The individual happenings might differ but the same result remains. The 2018 Cleveland Browns have more talent– much of it young– and a higher ceiling than potentially any Northcoast team since the retired Joe Thomas was a NFL rookie. However, the Browns still are the NFL-best team at finding ways “not to win.”
One cannot be surprised at the Browns late-game futility when they return a coach who won a single game over two years. Yes, the previous GM was purposefully tanking, but the coaching was a big part in winning a mere one game rather than five to six. The difference between being a bad team and historically futile. Look to the Week 3 Buffalo Bills surprising domination over the Minnesota Vikings as an example of how most teams still subscribe to the Any Given Sunday theorem.
One cannot be surprised at the Browns late-game futility when they decide to assemble the most volatile wide receiver room in recent NFL memory (perhaps NFL history) only to need to trade two of what they had believed were their top four coming into Training Camp resulting in the team needing to force-feed the No. 105 selection of the draft the ball when he is clearly not quite ready for such responsibilities.
One cannot be surprised at the Browns late-game futility when they refuse to adjust their defensive strategies. The scheme had worked for three weeks, but offensive coordinators will find flaws with any scheme. It is the responsibility of the defensive coordinator to make adjustments to keep opposing offenses off-guard. No team should be capable of scoring 21 points in a quarter against what many had thought was a good, if not elite, defense from a talent perspective. Perhaps if the blitzes were not working with the same efficiency against the quick-hitting offense of the Raiders, then they could be mixed in rather than relied upon?
One cannot be surprised at the Browns late-game futility when they finally fire their long-time under-achieving special teams coordinator only to replace him with the sole coach whose units were statistically worse over the last few seasons. Playing kickers who are later revealed to have been kicking with an injury, relying on returners who have demonstrated on the field their inability, or the overall disorganization resulting in penalties and turnovers are just a few of the simple ways to see the issues with the third unit.
One cannot be surprised at the Browns late-game futility when they decide to draft players specifically to be backups in the second and third round for a team desperate for talent.1 When the coaching staff decides to limit the touches for one of those players despite the opposing defense being incapable of dealing with his speed resulting in two touchdowns on a mere three carries.
So, complain about an early whistle robbing a strip sack touchdown. Yell about another official late game overturn where there doesn’t seem to be enough conclusive evidence. Get angry the Browns have now “not won” three games where they had every opportunity to put the game away several times. As a fan, it is our team and our right to do so.
Just don’t be surprised.
- Only Austin Corbett was even expected to compete for a starting position and the thought at the time was that Shon Coleman would be the starting left tackle with Corbett being the swing offensive lineman. [↩]