freak injury. Groves had 2.0 sacks as well before going down with an ankle injury. Campbell has been the best quarterback on the roster since Hoyer went down, having kept the Browns in every game. Bess has had his moments and is fourth on the team in receiving with 362 yards. Lewis is on the injured reserve, but all throughout training camp coaches and writers were raving about him.
And the one huge trade they made: Trent Richardson to the Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick, the trade that sent all Browns fans into a fit of anger, including me, was a wild success. I don’t know what the Browns scouting and management saw in Richardson that the media didn’t, but they were right. Richardson isn’t a superstar; he’s mediocre, averaging 2.9 yards a carry and has been benched for Donald Brown.
This regime hasn’t done everything right: Phil Dawson should have been resigned and they still haven’t signed a fullback, but they are making many of the right decisions.
And this year unlike in the past, the Browns have talent, and on both sides of the ball: Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are emerging as top 10 players at their positions, and Joe Haden is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. With Jabaal Sheard, D’Qwell Jackson, Craig Robertson, Kruger and Mingo the starting linebackers are set for years to come and the offensive line is solid, anchored by Joe Thomas and Alex Mack.
Yes there are some pieces missing, most importantly a quarterback, but for once there’s actually some semblance of a team. While a quarterback is the most important piece, based on what this regime has done, I think they can find one.
With additions of a quarterback, running back, cornerback and offensive lineman this off season, the Browns could be competitive in the NFL for years to come. For once, we could have a winning, and a consistently winning football team in Cleveland. All because this “new regime” of Haslam, Banner, Mike Lombardi and Coach Chudzinski, has been making many of the right moves.
Note: I worked for the Browns as a Football Operations Intern over the summer