0-13 Browns thoughts on London, the draft, and more

Hue Jackson Sashi Brown
Joshua Gunter/

As the Browns and their fans are riding out the string without winning any games, what should their future hold? There’s news out there and without rehashing my Friday thoughts on Columbus, I have a new geography to talk about. Thanks, Cleveland Browns!

Browns fans to be tortured by Big Ben three times in 2017

First of all, I can’t listen to any beat reporter talk about the Browns going to London without considering they really want an excuse to update their passport and go to London to cover the game. That’s not to indict anyone because we’re all human. Alas, we’re all made of flesh, bone, and have some sense of self-interest. A trip to London on the company dime sounds awesome. This is a much bigger thing than a company trip, however. If the Browns play one of their away games in London, that’s one thing. If it’s a home game, that’s quite another.

In a lot of ways, it’s the perfect time to play a home game in London. You wouldn’t want to do it when the team is really good. Presuming the Browns have to take a turn playing a home game across the big continuous salty lake1 it’s probably the best time. I just don’t think it should ever be time to give away a home game to a foreign city.

The reason the NFL is so special in Cleveland is that it allows us to get together eight times a year in that stadium. The biggest proponents of public funding for stadiums rely on those appearances at the stadium because there’s never anything else happening there. To take one of those occurrences away from Cleveland in any season is a tough pill to swallow. It’s a missed opportunity for fans to go to games, and it’s a missed opportunity in terms of revenue in a building that doesn’t see a whole lot of activity.

Maybe I’m making too big a deal, but this feels wrong. It feels like an unnecessarily greedy shot at a city for some revenue expansion for which Clevelanders will never be a beneficiary. For this conversation to be happening in nearly the same breath as the training camp move to Columbus is eye-opening and jarring. Just as Browns fans are struggling to maintain some semblance of culture and sense of tradition in a seemingly never-ending void created by losing, they’re expected to stomach these foundation-rocking kinds of negative changes as well. You can say these changes are no big deal, and for some of you, it might not be.

Let’s not be confused.

Big Savings for Big Fans at Fanatics.comThese things aren’t meant to benefit anyone here who loves the Browns. Moving games to London is not intended to benefit anyone who has historically propped the Browns up with ticket or merchandise money. You can speak anecdotally about Browns fans in Europe or down in Columbus, but they’re anecdotes used like a hammer to pound this thing through in order to disguise it as something magnanimous.

This is all about “expanding the reach” or trying to fatten the revenue of the Cleveland Browns for Jimmy Haslam and his fellow NFL owners. It broadcasts loud and clear that in the NFL, the hometown fan base isn’t good enough. Our money and attention aren’t good enough to the billionaire class of dollar extractors that have bought up all the NFL real estate. If you’re alright with that, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t normalize it and tell me it should be acceptable to me as if I haven’t read The Lorax a hundred times.

I meant no harm. I most truly did not.
But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.
I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads.
I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads
of the Thneeds I shipped out. I was shipping them forth
to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North!
I went right on biggering… selling more Thneeds.
And I biggered my money, which everyone needs.

The Browns are REALLY high

(on Myles Garrett)

Before the Browns lost their thirteenth game of the season on Sunday, reports surfaced that the Cleveland Browns have an astronomical grade on Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett. After watching an expletive-laden highlight video on YouTube, I can see why anyone might be excited by his work. That said, I don’t know if I can support a non-quarterback selection that high in the draft.

Quarterbacks are never in a vacuum, but…

I know RG3 looked bad in the snow on Sunday, but between a few flashes from him and competence from Cody Kessler I have a surprising view. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that this group of quarterbacks is better than any the Browns have had in recent memory.

It’s hard to isolate the quarterbacks away from the losses and play of other units, but my gut tells me that RG3 and Kessler with McCown as a backup under Hue Jackson is one of the strongest groups we’ve seen. You take these quarterbacks and put them in the Brian Hoyer slot with Pettine and Kyle Shanahan and the Browns might make the playoffs that season. Maybe. All that said, they’re not good enough to keep you from looking.

To draft a QB first or not

As it sits today, the Cleveland Browns would have the Nos. 1 and 9 picks in the draft. Assuming that holds, the Browns are supposed to get two great players this year. If one of those great players from the first round of the draft is not a quarterback, it’s a problem. Browns fans have debated the chicken or egg theory regarding team-building and quarterbacks as much as any NFL fanbase. The real bottom line is that you can’t miss on picks in the first round. A close second, however, is that you absolutely can’t miss on quarterbacks in the first round.

The Browns have selected quarterbacks 93, 22, 22, 85, 22, 67, 106, 183, and 1 since 1999. Tim Couch, of course, is that lone number one pick and if you average that out, the Browns have selected quarterbacks at about pick 66. When you go back over the names and think about how guys like Colt McCoy (6-15 record) and Charlie Frye (6-13 record) have some of the best win totals out of all Browns quarterbacks drafted, it’s downright depressing. Also considering the Browns have only ever used pick No. 22 to select a quarterback not named Tim Couch is mind-boggling.

It only qualifies as anecdotal evidence of No. 1 overall drafted Browns quarterbacks, but Tim Couch’s record with the team is 22-37. Despite losing his gig to Kelly Holcomb, his last three years he was 18-20. To this day Tim Couch is used as Exhibit A through Z as to why you must build the team before drafting the quarterback in Cleveland. Then again, if you’ve built the team you probably don’t have the No. 1 pick.

Presuming nobody in Cleveland wants to be in this position again, count me in the camp that would like to have the very best quarterback in this draft, regardless of how good a pass rusher Myles Garrett grades out. If that means using the No. 1 pick on the best quarterback and selecting the very best player at whatever position with Philly’s pick, count me in.

One last chance for Cam Erving

I see exactly what the rest of you do with former first-round pick Cam Erving. He doesn’t appear to be an NFL player and might be of absolutely no use to the Cleveland Browns. He has an enormous mountain to climb to become a decent NFL starter, and I wouldn’t bet on it. Regardless, I’d still bring him back to one more training camp.

This will be the first time Erving gets to go away for an off-season with instructions from a coach who will be back the following season. Hue Jackson’s Browns will have worked with the man for an entire season, tell him what he needs to go do2 and we’ll see if that instruction yields results that produce even a passable NFL starting offensive lineman.

Again, I wouldn’t bet on it, but with the contract he’s on for 2017 — $2.57 million, and a “Dead Cap” figure of $5.57 million — it’s well worth seeing him in training camp one more time. It wasn’t this regime’s first round pick , but you want to be sure that you can’t make some chicken salad out of a career that’s been chicken-something-else.

  1. I hate when someone says “across the pond,” so I’m making it worse. []
  2. Hopefully they tell him to go work with LeCharles Bentley! []