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The Browns Might Be Good In 2014, But Let's Remember Their 2011 Version For A Minute

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In 2011, the Houston Texans hosted an alleged football team wearing the Cleveland Browns' uniforms. Battle Red Blog takes a look at the Texans' 30-12 evisceration of the Browns.

Thomas B. Shea

As a Texans fan, I don't have much opportunity to "live in the past" like so many fans of other teams can (ahem, Cowboys), but the team's 2011 season is the closest thing I have. With the 6-3 Browns hosting the 4-5 Texans this Sunday, I thought I'd do a little daydreaming back when our beloved Texans fielded their best roster ever.

It was a simpler time in 2011...

...back when Kevin Walter was a passable WR2, Matt Schaub was a competent NFL quarterback and Arian Foster's legs still maintained their structural integrity.
...back when DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing were standing side-by-side, Ben Tate was the league's best backup running back and we all thought Wade Smith was an underrated guard.
...back when J.J. Watt was just a rookie, Neil Rackers was decking fools on kickoff returns and Shaun Cody was un-ironically our starting nose tackle.

Ah, they didn't produce the best record in franchise history, but 2011 was without a doubt the most complete and entertaining team the Texans have ever had.

Anyway, back to the Browns...

It's been about three full years since Colt McCoy, Chris Ogbonnaya and... Josh Cribbs? came to town. With dominating victories over the Titans and Jaguars the previous two weeks, the Texans (5-3 at the time) were in the middle of what would become a seven-game winning streak. A carousel of injuries to just about anyone you could think of would hamper their playoff run, but not before humiliating the Cincinnati Bengals for their first-ever playoff game and victory.

Meanwhile, the Browns (3-4) were a middling team with little talent, hoping McCoy could do what he did for the Longhorns two years before. In 2011, Cleveland's worst football was ahead of them; soon after losing to the Texans, the Brownies would rattle off six losses in a row to end the season. This put them in prime position to not draft Robert Griffin III, much to the relief of Robert Griffin III, and also much to the hindsight-relief of Browns fans now.

On the first drive of the game, Schaub hit completions to Joel Dreessen, Kevin Walter before letting Arian Foster and Tate take over. The drive ended with a 27-yard touchdown by Tate and the Texans would never look back. That offensive line was a joy to watch back then. Wade Smith and Mike Brisiel (acquired via free agency) developed into perfect complements for the homegrown talents of Duane Brown, Chris Myers and Eric Winston. No one benefited from them more than Foster and Tate.

Foster finished the game with 124 yards and on 19 carries (6.5 AVG) while Tate scampered for 115 yards on just 12 carries (9.6), with each adding a score. The line was so good that even Schaub scored on a two-yard QB draw to put Houston up 14-0.

The real domination came from the defense, though. Poor Colt McCoy was hit 12 times from all directions, including four sacks. Rookie Brooks Reed had two sacks and three hits on his own. Chris Ogbonnaya was held to a measly 28 yards on 13 carries, and the Browns' lone touchdown came well into garbage time.

It was one of the more entertaining beatdowns the Texans have handed down. It also inspired one of the greatest fan rants in recent memory.

So here's to you, 2011 Browns. Watching you get pummeled into dust three years ago brings me joy even now. To these shiny, new 2014 Browns: Never forget your roots! Brian Hoyer, with his inspired play, is bucking years and years of piss-poor QB history. With Johnny Manziel waiting in the wings (instead of getting thrown into the fire), the Browns might actually be in good hands for the foreseeable future.

Seriously, look at these luminaries...

Season(s) Quarterback(s)
2014 Brian Hoyer (9)
2013 Jason Campbell (8)Brandon Weeden (5)Brian Hoyer (3)
2012 Brandon Weeden (15)Thad Lewis (1)
2011 Colt McCoy (13)Seneca Wallace (3)
2010 Colt McCoy (8)Jake Delhomme (4)Seneca Wallace (4)
2009 Brady Quinn (9)Derek Anderson (7)
2008 Derek Anderson (9)Brady Quinn (3)Ken Dorsey (3)Bruce Gradkowski (1)
2007 Derek Anderson (15)Charlie Frye (1)
2006 Charlie Frye (13)Derek Anderson (3)
2005 Trent Dilfer (11)Charlie Frye (5)
2004 Jeff Garcia (10)Kelly Holcomb (2)Luke McCown (4)
2003 Kelly Holcomb (8)Tim Couch (8)
2002 Tim Couch (14)Kelly Holcomb (2)
2001 Tim Couch (16)
2000 Doug Pederson (8)Tim Couch (7)Spergon Wynn (1)
1999 Tim Couch (14)Ty Detmer (2)

I don't want to live in a world in which the Browns have a better QB situation than us. Here's hoping the Factory of Sadness churns out another one this Sunday. Go Texans.

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