(Photo Credit: USA Today via Reuters/Ken Blaze)
It would seem the last thing a team coming off a winless season, and with their coach firmly entrenched on the hot seat, needs is for the football world to see their shortcomings. But that’s exactly where the Browns appear headed as this year’s subject of the HBO series Hard Knocks.
The long-running series can be great PR for a franchise, and the Browns are doing all they can to keep their fans’ interest and perhaps draw some new ones who can say they were there at the beginning of the team’s turnaround toward a dynasty.
OK, we’re getting ahead of ourselves with that dynasty talk. The focus in Cleveland, however, should be on winning just one game this season, and considering that would match its victory total from the past two years, the entire organization must work harder than ever before to accomplish that feat.
So why would the Browns need another potential distraction?
Stepping in the right direction
Give the Browns credit, they did a solid job of upgrading their roster – at least on paper – perhaps better than they have in recent years. Keep in mind, this is a franchise that has not had a winning record since 2007, last reached the postseason in 2002 and hasn’t won a division title since 1989. To put the latter in perspective, current Cleveland starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was born in August 1989.
But Taylor is one of the veteran additions the Browns are banking on to help guide the turnaround, or at least until they feel No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield is ready to go. Receiver Jarvis Landry joins Josh Gordon to form an impressive pass-catching duo, assuming they each focus on football. Ex- San Francisco 49er Carlos Hyde is the new starter at running back and Georgia product Nick Chubb was drafted for depth, but could provide more than that at some point this season.
With those additions, the Browns have a good chance to improve an offense that ranked last in the league averaging 14.6 points. Defensively, rookie Denzel Ward and veteran cornerback Damarious Randall provide a potential upgrade to a unit that ranked 31st, allowing 25.6 points per contest.
On paper, the Browns look like a team that should be more competitive, but that’s been said before in Cleveland. The proof will come on the field, not from what we see on television.
(Don’t) smile for the camera
Wouldn’t it make sense to just go about your business as a football team and not have to worry about running into a television production crew or having a camera in your face when you’re strolling to the cafeteria and hanging out at your locker during training camp. While there really is no such thing as total privacy for teams or players anymore, a group like the Browns should not subject themselves to any more outside factors.
If the Cleveland organization wants fans to take it seriously and believe things will be much better this season, put the time and effort it will take to cater and deal with the folks at HBO into trying to make sure the team is in the best position to succeed. This is a proud franchise with a great tradition, but we need not know their business through the eyes of a camera.
Maybe this all works out for the best – the show will entertain and the Browns will be more competitive on the field than they have been the past two seasons. At the moment, it doesn’t seem right for a franchise amidst perhaps the lowest point of its existence to think about anything else than football.
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