Browns having a Top 5 offseason, per NFL.com
The Cleveland Browns are having a fantastic offseason, which is nice. But when will that work start to translate into actual wins?
The Cleveland Browns won’t play a game that matters for another four months – a key point worth remembering – but so far the 2017 calendar year could not be going any better.
The Browns stayed busy in free agency to fix key holes on the offensive line, had a great three days during the 2017 NFL Draft, and have been productive in retaining some key players from last season.
Add it all together and Cleveland is having the second-best offseason in the league, according to Gil Brandt at NFL.com:
"Cleveland had a ton of money to spend and spent it well, fortifying what had become a weak offensive line by signing guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter. Veteran receiver Kenny Britt has been around, but he knows how to run routes, has speed and is still only 28 — he’ll be a help on offense. Veteran cornerback Jason McCourty will help make sure the secondary is lined up correctly. The Browns also made the most of their bounty of draft picks, especially with the trio of first-rounders they ended up with. Defensive end Myles Garrett will post double-digit sacks as a rookie. Hybrid defender Jabrill Peppers might not have a defined role yet, but he’s a football player, and the Browns will find a place for him. David Njoku will be an outstanding tight end, a future Pro Bowler with incredible upside."
"The quarterback situation is still unsolved, but at least the Browns have options. Veteran Brock Osweiler– whose acquisition actually netted the Browns a future pick — might end up being a better fit in Cleveland under Hue Jackson than he was in Houston. And while second-round pick DeShone Kizerisn’t ready to help yet, he’s got the raw material to eventually become the best quarterback of the 2017 class. Cleveland likely won’t win much more in 2017 than it did last season, but the roster is so much better. Jackson is a good coach, the division isn’t exactly imposing outside of Pittsburgh, and the schedule is not daunting."
Brandt hits on all the high points, but there is one area where he may be a bit off the mark, and that is his comment about the AFC North not being “imposing” outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
There is no way to put a positive spin on it so let’s just put it out there: the Browns have been horrific within the division since returning to the NFL in 1999. Consider that Cleveland is:
- 12-24 against the Cincinnati Bengals, and have lost 13 of the past 17 meetings
- 9-27 against the Baltimore Ravens, and have lost 16 of the past 18 meetings
- 6-31 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and have lost 24 of the past 27 meetings
Add it all up and the Browns are just 27-82 within the division, a .248 winning percentage against the three teams that they play twice a year. We can talk about the Browns winning the offseason all we want, but until they start reversing these trends against the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals it is all for naught.
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It is still nice to see the Browns being looked at in a favorable light. And it is certainly better than being a team like the Chicago Bears, for example.
Hopefully this offseason is the point that will launch the Browns into the kind of top five list that truly means something.