Turning that Corner
Just a few months ago, the Cleveland Browns appeared on the HBO Hard Knocks program with Hue Jackson as head coach, Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator, and Tyrod Taylor was the starting quarterback. We all know those three men’s fate (in additional to other changes in personnel since) – but that time in Browns’ history feels like five years ago. The elevation of Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens within this franchise has been rather refreshing; the sniping and apparent arguing (between Jackson and Haley) are gone from the building and all coaches seem to be on the same page. Oh yea, that rookie quarterback is also playing much better now than he was just a month or two ago. What can Browns’ fans look forward to the rest of the season?
Not since 2014 have the Cleveland Browns had any contests of consequence in the month of December. The Browns, while two games under .500 are still “in the hunt”. The odds are stacked against them to make the postseason, as the face a trio of formidable foes in as many weeks – but the games are nonetheless important and exciting. Traveling to Houston (to face the Texans) and Denver historically has been less than ideal for the Cleveland Browns – as the only win over the Texans in Houston was the finale of the 2004 campaign, and the Browns last win in Denver was October 8th, 1990 (yep, you read that right). In a season where streaks have been broken, it would be nice if the franchise could end those two droughts.
Head Coach Position
For the first time since 1962 (when Paul Brown was fired), the Browns’ head coaching job is viewed by many as extremely attractive. I am very eager to see what John Dorsey does during the hiring process. Will he keep the staff status quo, go with a current NFL coordinator, or current NFL or NCAA head coach? There is an off chance that the next coach does not fit into any of these categories. However, looking at what Dorsey did last March and April (acquiring on-field talent) – I have faith the general manager can do similar things with the coaching role. It’s obviously critical that the next person in charge must be in synch with Baker Mayfield via personality and mission to excel.
What to Expect?
Looking short-term, the Browns play the two aforementioned away contests as well as a home matchup versus the Carolina Panthers. It would be incredible but unlikely that the Browns win all three, and I am hopeful to come away with a 2 – 1 record after these contests. They will go head-to-head with teams who are solid on both sides of the ball, something that could not be said a majority of last month. Will Baker Mayfield and the offense continue to grow and excel? Can the defense limit Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton, and the Broncos’ offense? I’m looking forward to those answers (as well as the development of other rookies and second year players) unfolding.