Disappointing NFL team #1. Cleveland Browns (8-9)
It was a franchise that looked like it had turned the corner a year ago. The much-maligned Cleveland Browns finished with 11 wins – the most since rejoining the NFL in 1999 as an expansion team.
The team reached the playoffs for the first time since 2002 – ending what was the longest active drought in the league in that department. They crushed the Steelers, 48-37, in the wild card round, winning at Pittsburgh for the first time since 2003.
The team gave the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs all they could handle in the divisional playoffs. Kevin Stefanski earned NFL Coach of the Year honors and the team’s offense featured an effective Baker Mayfield, a two-headed running attack.
The club had its issues on defense but that was supposedly addressed in the offseason. And in 2021, after falling at Kansas City in Week 1, Stefanski’s squad owned a 3-1 record after four outings.
But Joe Woods’ defense was up and down the rest of the year despite the club’s final rankings. The Browns allowed 45-plus points in losses to the Chargers and Patriots. Mayfield played hurt throughout the year and it limited the offense.
After years of frustration, the Cleveland Browns looked like a team on the rise. But it obviously wasn’t meant to be. It will be interesting to see if the club can rebound in 2022.