Last week, I wrote an article about how the Browns don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Someone on Twitter wanted to post a response to my article and asked me if I “minded.” Obviously, I said I didn’t. In fact, I still don’t. But, the article that was posted on November 27 (linked at the end) ended up being an attack job on me. I wanted to bring it up not as a way to continue any kind of Internet flame war, but just to try and talk about the community of Browns fans, commentators and analysts. One of the most frustrating parts of rooting for bad teams is how the civility in debate seems to disappear among fans and commentators of the team. I find it disheartening, to say the least.
Rather than talk about the ideas and criticisms I’ve expressed about the Browns, the article used my name eleven times and ultimately insulted my intelligence. The author proclaimed that “not only is Lyndall wrong, but he looks out of his depth when it comes to the game of football.” Nice to know now that when I was asked whether I minded a rebuttal of my article I was green-lighting a personal attack on me. To think that all this acrimony is due to a difference of opinion over a bad NFL football team makes it all the more ponderous. It’s one thing to disagree, but to attack me personally seems like a really bad way to go about things. Not to mention the fact that there were inaccuracies and mischaracterizations all over the post.
So let’s start from the top…
“Lyndall wants to be better right this second and is looking almost entirely in the short term while the Browns have made it painfully clear right from the start of the season they were looking at the present and the future.”
False. I was fine with the draft day trade the Browns made that enabled Pittsburgh to draft Shamarko Thomas. So, this isn’t even a difference of opinion. That first statement is just factually incorrect. I defended the Browns not using all their cap space in the first year as well. So, to characterize me as being all in for 2013 simply isn’t true. There is danger when you try to boil a complex set of opinions down to a simple statement.
“Lyndall was extremely critical the Browns did not sign a fourth quarterback when Brian Hoyer went down for the season. The Browns made it painfully clear in press conferences and media availability that the value of a fourth quarterback was not more than a position player somewhere else.”
I think the Browns were wrong. When there are injuries at the QB position, I don’t think you can devalue that position as much as the Browns did in the name of speculative special teamers and potential backups at other positions. I’m entitled to that opinion and it’s certainly not something that can be considered “wrong.” It’s a matter of preference.
Consider that since the Browns put Brian Hoyer on the IR, they’ve had transactions with players including Reggie Dunn, Charles Johnson, Julian Posey, Tori Gurley, Jordan Poyer, Brian Tyms, Jamaine Cook, Brandon Magee, Darius Eubanks, Reid Fragel, Justin Staples, Josh Cooper, Andre Smith, Patrick Lewis, and Jeremiah Warren before they signed Alex Tanney to come to the team on November 26. Today with even more question marks, they’ve signed Caleb Hanie. It seems to me that these guys having maybe 10 days of combined Browns experience prior to a game against the New England Patriots is doing a disservice to the top five guys on the roster, regardless of what kind of value there is on the bottom of the roster.
I understand the efficient use of the bottom of the roster and the practice squad, but you can’t tell me that even with low expectations of competing, that the 2013 team is better off not only having to potentially play a guy like Alex Tanney, but also doing so without a full complement of time in and around the team at practice and in meetings. I get that you don’t want to miss out on the next great undrafted player to become an NFL starter because you’re hoarding silly players. I just don’t think signing a guy like Alex Tanney earlier than the Browns did is me being an unreasonable “win now” goof ball.
Now for the really juicy attacking stuff…
“If Lyndall’s article has displayed anything, it is a trend of being on the wrong side of history. Railing against the Richardson trade has been dead wrong since the trade happened; even revisiting the subject and refusing to admit what was painfully clear several games into the trade. Using the win-loss record as a blanket statement to question whether the team has improved.”
Pardon me, but being on the wrong side of history with regards to analyzing the Cleveland Browns would be betting on a new regime. That’s not to say I don’t have some hope for this new crew, because I do, but the right side of history in terms of betting on the Cleveland Browns is to bet they won’t get it right and they won’t build a winner. I’m not saying that because I believe that to be the case, but it’s pretty much an undeniable fact that this is the history they’re fighting against as they head to the draft with the Colts’ draft pick and all that dead Richardson money in 2014.
Railing against the Richardson trade hasn’t been “dead wrong” even as it has looked better for the Browns. The fact remains that the Browns traded an underperforming running back and haven’t done anything but perform just as badly since he departed. Say what you want about Richardson and his inability to run the ball, but the Browns’ short-term answer – Willis McGahee – was equally bad. Again, that might be alright with the author, but it doesn’t make me “wrong” to say that I don’t like that aspect of it as I endure the rest of 2013.
And of course, just like the T-Rich trade has started to look better for the Browns since it was made, it can only continue to look better if the Browns get that pick right. Simply getting value at time zero isn’t good enough for a trade to be a success as we’ve learned continually with Browns drafts from Mangini’s disastrous second round to the Heckert / Holmgren first round that yielded T-Rich and Brandon Weeden.
Finally, I never said the team hadn’t improved. I think they have and said so in a WFNY roundtable.
“Call it an entertainment venture that is not entertaining; the job of the Browns front office is to deliver a Super Bowl, not make fans and Lyndall feel good for an insignificant amount of time in the here and now at the cost of roster spots or the salary cap.”
First, I’d argue whether my time is insignificant. I’d also question what, exactly, I’ve argued the Browns should have wasted in roster spots or salary cap. I’ve mostly talked about having the perception that they’re actually still trying this season. I didn’t think that was too much to ask.
“They are working to make the team a consistent contender, which is what Jimmy Haslam has tasked them to do. Throwing away assets or wasteful spending because of the announcement of stadium improvements is stupid. And using those improvements as an argument for doing that is ignorant.”
Lyndall says, “What?” I talk about a lot of different things with regard to the Browns, but in no way do I think they’re all connected in some kind of intricate network of causes and effects. Never once did I say the stadium was some kind of either/or proposition related to improving the team. I’ve argued in favor of improving gameday experience and stated numerous times that doing so isn’t mutually exclusive of improving the team’s play on the field.
I will say that it’s tough to fight the perception that the Browns were too busy working on a stadium deal forced through on a quick timeline with the city to bother signing a quarterback. That’s probably too simplistic a viewpoint – which I freely admit – but I think it’s undeniable that the Browns have opened themselves up to that perception over the last month. Again, it’s my opinion and you may not agree with where I come out on it, but I think the logic is pretty sound.
“If Banner and the front office deliver an offense next year, not only is Lyndall wrong, but he looks out of his depth when it comes to the game of football. Some might call that approach bold, but it ultimately comes off as being uninformed.”
If Banner and the front office deliver an offense next year, it doesn’t make me wrong in saying that they didn’t deliver enough this year. Again, it’s a difference of opinion not a pure “right or wrong” proposition.
I’ve said on multiple occasions that I don’t think the Browns should have signed Mike Wallace since he was paid the way the Dolphins paid him. I said the same thing a year ago as the Redskins paid a lot of money for Pierre Garcon. I loved the idea of Garcon playing for the Browns, but at the price Washington paid, it became significantly less appealing because you do have to be wise to efficiently build a roster.
That’s what was so frustrating about this post rebutting my article. I’m a guy who has been on record with lots of things over the years at WFNY. I write posts, do podcasts, talk to guys like Les Levine and Joe Lull on occasion. I say so many things and express so many opinions on a variety of topics that I’m not easily fit into a box. I think few of those who spend time covering the Browns truly are. I’m right sometimes and wrong other times, but I always try to tell you where I’m coming from, how I got to my opinion while also show some respect for opposing viewpoints. Ultimately that’s a big part of why WFNY has become a great place to talk about sports. We have differing opinions on how to get there, but we’re all recognize we’re shooting for the same destination.
I don’t want the Browns to harm the long-term plan by being stupid for the present. It’s not something I think anyone who knows me would think I would say either. That said, regardless of how I feel about the future, none of us outsiders know anything until wins outpace losses. None of us know anything conclusively until current year win totals outpace those from the immediately preceding years. And at this stage of the game in my experience with the Browns, I don’t think I’m being unfair. Ask Alec Scheiner. He’s not looking to make excuses or pretend like they’re anything but a four-win team at this point.
— Alec Scheiner (@scheiner_alec) December 1, 2013
I just don’t think to build a consistent winner long-term you must be an embarrassment in the present year. I do think this team is an embarrassment even to their own standards. If I’m wrong, tell me why without telling me I’m dumb for despising what we saw on Sunday that had Joe Haden nearly in tears after the game. Respect the logical process I use to arrive at my opinions enough to understand that I don’t arrive at them reflexively and without thought and experience.
Most of all, it’s time to remember that we need to be civil to each other. We can disagree without challenging each other’s intelligence and being confrontational.
You know? Same team, and all that.
If you’d like to read the post in its entirety, here you go.