The Cleveland Browns will enter the 2011 season with some very good reasons to be optimistic about the state of the franchise. Head coach Pat Shurmur's new regime is in full force, and the team finally has some key pieces in order to contend with a very strong AFC North.
Even though the signs seem to be pointing in the right direction, Browns fans have been down this road many times before.
So why should the fans be excited for next season?
Let's take a look at where the Cleveland Browns currently are.
Peyton Hillis is probably the biggest reason for Browns fans to get excited heading into next season.
Hillis had one of the best years out of a Browns rusher since the team's reinstatement into the NFL in 1999 not only statistically, but from an overall standpoint of likability.
Many people did not know who Peyton Hillis was before the 2010 season, but they found out quickly as he took over the starting running back position by Week 3 and punished opponents seemingly at will.
Hillis ended 2010 with 1,177 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He was also second on the Browns in receiving with 61 catches for 477 yards and two scores.
T.J. Ward and Joe Haden were simply outstanding for the Browns last season and made the NFL believe in Mike Holmgren's drafting abilities.
The Browns seemed like a completely different team as Ward, Haden and Sheldon Brown all became starters and improved Cleveland's ability to force the big play.
The Browns still ended 2010 near the bottom of the league in pass defense, but Cleveland had many young starters who can only benefit from their first year of service.
Ward also became a key part of the Browns defense as he gained a reputation for being a hard hitter very early in the season (as shown in the video above).
Pat Shurmur brings a new mentality to Cleveland that should have the offense finally believing in themselves once again.
Eric Mangini was a self-acclaimed "defensive-minded" coach and the Browns offense seemed to struggle because of it. Shurmur's new West Coast system should play right into the Browns' strengths and greatly improve the team's production.
Colt McCoy will be utilized completely differently under Shurmur's direction, and Peyton Hillis should also continue to be a significant piece. Shurmur has also met with some Browns players already including Josh Cribbs at Cleveland's Man of the Year Dinner. Shurmur reportedly told Cribbs, "We are going to have you in that end zone on every play, so get ready." That sounds exactly like the confidence the Browns can benefit from.
Shurmur has worked with many quarterbacks in the league, including Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford.
Mike Holmgren spent a lot of time this offseason contemplating who should become the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Holmgren reportedly introduced the idea of hiring himself as the coach to his staff and family, but eventually decided against it and moved forward with Pat Shurmur.
The Browns fans are beginning to show real faith in Holmgren, as he was the mastermind behind a brilliant draft class in 2010 and made some solid personnel decisions that have helped the team overall.
Holmgren's success as the president of the Browns will more than likely hinge on the performance of the next Browns coaching regime. Cleveland has been more than willing to give him exactly what he has asked for with his staff and players and, so far, he is making the grade.
Colt McCoy emerged as a fan favorite and team leader in 2010 even though he wasn't expected to have any playing time at all behind Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.
McCoy played brilliantly as he knocked off the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots in back-to-back weeks and forever solidified his place in the hearts of the Browns faithful.
According to all the experts, McCoy should flourish in the West Coast offense, as it will play into his strengths of accuracy and timing. McCoy has never been praised for his arm strength, which many be a smaller reason why Cleveland officially made the switch.
Brian Murtaugh is a Cleveland Browns Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report as well as the featured columnist on Browns Central.
Browns fans can find many different reasons to get excited for upcoming seasons.
Tell everyone what you are looking forward to as the team progresses through the draft and into next season.