CLEVELAND- The Cleveland Browns lost to the Chicago Bears 38-31 yesterday afternoon. The last three games may be evidence that the Browns have enough weapons to challenge teams for at least three quarters. They lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 32-28 and 27-26 to the New England Patriots. The Browns do not have enough weapons to win enough games to be a playoff team.
It’s easy to say that now as they are eliminated from playoff contention. However, it’s important to remember there were glimpses of hope earlier in the season. The Browns went 3-2 through the first five games. They gained a critical victory Baltimore to improve to 4-5 over three consecutive losses to the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Kansas City Chiefs.
If the Browns had enough weapons they could have 4 more wins and a definite shot at the playoffs. The Browns nearly defeated the Chiefs, Jaguars, Patriots, and Chicago Bears. They missed out on 8 wins instead of 4. An unstable quarterback situation had a lot to do with these close losses. The Browns do not have an elite offensive line like the Indianapolis Colts. They do have Joe Thomas and Alex Mack creating holes for Willis McGahee as well as providing protection for the passing game.
One big concern is that the Browns may not keep Mack who is a top Center in the N.F.L. That will create a lot of turbulence for Cleveland in the offseason. It is crucial for the Browns to re-sign him. Mack will likely require a $10-12 million salary but he is well worth it.
Another major concern is the instability at quarterback. It is the most crucial position for every offense. Brian Hoyer showed that he is capable of being a franchise quarterback. However, an ACL tear can put a career in jeopardy and there is no guarantee that Hoyer will be the same quality quarterback that Browns fans saw.
Jay Cutler could be on the free agent market this offseason. However, the Browns will likely have to shell out $10-12 million a year to sign him. Cutler is unlikely to consider the Browns if they let Mack walk. In fact signing Cutler is unlikely regardless of whom the Browns keep. Elite quarterbacks usually sign with a team that is expected to win or emerge as a rising threat. Re-signing Mack would increase the chances the Browns could lure in Cutler, but it will be a tall order.
Cleveland also needs to get more weapons for the 2014 starting quarterback. Mike Evans and Allen Robinson are two names that Browns fans will be acquainted with in the next few months. It is expected that a wide receiver will be selected by the Browns. No one should be surprised if Cleveland selects a receiver in the first or second round. Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are just two main weapons. Successful offenses typically rely on three to five main weapons. Playmakers are crucial.
The Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals provide excellent blueprints for the Browns to follow. The Bengals went from a laughing stock to a consistent playoff contender under quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receivers A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu. The Colts had a difficult situation on their hands. They needed a replacement for Peyton Manning. They drafted Andrew Luck, who filled the void left by the injured legend. In fact, Manning’s neck injury was so severe; it could have ended his career.
The Browns would be wise to follow in the footsteps of their in-state rival and the Colts. These teams proved that a well-executed draft can change a team’s fortune. It is the difference between feast and famine. There is a famine in Cleveland. Hopefully the feast will come soon to satisfy the hunger of a fan base that has suffered greatly.