The Browns took a step toward contention this season, going 7-8-1 a year after not winning a game. They won five of their last seven games and went 3-2-1 in the division.
The Browns expect even more next season.
"We know what's ahead,'' Browns defensive back Damarious Randall said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "The NFL knows it's in trouble; the AFC North knows it's in trouble. We expect to win the AFC North next year; we expect to win a lot of games next year; and we've just got to get back to the drawing board and get some rest and get back to work.''
The Browns haven't finished with a winning record since 2007, haven't made the postseason since 2002 and haven't won a playoff game since 1994, which was five years before the Browns returned as an expansion team.
The Browns served notice this season, though, that they are not the same ol' Browns.
"We're a force to be reckoned with,'' Randall said. "At the end of the day, the AFC North is going to come through Cleveland from here on out, and I'm just kind of looking forward to it. The future is bright here.''
The next step is finding a head coach who can fulfill the team's expectations.