Well, let’s try to find some positives about the Cleveland Browns

Another year down into the depths of 0-and-whatever has a lot of Browns fans, myself included, wanting to hit the eject button. On Thursday, Jimmy Haslam hit that button for Sashi Brown.

It’s gotten so bad that even my father, someone who if you were cut him might bleed orange, has admitted to me that the team has almost lost him. With Christmas around the corner, I am tempted to get him a Steelers shirt. However, as fellow WFNY writer and master of game-film on Twitter Jake Burns has said, there are bright spots on this roster, and so going forward into these last four weeks of the season.

Stop laughing. I am serious. I’m here to tell you about some things to watch for during these Browns games and be hopeful into the new year.

All Hail Flash Gordon

While his season debut left much to be desired (11 targets with only four catches but for 85 yards with no touchdowns), you can see the coaching staff was almost force feeding him the ball. Quarterback Deshone Kizer and Josh Gordon seemed out of sync, timing routes over or underthrown and fades were too high, but with a few more practice reps and in-game attempts, Flash seems prepped to show the world why the Browns waited around for so long to see what he can do.

The Duke, The Whole Duke, And Nothing But The Duke

There have been fewer bright spots on the roster week in and week out than Duke Johnson Jr. Whether it be out on a wheel route or actually getting real live carries from the hands of the quarterback, Duke has done so much with so little. Despite only having one game with more than 15 touches, Duke is second on the team in yards from scrimmage and tied with rookie David Njoku for second on the team in touchdowns at four. The best course of action for any fan holding out hope would, of course, be to chant “The Duke!!” anytime he gets the ball.

The Chief 

Though he has yet to be christened the starter, David Njoku has evolved into a force at tight end.

For a player as raw as Njoku was coming into the season, this type of production was the ceiling. Tied for second on the team in touchdowns on the season (Deshone Kizer has rushed for five, though most of those have been dive plays), the explosiveness that led the Browns to draft him in the first round has been evident. Plus, how can you NOT love the touchdown celebration from Chief Njoku? The #ChiefSlam might be the best of the year. I look forward to seeing what Njuko turning into the next Gronk and doing what we wanted Kellen Winslow to do.

Garrett Destroying

The only reason Myles Garrett is this low on the list is I did offense first. Seen by many as the future of Cleveland Browns football, Garrett’s continued destruction of opposing left tackles is the stuff of legends, and he hasn’t even played eight full games yet. As the season progresses and Garrett sees more double teams and opponents multiple times, the numbers (five sacks, two tackles for a loss, 14 hits to the quarterback causing pressure and a forced fumble) could go down. However, that doesn’t mean his impact will go down. Expect more sacks from Carl Nassib, filling in for injured starter Emmanuel Ogbah, Danny Shelton, and Nate Orchard as teams will give more attention to Garrett.

Larry the Tackle Guy 

Even though he was fired today, Sashi Brown found a golden nugget in Larry Ogunjobi in the third round of the 2017 draft, and the Browns will reap those benefits for years. Ogunjobi is another not-yet-starter who has played well enough to earn a spot. With 13 solo tackles, four of those for a loss, and two QB hit, Ogunjobi has been a force in the backfield. Paired with Danny Shelton, Ogunjobi has a chance to be a great defensive tackle for years. Get excited watching him blow through opposing guards and knowing he will be around for at least the next three years super cheap.

That Sweet Sweet First Win

Hue Jackson’s only wins as Browns Head Coach have come in the month of December. Last year it was a Christmas gift by the San Diego Chargers. This year’s schedule is an example of up and down: Sunday’s matchup is against the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers, then the last home matchup of the year against rival Baltimore, a team playing for their playoff lives. If the Packers game doesn’t secure the first victory, a Christmas Eve matchup with the Chicago Bears could be just the trick. Myles Garrett sacking Mitchell Trubisky and forcing a fumble would be a pretty sweet win. The last game on the schedule is visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers, and while they may have locked up a playoff bye by then, don’t expect them to take it easy on the Browns.

Though they have been few and far between, there are positives to this season. Player progression against the odds has made it so that there is a future in Cleveland, and I only mentioned the players that are not injured. You can include Emmanuel Ogbah, Jamie Collins and the possible return of Joe Thomas as further building blocks to this team going forward. The multitude of picks outgoing general manager Sashi Brown amassed will give whoever the next GM is a chance to greatly shape the next couple of years for the Browns. See, there is something to look forward to, and for once it isn’t just a wall painting with a tunnel like in the Road Runner cartoons.

  • MartyDaVille

    Executing the man who executed the plan is a very positive development.

  • Harv

    “… knowing he will be around for at least the next three years super cheap.” Is this intended comedy or did Dee Haslam ghost write this?

  • tigersbrowns2

    “positives” ?? … well positives are my specialty. i personally liked the plan … they got rid of a lot of over-paid dead weight that went 3-13 or 4-12 every year , they built-up the draft capital very nicely , got themselves very young & they are set-up super-nice for next off-season.

    i see a lot of very nice young talent that will be the core in another year or two … yes, there are still some holes , but these can & will be addressed next off-season.

    well , i’m off to support the next guy that comes in … well , at least until the axe comes down on him.

  • MartyDaVille

    We used to have a gallows humor joke at my old job: John/Bill/Ted/Whoever, [the HR director] wants to see you. Bring your employee handbook.

  • JM85

    The Browns suck so much they’re picking first again. Positives.

  • Skulb

    The problem with this undying optimism is of course that it would take the present regime eight years to rack up four wins at the rate things are going. I’m not sure you have fully taken in just the degree of suck we’re dealing with here. And whatever our personal opinions, this is still sports. And the sports gods demand human sacrifice. It’s just the way things are. No one has ever survived going completely winless for this long. It is almost certainly an NFL record for Brown. At least it would be if it wasn’t for that pesky win over the Chargers last year. And at 1-27 someone has to go in the volcano. That’s why it’s there.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi SKULB … good post. but even you can see that they are set-up real nice for next year & it took a complete blow-up & 2 years to do it. I’m pretty sure everyone involved was on-board with the blow-up & they’ve already said they knew it would be a “multiple year rebuild” … i was actually okay suffering through 1-27 if it yielded sustained success.

    9 HC’s & 9 GM in 18 years … this definitely isn’t the way to do things.

  • Skulb

    If draft picks and cap space automatically translated into winning later we might have something. But it just doesn’t. The Browns have been picking first for 20 years and nothing has gotten better because of it. And now you have the mother of all losing cultures humming throughout the building. Winning is just something that happens to other people. We have to be happy if we don’t look like 53 hobos were rounded up in the parking lot and forced to suit up on Sunday. If you think some picks are going to change this culture you’re about to be sorely disappointed. We might as well take hope in picking our nose. The stench wafts from Berea like a forgotten diaper in a damp wash room. It’s in all our pores and our nostrils. We can’t wash it out. We’d have to go live in the sea to have any hope of ever becoming clean.

    Which brings my to my old suggestion that Haslam move the team 1000 miles to the east in an attempt to become the world’s first aquatic football team. Attendance might be rough at first, but at least we’d finally be clean. The North Atlantic Browns; it could easily happen. Sometimes I think it should happen.

  • Skulb

    Oh, and there have been nine of each because the billionaire moron fires people who win games, like Crenell and Pettine. Stop doing that due to massive stupidity and there is no need to scrape the bottom of the tank for years and years without end, like under the ongoing sway of befuddling cretinism posing as a football regime with this club.

    According to the Bible there are supposed to be some fat years in between all the lean ones. Seven if I remember correctly. I guess the Browns isn’t a proper theological entity, because it doesn’t seem to apply here. Anyway, the next time someone manages to win games, don’t fire them! What you do to people who go 1-27 is of absolutely no consequence. It can’t possibly get worse no matter what you do.

  • Skulb

    Oh and finally, I could get behind a plan requiring patience. But not a plan that requires patience AND manages somehow to amazingly rack up winless seasons, something the other 31 professional football teams teams have only managed once between them in the entire history of the NFL. It actually means that the Browns are not even remotely on an NFL level, competitively. This is not an Adam Sandler movie where a mentally impaired man will whisk in and save us. It’s who we are, resoundingly. We have hammered it home now. TheBrowns should be playing high school teams basically, and with ten times the #1 overall picks to their name in recent decades than the top 20 teams put together.

    It has to stop somewhere. Might as well be at 1-27.

  • Skulb

    I have to hand it to you guys. It’s one thing to empty the outhouse; one thing to gut a fish. It’s quite another to stick your head down the bucket every week to find out just exactly what it is that stinks so horribly down there; quite another to dandle entrails from your head and rub the gutted fish all over your face to make absolutely sure it smells and is gross there too. It’s quite impressive.

  • Casual_Kenny_Reigns

    Why does anyone want a win? What’s the point? The reverse perfect is the stuff of legends. 1-15 is just depressing.

  • Dave

    Positives: I enjoy a nice parade.