It’s tough being a Cleveland fan. Everyone knows of the sad love story, the 48 year championship drought, the long stretches of inconsistency. Yet each generation of Cleveland fan seems to feel that they are destined to witness at least one professional sports teams achieve greatness in their lifetime. Arguably the most popular of these teams, the Cleveland Browns, are the very best at manufacturing sadness for every owner of orange and brown apparel. They have occasionally teased hopeful fans with seasons of quality wins and sparks of consistency, but eventually implode when the next season rolls around and that well-known emptiness creeps back into the city, usually resulting in a new coach and another rebuilding project.
But I do believe that the time to have faith in the Browns is here and now. Holmgren and Heckert understand that in order to create consistency you must build your team through the draft. The only true success stories in the NFL are those of consistency. New England and Pittsburgh are annual contenders because they understand this concept and have created a solid foundation of players and that gives them the luxury of taking risks in free agency or late round draft picks. The Browns are finally heading in this direction, with Heckert doing his homework and drafting solid playmakers with upside (Ward, Sheard, Little). Shurmur has just made his best decision as head coach by confirming that he will be hiring an offensive coordinator this offseason.
The offense was abysmal, but the team was competitive in a majority of games this season, even with a young team learning a brand new system. I’m not a fan of making excuses for a bad team, but these are steps in the right direction. Everyone has to start (or start over) somewhere, and usually the recipe requires a solid foundation, a dash of luck, and players, coaches and fans having a little faith. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but Holmgren has done this before, so what’s wrong with a little blind faith Cleveland? Trust me, it’s better than starting over.