Hue Jackson to Joe Haden: Browns will be competing in playoffs in 2017

By Jesse Reed

The Cleveland Browns are poised to go 0-16 this year, yet somehow head coach Hue Jackson has convinced his players that the playoffs are in reach in 2017.

No, really.

Joe Haden, speaking with Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, related some of this optimism.

“We talk all the time,” said Haden, who’s never made the playoffs in his seven seasons. “He always comes up to me, like, ‘Joe, next year this time we’re going to be getting ready for the playoffs.’ I’m with you. We feel the same way. I believe in coach.”

It’s hard to imagine the Browns will win more than a handful of games next year, even if they do improve the roster in a major way. The reason for this is simple. Without a franchise quarterback, it’s darn near impossible to win many games in the NFL. And whether we’re talking about Robert Griffin III as the starter or a fresh-faced rookie under center, a winning season doesn’t seem likely.

Still, Haden is extremely excited to get back to work when the 2016 season comes to an end.

“Next year, I’m super excited about it,” said Haden. “Definitely we’ve got to finish this year off strong, we’ve got three more games, trying to come out there with some victories for sure. But I’m not deterred. I’m even more motivated. Hue is definitely motivated. He didn’t expect this, I didn’t expect this.

“A lot of people, we didn’t. so it’s going to be a hard offseason workout, it’s going to be a very tough organized team activities and be a very tough training camp. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see who’s going to be … you know the way stuff happens. It’s going to be a different locker room, different guys here, so I just can’t wait to figure out who I’m going to be able to go to war with.”

That Cleveland will feature a young roster is guaranteed. With 13 draft picks coming up in 2017, there are going to be plenty of fresh faces for Haden to get to know. It’s going to be interesting to see how well Cleveland’s moneyball crew drafts. As well as it worked in MLB, it has yet to be tested in the NFL.

The Browns still have three more games to try and win, thus avoiding the dreaded 0-16 mark that only the 2008 Detroit Lions have achieved since the league moved to an 16-game schedule. Next up is the Buffalo Bills, where weather will be so much of a factor that people are getting paid to shovel snow and watch the game.