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5 reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Cleveland Browns

by Ryan Ahbel / ryanahbel@gmail.com
Thu June 18th, 2009

Optimistic? This is not a word you often hear spoken on the shores of Lake Erie. Football crazed Cleveland fans have been given little reason for optimism since their beloved Browns returned to the NFL since 1999. In a span of 10 seasons, the Browns are now on their 4th head coach, 4th General Manager, and second owner, and have only had two winning seasons.

Cleveland football fans have seen all that can be called negative since their rebirth just a short time ago. There have been annual quarterback controversies. A gigantic offensive lineman shoving an official to the ground for hitting him in the eye with a flag. Fans littering the field with plastic beer bottles for overturning a (missed) catch that resulted in a heart-breaking 4th quarter loss. Being the only team to ever lose a football game with zero time on the clock because of a linebacker inexplicably throwing his helmet while a play was in progress. Former number one over all selection quarterback crying on national TV. One year sensation William Green never returning to form after being stabbed by his girlfriend. Drafting a player and not knowing that he was wanted for armed robbery of a drug dealer. A running back named Ben Gay. Blowing a 17 point lead in Pittsburgh in their only playoff appearance in 2002 because of the prevent defense. Watching the hated Steelers win their 5th and 6th Superbowl titles. Believe me, this list can go on... and on........ and on.

Perhaps there is no better single avenue for judging an NFL organization than to look at the draft history. To no surprise, the Browns fail the test. Not counting this Aprils '09 draft, the Browns have made 84 selections in the annual NFL draft. Ninteen of those players are still with the team. Only fourteen of those have actually appeared in an offensive or defensive play. Ten of those 84 selections have come in the first round. Of those ten, only four are still with the team while four are out of football entirely. As you can see, this type of ineptitude has run rapid through Berea since 1999, making it no wonder that "optimistic" is not word in a Browns fans vocabulary.

Perhaps if you look enough, there may be signes things are about to turn in Clevelands favor. Maybe I'm setting myself up for more heartache, but I have compiled a list of reasons why the Browns have a chance of turning this all around. Hopefully, I can reintroduce the word "optimism" to Cleveland football fans all ofer the country.

1. Ownership willing to spend money, and does not accept losing.

The only thing worse than firing 3 coaches in 10 years is keeping the same bad one for all 10. As an owner, Randy Learner is still very green but there is zero doubt amongst those in Berea of Learner's desire to turn the Browns into a winner. Keep in mind of the 3 fired coaching/GM regimes, Randy Learner has only hired one of them, the other two were hired by his late father. Randy could do himself a favor by not being so camera shy, but he has deep pockets and does not accept losing. If you don't think this counts, talk to a Cincinnati, Detroit, or Arizona Cardinals fan.

2. George Kokinis; He has a plan.

It is still far too early to have a concrete opinion on new Browns General Manager George Kokinis, but to this point he has been very consistent and strategic even when it came to accepting this job. In his first press conference he of course was asked about the Steelers and their success. Without hesitation he confidently conveyed that the Steelers are so successful because they "fit their personnel to what they do." Such a simple concept has been overlooked by not just the Browns, but every floundering team that finds itself drafting in the top 10 every year. Just by making this comment shows Kokinis understands this and will try to execute this. Already we have seen some consistency to the types of players Kokinis has drafted, all 8 selections have achieved academic honers while in college. Though it takes much more than just brains to play football, it's nice to see some consistency in the Browns draft this year.

3. Joe Thomas.

Football is a simple game, whichever team controls the line of scrimmage usually wins. The most important position on the offensive line is the left tackle position, which is manned by young two year pro bowler Joe Thomas. Being the most important offensive line position, one could argue that left tackle is the most difficult position to find quality. The Browns not only have quality at this position, they have excellence and figure to posses that for plenty of years to come.

4. Shaun Rogers

Much like Joe Thomas, Shaun Rogers helps control the line of scrimmage from the defensive side of the ball. Though defensive end is considered to be the most critical defensive line position and Rogers is a nose tackle, it is essential to have a stout nose tackle like Rogers to anchor a good 3-4 defense. After a rocky start, all signs point to Rogers and new coach Eric Magini getting along as Rogers has been a willing participant in voluntary mini camp workouts this summer.

5. Two good quarterbacks

Recently this has become more of a curse than a blessing, but it's better to have two promising quarterbacks to choose from than none. While I am of the belief the Browns will never move forward until they make a decision on Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, I do feel they have two solid choices to pick from. Though Eric Mangini has stated he will not commit to a quarterback until this pre-season, he has said he covets a starting quarterback who is heady and has a strong huddle presence. Those are things Quinn is said to excel in and Anderson may lack. Look for Quinn to win the job, and be the concise starter all season giving this team some stability going forward.

Though I believe in miracles, these 5 reasons for optimism may not point to a magical season in 2009, but more so as solid building blocks to resurrect this once proud NFL franchise. It would not be a stretch to say that of the 4 new regimes, Magini and Kokinis have the most to work with from day one. Signs are there that Browns fans can once again be proud of their team, and that in the summer months of June, July, and August, Browns fans can once again be optimistic. But nobody would blame anyone for taking a "wait and see" approach to this team.

2 comments:

  1. The first time for optimism since 99?

    Browns fan was all over the place thinking they were playoff bound last year. Does anyone remember the superbowl chant at training camp?

    This year is no different but the offseason is the time for delusion.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Finally a little optimism. I personally could care less whether I ever see Randy Lerner in public. All that I want from Randy is for him to spend money (he always has; in fact the Browns recently had one of the highest player payrolls in the NFL); and hire well (Mangini and Kokinis will prove to be a better duo than Crennel and Savage).

    ReplyDelete