The Cleveland Browns have been a disappointment in 2016, but there are several positives to look forward to in 2017 and beyond.
“There’s always next year”."
The classic Cleveland motto that we all know way too well. It's been 365 calendar days since the Cleveland Browns have won a game and it is beginning to looking more and more realistic that they will go 0-16. The Browns have shown moments of hope, fight and relentlessness, yet haven't been able to close out of any game all season with a win.
My question to the loyal Browns fans is: "What were we expecting?" Hopefully not anything more than four wins at the most but can this team really be as bad as we think? Could they possibly be even worse than the 2008 Lions? I wouldn't go that far and say that, but nonetheless it's depressing and I want it to disappear from our history.
Despite this season being an absolute bust, there is a ton of silver lining to this team we love despite constant disappointment. Since no one likes a pessimist and our season is likely over, I am going to give you five reasons why you need to be excited for the Browns draft, why they are poised to recover strong in the 2017 season and could be a strong contender for the near and distant future. Yes, there is a lot more to be excited for besides the 0-16 parade at the end of the season.
Let's dive in to see what I am excited to see from our Cleveland Browns in the 2017 NFL offseason and regular season.
Since 1999, the Browns have been far more miss than hit when it comes to picking talent in the NFL Draft. Whether it be gunning for a big name or a quarterback, they never seem to get it right. But as of the past two years, things have started to change.
One of the great things the Browns did in last year's Draft that is looking like a very smart move was giving up on the chance to draft Carson Wentz and load up more picks for the future. Most said it was the worst mistake since passing on Ben Roethlisberger, but given Wentz's regression since the Week 4 bye, it looks like the Browns may have won that deal for now.
Since the Eagles are sitting at 5-8 with 3 tough games ahead, the Browns could end up with two top-10 draft picks. The smart approach would be to not focus on the quarterback, but rather focus on the big holes the team is missing like DE, S, RB, OL, CB and others.
The Browns are in prime position to get four picks in the Top 50, two of them possibly being in the top-10 with one being the number one overall pick.
The Browns have many holes to fill in this draft and the talent is available if the team picks correctly and doesn't buy into a quarterback like most expect.
Yes, the Browns are on the road to 0-16, but what did fans expect after getting rid of all the veterans and going with youth. All the departures of veterans like Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, along with injuries, have murdered this Browns team like no one can imagine, but that was the plan all along.
The Browns got rid of all the baggage and big money players to invest in the draft, similar to the Seahawks, Raiders and even the Cowboys. The one big problem with this team hasn’t been the lack of talent, but rather the lack of experience.
You know you have it rough when you have 18 players on both sides of the ball with less than 5 years of experience in the NFL. Guys like Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Christian Kirksey are improving every week after getting the chance at major reps that they wouldn’t otherwise see. Just look at how guys like Danny Shelton have started to come on this year after some experience.
At this point, the Browns need to trust the young talent they have and realize that they have gotten thrown into action as rookies and they will take some time to improve. It doesn’t come easy but fans have to trust the process.
“No one wants to come play for Cleveland."
What's not to love about living in Cleveland? Cleveland is home to the reigning NBA Champions, the World Series runner ups and the greatest fans in the country. If the price is right, the players will come because money is always the motive. Releasing all the veterans from years past and going with the rebuild approach, the Browns have an estimated $64M in cap space in 2017.
A portion of this money will likely go toward locking down Terrelle Pryor and Jamie Collins, though one could get franchise tagged, as their contracts expire after this season.
The Browns already made one roster move, which has a lot of fans scratching their heads. They recently locked up Jamar Taylor on a 3-year $15 million deal.
The tough part will be finding players who will want to be there for the long hall to rebuild and be a part of the culture they are trying to create in Cleveland. Hue Jackson will be a great tool to help lure players to buy into the house he is trying to build.
Maybe he could get LeBron James as a recruiting tool like when the Celtics tried to use Tom Brady to recruit Kevin Durant, Just a thought.
Despite all the issues in Cleveland, coaching is not one of them. Hue Jackson is one hell of a guy, emotionally connected and driven to make this team a competitor despite what the record says. You could see it at the podium following the loss on to the Giants before the bye.
The fact that Hue Jackson has taken this Browns team, full of inexperienced players and rookies, and has rallied them to fight every single game, despite being 0-13, speaks a lot about what he has been able to put in place as a leader of men.
Don’t forget that the Browns very could well have won a number of games this season already if not for blown calls, kicking and miscues. Hue is getting these guys to buy into the system and the culture that Cleveland needs to be mentally tough and you can see the fight on the field every Sunday, despite the record. Hue Jackson is here to stay, even if he goes 0-16.
Once Hue Jackson gets more time with this team to build what he is capable of building, the Browns will take off. Hue Jackson was always the right choice for the Browns.
The AFC North has not been very good this year with the top two teams not being as dominant as in the recent past. Ben Roethlisberger doesn't have very much time left and the Steelers have been so hot and cold, it’s hard to tell how good they actually are.
We all know how "elite" Joe Flacco is and Justin Tucker appears to be the best player on the Ravens, though their defense is starting to look great again. Andy Dalton has regressed with Hue Jackson exiting and without A.J. Green, Dalton looks vulnerable.
The Browns could have a good chance to rebuild and be a contender in this shaky division as soon as 2018, they just have to hit correctly in the draft and stay on the path to rebuilding.
Bottom line, there is a ton of thing to look forward as a Cleveland Brown fan. Tons of future picks, a ton of cap space, young talent that hasn’t given up despite going 0-13 and a hell of a head coach who seems to be fighting as hard as he can for this team. Don’t give up faith or hope. The narrative is a going to change very soon, and you’ll want to be around to see it. The future is bright for the Cleveland Browns.