Browns, WWW

Rational, Snark, or Conspiracy on the Browns: While We’re Waiting

Jared Volle, MS

Mornin’ y’all. The last episode of Rational! Snark! or Conspiracy! had fractured #TeamRational into #TeamSunnyside and #TeamStormcloud factions, but stability on the head coach and front office fronts have once again seen unity among those ranks to bring the teams back to their original formation. Don’t let those who claim to be in #TeamApathy fool you, there is a reason that articles on the defending No. 1 overall pick Cleveland Browns are consistently more viewed than the AL Champion Cleveland Indians or Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

So, I hope this post finds you in the highest of spirits with the wind forever at your back, while you sit back and enjoy the latest episode of Rational! Snark! or Conspiracy!

Here’s how we play

Each scenario is given three answers in three separate categories. The rational category is for any fan actually still able to analytically dissect the latest Browns rebuild despite everything else (God bless you). The conspiracy category is for anyone thinking of wearing a tin foil hat with all these WiFi signals floating around as the government might be reading our minds. The snark category is for anyone needing a defense mechanism to get through yet another losing season for the Cleveland Browns.

Important to note: All comments in the conspiracy and snark categories are completely unconfirmed and have no specific intimate knowledge other than what is in the public sphere.

Any of the answers might be correct or they might all prove to be completely off-base. It is up to you to decide and post in the comments.

Let’s get started…

Gregg Williams replaces Ray Horton Jr. as defensive co-ordinator

#TeamRational: Giving Ray Horton Jr. another opportunity to coach the defense was a mistake that the Browns were wise to move on from quickly. It was good fortune that Gregg Williams became available as Jeff Fisher was let go from the Los Angeles Rams. His ability to create havoc and utilize a combination of defensive fronts should fit in well with the youthful athleticism available to him here.

#TeamConspiracy: The Harvard Brain Trust plan to tank away the 2016 NFL season in order to obtain the No. 1 overall pick was accomplished. Ray Horton Jr. was the perfect coach to infiltrate the coaching ranks and sabotage any possible victories. With his mission complete and the Browns looking to be more competitive in 2017, his services were no longer needed.

#TeamSnark: A complete overhaul of the defensive plays, calls, and identity? This is totally new to the Browns and will shock everyone to go through.

Browns re-sign Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins

#TeamRational: The Browns inability to secure second contracts from their veteran players has helped upset any opportunity at securing stability within the organization. The titanic shift of having two leaders from the defense re-sign in the same offseason is a fantastic statement to the player’s confidence in the current coaching staff and front office.

#TeamConspiracy: It took years of “failed” first-round picks signing with the New England Patriots, but the constant stream of information being sent back to Berea finally was fruitful during the 2016 season when it led to trading for and re-signing Jamie Collins.

#TeamSnark: The Browns signing these two players surely had nothing to do with them paying what would be top dollar-or more- on the open market.

Offensive line gets beefy with signing of Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter

#TeamRational: The Browns now plan on starting four proven, quality players on the offensive line. As such, expect improved play from both the running backs and quarterbacks as the line sets up the entire offense.

#TeamConspiracy: There is no better confirmation to the tanking conspiracy of 2016 than the shedding of Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz from the roster only to then re-commit to offensive line stoutness once the tanking was completed.

#TeamSnark: Even ignoring the injury concerns of Tretter and Bitonio, the Browns still might have to start Cam Erving at right tackle, so what does it matter?

Deshone Kizer and Brock Osweiler replace Josh McCown and Robert Griffin on QB depth chart

#TeamRational: Addition by subtraction of two terrible quarterbacks in McCown and Griffin. Kizer has true potential and was steal in the second round. Osweiler… well, we received the Houston Texans second-round pick for taking his contract. He’s not a terrible third option either.

#TeamConspiracy: Allowing the New York Jets to steal our tank-inducer at starting quarterback the year Sam Darnold is eligible for the NFL Draft will prove to be our latest undoing.

#TeamSnark: Two more names for the jersey.

Kenny Britt replaces Terrelle Pryor at wide receiver

#TeamRational: While it would have been ideal to have signed both players, Britt is a more polished receiving option who should be able to replace the statistical contributions of Pryor.

#TeamConspiracy: Buckeye players being shed and ignored in the draft, while Michigan players are selected in the first round by the Browns is indication that Jim Harbaugh is the obvious succession plan from Hue Jackson.

#TeamSnark: Who needed a dynamic downfield threat who could out-leap and out-fight any defensive back for the ball, right?

David Njoku replaces Gary Barnidge at tight end

#TeamRational: Seth DeValve is likely to be the starter who truly replaces Barnidge with Njoku providing what will hopefully be an influx of athleticism and playmaking ability to the offense.

#TeamConspiracy: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is conspiring to keep Gary Barnidge out of the NFL due to a flap that traces back to Barnidge requiring the NFL to add an addendum to the catch definition to include butt cheeks.

#TeamSnark: Barnidge is so amazing that he isn’t even signed with anyone yet.

Quiet offseason with no major infractions, drug suspensions, arrests, or off the field injuries

#TeamRational: Shhhhhhhhh!!!!! Do you want to jinx it? Oh, we’re supposed to be the rational ones, well do you want to jinx it?

#TeamConspiracy: Browns hired a good cleaner, which is why we don’t even know his name.

#TeamSnark: Corey Coleman’s Christmas Eve incident, Jabrill Peppers NFL Combine test failure, and Caleb Bryant’s bar shove all count. Besides, there’s plenty of time for someone to do something stupid.

Myles Garrett

#TeamRational: So, so, good.

#TeamConspiracy: Garrett even faked a foot injury so he could get out of meaningless OTAs. He’s a vet.

#TeamSnark: It will be opposing quarterbacks shaking in their boots for once.

Jabrill Peppers finally signed his contract in late July

#TeamRational: The current NFL CBA has more strict guidelines from which rookie contracts can be drawn up and thereby holdouts, especially among non-Top 10 picks are especially rare. The signing was a simple matter of waiting for the urgency for Training Camp to be upon them.

#TeamConspiracy: Peppers and his camp waited on purpose just so they could get another dig in on Pro Football Talk. His first defensive battle has been won. Well played, Jabrill.

#TeamSnark: All you Ohio State honks said to draft Malik Hooker. Well, he’s already on the PUP list. How you like them apples?

Impending quarterback controversy/competition

#TeamRational: Cody Kessler has the initial leg up as he knows the terminology, had an offseason to work on his issues with progression and arm strength, while still possessing elite accuracy. DeShone Kizer will need to prove to Hue Jackson that he has digested the entirety of the playbook, which will be difficult to show in the preseason.

#TeamConspiracy: Colt McCoy will be starting by Week 8. I’d tell you how it will all play out to get to that point, but I am not at liberty to divulge those details.

#TeamSnark: Oh, the Browns have questions at quarterback and the fans will eat each other alive as they debate which one of the options is the least worst? You don’t say.

2017 WFNY Commentariat Team Formations


  • Tigersbrowns2
  • Pat Leonard
  • B-Bo
  • Jpftribe
  • Kiddicus
  • Absentee ballot: Bryan


  • Garry_Owen
  • Skulb
  • Chris
  • maxfnmloans
  • Absentee ballot: saggy, Hopwin, chrisdottcomm


  • CBiscuit
  • Scripty
  • Eric G
  • Absentee ballot: RGB, Sam Gold, Dave

Self-Proclaimed #TeamApathy

  • Humboldt
  • nj0
  • MartyDaVille
  • Harv
  • Steve

  • nj0

    I highly recommend the work of Gary Brecher, aka the War Nerd (plum de nom for John Dolan). He’s fairly far to the left, though his politics don’t really get in the way when writing about history, less so with contemporary conflicts. Even then, I think he does his best to offer an honest assessment and avoid engaging in too much spin. Some of his earlier stuff is heavy on satire and may offend, but it’s usually done to make an unpopular point. A good example being his eulogy for Saddam Hussein.

    As for Jackson, I have to admit I know little of his presidency outside of the main points already mentioned here (the populism, trail of tears, opposition to a national bank). I’ll have to educate myself a bit, especially on the effects of that unbridled populism. I have a feeling that might be useful over the next couple dozen years.

  • I can still tolerate Michael Bradley, as when he is on he’s a genuine contributor. Guzan (and several others–looking at you, Zusi) can exit stage left any time now.

  • Yes yes, all in good fun. Good. Fun.

  • nj0

    And to keep it related to Cleveland, his Battle of Lake Erie piece is great, probably my favorite from his 12 days of 1812.

  • AFC/NFC is fine in my book. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Niners.

  • Outside of Cleveland, yes

  • mgbode
  • Garry_Owen

    I might be a little harsh on populism, but primarily because we exist in its renewed era. Frankly, it tends to not last long (a couple dozen years is probably right, if a little long), but it also tends to be grounded in passion above reason, leading to lots of counter passion equally devoid of reason. To that end, I think the worst and lasting impact of Jackson’s presidency, above everything else, was the nullification crisis, which it could be argued was the first step in what ultimately resulted in the misguided secessions of 1861 and Lincoln’s equally misguided (IMO) call to arms. Though the underlying ideologies at the time are fascinating in comparison with those that eventually manifested in the vicinity of and under Lincoln.
    Truly, Jackson is a wonderful analog to Trump in so many ways, as long as we are careful to not compare ideologies one for one.

  • Dave

    I’m somewhat torn between #TeamSnark and #TeamApathy. As in, I’m expecting another dismal season, but really can’t be bothered to care much at this point except to laugh at the pathetic attempts to make a football team.

    Maybe I’m on team #GPODAWUND?

  • Aren’t we all?

  • mgbode

    Missed this one yesterday. What if OJ is just a terrible human being?

    Does Jerry Sandusky get to blame CTE?
    What about Bill Cosby?

  • mgbode


  • mgbode

    laugh at the pathetic attempts to make a football team

    Sounds like another strong season on #TeamSnark to me

  • Saggy

    I only asked because when Italo went there he obviously wanted to make a huge push into the American market – and they really have. My Serie A team is Milan (I grew up with Dutch coaches in the 80s-90s) but I was very happy to see Roma gain traction here.

    If you don’t actually go to baseball games I think you have a harder chance at enjoying it. Being there gives you a feel for the nuance.

  • Skulb

    I just we just have to live with trans-Atlantic supporter interests for now. MLS is alright, but it’s still the retirement home for European pros at the moment. And obviously European football is almost nonexistent.

  • max74mm

    It’s really important to use your own common sense. Back when smoking was still cool and popular I was a teenager who had a father who chained smoke, a mother who had smoked when she was younger, and a girlfriend who smoked. So I tried it. It took me less than 5 seconds to figure out it was a really stupid thing to do.

  • max74mm

    That violent nature of the game is perfectly explained in this bit from George Carlin about football versus baseball:

  • max74mm

    It’s really important to use your own common sense. Back when smoking was still cool and popular I was a teenager who had a father who chained smoke, a mother who had smoked when she was younger, and a girlfriend who smoked. So I tried it. It took me less than 5 seconds to figure out it was a really stupid thing to do.

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    Hey my dad wrote that Pain News Network piece 😀

  • mgbode

    Tell him that I think it is a wonderful resource and one of the main articles I have bookmarked on the subject.