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The news that keeps us Onward On!
Since 1925
The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

What comes next for the Cleveland Browns?

Rob Masefield, Flickr
Cleveland looks to rebuild in the offseason following a Cinderella run that was ultimately cut short.

Fans of the Cleveland Browns experienced a fair share of ups and downs while navigating through the gauntlet of another NFL season; they expected a strong season bolstered by their overpowering defense spearheaded by elite defensive end Myles Garrett as well as an offense led by QB Deshaun Watson and RB Nick Chubb to round out a team with lofty expectations and just a few question marks.

In hindsight, the Browns’ season unfolded with remarkable storylines. Achieving an 11-6 record, securing the second spot in the competitive AFC North division and clinching just their third playoff berth in the 21st century were standout accomplishments. However, the season began with a setback— a devastating injury to the beloved Chubb. This unfortunate event initially dimmed the season’s prospects, but backup RB Jerome Ford and a familiar face in free agent signing, Kareem Hunt, played a pivotal role in the Browns’s regular season success.

Subsequently, the team faced challenges with on-and-off injuries to Watson, culminating in a season-ending shoulder surgery. This shifted the offensive responsibilities to Dorian Thompson-Robinson and PJ Walker until an unexpected signing changed the narrative. Enter Joe Flacco, the free agent QB and the former Super Bowl champion known for his decade-long tenure in a rival Baltimore Ravens jersey.

Flacco went 4-1 for the Browns in a five game stint which changed the energy around the season and the team. Flacco had four games over 300 yards, immediate chemistry which led to considerable results for TE David Njoku and he helped WR Amari Cooper set the franchise record for single game receiving yards at 265. The Flacco story is incredible and makes him a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

Unfortunately for Browns faithful, the magic and unprecedented success of Flacco, combined with their elite defense, came to a swift conclusion in the wild card round of the playoffs on the road at the hands of the Houston Texans. The Browns were dreadful on both ends of the ball leading to a 45-14 rout in a stinging playoff loss.

It is easy to dwell on bad playoff losses like the one in Houston, but Browns fans should be immensely proud of their resilient squad. Not only did they overcome season ending injuries to their starting QB and star RB, but they also sustained injuries to multiple members of their offensive line. Injuries to offensive tackle Jack Conklin, Dawand Jones and Jedrick Wills Jr. added to the long list of Browns injuries in what should have been an underwhelming season for Cleveland.

The Browns did more with less than most teams in recent memory. To go 11-6 in a conference as tough as the AFC with the most impactful injuries in the league is a feat unto itself and should be applauded. This season’s success amid hardship is what made Head Coach Kevin Stefanski a current betting favorite for Coach of the Year.

In retrospect, as the Browns faced trials and tribulations, the collective spirit of the team, fueled by unexpected heroes and resilient performances should be a source of inspiration and confidence for fans preparing for next year. As free agency and the draft loom and the Browns face impending decisions on key players, remember what the 2023-2024 Cleveland Browns accomplished. Never take for granted the unwavering adaptability and toughness that the Browns showed to take what could have been a disastrous season and turn it into one of the most captivating stories of the season.

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