Browns

We expected a bad team, so why are we upset about the Browns?

We’ve all been there. Flipping through Netflix titles to find something new before settling on an older flick that looks interesting. About halfway through, there is a familiarity that cannot be shook during the opening act. All of a sudden, the memories come flooding back to ruin the ending because you had already seen the movie years ago. With 30 minutes invested, the rest of the movie is watched despite now remembering the flick was not enjoyable. The successive go-around does not net a better result.

The 2017 Cleveland Browns are a team which was expected to be bad. Any team attempting to rebound from a 1-15 season, who also have not had a winning record in the past 10 years- heck, have only won more than five games once during that decade- should be expected to be bad. They were expected to be bad. Somehow they have been worse, which is the same movie Browns fans have been watching year after year.

The warning signs were there throughout the opening act of the season. The Tennessee Titans were the only team not to have a two-score or more lead at some point during their game against the Browns. The supposedly soft early schedule has seen the Browns have the second-worst points per game1 and sixth-worst points against. The Browns have played two of the five teams below them in points against, which means their points per game mark is also inflated. The team has done this while being among the most penalized teams in the NFL and looking incompetent on special teams between penalties, turnovers, missed field goals (worst in NFL inside 40 yards), and without any dynamic returns.

A team whose veteran presence was removed to build a young corps should have foundational young stars to cheer. Unfortunately, the last two top picks for the team have spent more time missing games due to injury than playing (Corey Coleman and Myles Garrett). Other players have been improperly utilized. With Derrick Kindred and Ibraheim Campbell both as strong-safety-only on the roster, the Browns took strong safety Jabrill Peppers in the first-round of the draft. So, he has played 30 yards off the ball where he has shown himself to be completely uncomfortable.

David Njoku, the other first-round pick of this regime, has more targets than any receiver not named Ricardo Louis, but there has been precious little creativity in his usage. With the front office flailing at receiver from drafting four wide receivers in 2016 to signing Kenny Britt to trading for Sammie Coates to starting receivers off their own practice squad (Rashard Higgins) or others (Bryce Treggs); flexing Njoku out wide has not yet been a strategy employed. It’s not like having him run a few routes against smaller players and removing chip responsibilities is going to ruin his tight end development. Then again, the Browns won’t give Duke Johnson carries when they are even bothering to run the ball, so there are bigger issues to address.

The quarterbacks are a bigger issue. Carson “not a Top 20 quarterback” Wentz is a NFL MVP candidate. Deshaun “not my text partner” Watson might play himself into award conversations too if he keeps putting up five touchdown weeks. Both players were traded away by the Browns.2 Back on the Northcoast, head coach Hue Jackson has gone from stating he would “ride it out” with DeShone Kizer to benching him twice during games, starting Kevin Hogan, and using media contacts to put pressure on the front office to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo and A.J. McCarron.

Kirk Cousins or any other free agent quarterback with a pulse is not going to come save the Browns nor is a team with a functional quarterback- like the Buffalo Bills with Tyrod Taylor- going to bail out the team with a trade. The Browns will be left with the choice of attempting to resurrect another middling veteran, develop the quarterbacks on the roster, or invest a top pick in one of the quarterbacks coming out in the 2018 NFL Draft. None are the most appealing options.3

Somehow though, things are even worse.

In a Browns tradition that has continued through every front office and coaching staff, there is dysfunction afoot. As WFNY’s Scott Sargent laid out this morning, the Browns were either lying, incompetent, or incompetent and lying about what happened with the McCarron trade that wasn’t. Jimmy Haslam might have even forced the hand of the front office on the trade.

This occurrence happening the day after the front office didn’t even know Garoppolo was traded, which began the back-channel in-fighting as WFNY’s Craig Lyndall covered.

The smell of desperation, panic, and frustration is familiar. We have seen this movie before. Trading for Garoppolo might have been short-sighted and A.J. McCarron might be “just a guy” at quarterback, but the trenches being built for the upcoming power struggle are real.

Watching a successive go-around power struggle is not likely to net a better result than the last ones have. Feelings will get hurt. Ugliness will get leaked to the media. People will get fired. The flailing owner shall remain. Respectable football coaches and executives will forgo opportunities in Cleveland unless they are a last resort, and the entire mess will start anew with the promise that “it’ll be different this time.”

Too much time has been invested to not see how this is going to play out. Right?

  1. Thanks Miami. []
  2. To be pedantic, the picks used to acquire those players was traded away by the Browns. []
  3. Note: Lamar Jackson would be fun. []

  • Skulb

    No, but he was arguing on TV with LaBill Clinton. They were competing for control of the black caucus and the leadership of BLM. It was all bit hazy though, and trailed off completely after this.

  • mgbode

    They specifically give their permission in the emails and note as long as they are kept anonymous.

  • tigersbrowns2

    and that’s why I’d trust you with my kids … but someone may end up losing their job over this … and maybe they don’t care.

  • RGB

    Sashi is riding his moneylytics horse unfettered and hell-bent for the horizon, content to either reach the promised land or fly off a cliff, and Jimmah is letting him.

  • BenRM

    The specific assumption of one of the email writers is that their jobs are already lost.

  • mgbode

    yes, this is all born out of desperation as they directly state they expect to lose their jobs 🙂

  • Chris

    It trailed off long before it reached that point.

  • tigersbrowns2

    excellent !! … and yet Marvin Lewis is relieved that the trade didn’t happen.

  • jpftribe

    It’s not that I disagree here, that may well be the case. As is the case that Hue is playing GM through the press, and Depo is collecting a hefty check doing nothing times 10. My point is Haslam chose this construct and can’t manage it.

  • mgbode

    I think Jimmy and Sashi owe us a press conference.

  • Sam Gold

    Sigh…exactly this.

  • Skulb

    This is a common feature of all the bad teams, which all of them have borderline mentally impaired billionaire owners. It’s like having a king or dictator; it’s great if you have a good one, but terrible if you don’t. On average, half the billionaires in the world can be relied upon to be complete morons, same is the general population. But they are also more likely to have enormous egos and a conviction that they can do things themselves. I believe that there’s a very good reason the one team that isn’t owned by a deranged billionaire has been consistently good for the last 35 years.

  • mgbode

    No. That looks real. He must have found it off the coast of Madagascar.

  • Dan

    Well Hue Colin is available, go get him.

  • RGB

    “We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.”

  • jpftribe

    Jimmy inherited a hugely profitable cash business, hired private equity guys to acquire his chief competitor, soaked it for a bunch of personal cash, got caught stealing from his customers and now has sold his interest. I see nothing in that resume that says great leader of men.

  • Sam Gold

    “I’m fine if the coaches stay a year and are given another shot. I’m done with HBT, particularly Sashi.”

    Wow, I could not disagree more vigorously. Hue is the cancer.

  • Skulb

    I love the yank from behind by the boom guy in this shot. Realistic movement was clearly very important to John when he made this.

  • Dan

    Yeah, I don’t know what Cinci is not getting more heat for the bungling of this trade. It is near consensus that they were fleecing us, yet they didn’t make the effort to make sure everything was in order before the deadline? They let a 2nd and 3rd slip through their fingers and yet they are an innocent party?

  • Skulb

    It’s like having your sports team infested by Idi Amin. Very hard to turn any of this into success. I keep arguing that football and winning games is way down the list of priorities for most NFL owners.

  • tigersbrowns2

    thanks … well , then i’d just about bet Haslam & the HBT already know who they are.

  • Dan

    Yeah Hue is the one running to the press and then running to Haslem to get his guy. And how dense is Haslem that he let Hue talk him into AJ MF McCarron.

  • RGB

    Maybe Jimmah is taking Dr. Ichiro Serizawa’s advice in Godzilla, when the two alpha-predators are wreaking havok…
    “Let them fight.”

  • tigersbrowns2

    this is beautiful …

  • jpftribe

    History shows again and again
    How nature points up the folly of men

  • Skulb

    I agree. I still think this is an excellent premise for a political satire TV show. Casting might be challenging though.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i think you guys have great points , but most of these billionaires have billionaire egos as well … believe it or not , I truly believe he wants to win. he has enough money for 10 lifetimes …

  • mddawg

    I’m on board keeping the FO, the McCarron non-trade confirmed that Sashi’s not going to be overruled by Hue. Haslam as usual has no fricking clue how to run an NFL ( or any other organization for that matter).

  • jpftribe

    Wanting does not translate to ability. You and I could be billionaires too if only we had enough ego to want it as much?

    Haslam is a billionaire because he was born.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i agree … but , i still think he does want to win.

  • jpftribe

    Of course he wants to win. But as all of us lifelong Browns fans can attest, wanting does not get you into a Super Bowl.

    I don’t think for a minute Haslam is cheap or even miserly. He’s incompetent as a leader.

  • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

    No one expected them to be worse than last year. Literally any commenter here could do a better job.

  • paulbip

    First of all, any vet QB will cost 23 mil for next year. Stupid to go after them. Njoku bust. Book on him was bad hands and won’t block. Coleman another bust. Bad hands and now always injured. Peppers is a bust. Never could find a position for him. Kizer is a bust. He stunk it up at ND why would he change? Look at how ND is better without him. Hue is a bullshitter. He’s done nothing with QB’s “trust me”

  • CBI

    Team Ungrateful!

  • Dan

    Yeah I would guess someone older who has not grasped that cell phones and laptops work outside the office, and that leaving at 5 does not mean you are off the clock. It also looks pretty bad by the emailers in my opinion, considering they ran directly to a reporter to complain instead of keeping it in house.

  • mgbode

    I’m fine with taking steps backwards on the football field, but, man, it is killing me to see the FO & HC not working together. That’s long-term failure guaranteed.

  • mgbode

    At this point, any potential media distraction on Kaep off the field might be useful rather than cumbersome. I’m for it.

  • RGB

    I think Hue and Sashi should both report to a team president, who in turn report to Jimmah.

  • Dave

    I’m guessing Colin Kaepernick would work for less than 23 mil. Given that his alternative is to not work at all.

  • Steve

    Oh absolutely. As much as I’ll argue that the plan was to not just be bad but very bad, I won’t argue that this group of individuals can get this plan to work.

  • Steve

    And yet they’ll keep showing up 60,000+ strong every Sunday.

  • Skulb

    This is the baffling part to me. I am a firm believer in the value of interpreting non-verbal communication, and clearly Browns fans are signaling to Haslam that they love mass incompetence and going 1-23.

  • Skulb

    “Quick Hue, hide the paperwork so he can’t get it into the league office on time!”

  • Skulb

    I think I just channeled that from the Browns front office. The Netherworld people – it is real y’all!

  • BJohnsOne

    This is what is killing me as well and, as your article clearly points out, we have seen this movie before. Either Jimmy cannot/will not learn from past mistakes; or it is by design. How did the Rams all of the sudden become a good team just by moving to LA?

  • mgbode

    They fired their archaic coach, Jeff Fisher, and hired someone willing to put Jared Goff in an offense that catered to his skillset.

  • mgbode

    I would be fine with that arrangement especially now that Jimmy has shown himself incapable of stopping the in-fighting.

  • mgbode

    Josh McCown is going to fire his agent if all vet QBs are supposed to get 23 mil a year