By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
Looking back at our crystal ball: A pause in Browns news gives us a chance to look back on some predictions from our Fearless Forecast for 2012.
On Sept. 7 we wrote: “The Browns will suffer their ninth double-digit loss season in the last 10 years. The difference this time is it will be a more fun team to watch, if that’s possible for a 6-10 season. There simply are too many rookies pressed into key spots to realistically expect a better record. Frankly, I think I’m overly optimistic to project six wins.”
What happened: Yes, 6-10 was overly optimistic. The Browns finished 5-11, losing 10 or more games for the ninth time in 10 years. Were they more fun to watch? I thought so. Hey, those Brandon Weeden deep balls to Josh Gordon were fun. Trent Richardson scoring 11 touchdowns on the ground? Yes, I think those qualify.
On Sept. 7 we wrote: “Because the Browns will win two games in the division (over Steelers and Bengals), the Ravens will claim the AFC North title by a comfortable margin. A Browns win on Nov. 25 effectively will send the Steelers on a slide out of the playoff field.”
What happened: Yes, the Browns won two games in the division. Over the Steelers and the Bengals. The Ravens claimed the AFC North title, not by a comfortable margin but on a tiebreaker. And, yes, the Browns’ 20-14 win on Nov. 25 sent the Steelers on a slide out of the playoff field.
On Sept. 7 we wrote: “NFC division winners will be Philadelphia, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Francisco. The wild cards will be Dallas and Chicago. The 49ers will reach the Super Bowl by beating the Packers in the NFC championship game. AFC division winners will be New England, Baltimore, Houston and Kansas City. The wild cards will be Cincinnati and Denver. Baltimore will reach the Super Bowl by beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The first-ever Super Bowl between coaching brothers will be won by John Harbaugh and his Ravens over Jim Harbaugh and his 49ers. ‘Har-bowl’ will be copyrighted by Pat Riley.”
What happened: Green Bay and San Francisco were our only correct predictions in the NFC playoff field. We hit on five of the six in the AFC – New England, Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati and Denver. Baltimore, in fact, did reach the Super Bowl by beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. San Francisco beat Atlanta in the NFC title game. So we correctly nailed the first-ever Super Bowl between coaching brothers. No confirmation yet on whether Pat Riley copyrighted “Har-bowl.”
On Sept. 7 we wrote: “Cam Newton will run up more huge numbers and finally earn acceptance as an elite quarterback. The Panthers will fall short of the playoffs, but their real ascension will make offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski the hottest head coach prospect for 2013.”
What happened: Newton passed for 3,869 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for 741 and eight TDs. His passer rating increased from 84.5 to 86.2. The Panthers did fall short of the playoffs. Chudzinski? He was interviewed for only one NFL head coach job – by the Browns. And he got it.
On Sept. 7 we wrote: “The NFL impasse with its regular game officials will end the day a major officiating blunder causes Las Vegas sports books to pay out millions of dollars. The mini-scandal will be exacerbated when the mistake occurs in a Saints game, leading to cries that the team is still being punished by the NFL.”
What happened: On a “Monday Night Football” game on Sept. 24, replacement officials botched the final play of the game, awarding a touchdown to Seattle on a final-play Hail Mary pass that should have been disallowed because the receiver, Golden Tate, clearly interfered by pushing away cornerback Sam Shields. Reports quoted Las Vegas oddsmakers saying that about $300 million changed hands because of the controversial ending. One Las Vegas casino offered refunds to bettors who lost money on the botched call. Two days later, a labor deal was struck to end the NFL’s lockout of its game officials.
On Sept. 7 we wrote: “The transfer of Browns ownership from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam will be unanimously approved by league owners on Oct. 16. Haslam will introduce Joe Banner as his minority partner and chief executive. Haslam will announce that football operations will continue ‘as is’ through the 2012 season. Business operations will be placed under immediate review.”
What happened: Haslam was unanimously approved. Banner was introduced as his CEO, but not minority partner. Immediately after the season, Haslam and Banner cleaned out both parts of their new house – business and football operations.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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