The Cleveland Browns went from the worst team in the NFL last season to winning seven games this year, giving fans something they haven’t had in a while: hope.
WKSU’s Mark Arehart talked with sports commentator Terry Pluto about how the Browns finally started winning and why the team is an attractive destination for potential head coaches this offseason.
If you would have told Pluto a year ago that the 2018 Browns would go 7-8-1 and look like a team that could hang with division leaders Pittsburgh and Baltimore, he would have thought you were crazy.
Yes, heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, Cleveland was flush with first round picks, “But the Browns have always had high draft picks. That doesn’t ensure success in Cleveland,” Pluto said.
But that’s just where we are in this New Year, talking about the Browns as a team with a solid young core of players and the potential for a bright future.
That core starts with quarterback and former #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, who set an NFL record this season for the most touchdown passes for a rookie.
“What a difference a quarterback makes,” Pluto said.
But he also points to players like wide receiver Jarvis Landry, running back Nick Chubb, defensive end Myles Garrett and defensive back Denzel Ward as big reasons for the this season’s stark turnaround.
In its division, Cleveland went 1-1 against Baltimore, 2-0 against Cincinnati and 0-1-1 against Pittsburgh. “3-2-1, that’s almost enough to build a statue in Cleveland,” Pluto said. “They’re actually a viable NFL franchise.”
Interim Head Coach Greg Williams went 5-3 with the Browns after the team fired Hue Jackson in October.
But Pluto said he thinks General Manager John Dorsey will go in a different direction next season. “I think he relished the idea of hiring his own coach.”
Eight of the NFL’s 24 teams fired head coaches this season which would normally be a bad sign for the usually dismal Browns, but after the turnaround Pluto says Cleveland looks to be one of the top jobs open this off season. But if not Greg Williams, who could take over the Browns?
“The one guy I know (Dorsey) has a relationship with is Mike McCarthy,” Pluto said. Dorsey was in Green Bay’s front office when McCarthy led the team to a Super Bowl championship in 2010.
Green Bay fired McCarthy midseason after starting 4-7.
But Pluto also thinks Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh could be an interesting dark horse for the job.
“He hasn’t signed an extension (with Baltimore) yet. He has a contract for next year, but maybe he would get himself out of it? I’ve always liked (him),” Pluto said.