“JOHNNY! JOHNNY! JOHNNY!” That’s pretty much the chant being heard around Cleveland Brown football. Yes, the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel, the eccentric, fun loving, Heisman trophy winning quarterback out of Texas A&M in this years NFL Draft. That along with the return of LeBron James (if only he played Wide Receiver for the Browns) has Cleveland fans once again excited about sports.
The Browns finished last season with a disappointing, but typical for the Browns, 4-12 record (their 6th consecutive 11+ loss season). To call them mediocre would be an understatement. After the season, the Browns fired both their Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and General Manager Michael Lombardi who were both in their first seasons with the team (talk about stability) and replaced them with 1st time HC Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer.
Cleveland did have some bright spots last season as in the emergence of superstar WR Snoop Dogg, oops I mean Josh Gordon (more on him in later), and soon to be superstar tight end Jordan Cameron. They also re-signed Pro Bowler Joe Thomas to protect that left side of the quarterback which he does better than anybody in the league.
Jump ahead to 2014 and the Cleveland Browns have a little hope that brighter days may be on the horizon and that 4-12 seasons will be a thing of the past.
Key Offseason Additions:
QB Johnny Manziel, RB Ben Tate, WR’s Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin, ILB Karlos Dansby, S Donte Whitner, CB Justin Gilbert
The signing of Ben Tate is an all-around excellent move. Tate is just hitting his stride as an NFL running back and the reps he will get as Cleveland’s starting back will only speed up his progression. He’s also just three years into his NFL career and will have one of the best lines in the league blocking for him. Tate will be depended upon as their workhorse running back, a role I believe he will fit into splendidly. Tate should shine now that he’s been given the spotlight.
With Josh Gordon probably gone for the year for getting busted for marijuana possession and usage, the Browns adding Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins will give the Browns a receiver by committee approach. Gilbert, Whitner and Dansby added to Kruger and Joe Haden should give the browns a pretty formidable defense.
Key Offseason Losses:
WR Davone Bess, S T.J. Ward, QB Brandon Weeden
None of these losses should have a big impact on the team seeing as how they upgraded at each position but they were big contributors to the team last season so we’ve yet to see if their replacements can fill the void they left with their departure.
All-in-all, 2014 could be a very interesting year for the Cleveland Browns. If Johnny Manziel shows the promise that much of the world thinks he has with Ben Tate and the other weapons Cleveland has continuing to develop, I could see Cleveland making a lot of noise in the division and possibly finishing 7-9 or 8-8 and taking a leap towards being a contender for years to come.