|The Browns spent the past four years building the team to make a run this season. Yet it all came crashing down in the worst way. Cleveland suffered its third double-digit losing season in four years in 2008. Coming off a 10-6 campaign in 2007, the Browns entered the year with playoff expectations. Instead, they were one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season and now the team is unsure of its future. Grade: F |
Biggest surprise: The Browns throttled the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants 35-14 in Week 6 on "Monday Night Football." That performance had people shaking their heads and wondering whether that was the real 2008 Cleveland team or simply an off night for the Giants. By the end of the year, everyone had the answer.
Biggest disappointment: Neither Brady Quinn nor Derek Anderson took hold of the quarterback position this season. The Browns are calling Quinn the franchise signal-caller of the present and future, but did he really instill a high level of confidence? He was 1-2 as a starter with two touchdowns, two interceptions, and he was benched in his final game. Quinn also is coming off season-ending finger surgery on his throwing hand. Anderson, coming off a Pro Bowl season, was expected to build off last year and, at the very least, increase his trade value. But an inconsistent season hurt the Browns in both performance and the trade market next year.
Biggest need: The Browns are in need of a culture change. Neither the players, coaches nor the front office are happy with the ways things have gone in Cleveland. Cleveland has major chemistry and philosophical issues that needs to be worked out before this team develops into a consistent winner. Browns owner Randy Lerner said everything is up for review, and he's already started by firing former general manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel.
Prospects for '09: Murky. Last year's 10-6 run is looking like a fluke. It's very doubtful this team can consistently compete in the AFC North with the likes of the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. This also puts the Browns in an odd spot. Do they try to trade players such as Anderson, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. and receiver Braylon Edwards in an effort to start over? That will certainly set the Browns back another couple of years. Or do they keep these key players who nearly led the Browns to the playoffs and try for another run next season? A case can be made either way. But, without a doubt, it will be an interesting offseason in Cleveland.