It’s always important for football teams to manage the expectations of their fan bases. In Cleveland, where 14 seasons since the return of the Browns have largely featured failure, the glass continuously is perceived as half empty.
New owner Jimmy Haslam wants to keep it that way, at least for a little while.
“We’ve won 23 games in the last five years, won 14 games in the last three, so we’re not going to go 13-3 next year,” Haslam said at the league meetings in Arizona, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
As a result, the goals for 2013 are modest.
“I think only to improve,” Haslam said of his hopes for the franchise. “What’s the definition of improve? I think we’ll all know. I think it’s a little dangerous to [set a goal for] wins and losses because injuries, breaks happen. But I think by Dec. 30 or 31 we’ll all know if we’re a better football team. We’ll probably know long before then. I expect us to be better, but this is a process, and it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
Still, there’s a chance improvement can be sudden — and dramatic. We saw it with the Colts, Vikings, and Redskins last year. Three of the six worst teams in the league from 2011 made it to the playoffs in 2012.
In 2012, the Browns were the sixth worst team in the league. And the Steelers and Ravens have, by all appearances, gotten worse than they were last season.
So the door is open for a quick turnaround. Haslam, however, wisely isn’t predicting it.
Of course, if it happens, it’ll be hard to keep the expectations under control for 2014.