Forget LeBron James: The Browns Are Cleveland's New Shining Light

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2010

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 30:  Josh Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns positions himself at the line of scrimmage during the game against the San Francisco 49ers on December 30, 2007 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In my many years of being a sports fan, I've seen both the highs and the lows of our lovable world. 

The highs, of course, being many great championship stories, such as the New Orleans Saints' impressive Super Bowl run in 2009, or, of course, the Boston Red Sox ending the seemingly unbeatable World Series drought some six years ago.

However, when it comes to the lows, they are both depressing and quite upsetting. 

Perhaps the ultimate low I have experienced though happened yesterday, when LeBron James bid farewell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, to go and live what he hopes to be the high life, down in South Beach with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Upon watching ESPN's broadcast entitled "The decision," I noticed two things.  The first was, of course, LeBron James' sincerity to the city of Cleveland that seemed to go unnoticed a little by some fans.

The second, was devastation of Cleveland Cavalier fans, as they all simultaneously moaned when LeBron announced he was to be joining the Miami Heat in the upcoming season.

But as saddening as this all was, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Cleveland fans, even though most of them would rather me spare them my pity.

It seems ever since Red Right 88 back in the famous Cleveland Browns days, things have been going south for this city, very quickly.

Now though, I am here to shine a beacon of light if you will for all Cleveland sports fans.  Yes, believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns are set to be the next big thing for the state of Ohio, as their young but talented team is finally on the rise.

Looking at the Cleveland Browns on paper, an argument could be made that this team does still have some kinks to iron out before they strive toward an impeccable season. 

For the most part, this is totally true.  As much as the Browns offseason has been highly productive and successful, there are some concerns still both on defense and offense, that have the Dawg Pound a little nervous heading toward September.

The first concern is the defensive line.  Last season, the Browns ranked 31st in defensive pass yards, and often struggled to maintain any solid pressure on opposing quarterbacks. 

Although this problem is mostly accredited to the Browns' safeties and cornerbacks, without any pressure being applied on the passer from the start of every play, realistically the defense will continue to struggle this season.

The second problem for the Browns stays on the defensive side of the ball, but this time we take a look at the Browns' backfield. 

In the Draft, Cleveland made some highly successful selections when they acquired cornerback Joe Haden from Florida, and full safety T.J Ward from Oregon.

Both of these picks should solidify some problems, but they are, of course, rookies, and it may take a while for both men to find their feet.

So now that the problems are out of the way, what about the positives in Cleveland?

Well, I guess the most suitable place to lead off is by focusing on the Browns' latest quarterback adjustments this offseason.

Since Mike Holmgren has stepped in as team president, change has certainly occurred.  Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn out, and Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace in looks to be quite a profitable move in terms of the passing game this season.

Not only that, the Browns were also successful in acquiring former Texas Longhorn star Colt McCoy in the Draft, which should allow for the future passing game in Cleveland to be in secure hands.

Aside from the passing side of the game though, now we focus on the more exciting stuff in Cleveland, Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison.

We all know what they are about, and we all know that they are both exceptional talents in the league right now. 

In 2009, both Josh Cribbs and Jerome Harrison weren't exactly standouts, but they did show promising signs for the future.

On one hand, Cribbs returned three kickoffs in 2009, while Jerome Harrison continued to pile up touchdowns toward the end of the year.

Does this sound promising to you?  It should, because both of these guys are worth watching in 2010.

Finally, I end with the off-field change in Cleveland, the coaching.  As mentioned earlier, Mike Holmgren has done wonders for this franchise, and has everybody thinking straight in terms of the future and where the Browns are at right now.

Forget LeBron James, it's over.  The Cleveland Browns may not be a playoff team in 2010, or even 2011 for that matter.  But according to's Steve Carucci, they may be one in 2012, so let's just hope the world doesn't end.

The Browns are on the right path, and give them credit, they've made some real steps toward a successful future. 

Let's hope the LeBron rioting doesn't get to out of hand, as the Browns could be in for a some great years ahead.


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report . He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters . Don't forget to follow him on Twitter .


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