As the 2016 NFL season came to a close, the Cleveland Browns finished up as a national and local punching bag.
The Browns managed to avoid an 0-16 season with a Week 15 win -- their home finale -- but didn't avoid becoming the butt of a million jokes.
Yes, 1-15 certainly isn’t a great season, but I think we have to put it in context. All along, we knew this year would be a rebuild. The Browns had 14 rookies on their roster on opening day then lost their starting quarterback for most of the year in the very first game.
As the injuries mounted, the Browns chances of winning grew slimmer, but I have to say as a newcomer to Cleveland, I was really impressed by their fight down the stretch. The team never gave up and that helped keep them from joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 team in NFL history.
Now they have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, four picks in the first two rounds, and 11 picks in the first five. There is reason to be optimistic about the future. Yes, if everything broke right, maybe the Browns could have gone 6-10 or 5-11. But they went into the season with a plan, stayed the course and are now well-positioned for what could be the most important draft in franchise history.
Browns fans have absolutely gone through way too many lean years and way too many rebuilds -- and I completely get that -- but the Browns owners have even apologized for this season. When they hired new management a year ago, everyone knew the franchise needed a total reboot.
Unfortunately, that means starting at the very bottom -- where the browns ended up this year. But the silver lining to this 2016 cloud is that, for the first time in a long time, there may be reason for hope moving forward.
I’m looking forward to next season.
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