Sunday was our season finale, with our arch nemesis Pittsburgh Steelers in town. Oh, how we loathe the gold and black! Just one minute into the game, we were cooked. A 56 yard bomb instantly derailed our morale, things just spiraled from there.
I couldn’t imagine what Mike Holmgren thought as he watched the pounding ensue. But I digress!
The season started off with high hopes as the Brownies landed quarterback, Jake Delhomme in the off season. However, someone forgot about a receiving corps. Pretty hard for a quarterback to be effective when he doesn’t have a security blanket to rely on! A bum ankle landed Delhomme on the shelf.
That’s okay, Cleveland was smart enough to go out and land a back up plan in the name of Seneca Wallace. Wallace stepped in and fared better, for a few games at least, until that sneaky serpent decided to take a bite out of his ankle too.
In comes Colt McCoy, our much heralded draft choice, who wasn’t supposed to start at all this season. He steps in and does an amazing job. Deja vu! Another high ankle sprain takes him out for a few games, in which Delhomme steps back in. Finally, McCoy comes back to finish out the season. However, fans could clearly see his mounting frustration on the sideline.
From a quarterback standpoint, Cleveland suffered as much as any club could.
Last season, the Browns hopes were high as Jerome Harrison looked to become a breakout star in the league. Our running backs suffered similar fates as our quarterbacks. While Harrison sputtered along, in steps a humble workhorse. With grace, power, and fantastic hands, Cleveland fans were treated to an unknown named Peyton Hillis. With him came memories of Jim Brown, Kevin Mack, and Ernest Byner. A quintessential throwback to better times in Cleveland and we were enamored.
Thankfully, we were also treated to a heavy dosage of Ben Watson. Without Watson and Hillis, Cleveland may never have scored a touchdown this season.
On defense, there were obvious holes. However, there were high points as well. Joe Haden and T.J. Ward filled in beautifully during their rookie seasons.
Fans of the 2011 Cleveland Browns will remember this roster as one of the most injury plagued rosters in recent history. Despite all the injuries, Cleveland was only blown out in one game. Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, the Browns saved that for the last game of the season. A great majority of the games were lost by less than a touchdown. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel!
What should the Browns do during this off season?
Obviously, the Browns are already looking to fill the head coaching position. Holmgren didn’t waste any time on that glaring hole.
With all the injuries this season, perhaps they’ll need a better training staff.
We definitely need a better offensive coordinator, there were points this season where there just didn’t seem to be any game plan involved. A little razzle-dazzle here and there, but for the most part highly predictable and conservative.
On offense, wide receiver is a necessity.
On defense, another cornerback to compliment Joe Haden would be ideal. We need more explosive linemen and linebackers.
That being said, the Cleveland Browns are a year or two away from contention. However, I wouldn’t take us lightly. An 8-8 season, isn’t out of our reach next season. Until then, Cleveland fans will tend to our wounds like we do every season.
At this point, Clevelanders are used to being slapped in the face. If it doesn’t happen in baseball, it’ll happen in football. If it doesn’t happen in football, it’ll happen in basketball.
One thing remains true about us here in Cleveland. “We believe!”