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.
Maybe 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.
Me: My car won't start
BrownsTwitter: Remove all the tires
Me: Will that help?
Browns Twitter: It can't get any worse.
— Mark Skog (@MarkSkog) November 9, 2015
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.