It’s looking more and more like the agonizing NFL lockout could be coming to an official end this week, allowing teams to resume normal activities and prepare for the upcoming season.
All teams will be have new issues to deal with that stem from the lockout but few teams, if any, will be facing obstacles quite as large as the Cleveland Browns’. Consider these points:
- The Browns will be entering 2011 with a new coaching staff, led by head coach Pat Shurmur. Not only is he the new coach of the Browns, but this will be his first head coaching gig in the NFL. There is no doubt that he has been preparing on his own, but nothing beats the actual interaction he’ll have with his players, injecting his style and philosophy into the team. One can only hope that there will be enough time to do so between now and the start of the regular season.
- With the new coaching staff comes a new offense, as the Browns will implement the West Coast Offense in 2011. It’s a completely different dynamic and for players like Ben Watson, who have never played in this type of offense, it will be like starting over. There will be new plays and new assignments, sure, but perhaps a renewed drive to learn the playbook and shine in the system.
- This goes along with the second point, but the Browns will most likely be entering the year with Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback. He has experience in the West Coast Offense, which is encouraging, but he’ll essentially be learning a true NFL offense all over again. Whether or not that hurts him remains to be seen, but he seems unwilling to let that be an issue.
- As if the offense won’t be confusing enough, the Browns will be making the switch to a 4-3 defense as well. While most of us will be glad to see the 3-4 a thing of the past in Cleveland, the transition will certainly have its growing pains, most notably on the defensive line.
These issues will all be taking place while every player gets used to the new coaching staff and each other, though the player-led workouts went a long way in easing those concerns. In fact, those workouts did a lot to leave hope that these potential problems won’t all develop into full-fledged catastrophes. At the very least, the team was able to use the playbook and get used to the feel of the new offense and defense.
Despite these obstacles, there is no doubt that fans will be excited just knowing that football is back. Bring on the questions and uncertainty surrounding the team – as long as there is football to be played come September, every debate, question, or concern about the Browns will be welcomed with open arms.