Considering I wrote “more next week” in my last column, I figured it’s time to finally write. Obviously, I didn’t follow up with what I said, but I do have my reasons. Such as being a full-time student, having a job that isn’t anywhere near as fun as this one, but pays me, and trying to get some actual sleep. Regardless, I’m here to break-down another rough patch in Cleveland Browns history. As well as throw in some season predictions and my thoughts on the first Sunday of the football calendar, which is already here. Believe it or not.
Are the Cleveland Browns the NFL’s sneaky good team of 2012? Now after you read that question you immediately thought I was another one of those fans who always thinks his/her team is secretly a contender, no matter the circumstances. Thankfully for you, I’m not one of them. And I never will be. Throughout my lifetime the Browns have either not been in existence, been a “laughing-stock” team, and actually, once upon a time, made the playoffs one year (2003) and won 10 games another year (2007). Climbing out of the Cleveland sports hole isn’t easy because that hole is 1,000,0000,000 feet deep and we’re not climbers. However, I’m a sports fan who has his team’s back every single day of the week. Then again, if you’re not one of those sports fans, are you even a sports fan at all? No, you’re not.
Someone once told me that sports are modern-day mythology, but recently, they’ve become reality. And they’re going to stay that way…for a long time.
Looking at Cleveland’s season is challenging; they have a rookie QB, a rookie RB, and a defense that keeps sustaining injuries. To be honest, I don’t know how this season will turn out for Pat Shurmur and company. It could be a mediocre 8-8 year (I freakin’ hope so), or it could result in the firing of Shurmur as well as Holmgren packing his bags as new ownership is rumored to have an interest in bringing in former Philadelphia Eagles president, Joe Banner, to take over Holmgren’s integral role in the organization. Whichever way the ball rolls in northen Ohio, Browns fans are sure to witness the same old story: A sub-par team trying to get it together, or another rebuilding stage as the offices are cleared out in Berea.
Ironically, with the news of Banner, Cleveland opens the season on the 9th of September at home against an Eagles team who’s looking to avenge last season’s dismal performance. Can the new tandem of Weeden and Richardson bring hope to a hopeless sports city? I have no idea, anymore. Can the defense hold up with the losses of Taylor, Gocong, and Fujita? Against Philadelphia, possibly. But for the rest of the season, I’m nervous to find out the answer. Then again, Taylor should be making his return by November the latest, and I’m just hoping that it’s not already too late by then. Regardless of all the facts and worrisome headlines, Browns fans know one thing for sure: Our team is back, and so is football. We’re just happy to have that back in our lives. And if they can win, then all the better.
Thanks to the help of a friend (Marc Squizzero, don’t follow him on Twitter), here are some ideas I’m willing to talk about before the NFL gets underway:
Most Improved Team
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Besides the offseason signings of arguably the best guard in football, Carl Nicks, and a talented top-notch wide-out, Vincent Jackson, the new coaching regime of Schiano may be just what Tampa Bay needed. Raheem Morris was run out of town in the worst way possible, but the players were bold about what needed to be changed. Schiano may be the most disciplined coach in the game already, as he is installing a new kind of leadership in west Florida. Also, the newly slimmed-down Josh Freeman could be on his way to his best season yet as his weapons have upgraded around him.
They’re still the 3rd-best team in their division, but are ready to make some noise in the NFC.
Team With Most Digression
Pittsburgh Steelers. A banged-up QB, a still-injured RB, and your best offensive threat has only been back for a number of days. It’s that simple. Baltimore and Cincinnati are going to make the jump in the AFC North as the Steelers may be on the bottom with my beloved Cleveland Browns (okay, maybe not that bad).
Just like Bill Barnwell predicted for Grantland, Matt Ryan has the arsenal to be the NFL’s MVP. I’m not just saying this because he’s my favorite player in my keeper fantasy league, but just look around him. Roddy White, Julio Jones, and a great ground attack of Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Prediction for the year: 40 TD’s and 8 Int’s. (I agree, the TD’s may be a little over-the-top.)
Most Likely To Be Arrested
Jim Schwartz. That is all.
Biggest Fantasy Bust
Arian Foster. Don’t ask me why, just have a feeling. On top of the injuries and a wonderful Ben Tate behind him, maybe the prime fantasy years of Arian Foster have passed?
Michael Floyd and Josh Gordon. Yeah, I know, these two guys don’t have the best quarterbacks, but their talent may just shine in their particular situations. This one’s risky, don’t trust me.
“Falling Flat For Matt” Campaign- First Overall Pick
Jacksonville Jaguars. I can’t find a worse situation than a second-year quarterback who absolutely sucks, a wide receiver where no one really knows his NFL potential, and your best player held-out so he wouldn’t have to deal with training camp. All of this on top of a new head coach, too. And this is because I’m not picking Cleveland for this “award.” Never.
A San Francisco 49ers vs New England Patriots Super Bowl in New Orleans. I’ve already written about this in a previous column which shows my argument. Find it here.
Sunday’s are back, my friends. Enjoy them while they last. Go Browns and good luck to my (not your) fantasy team. Until Week 2.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @C_Rioux23 You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org