Peyton Hillis and Robert Royal
When Mike Holmgren took over the presidency of the Cleveland Browns organization, he was forced to make an evaluation of the coaching staff as well as the entire 53-man roster. Now that the Browns have started the season win-less yet again, some are beginning to question whether or not Cleveland and Holmgren made the right decisions. Even though fans and the team are discouraged, the next three weeks will determine the overall success of the 2010-2011 Cleveland Browns.
No NFL team ever wants to begin a season 0-2. Especially when those two teams they played had a combined record of 7-25 last season.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, that's exactly how the 2010 campaign began. The offense looked lost at times, and the defense showed the world that they could not hold everything together for a full 60 minutes.
So what good news can possibly become of the Cleveland Browns this year? Well, the season is far from over.
Over the course of the next three weeks, Cleveland will travel to Baltimore, then host Cincinnati and Atlanta.
Two of those games are within the division and give Cleveland a great opportunity to pull themselves back from the realm of football obscurity.
Within the AFC North, the Browns are currently in last behind Pittsburgh (2-0), Cincinnati (1-1), and Baltimore (1-1). Even though being in last place surely does not appeal to a fans' senses, the opportunity to be competitive still remains.
Pittsburgh is now forced to utilize their third string quarterback over the course of the next two games (week 5 bye week) now that Dennis Dixon has been taken down due to injury. As for the Ravens and Bengals, both teams are surrounded by huge question marks after Cincinnati was beat down by New England in week 1 and Baltimore looked lost against the Bengals in week 2.
If the Browns can manage to be victorious in two of the next three games, Cleveland would enter their week 6 showdown with Pittsburgh with a record of 2-3 and would give the fans as well as the organization reasons to be happy with the direction of the franchise.
If Cleveland only manages to win one game, or none at all, there is a very good chance that fans will see an organization overhaul by the by week in week eight.
When Holmgren and the Browns decided to retain coach Mangini for this season many fans had a hard time swallowing it. Many people believe that the retention of Mangini was just a ploy by Holmgren to buy him more time. That thinking implies that if Mangini fails, Holmgren can say that it wasn't "his" coach. On the flip side, if Mangini succeeds, Holmgren looks like a genius for keeping him.
If Cleveland disappoints over the course of the next three weeks, expect to see Mangini out of a coaching job. Even if all the blame does not fall on his shoulders, someone has to take the blame for a team who started off last season 1-11 and could then be 1-4 or 0-5 the next.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Browns over the course of the next few games. Cleveland made it very clear that Colt McCoy would not play this season even though he was only one unfortunate incident from playing last week. The Browns also made it clear that they were striving for improvement but all they have accomplished so far is not getting blown out by sub-par teams.
Browns fans have reasons to be disappointed but reasons to still be hopeful of what this season could turn into. A slow start doesn't necessarily mean a bad year, but it is definitely not a good sign. Here's to hoping Cleveland will turn it around and finally give the fans a product we can all be proud of.
Until then, Cleveland will still be Believeland, even if they aren't quite sure who to believe in.