Not So Fast, Cleveland

May 12, 2014 | Tony Thornton

So the pundits and experts are raving about the Cleveland Browns moving up to the 22nd pick at this year’s draft to grab the polarizing, Johnny Manziel. Of course, it’s a great selection for the Browns. They are getting a dynamic playmaker that will ascend to the status similar to the legend of LeBron and certainly put people in the stadium seats in Cleveland. But some of the buzz I have heard about the Browns is disturbing. No, not that Josh Gordon may be suspended for the year for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy – again. I hear this is the final piece of the puzzle for Cleveland to seriously compete for the AFC North divisional title – THIS YEAR. What?? Are you kidding me? Seriously? Sure Cleveland is making solid and sustainable attempts to rebuild their team. With All-Pro Joe Thomas anchoring the left side of the offensive line, along with young pass catchers like Andrew Hawkins and Jordan Cameron, they certainly make a formidable offensive group. Drafting Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert after trading down to the eight pick, was a smart move and will be a great addition, with a secondary that includes T.J Ward and Joe Haden (my favorite Browns player, by the way). They also secured a proven running back this off-season in Ben Tate.  But, let’s pump the brakes here for a second. This is still the Cleveland Browns. They have not been in the playoffs since 1994. The Browns have had single digit wins in a season 15 of the last 16 years. Not finished. The Cleveland Browns were 4-12 last year and lost their last 7 games to end the season. Not to say teams can’t turn things around from season to season because recent history has shown this to be true. It just will be very difficult for first year coach Mike Pettine to establish that kind of expectation immediately, especially given how the rest of the division stacks up for 2014. After all, did Cleveland and their die-hard fans really think they were only one player away? In a division that includes teams that already have playoff proven quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, along with solid defenses, it will be very challenging, but hope always trumps expectations. Johnny Manziel may indeed prove that he will be a superstar in the NFL, but let’s temper that for now. So my message to the Dog Pound – Keep on supporting the Browns! You just have to wait a little while longer for success on the field.