The season is over for the Cleveland Browns, but the work ahead for the organization may be the toughest task for this young and developing team.
For this Browns organization, their greatest feat may be in keeping a loyal fan-base interested and believing better things are on the horizon.
Ending the season with a 4-12 record, the organization took a step back, after identical 5-11 records under former head coach Eric Mangini in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Records aside, the difference between those Mangini era teams and that of this current Browns team is – the 2011 season roster sported plenty of youth and inexperience to develop, whereas the Mangini teams were riddled with veteran players on the down-side of their career.
Every couple days or so, this fly will buzz onto your PC monitor, laptop, or whatever devise you prefer in bringing you news, notes and speculation about your Cleveland Browns.
With that simple thought, onto the buzz :
® Within the past 24-hours the Browns have been rumored to have interest in Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. This fly has learned the Browns have conducted no discussions, internally or externally regarding the future Hall of Fame player and are extremely unlikely to be a player in any acquisition opportunities, if such presents itself.
® Keeping one of their own doesn't appear to be in the cards. RB Peyton Hillis is going to be a free agent and the likelihood of the Browns retaining the player is relatively minimal at this time. Despite somewhat improved relations between the player and staff as the season progressed, reservations remain due to what some within the organization perceive as the player ‘checking out' for a period of time. Additionally, some within the locker room and staff question Hillis' departure in the season finale due to a knee injury.
® With Hillis likely to depart in free agency, the Browns are in the market for a RB this off-season. Oft-injured Montario Hardesty (knee), injured Brandon Jackson (foot) and Chris Ogbonnaya manning the RB position, the Browns could be in a precarious state. Hardesty is unproven, Jackson has shown to be a good third-down back and Ogbonnaya is relatively unproven, but displayed some potential in filling in for Hillis and Hardesty during the 2010 season.
While not delving into free agent player discussion at this time, the Browns front office and scouting staff believe University of Alabama RB Trent Richardson is going to be an explosive and productive player at the next level. So much impressed are the Browns, Richardson is a player the organization will be considering with the fourth overall selection in the 2011 college player draft.
® While the RB position appears to be an obvious area the organization must address, the QB spot is already garnering the immediate focus of the organization. 2010 starter Colt McCoy hasn't been excluded from 2012 consideration, nor has backup Seneca Wallace. But, this fly has learned the Browns scouting department has spent an inordinate amount of time already, scouting the potential QB's in the college player draft.
Stanford QB Andrew Luck has been the top-rated QB all season and is the proto-typical type many teams like at the QB spot. But as the season has progressed, the likes of Robert Griffin III or RG3 as many know him as has rocketed to the top of the draft class, if he indeed declares for the draft.
As Luck and Griffin figure to compete to be the first QB selected in the draft, there are other players at the position the Browns have shown an interest in.
The pressing question of exactly which QB the Browns like best is the great unknown, but this fly has been told by a source as close to the organization as it gets is, the Browns love Luck, are extremely intrigued by Griffin III and believe Jones and Tannehill have the tools to be very good in the WCO scheme.
And, most disappointment comes from learning USC QB Matt Barkley was remaining in school for his senior season.
The Browns organization is very high on Barkley and believes he could have competed with the likes of Luck and Griffin III, in being the first QB selected in the draft.
®A starting point on the offensive side of the ball to remedy the woes of the Browns offense could start with the naming of an offensive coordinator.
When head coach Pat Shurmur announced in his season ending press conference that he would be hiring an offensive coordinator, the names of potential candidates became the latest buzz.
Dependent on the coordinator, Shurmur expressed the potential of relinquishing his play-calling duties, which would be beneficial for the first-time head coach to gain a better grasp and perception of his team.
Being said, the likely name of former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator and Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress came to the forefront immediately.
While being a likely candidate, this fly has been assured Childress, while a candidate is not viewed as a slam-dunk by the Browns organization. There are some reservations about the abrasive style Childress portraits, which is quite the opposite of Shurmur.
Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman could be an interesting prospect for the Browns offensive coordinator position. Sherman is well versed in the WCO, has been successful as a play-caller on the professional and collegiate level and is immediately available.
Sherman is scheduled to interview with the Miami Dolphins for their vacant head coaching position.
As Childress and Sherman are the name candidates, this fly has learned the Browns, and Shurmur specifically has former UCLA head coach Karl Dorel and present Browns QB's coach Mark Whipple on his radar.
With that, this fly is buzzing off for now. In the near future, like every couple days or so, I will be dropping by with the latest buzz, which will include the latest on Green Bay QB Matt Flynn, college WR's, current Browns along the offensive line and some other speculation.