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Back to reality
December 17, 2012 - Mike McLain
BEREA -- No one should have believed that the Browns had a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.
Until the 38-21 loss to the Washington Redskins last Sunday, the Browns were technically in the playoff hunt. Now it's once again a matter of playing out the string and trying to build on something for the future.
The Browns have never been close to being a playoff team this season. While they've made obvious signs of improvement, there are still some gaping holes that need to be filled.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden tops the list. He's enticed us with a strong throwing arm, but there's so much more than goes into playing the position. He needs to improve his accuracy. He has to develop better pocket awareness and go through his progressions faster. He also needs to find that subtle sidestep movement to find passing lanes and avoid all the blocked passes that have plagued him.
It's a tall order, but it can be done. He's not a lost cause.
Running back Trent Richardson might simply need a healthy season to show fans what he's capable of doing because as of now he's not getting the job done. A struggling quarterback and a running back with an average of 3.5 yards per carry isn't going to work in the NFL.
The loss to the Redskins exposed those concerns and brought back a sense of reality about the situation. It was laughable to talk seriously about what must happen for the Browns to make the playoffs with road games remaining against the Broncos and Steelers.
Unfortunately, when a franchise has been down as long as the Browns have been, fans jump on small things. The words "in the hunt" came across as "playoff tickets are on sale." What else would you expect from fans that haven't seen a Browns' playoff game in 10 seasons and haven't seen a playoff win since 1994.
Now that everyone is thinking normally again, let's remember that the climb back to respectability is a long one. There are finally signs of promise, but they won't mean much if more right decisions aren't made in the near future.
Owner James Haslam and president Joe Banner have to be very careful how they approach the offseason. You don't blow up something that has a firm foundation.
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