For the Cleveland Browns, nothing has come easy. The one shining moment in the franchise history was when they folded and moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. In the past 25 years alone the Browns have turned in 16 seasons losing 10 or more games. 15 of which have come since rejoining the league in 1999. In 2017 somehow, someway the Cleveland Browns have to find a way to stop the bleeding. So how does Cleveland start building for the future and change the culture of losing?
Build your offensive line
Nothing says bad quarterback performances like a terrible offensive line. The Browns have had their fair share of capable lineman but never a consistent unit. Too many NFL teams are busy searching for their next franchise quarterback and forget about the offensive line. Rookie quarterbacks need time to learn the speed of their new offense and get into rhythms with their wide receivers.
They’ll never learn to take command of an offense with a defender constantly in their face. A great offensive line can take an average quarterback and make him look great. Start building a powerhouse line that can protect your quarterback and give lanes for your running back and it’ll be a whole new ball game.
Get a veteran quarterback
Taking gambles on quarterbacks like RGIII and Josh McCown hasn’t paid off. Cleveland has a long history of going after career backups to fix their squad. They’ve even spent multiple first-round picks trying to find the next leader of their offense. Four times since 1999 the Browns wasted picks on Johnny Manziel, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, Tim Couch. None of them worked out.
It’s time to go out and find a quarterback with experience that can bridge the gap to your young second round pick. Preferably not one named Tony Romo. You have too many holes to fill to waste cap space on one injury prone player. Find your diamond in the rough and get it done.
Find better draft picks
Either the Cleveland Browns go looking for players they won’t have to pay when their rookie contract is up, or they’re awful at evaluating talent. Quick, name one player since 1999 the Browns have drafted that could be considered a top 5 player at their position. There isn’t one.
Pick, after pick, after safe pick has failed the team miserably. With that many losing seasons, Cleveland has to have had their share of top 10 picks. Each year fans are reminded of their “shoulda, coulda, woulda” players that have huge success playing elsewhere.
Find better coaches who can develop talent
There’s no way Cleveland shouldn’t have at least found ways to win 7-8 football games by now. 7-9 would be a great improvement from this team. Even after their first round picks, Cleveland should have enough second and third round picks who should be potential starters. More often than not these rounds are known for producing game-changing players.
Cleveland hasn’t found many. How do coaches take this many draft picks and not develop the kind of player who’s on the highlight reel?
Cleveland is a mess from top to bottom. Ownership seems to be okay with losing football games. Plenty of big name coaches have been free to go elsewhere, and none of them chose Cleveland. While not many would like to inherit that mess, money talks when it comes to job hunting. Cleveland has done little to get their leadership right, and it starts from the top down. Find a guy who can take potential and turn it into talent.
Stop wasting free agency
You have almost to feel bad for the Browns. They’re so desperate to get things fixed that year after year they waste free agency on gamble players who are often hurt or past their prime talent who will only set the team back. They need to buckle down and spend an entire offseason finding players who are game changers.
Jersey sales are great when you go out and get a former star. However, once a player is past their prime, you’re missing players who can still produce. Any available free agent who is on top of their game Cleveland should throw in everything but the kitchen sink.
Find players who can bridge the gap for rookies who need time to grow. Throwing players to the wolves is what keeps them from growing. If they’re out there and want to get paid, make it happen. With the Cavaliers and Indians being top teams in their leagues, Cleveland should be a hot sell. Nothing lures a free agent in like selling them on being the player to build that team in a trending city.
Recruitment needs to be key
Cleveland, it’s time to open your wallet. Find free agents that can work. Bring in coaches who can motivate this team and turn this team around. Browns fans are sick of being the laughingstock of the league.
How have the Bengals had so much success in the area while the Browns can’t muster up any talent?
Rebuilding isn’t rocket science. It’s as simple as finding a foundation and going from there. It’s too bad the Browns spend so much time trying to patchwork both sides of the football to build either one.
For 2017, the Cleveland Browns’ New Year’s resolution is to build a top 10 offense or defense. One side of the football can keep you in the game. Doing too little on both sides is what keeps them from winning.