Browns coach Pat Shurmur was as prepared as a quarterback that's had two weeks to study the opposition for the Super Bowl.
The Browns had just finished their first practice of training camp when Shurmur was asked about the prediction by a national reporter of a one-win season. Well aware of the prediction, Shurmur's response was what an owner would want to hear from his head coach.
"Some? Most almost all from what I've heard," Shurmur said. "It's not my concern. What I'm concerned with is getting our players ready to play, putting them out there and watching them perform well. If they do that, then I think we'll win more games than the prognosticators say."
The topic of the prediction was re-visited this week as the Browns finalized preparations for the season opener today against the Philadelphia Eagles. Shurmur's response was almost identical.
"I try not to listen, good or bad, with what gets said or written," Shurmur said. "I'm not concerned about that. Our concern is to get ready for Philadelphia."
Predicting one win doesn't seem all that crazy for a team that won four games last year and will open this season with 14 rookies on the roster. Factor in a schedule that's considered one of the five most demanding in the NFL, on paper, and it would appear that federal aid might be requested before the end of December.
If nothing else the 2012 campaign should be more entertaining than any season in recent memory. How can you not be anxious to see what running back Trent Richardson can do once in the lineup? Brandon Weeden teased us enough in practices and in the preseason to make us wonder if he will finally solve the problem at quarterback.
It's been quite a change since the 2011 season ended with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on New Year's Day. General manager Tom Heckert was able to stockpile 11 draft choices, and it appears that he made some wise selections.
In addition to Richardson and Weeden, other draft picks expected to either start of play significant roles are offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, receivers Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin, defensive tackles John Hughes and Billy Winn, linebacker James-Michael Johnson and cornerback Trevin Wade.
Offensive lineman John Miller will open the season as a reserve, while fullback Brad Smelley is on the practice squad. Linebacker Emmanuel Acho is on injured-reserve.
To think there won't be growing pains - and lots of them - is wrong. Weeden will likely throw plenty of interceptions. Gordon will probably drop more than one pass. Schwartz will struggle against speed off the edge.
Fear not because there's a flip side to the problems associated with a youth movement. Many of the players actually go from showing signs of promise to fulfilling it.
It can be a challenge coaching "kids," but there are also many rewards.
"They're receptive," offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "There's a refreshing nature to it. They all think they're invincible. That's a good thing. They're hungry and they'll do whatever you ask them to do. From that standpoint it's gratifying."
The challenge begins today at 1 p.m. against an opponent that has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. The national prognosticator that predicted one win didn't have this game in mind.
Beyond this week the best Shurmur can hope for is steady improvement and more wins than what the skeptics think is possible. It will then remain to be seen if that's good enough for new owner James Haslam III.
The record Haslam will have to work with will be 5-11.