Oct 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine celebrates a 4th quarter touchdown with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (18), wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) and quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Raiders 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Following a last-second road win in Atlanta last November, the Cleveland Browns were 7-4 and sitting atop the AFC North Division for the first time in seemingly forever.
The club had soundly beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the season and embarrassed the Cincinnati Bengals on the road during a primetime Thursday game.
The road to playoffs lay ahead of the Browns; unfortunately they were never able to locate the on-ramp and closed out the year with a five-game losing streak.
Despite the disappointing end to the 2014 season, optimism remains high about Cleveland’s undisputed No. 1 team as the club continues its preparations for the 2015 season.
Sure, the quarterback options on the roster may be less than ideal (we’re being kind here); and the schedule will presumably be more difficult, with the AFC West and NFC West replacing the conferences’ southern divisions; and when you are just 27-69 against Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati since 1999, the six division games each year are no picnic.
This is Cleveland, though, where nothing is given and everything is earned. For the Browns to find success in 2015 they will have to earn it every step of the way.
Here are five keys to 2015 — all interconnected — that can help the Browns bring home a better day come the close of the 16-game regular season.
Next: Stop the Run