As 2010 comes to a close, Browns fans look back on a year full of excitement, frustration, confusion, and (with any luck) hope for a better 2011. We saw Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert make an instant impact with an expertly executed draft and free agency trades that brought us a drastically improved secondary in Joe Haden and TJ Ward; until injury showed its ugly head, the leadership of Scott Fujita that elevated the Browns linebackers to some of their best play in years (Benard’s two pick-sixes against the Saints comes to mind); and let’s not forget the complete overhaul of the sputtering offense.
Though the past few games have seen a steady decline from the flashes of hope earlier, it’s undeniable that Peyton Hillis has the capability to invigorate the Browns’ rushing game. Hopefully, Montario Hardesty will be fully recovered and stay healthy next season to help take some of the pressure off Hillis (who was responsible for 73% of the rushing production of the Browns this season) and allow some additional packages to utilize Hillis’ hands in ways other than short-and-out routes.
Finally, 2010 brought the Browns their best hope of the last 5-6 years for a stable QB in Colt McCoy. Despite the 3 picks against the Ravens and their superhuman safety Ed Reid, McCoy has a QB rating of 81.9 on the season: a significant improvement from last year’s Brady Quinn (67.2) and Derek Anderson (42.1). He has two wins against Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks. He marched the Browns in a game-tying and a (were it not for an unfortunate fumble by Stuckey) game-winning drive against the Jets with no time. While I’m not convinced that McCoy is Cleveland’s White Knight, there is a marked difference in the way this offence plays when he’s under center, and his mobility has kept the Browns competitive in more games than one.
While there are many uncertainties in Cleveland’s future (Will McCoy deliver? Who will be holding the head coach clipboard? How many times will Joe Haden pick off Worthlessberger on Sunday?), I’m going on record to say that this has been a significantly less painful season to watch the Browns than the previous two.
Here’s hoping for a very happy new year in Northeast Ohio.
Tags: 2010 NFL Draft Baltimore Ravens Blog Brady Quinn Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy Defense Eric Mangini Football Josh Cribbs Mike Holmgren Montario Hardesty News NFL Peyton Hillis Quarterback Running Back Tom Heckert Wide Receiver