The Cleveland Browns and The Hunt For Playoff Football

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As we reach the end of the NFL postseason, many Browns fans don’t seem to sure where to go from here. Brian Hoyer, once dubbed Hoyer the Destroyer, was shuffled back into the ever changing deck of Cleveland QBs. Johnny Manziel, whom many thought might be the answer, played more like a poorly strung puppet than a real NFL QB.

Ben Tate, once thought to be the answer to stability issues at RB, ended up on 3 different NFL rosters before the end of his season. Meanwhile, one of the few hopes from last season, Josh Gordon, was suspended for the first 10 games, and played like he was still suspended for the last six. If nothing else, it has to seem to many fans like the wheels have once again fallen off the wagon and we’re on our way to yet another rebuilding project.

However, with all this happening, the 2014 Cleveland Browns still managed to go 7-9 under first year head coach Mike Pettine. While the season resembled a rickety wooden roller coaster, with a constant worry of catastrophe, they held together for most of a season, seemingly by willpower alone. If nothing else, the lackluster finish to the end of the season speaks more to a divide in the office aspect of the team, than it does to the players.

The decision to start Manziel, when the team was 7-6, doesn’t seem like something Pettine wanted. Pettine seems, at least to me, to be an old-school coach, the kind of person who sticks with someone, in the heat of things. Yes, Hoyer had some issues late, but the defense seemed equipped, even through injuries, to keep them from completely exploding. In a division that took three teams to the playoffs, the Browns managed to go 2-4, with two of those losses coming by three points or less.

And yet, in two of the final three games, we watched Johnny Manziel get put into the meat grinder, and respond by getting shredded. To make matters worse, he managed to get himself and other players benched in the season finale, by allegedly pulling them into his party life.

The Browns have plenty of needs this off-season, there’s no denying that. My opinion is in line with Pettine, Whitner, and others, who want guys that want to be there. The phrase “Play Like A Brown” isn’t just some cheap motto; it’s something that guys need to unify around and be drawn to. This is how consistently good teams are made. It needs to extend to the front office as well, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

This upcoming offseason and 2015 NFL draft are the perfect platform to put this into motion. The Cleveland Browns have a chance to build upon the successes of last season, while continuing to move towards becoming a perennial playoff contender.

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