Today on ESPN’s insider section, they had their panelists go through five topics that they could better answer now that teams’ rosters are pretty much set as they begin their offseason programs.
Cleveland was not featured in the "new team to make the playoffs," "sophomore ready for a breakout season," or "best offense and defense" talking points. That was to be expected. Fortunately, they were also not featured in the, "team that got measurably worse category," an honor that mostly went to the Redskins. The Brown were singled out by two panelists in the final category, "most improved team this offseason."
Dan Graziano, NFL Insider: “The Cleveland Browns could finish 6-10 and be the most improved team in the league. How many teams will make five-game improvements? They've invested in both lines, which is a fine way to start building, and while it's hard to imagine them being an explosive offense with their current situations at quarterback and wide receiver, coordinator Gregg Williams and the players that Cleveland drafted on defense should make a difference on that side of the ball.”
Aaron Schatz, editor of Football Outsiders: “Cleveland has done an impressive job in improving its roster this offseason, signing two starting offensive linemen in free agency (both still in the prime of their careers), drafting three first-rounders all under the age of 22 and finally finding a second-round lottery ticket at quarterback. (That last one might not pay off, but it also won't stop them from using a first-round pick if they feel the right quarterback is there next year.) We won't all be talking about the Browns' improvement when they go from 1-15 to 5-11, but this is all going to pay off handsomely in three years.”
Other teams cited as the most improved include the Buccaneers, Colts, and Rams.
It’s one thing for fans to get overly optimistic about their own team, or even for players to make outrageous statements (see Dwayne Bowe a few years ago). But on the national media stage, the praise for Cleveland continues to come pouring in.