Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 11/18/14
The Cleveland Browns went 5-11 last year, so expectations for the team this year with actual game film a distant memory, are understandably tempered. Grantland decided to look at some of the basement dwellers to see which would have a chance to make that leap and potentially even make a playoff appearance. The Browns were listed fourth after the Lions, Eagles and Chiefs. Most of the analysis and reasoning has to do with more Shurmur bashing from Barnwell. The Browns weren’t as bad as you think! They were 5-11, but they had the point differential of a 6.2-win team and went 3-5 in one-touchdown games, probably owing to the bizarre in-game tactics of Pat Shurmur. Rob Chudzinski doesn’t have an elite pedigree, but it’s simply going to be hard to be worse than Shurmur. It’s hard to argue with some of the logic and if it came to pass it would certainly confirm many of the conclusions that pretty much every Browns fan had come to with regard to Shurmur by the end of his second year as head coach. You also might remember that Bill Barnwell went all-in on Shurmur after last year based on Shurmur’s decisions. He named Shurmur the worst coach of 2012. It’s not that Shurmur made one bad decision in one particular aspect of the game in 2012; it’s that he made obviously wrong calls in so many different spots. He failed to go for two up 15-10 in the fourth quarter in Week 1 and it cost him the game in a 17-16 loss. He used a timeout before punting on fourth-and-1 from the Indianapolis 41-yard line with 6:38 left in a close game and ended up having to go for it on fourth-and-6 later on. He called nine pass plays on third/fourth-and-short in one Ravens game alone. It’s instructive for Browns fans. If there was controversy about the removal of Eric Mangini because some Browns fans could see at least some of the positive qualities he possessed, Shurmur has to be the exact opposite. We’ll know pretty soon about Rob Chudzinski. And we’ll also know pretty soon if there’s anything to the idea that the Browns could make that “worst-to-first”-like jump. [Related: Public relations, fan experience, and winning aren’t mutually exclusive for the Browns]
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