CLEVELAND (923TheFan) – And so begins the next chapter in Browns history.
Pat Shurmur is the franchises’ fifth head coach to be hired since the team returned in 1999. He will attempt to do what Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel or Eric Mangini could not do – win.
It should be fairly easy since the bar has not been set all that high by his predecessors – the Browns are a pathetic 64-128 over the last 12 years.
Cleveland has lost 10 or more games in 9 of the 12 seasons the team has been back on the field and recorded just two winning campaigns to go with one brief playoff appearance.
With the optimism of a new beginning that each coach brought came the thud of reality of just how far the Browns needed to go to become relevant on the NFL landscape again.
Palmer won just two games during the team’s inaugural season in 1999. Davis had the most successful debut in 2001 finishing 7-9. Crennel went 6-10 after taking over in 2005 and Mangini fared no better winning just 5 games in 2009.
So what will Shurmur do for a debut in 2011?
There is good news – the schedule appears to be very kind.
It starts today with Cincinnati. The Bengals are not exactly a powerhouse and many pundits find it difficult to believe how they will compete this year. Like the Browns they are a young team – especially on offense. Their strength is their front seven on defense.
That is where the compliments end.
But they, like everyone else on the schedule are not to be overlooked. The Browns are in no position to do so and with a young team will come unpredictability. There is a pretty good chance that the Browns will look like playoff contenders one week and bottom feeders the next.
The football gods will give the Browns a break next week at Indianapolis with Peyton Manning out.
The Browns then host Miami and Tennessee – two teams regrouping this season. It is conceivable that Cleveland could enter their bye week 4-0 or 3-1.
The Browns drew the NFC West this year – 7 wins won that division a year ago. Cleveland will host Seattle and St. Louis and travel to San Francisco and Arizona.
The Browns will rack up the frequent flier miles with two trips in three weeks to the Bay to play the 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Throw in a trip to Houston and a home game with Jacksonville and maybe the Browns won’t have a problem winning a few just maybe some jet lag.
Cleveland will not see AFC North powerhouses Pittsburgh and Baltimore until December. The bad news is they play those two teams four times in five weeks to end the season.
So buckle up fans, it should be another wild ride in Brownstown.
SEASON PREDICTIONS: Realistic 7-9, Optimistic 10-6, Head for the Innerbelt Bridge before they tear it down 6-10