For most football fans nationwide and even some in Cleveland, the persona of the Cleveland Browns is negative.
The owner is a “lite” version of the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, the head coach and general manager don’t get along, and the recent drafting history of the team is abysmal.
That’s just recent history.
To be truthful, since the Browns returned to the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999, there has been just one playoff appearance and two winning seasons, the last being in 2007, which is only eight years ago.
We get it. There isn’t any real reason for optimism, especially if you buy in to the premise that unless you have a great quarterback, any franchise is doomed to failure.
Of course, stories like Mark Sanchez leading the New York Jets to an AFC Championship game, and Colin Kaepernick taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl prove that theory wrong.
Let’s just say it is definitely tougher to achieve success without a stud signal caller.
However, there are a lot of good things going on with the Browns, but it seems like people just continue to focus on the quarterback, and on Josh McCown being a journeyman.
That isn’t going to change. Aaron Rodgers and/or Andrew Luck aren’t going to magically show up in Berea, nor is the NFL going to cancel seasons until the Browns get a “franchise” signal caller.
Until that happens, here are some good things going on with the city’s football team.
The offensive line should be one of the NFL’s best. They have two Pro Bowl players in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, and another who is on the verge of that status in Joel Bitonio. John Greco, Mitchell Schwartz, and rookie first round pick Cameron Irving should be solid.
Having a very good line should help the running game and give the passer time to survey the defense and find open targets.
Even mediocre wide receivers will get open if the quarterback has enough time to throw.
The secondary is also a position of strength.
Joe Haden is one of football’s best cornerbacks, and both Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gibson made the Pro Bowl a year ago. Free agent signee Tramon Williams from Green Bay, made the squad in 2010.
There is also depth with second year players Pierre Desir, K’Waun Williams, and rookie Ibraheim Campbell. That’s why Justin Gilbert’s struggles are only an issue because he was a first round pick.
He’s not leaving a huge void on this team.
The defensive line is also deep with rookie NT Danny Shelton, and veterans Phil Taylor, John Hughes, Billy Winn, Desmond Bryant, and Armonty Bryant, and Randy Starks was added as a free agent. Xavier Cooper is another new addition via the draft.
This should allow defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to keep these guys fresh, and hopefully that enables them to stop the run better, a huge weakness for the ’14 Browns.
So, there is a foundation for success with this front office. We can’t think of any Browns’ team with three areas of strength over the last 15 years.
And while the muscle pulls keeping players off the practice field is a problem, none of the injures have to do with knee injuries or broken bones that will keep players out for extended time.
For example, we are sure that Haden and Thomas would have played last week if it were a regular season game, and that is probably true with several other players.
So, you can focus on not having the QB, but there are several teams in the same boat around the NFL. On the other hand, we choose to look at the glass half full until proven otherwise.