By: Eric Kastner (@EKastner24)
CLEVELAND — Joe Haden, who had a map of Hawaii hanging from his locker all season, leads a group of three players making their first appearance to the Pro Bowl as members of the Cleveland Browns. The other two who were selected on Friday evening, were offensive lineman Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Thomas leads the group of Browns with his seventh appearance, while Mack will mark his 2nd trip to Aloha Stadium.
Browns fans have witnessed, yet another disappointing season unfold in-front of their eyes. One of the largest, yet most delicate fan bases in the NFL, was searching for something to hang their hats on as they head into the off-season. Enduring double-digit loss seasons seems to be a regular occurrence for this team in the past decade, but Friday evening the NFL took notice, that Cleveland is apart of a youth movement, that is now producing pro bowlers.
However, without question the most exciting talent of the bunch selected, is 2nd year wide receiver, Josh Gordon. Gordon has a chance to be the first Brown in franchise history to win the receiving title. Gordon leads Calvin Johnson by 72 yards heading into week 17. Oh, and Gordon missed the first two games of the season due to suspension. Josh has set numerous records this year, including a league best seven 100-yard receiving games.
Jordan Cameron another promising young player for the Browns, entered just his second year in 2013, where he’s nearing 900 yards receiving (848) and has accounted for (7) touchdowns, in which he’s been the go-to guy for the Browns in the red-zone. Cameron (6’5″, 245) and former basketball player at Stanford, was one of former general manager Tom Heckert’s finds, as he was selected in the 4th round by the Browns in 2011. Cameron’s best game this season, should be at no surprise, as it came in week three when Gordon was able to suit up for the first time. Cameron caught only 6 passes, but scored three times, with his biggest coming with under a minute left on a fade route that was thrown perfectly by 3rd-string quarterback Brian Hoyer (Cameron Game Winner).
The Browns found themselves with four late leads winding down the 2013 season, but saw all those leads evaporate in the waning moments. Whether, it was the defense unable to come up with stops, or not having a franchise quarterback to put them over the top, the Browns have some work to do heading into this all-important off-season. Cleveland, will head to Radio City Music Hall in New York City in May, with 10 draft picks overall, two in the first and seven total in the top four rounds. The Trent Richardson trade following week two, brought the Browns a first round choice that will likely be in the mid-20′s via the Colts.
Cleveland’s front office probably would have liked to see some improvements in the win column this year. However, statistically the defense improved in 13′, and the offense was highlighted by four pro bowlers, showing spurts of the 07′ season with Winslow II and Edwards.
Finally, we all saw what a new quarterback and culture can do, when changing an identity of a franchise. The Kansas City Chiefs went from a 2 win team, to a playoff team a year later. Cleveland will have the ammunition this coming May to find their franchise quarterback. However, keep an eye on Brian Hoyer who was playing well for the Browns before season ending surgery. Hoyer threw five touchdowns in essentially two games and held a QB rating of (82.6), that included a game-winning touchdown drive at the Metrodome in week three.
Have faith Cleveland fans, you’ve suffered long enough.
About the Author
Written by Eric Kastner
Communication Studies Alumnus of Owens Community College 13'. Current, Senior at Wright State University - Lake Campus, Majoring in Organizational Leadership 14'.