Cleveland Browns Week 1 power rankings: On the bottom looking up

Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) takes the first snap of the game during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) takes the first snap of the game during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns open the 2016 NFL season in the early stages of their latest rebuilding plan, which is reflected in the Week 1 power rankings.

The Cleveland Browns will open the 2016 NFL season on Sunday when they face the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cleveland is coming off a 3-13 season – the 11th time in the past 13 seasons the club has posted double-digit losses – and have a roster that is long on youth (28 players are in the first or second year) and short on experience.

The Browns also have a new head coach in Hue Jackson, the team’s seventh full-time head coach in the past 13 years. It is Jackson, along with quarterback Robert Griffin III and all those young players that have Browns fans feeling optimistic that a new day is coming.

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“I think some of our guys are just going to go play, and I think that is what we have to do as a football team,” Jackson said. “We can’t get worried about anything. That is why I said it is not really about Philadelphia. It is really about us and how we prepare and our process and how we get ready to go play this football game. That is what is most important.”

The Browns have done a lot of work during the off-season and Sunday will be the first opportunity for the coaching staff and players to start seeing the results. And while things may eventually get better, the road ahead is still going to be a rocky one.

That realization is reflected in the opening round of power rankings, which have a unanimous take on just where the Browns sit in the landscape of the NFL.

Cameron DaSilva at Fox Sports:

"No. 31: Don’t act surprised. The Browns are bad once again, even with RG3 under center. The defense is so unspectacular that the Browns were happy to part with two former first-round picks in Barkevious Mingo and Justin Gilbert. There’s no depth at any position on defense and the offense isn’t very explosive without Josh Gordon. The best thing that can happen for the Browns is landing Deshaun Watson with the first-overall pick next year. (Pittsburgh No. 6, Cincinnati No. 7, Baltimore  No. 19)"

Chris Simms at Bleacher Report:

"No. 32: Look what head coach Hue Jackson has done this preseason with a once-unwatchable offense. Josh Gordon is back to his old form. And Terrelle Pryor! That kid has finally figured out he can make an NFL paycheck at receiver. Robert Griffin III might look rusty, but his deep ball is on point right now."

"Defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a master at plugging holes. He’s not a miracle worker, though. This defense is in major transition, and the youth movement won’t look pretty. Guys like Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib are going to feel some growing pains. (Pittsburgh No. 2 Cincinnati No. 9, Baltimore No. 17)"

Elliot Harrison at

"No. 32: Call it a gut feeling, but I’m predicting the Browns won’t be here for long. If the defense had put up even slight resistance against Jameis Winston and the Bucs in the third preseason game, Cleveland might have moved up these rankings. On another note, what it must be like to be Josh Gordon. Remember when you first got a Nerf basketball hoop, and you were doing-double-pump-tomahawk-jams that would put Dominique Wilkins to shame? That’s what I thought of while watching Gordon versus Brent Grimes the other night in Tampa. If only the offensive line could hold its blocks for three seconds, Robert Griffin III might be able to connect with Gordon a time or 10 in the end zone this season. (Pittsburgh No. 7, Cincinnati No. 9, Baltimore No. 20)"


"No. 32: This is going to be a rough year for Cleveland. The Browns are coming off an off-season in which they lost four of their most important players in Mitchell Schwartz, Tashaun Gipson, Alex Mack and Travis Benjamin to free agency."

"For Cleveland, at least the Cavaliers won a championship, breaking the 52-year drought of all major sports teams in the city. The Browns are moving in a positive direction, hiring head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson, who had his first shot at head coaching with the Oakland Raiders in 2011, was a hire lauded universally in the NFL world."

"His first and most important challenge will be to change the culture of a franchise rooted in turmoil. General manager Sashi Brown made the right move by cutting ties with Johnny Manziel back in March and avoiding any players with troubled backgrounds in the 2016 NFL Draft. Still, Jackson has to instill a winning mentality in a team that has not reached the playoffs since 2002 and not won a postseason game since 1994."

"It’s going to be a long, slow climb for Cleveland. But if Jackson and quarterback Robert Griffin III prove to be the right moves, the Browns could be making positive strides for the first time in years. (Cincinnati No. 7, Pittsburgh No. 8, Baltimore No. 19)"


"No. 31: Robert Griffin III will get his first regular-season action since Week 17 of 2014. If the preseason is any indication, it should be interesting. Griffin’s three preseason touchdowns went for 50, 29 and 43 yards, respectively. (Pittsburgh No. 2, Cincinnati No. 7, Baltimore No. 15)"

"No. 31: Admit it: You’re looking forward to seeing what Robert Griffin III does in the regular season. For all that went wrong for RG3 in Washington, football fans still remember quite well what an exciting talent he was mere years ago. Let’s see how much of it he got back. (Pittsburgh No. 6, Cincinnati No. 7, Baltimore No. 15)"

Frank Schwab at Yahoo Sports:

"No. 32: I liked what Robert Griffin III did on the field in the preseason. What’s reportedly happening off the field is a bit stranger. But if we’re talking football, it appears that Hue Jackson has a plan to turn RG3 around. (Pittsburgh No. 5, Cincinnati No. 7, Baltimore No. 15)"

Next: Gary Barnidge a constant

“I never said we were going to be a juggernaut today or yesterday,” Jackson said during the preseason. “We are going to keep working at this thing, and when the games start being played … is when we have to be at our best.”

Things get real starting Sunday at 1 p.m. and the Browns have nowhere to go but up.