Between Patience and Accountability with the Cleveland Browns

I’m in awe of some Cleveland Browns media members and fans who have patience without any consternation. I know that winning a game in 2016 doesn’t help the team in the NFL draft. There’s an idea, however, that going winless won’t impact the Browns in any negative way going forward.

On Sunday, I questioned this conclusion on Twitter. There were a lot of responses indicating there’s no proof going winless is any worse than going 1-15, for example. As most internet arguments go, I answered a question with a question.

Where’s the evidence that the first pick in the draft is some kind of panacea? Where’s the evidence that completely gutting a roster and tanking to the point that your team is one of the worst in the history of the NFL is a path to success? The list of Super Bowl champs is littered with former first- and second-overall picks. Two Mannings and a Newton are the first names that pop to mind. Then again, Von Miller was the second-overall selection and his Broncos (along with former one Peyton Manning) beat the Panthers. It’s just to say that building a 53-man team to compete at the highest level is not as simple as scoring the No. 1 pick.

Anecdotally, even the last team to lose all their games ended up with Matt Stafford. Say what you want about Stafford, but he’s played over 100 games, completed more than 60 percent of his passes and thrown for 185 touchdowns and 106 interceptions. The Lions aren’t the standard in which everyone who builds and NFL franchise is chasing, but they have won 10 games or more twice in the past five years and currently sit with a 9-5 record in 2016, eying up the playoffs just months after Calvin Johnson decided to retire.

I understand patience with the quest for draft picks and a brighter future. Some of it makes sense for sure. However, I feel like there’s a lot of cocky blind patience as if what is happening right now doesn’t matter at all. There’s this belief that no matter how bad everything feels in 2016, it serves a greater long-term purpose and everyone’s not only on board, but about to be a beneficiary. I don’t buy that.

Big Savings for Big Fans at Fanatics.comMaybe Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Danny Shelton and all the players who are presumed to be a part of some brighter future are not impacted by this early losing in their career. Maybe Hue Jackson is the coach who can overcome any negative vibe hangover that makes me worry about the historically awful season the Browns are putting together. Maybe winning one game really would be worthless and harmful to “the process” as it drops their first overall pick to the second with a tiebreaker loss to the 49ers. That’s a whole lot of maybes associated with the notion that losing isn’t harmful. Every shred of evidence I’ve seen in my life as an NFL fan indicates that losing is an incurable virus. At least it has been impossible to innoculate in Cleveland.

I saw this tweet come across my feed today and it really made me laugh, but it also rang true.

This all might work, but I think we need to hold everyone accountable for all the misery along the way. It might make sense, but you can’t act like tearing the team down and losing all their games is a masterful accomplishment that’s a proven part of a winning plan. You can’t presume that anything executed by the Jimmy Haslam ownership is to be positively associated with “winning” anything. And more importantly, even if it all works out in the future, it doesn’t mean this was the only way to go about it.

Maybe the Browns took the tires off the car in order to put on a shiny new set, but they haven’t gone to the store yet. In the meantime you can be satisfied with this thing that’s up on blocks, but I’m not presuming we’re going to be cruising in the summer breeze in our brand new ride next August when training camp begins.

  • RGB

    Not only has the HBT taken the tires off the car…they’ve sold the tires, and stuffed the cash under the mattress.

  • CB Everett

    Plot twist: There was never an engine in the car the entire time.

  • tsm

    I don’t think we would be in a better position for the future if we were 3-13 or 4-12 this year. My concern is that with all the draft picks we had, most have done nothing for a team that has little talent. The next draft is a must win for the HBT. With 4 picks in the first two rounds, we need all of them to be significant upgrades, and not just starters. Also, I would feel better if our rookies were improving over the last quarter of the season, but it seems this is not the case. 0-16 is fine if it signifies rock bottom, with a team of youngsters who are improving during the season, and just need a little more time. I think Jimmy gives the HBT one more draft, and if it is no better than this one, things will be blown up again.

  • Skulb

    Johnson retiring was the best thing that could have happened to the Lions. No one knows where the ball is going now, and his heirs are playing well. Spreading the ball around on offense = a good idea.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • woofersus

    Well, the obvious answer is “it depends.” Depends on the type of players you have, how the coaches handle the situation, Twho is available in the draft the following year, etc. I don’t think the Browns set out to go winless this year, nor do I think winning a game is a bad thing at this point. But at the end of the day I don’t think it’s really any worse for the lack of “winning culture” than is a 1-15, 2-14, or even 3-13 season. All are very bad. All contain long stretches of losing. All will demoralize players eventually. All will undermine coaching authority. All will discourage free agents from coming to Cleveland. Likewise, while an inspirational win may assuage some fan fears or prevent a mass casualty at the hands of a radio personality, I don’t think it makes much difference for next season.

    You can’t predict draft outcomes or win totals or a whole host of things, so I think it’s misplaced concern to worry about what an 0-16 season means for “the process.” They decided to jettison veterans who won’t be around in 3-ish years to get youngsters playing time knowing the team would be bad. Mission accomplished. They wanted to maximize the number of picks over multiple years. Mission accomplished. (note that this strategy means you mostly don’t reap the benefits in year one – they gave up value last year to get better value this year) They wanted to draft players with high character who could withstand a real tough season like this and they did that. They wanted to stop blowing up the staff every year or two, and they’re at least saying the right things about that one – we’ll see. Seems like on-target so far. I doubt a win total was one of the goals.

  • tigersbrowns2

    well , if you’re happy with 3-13 or 4-12 seasons , we could’ve kept going the way we’ve been doing it since 1999 … this is tougher & more drastic … i’m still all-in on the HBT’s plan.

  • scripty

    Please take this solely on it’s own merits.

    If Josh Gordon plays most of the last 12 weeks, do we have one win?

  • Harv

    Going to try (try) to make this my last Browns comment for a few days: using your car analogy, even I can figure out how to pull crap off my car. I mean, this country is lousy with pick-n-pull salvage yards. But for your own safety, you should no more ride in one I tried to put back together than buy season tix for an NBA team that Chris Grant tried to rebuild.

    If you have the #1 or #2 picks at the top of the first few rounds you should end up with someone who can periodically win a game for you. Obviously no one guy takes a team to a Super Bowl but I’m talking a game. Just before his knee blew Courtney Brown damn near one a game himself with multiple sacks and blowing everybody up. Back when he wasn’t a woe-is-me punchline wrongly lumped with draft mistakes. Metcalf won a few – I was at the 2-TD return game against Pitts and that was all him. And on. Here’s what I don’t see from this year’s crop: someone who has come close to turning a game, who helped us almost win, who kept it from being a blow out with his particular effort. If you can’t spot those guys, stop trading down. Ask someone who knows. Screw the wins, where’s the signs for optimism? What this season’s arc portends is not good, the way it’s skidding in the wrong direction.

    And maybe my last point on my maybe last comment: if Haslam can’t disturb the Sashi-Podesta mix with a experienced football talent evaluator, maybe he should demand Sashi bring in his own such guy and stick him under him, but BRING HIM IN. If Sashi is such a bean bag/good-ideas-create-the-heirarchies kinda guy, that can’t hurt. Oh, who am I kidding, let’s just chill and watch the slo-mo train wreck and then we can say, “The owner’s kitchen redecorator’s kitten as GM? Why not, nothing else has worked.”

  • tigersbrowns2

    … well, the first thing for the HBT to do is to get the wheels (Pryor & J.Collins) put back on the car … then go put a nice shiny coat of paint (#1 overall pick) on her … in fact , give her a nice two-tone paint job (our 2nd first round pick from Eagles) … then put a nice new engine (fix O-line) in her.

    then , since she will be looking beautiful , put some real good , full-coverage insurance (fix the defense) on her … then the driver (Hue) will be able to just sit back & enjoy the ride.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi HARV … as usual , you have valid / realistic points. but , Haslam CANNOT disturb the Sashi-DePodesta mix after only one season … even if the S-D mix falls on their face & never works-out , he can’t do it.

    prospective GM & HC candidates already know the Browns history since 1999 & this would only make it worse.

  • tigersbrowns2

    doesn’t anyone think that the HBT & Hue had to convince Haslam the the “total blow-up” idea was the way to go ? and don’t you think that it was more than a 2-year plan ? and don’t you think Haslam granted them the plan & the time they needed ??

  • Harv

    [seems especially cruel when you counter my points with my own oft-stated arguments]

  • nj0

    I wish we could have an honest accounting of the decisions they made without it devolving into the “what did you think 0-16 would look like” defense. Teams rebuild all the time and all of them minus two throughout the entire history of the NFL were able to find enough talent to win a game.

  • tigersbrowns2

    what ? … we hardly ever agree on anything. am i missing something here ?

  • Hopwin

    So if we don’t resign Pryor and or Collins has the HBT failed?

  • Natedawg86


  • tigersbrowns2

    hi HOP … my answer would be no. but they’ve got to start showing the fans , current players & prospective future players that they mean business & want to win.

    the tear-down should be over now , except for maybe a couple of aging vets (Haden , T.Williams etc.) … we should see nothing but mostly build-up from here on out.

  • tigersbrowns2

    well , hell … i don’t want to ruffle any feathers , so i apologize for being cruel … wasn’t my intention.

    i am only here to opine the lighter side with my Browns brethren.

    and HARV … don’t let that be your last post . post something else … anything.

  • tigersbrowns2

    … and if they don’t re-sign them both , Hue will be driving with only 3 wheels for a spell..

  • Garry_Owen

    Don’t worry, brother. Dad was being conciliatory and self-deprecating. He wasn’t injured.

  • Garry_Owen

    Wait. That’s my argument. Are you saying it’s a base, low-level defense?

  • Pat Leonard

    I would say no… not without someone to throw the ball to him.

  • Pat Leonard

    I thought the Browns had enough veterans on the team to keep them from falling into the 5th circle of hell, but it wasn’t the case. If anything, the veterans may have been among the biggest contributors to the failure. Joe Haden, Tramon Williams, John Greco, Gary Barnidge, Andrew Hawkins, Josh McCown… most these guys have been more of a problem than a solution.

  • Skulb
  • nj0

    Not dishonest. It just assumes that we’d be 0-16. Petitio principii. The question as I see it is: what did we think a stripped down team relying on the dozen rookies drafted by this regime would look like? I did not expect “arguably worst team ever”. Worse than the expansion roster!

  • clueless and useless .. Jimmy sell the team!!

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  • jpftribe

    If you are looking for accountability Craig, you are going to be really, really disappointed.

    This is the NFL. They pay a guy $40M a year to take all their rubber bullets from the media and fan base. After 44 years of watching this game, this Sunday I learn about stepping out of bounds being not reviewable. The league MVP with a history of concussions takes a head shot and gets flagged for taunting. 99.9% of the fan base knows these are blown calls, but the Head of Officiating will tell us all on Wednesday why they are not. They’ve screwed over Baltimore, St Louis twice, Cleveland, working on Oakland for the second time and now San Diego as well.

    Haslam is accountable to no one. Not even his customers in his privately held business. Fans have already stopped coming to the games. Next year’s season ticket sales will be atrocious. Do you think this ends with Haslam saying he’s really sorry and giving the team to some uber billionaire Clevelander that doesn’t exist today?

    No, he will cry about how the team isn’t making money, the fans can’t support the franchise and he will move it. Roger and Jerry will parrot the party line while the rest of the world whines about how unfair it is. Two years later the London Monarchs will be doing just fine in their free NOS Olympic Stadium with a long waiting list of season ticket holders and a whole new TV base to milk.

    That’s how this ends, and it’s about as predictable as gravity.

  • Garry_Owen

    It does assume that, but not as a fact so much as a conceptual premise. I predicted 1-15, but conceptually don’t view that as being any different than 0-16. Honestly, would you feel better about this season if the Browns had one win? Two? I wouldn’t. It’s conceptually the same. (But I do like your supposition just as much.)

    As for “arguably worst team ever,” I don’t think that’s true. Not by a long shot. I don’t even think the Browns are the worst team in the NFL right now. Sure they have the worst record, but I would much, much rather be a Browns fan today than be a fan of a few other teams. Those other teams that went winless did not do so by reason of a concrete strategy. They just plain sucked. And I’m not saying that 0-16 is the strategy, just that it’s a by-product of the concrete strategy.