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Back to the Drawing Board for the Browns

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“God hates Cleveland.” So goes the old refrain, given their often heartbreaking failures across multiple sports leagues. Perhaps, then the current state of affairs for the Browns barely registers a blip for locals.

The latest news out of Cleveland is that Josh Gordon has failed another drug test (this time for alcohol, which he was being tested for as part of his drug rehab program). Gordon was arrested in July of last year for a DWI and sat out the first 10 games of the 2014 season for a repeat failed drug test for marijuana. He will now face a possible year-long ban.

Meanwhile, the team seemingly has no answer at QB. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo literally said he’s “not sure if [their] starting quarterback’s in the building right now or not.” After a season where Brian Hoyer produced a QBR of 43.1 and Johnny Manziel had an unfathomably bad 5.1 QBR, it’s hard to blame DeFilippo for his comments.

It’s all a very different picture from the relative optimism surrounding Cleveland shortly after the draft. They had just snagged an extra first round pick from Buffalo (which they have this year), picked up the top-rated cornerback in Justin Gilbert, and were still able to pick Manziel at 22, a player some thought they might (foolishly) spend the #4 overall pick on. It seemed like Cleveland was maybe being smart for once, and things were going their way.

Now, they’re left picking up the pieces again.

The Browns will be picking at #12 and #19 in the first round of the 2015 Draft. Obviously, neither pick is going to get them the top two coveted QBs in this draft, so they’re likely stuck with what they’ve got. Jordan Cameron is likely their most talented pass-catcher remaining, but he was limited to 10 games last season, and after a promising 2013 campaign, he was only able to go over 100 yards receiving in one game this season (and scored 2 total TDs).

The Browns have a ton of cap space. As of this writing, they’re third in the league in that department, behind the Jaguars and Raiders. Jordan Cameron needs to be resigned, unless the team decides to make a run at Julius Thomas. Either way, given that the Browns are likely stuck with Manziel for another year (no great options in free agency, no chance at acquiring a top-flight QB in the draft), they’ll want to at least find him a big target to try and chuck it to. Obviously, opting not to select Sammy Watkins with their original 2014 selection looms large.

The real question here is whether Johnny Football can actually…well…play some football. After a season in which he seemed to routinely prioritize partying and showmanship, can he develop a personality befitting a franchise QB? Many think that’s just not in him, and believe it’s unfair that people expected him to change. If so, the best thing he can do for them possibly is to lose spectacularly.

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