Cleveland Browns fans can finally look forward to some competitive football once again after a 2016 season that was doomed from the start.
As optimistic as Hue Jackson may have appeared to the media in 2016, his Cleveland Browns never stood a chance.
From the talent let go to the lack of a competent quarterback, the Browns were clearly a team eyeing 2017 as the year when things would begin turning around.
And now that it is 2017 and the draft is complete, it does look like this team will return to playing competitive football once again.
Sashi Brown recently said the goal is to start winning now, which is a welcome change from a year ago when he essentially said it was going to a difficult year.
Fans outside of Cleveland may still see the Browns as one of the worst teams in the league, but that narrative may not hold true during the upcoming season, as this roster comes in much improved from a year ago.
The expected unit on the defensive line may be the best fans have seen since 1999, while the new offensive line ranks as one of the best as well. Fans will also have a full season of Jamie Collins at linebacker, while the duo of Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor can be solid if Haden can stay healthy.
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The main question is the quarterback position, but now that Cody Kessler has a year of experience and a real offensive line, he should do much better if he can stay healthy.
Kessler didn’t play all that bad a year ago, even though some point to his 0-8 record as some sort of measuring stick, forgetting he was knocked out of two games and should have won his first career start if not for a missed field goal.
Perhaps this is the blind optimism of a Browns fan, but it is not unreasonable to expect the team can win five or six games this year.
Every NFL team should be capable of such a mark, yet Browns fans have been beaten down by consecutive seasons of 3-13 and 1-15 that anything but failure may seem impossible.
But the latest draft, in which the Browns took three projected starters in the first round, shows that things are changing. The team is still rebuilding, but the new pieces are expected to contribute right away and be successful.
This seems like an obvious thing that all teams should expect, but the Browns committed to taking baby steps a year ago. The first year was painful, but the second year will provide fans with some hope. Oh, and some watchable football as well.