For those NFL teams who are playoff bound, the important part of the 2011 football season is just getting started.
For those who failed to qualify for postseason play, like the Browns, the season is already over. Some would argue it's been over for months now.
But disappointed as we are in Cleveland that the Browns have missed the playoffs yet again, it's time to do what we do best: move on and vow to get 'em next year.
One advantage (albeit a very tiny one) of being eliminated from postseason play? While other teams are frantically preparing for their next matchup, teams like the Browns can maintain a more singular focus on what their game plan is for the offseason.
Obviously, that extra head start on such preparations isn't worth the price. We'd all gladly trade the jump start on offseason activities such as determining which free agents we would like to sign for a chance to play even one playoff game.
But that was not to be for the Browns this year, so we have no choice but to look on the bright side and take advantage of the opportunity to take the extra time to plan a strategy for free agency (or at least complain about missing the playoffs and grudgingly get moving on preparing for next year).
The free agent pool is still a little bit fuzzy at this point—franchise tags have not yet been handed out, and any impact draft positioning will have on the market will not be fully established until after postseason play ends—but for the Browns, we can already begin to determine which position groups they need to focus on in free agency, and perhaps make a few suggestions as to who they might try to pursue.