The Cleveland Browns did finish 2016 with a 1-15 record, but the offseason feels the same as it did when the team finished 3-13 in 2015.
2016 was a difficult year to be a Cleveland Browns fan. Expectations were low heading into the season, but an 0-14 start all but sucked the life out of the fan base by the time the team finally picked up a win in Week 16.
The expectations were low mostly due to the fact the team was openly going through a rebuild, but also because 2015 saw the Browns finish 3-13.
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2015 was supposed to be much better than 3-13. 2014 saw the Browns start the year with a 7-4 record, only to collapse and lose the final five games after panicking and replacing Brian Hoyer with Johnny Manziel.
The collapse could have served as a lesson for the team, yet instead it proved to be the start of a string of losing that still hasn’t ended. By the time 2016 rolled around, it was hard to have any faith in a successful season. The new season featured an entirely new front office and coaching staff, while also featuring a slew of new players.
A 1-15 season is obviously terrible, but it does set up the Browns with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, along with the No. 12 pick that was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles. Being a Browns fan requires a great deal of optimism, but these two picks, along with the philosophy of this new regime, offers some legitimate hope.
This is in stark contrast to when the 2015 season ended and the team cleared house after a disappointing 3-13 finish. It was another instance of the “same ‘ole Browns” and seemed to once again set the team back several years. The team did possess the No. 2 overall pick, but there was no standout player for the team to pick that would come in and turnaround the franchise. At least, so it seemed at the time.
So even though the 2016 Browns lost 14 straight games to open the season, this season seems to be better, even if only by a small margin, than the meaningless campaign in 2015. Any season in which Johnny Manziel sees significant time at the quarterback position is one best forgotten.
The 2016 season featured mostly young, inexperienced players giving max effort, yet simply lacking in talent. The games were tough to watch because of the lack of points and lack of defense, but there was never a lack of effort and that is something that cannot be said about Browns teams of the recent past.
It is unfortunate that a 3-13 season was followed up with a 1-15 season, but this is the Browns so it is not surprising. The good news is that the current group in charge seems to have a solid plan in place. It just needs to work out.