Even though the Cleveland Browns won just five games in 2010, fans of the historic franchise were chock full of optimism heading into the offseason. Cleveland either beat or hung tough against quality opponents last year, and at one point in the middle of the season looked like they might be able to challenge for a .500 record. They of course didn't quite get there, but the emergence of Colt McCoy as a legitimate leader on the team and potentially a franchise quarterback left fans confident that better days were just around the corner.
Cleveland then had an outstanding 2011 NFL Draft, stockpiling picks and talent with their blockbuster trade with the Atlanta Falcons. The momentum kept going during the lockout when McCoy and his teammates organized players-only workouts all spring and summer. Now that they're in camp, fans are more pumped up than ever about their team making a return to respectability and competing with Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the AFC North.
Many scribes believe the lockout will leave the Browns at a bigger disadvantage than most because of how young they are and how little time so many on the roster will have had to work with Paul Shurmur and the rest of the new coaching staff in Cleveland. We'll see, perhaps. It is undeniable that the Browns have gotten a lot younger in the two years that Holmgren has been in charge. He talked to 950 KJR in Seattle about that and the outlook for the 2011 season during a Wednesday afternoon interview.
On the expectations for the team:
"Well I suppose I’m never satisfied until we start winning some more games. We didn’t win enough games last year. How about this stat? We went from one of the oldest teams in football to one of the youngest and we lost 331 years. We’re a young team and now having said that we’re going to have some growing pains, but I think looking back on my year I don’t question my decision to retain Eric (Mangini) and those guys. I thought long and hard about it. The fact that then I had to make the change I suppose if I made it right away you could say we’d be a year ahead but I had reasons for not doing it and that’s the way it is. Now we have to kinda get going again but I like the way our team is functioning. We have these young people that are going to be good. Tom Heckert does a great job in personnel. I mean he really is good. The really good thing I did was surround myself with really smart guys and they can really do the job."
How disappointed he would be if the Browns don’t make strides this year:
"I would be disappointed if we didn’t make a jump Dave but we’ll see. I’m not one to predict those things as you well know. I think if we don’t get hurt and Colt can’t stay in and not get injured, which is a huge thing, and he can have a full year of growing and playing the game, I think we have a chance to be a much better football team. That’s my hope anyway."