Browns-Bears Preview

Final preseason game is boring so … let’s talk QBs, 2014 season outlook.

For the sake of every Cleveland Browns fan that continuously comes back annually to support this team, here’s hoping Thursday is the last time we see Johnny Manziel on an NFL field … this year.

If Manziel plays as part of a two-quarterback system this season, the Browns are screwed.

If Manziel plays for an injured Brian Hoyer this season, the Browns are screwed.

The Browns are already halfway there to screwed-ville thanks to the Josh Gordon ruling Wednesday, but let’s not go down that path. Let’s keep on the quarterback situation.

So why don’t I want to see Johnny Football play this year? It’s not that I think Manziel is going to be a bust or that Hoyer is the next coming of Tom Brady.

For once, how about the Browns stick with an opening day starting quarterback for, oh, I don’t know, 16 games?

Look, continuity is a foreign concept in Berea. Wouldn’t it be nice for all 16 games the team features the same starting quarterback? That’s not to say I want to prevent Johnny Manziel to eventually taking over this team and be the type of franchise quarterback this team so desperately needs.

But we’ve waited since 1992 to find that franchise QB, what’s one more year?

There isn’t going to be much to observe from Thursday’s preseason finale against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. This is the most boring game of the year for Browns fans, save for that annual season-finale butt-whooping against the Steelers. (SPOILER ALERT: Browns don’t finish with Pittsburgh this season. So, yay!)

The starters aren’t expected to play much, as the opener against the Steelers is barreling down the tracks a little more than a week later. The quarterback decision has been made, the final cuts are almost here and Gordon’s future is decided. It’s time to play football that counts.

Instead of breaking down this final preseason game, let’s take a look at what the 2014 Cleveland Browns season has to offer from two points of view: optimist vs. cynic

Josh Gordon

Optimist: The Browns still have him under contract for one more season. This will finally be the wake up call he needs to get his life off-the-field on the right track. He’ll be reinstated for the 2015 season and return to his impressive ways. Plus, I've always wanted a reason to watch the Canadian Football League.

Cynic: The guy is a moron. There shouldn’t have been any traces in his urine since he’s facing his third strike. And then there was the DUI? He’ll never play for the Browns ever again and he’ll go down as one of the biggest wastes of talent in NFL history.

Browns defense

Optimist: This is going to be one of the top 10 units in the league. They are strong up the middle, albeit a little older, and these guys are really going to take to how coach Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator’s Jim O’Neill coach ‘em up. Those two did good things with the Jets defense and Bills defense and it’ll continue in Cleveland. This defense showed signs last year, but they have only improved talent- and coaching-wise.

Cynic: Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner are a year older than the players they’re replacing. Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo were hardly the world beaters we expected last year. And now the team’s top two corners are banged up? Sorry, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton will carve ‘em up again.

Running game

Optimist: Ben Tate, when healthy, can be an explosive back and coupled with that rookie tank, Terrance West, gives the Browns a dynamic 1-2 punch that was sorely lacking last year. Bring back that old-school run-first offense and shove it down the throat of AFC North opponents.

Cynic: Tate is injury-prone and West is a rookie, meaning he’ll hit the wall around late October. Not to mention if this team tries to run right, Mitchell Schwartz simply can’t block. Need two yards on third and 1? Might as well punt.

Overall

Optimist: This team’s talent level has risen. From the owner to the GM on down there is a clear line of command and most everyone is on the same page. Continuity? The Browns may be starting down that path. Maybe. Not to mention it can’t get any worse than the last few years. The AFC North foes aren’t among the league’s best anymore and nine wins just might get you a conference title and playoff berth. Every year a team comes out of now where and makes the playoffs. Why not the Browns in 2014?

Cynic: You can change the coach, the quarterback, the GM and even the stadium, but it’ll be the same ‘ol 4-12, 5-11 season because we’re talking about Browns football. It’s just what they do.


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