Prior to the start of the 2010 NFL season, Browns fans were on top of the world. Predictions flew that this was the year they were going to take that next step, and become a team that can be respected across the NFL.
They had many reasons as to why they had such high hopes. They ended the 2009 season on a four game winning streak. They brought in Mike Holmgren to run the team. They ended all of the quarterback controversy, by trading Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, and bringing in Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.
They even signed their best player, Josh Cribbs to a lengthy contract extension. The 2010 offseason, was a successful one, from a Browns fans point of view.
The problem was, the Cleveland Browns were not a good football team. Sure, they ended the season with a four game winning streak. The problem was, people forgot about the 11 games prior to the winning streak.
They ended their QB controversy, (trading Brady Quinn for Peyton Hillis is looking better every day), but they did not bring in a true, quality signal caller.
They signed their best player to a long term extension, but more than the extension, Cribbs needs other playmakers on the offense, so teams can not focus their entire game plan covering him.
In the interest of making the AFC North the best division in the NFL, I am going to explain how the Browns can become a successful franchise, in just a few short years.
Mike Holmgren needs to FIRE the entire coaching staff. Everyone needs to be gone. None of them are really very good anyway. There is no one on the staff that any Browns fan can look to and say THIS is a quality coach.
The Draft, Part 1
With their first pick in the draft, even though Mike Holmgren has stated he won't ever do this, draft a QB for the future. Then, and this is THE most important part, DO NOT play him in his rookie season. Allow whomever the Browns choose to draft to sit and watch for a year, to learn the game.
I don't care if you don't win a single game, do not allow the rookie to step a single foot on the field during his rookie season.
There are a few areas that need to be addressed for the Browns. The most important one in my opinion, is the No. 1 receiver position. Josh Cribbs, with his speed, is better suited for the slot, and the Browns need a TRUE No. 1.
My suggestion? Santonio Holmes.
Holmes was a product of The Ohio State University. He knows the AFC North, and has done an amazing job tormenting the Ravens for years.
Holmes will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and the Jets have a lot of other issues they need to address.
Sign someone that can play on the right side of the offensive line. If you start at center, and go to the left, the Browns offensive line is one of the best in the NFL. If you look at the right side, it is more of a punch line, than anything.
Sure, the Browns can draft a player there for the future, but they would be better suited to bring in someone that actually has proved that they can play at an NFL level.
The Browns used their first two picks in the 2010 Draft addressing their secondary, and those picks will go a long way towards allowing the Browns to not have to address the depth situation in 2011. Besides, the Browns have other areas that are a much higher priority than addressing the secondary.
The Draft, Part 2
The Browns will have a fairly high pick in the draft, so they will get some good draft picks. It would be best to take the best available player at the positions they need to address the most, O-line, LB, WR, D-line.
2011 is not going to be much better than 2010.
Browns fans must now realize that the 2011 season is not going to be drastically improved over 2010, and that is OK. You need to give Gruden a chance to get his system in place. You need a chance to allow your rookies and second year players a chance to learn the NFL.
Not only that, another poor year next year, will give you another high draft pick in 2012, and that is when you can complete your re-building process.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Browns will have the chance to evaluate the draft class of the past two years. I am not going to even try to sit here, and predict the positions that the Browns are going to address two years from now, because there is no way to even know who is going to be on the Browns roster at that point.
Again though, the Browns need to draft the best available player, at the positions they need the most.
As most of you know, I hate the Browns. I do respect the fan base, even though most of you hate me. The talent level on the Browns is not good enough to be competitive, but, they do have a light at the end of the tunnel.
If the Browns follow my advice, then, odds are, one day, they will be a respectable team, once again.
But, odds are, there is no chance that Mike Holmgren is going to be listening to a Steelers fan.