The Cleveland Browns have failed to make the playoffs every year since 2002. Hopes were high after Cleveland selected Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Images of Manziel scrambling out of the pocket and finding Josh Gordon for touchdown after touchdown raced through fans’ heads. For the first time in a long time, the city of Cleveland was excited about football.
That excitement didn’t last very long though. Gordon was suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season. Manziel failed to grasp the offense before the regular season. Here are three reasons why Cleveland’s playoff drought will extend at least one more season.
1. Gordon’s suspension
Without Gordon, the Cleveland Browns offense is severely limited. Last season, Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron destroyed opposing defenses with spotty quarterback play. Both players benefited from the attention that the other received. Losing Gordon not only eliminates the best player on the Browns team, but it puts an incredible amount of pressure on Cameron. Cameron will be the focal point in the passing attack, and opposing defenses will look to shut him down. Miles Austin will do a decent job filling the void for Gordon, but he won’t command the attention that the suspended player would.
The Browns will be in trouble without Gordon and will need great quarterback play. Which leads to the next reason…
2. Brian Hoyer starting
ANY quarterback situation in Cleveland right now would mean missing out on the playoffs. The Browns just went with the safer wrong option of Hoyer. The Cleveland native filled in well last season before tearing his ACL and has made fewer mistakes than Manziel this year. Both quarterbacks underwhelmed during the preseason, and Hoyer won the starting job because he knows the offense better. Give Manziel some time, and he’ll be the starter in Cleveland, but until then the Browns will be stuck in first gear.
Hoyer is a decent quarterback, but he simply doesn’t have the talent to carry the offense without Gordon. It’ll be another rough year for the offense.
3. The AFC North
Cleveland’s anemic offense won’t be the only reason the Browns miss out on the postseason. Being in the AFC North will also hurt this season. All three other teams in the division have the look of playoff teams. The Ravens won the Super Bowl two seasons ago, and they have the pieces to bounce back from a poor 2013 season. The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger and an imposing defense and are in prime position to have a good year. The Bengals have one of the best defenses in the league and great playmakers on offense.
The Browns will make some positive strides in 2014, but Cleveland fans will have to wait another year before making the playoffs.