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Monday, December 30, 2013

Cleveland Browns Once Again Miss The Point

I'd love to be in a Cleveland Browns war room right now. I'd be tearing each one of those idiots in the so-called front office a new one so fast they'd have to call security to escort me out.

After writing earlier in the season that the Browns' organization was the NFL's version of the movie 'Groundhog Day,' I thought that, despite their struggles in 2013, this team was headed in the right direction. After all, one cannot expect a team to make the playoffs when you have poor quarterback play combined with a mediocre run game, can they?

Well, according to the Cleveland Browns' front office, it was win with mediocre talent or bust from the get-go for the now fired Rob Chudzinski.

Never mind that the three quarterbacks 'Chud' had to work with wouldn't be long term solutions for any other team in the league. Brian Hoyer did lead the team to a 3-2 record and had the Browns atop the AFC North before succumbing to an ACL injury against Buffalo that would end his season.

It's safe to say that Chud's alternatives at that point, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, couldn't lead a horse to water if their lives depended on it. Okay, maybe that is a little extreme but you get my point. Even if these guys had the talent of the Denver Broncos or the New England Patriots around them, they still wouldn't be able to lead the Browns to a winning record.

What made matters worse is that when the Browns got rid of their most marketable commodity, running back Trent Richardson, their solution was to bring in the over the hill Willis McGahee. McGahee would average a paltry 2.7 yards per carry in Richardson's place. Browns' fans knew that McGahee was merely a filler until the offseason, but they were still amazed at the ineptitude of the team's running attack.

Yet, after all the smoke cleared and the season was over, the Browns did not hesitate to pull the trigger on a coach who wasn't even given a fair shot to prove himself. Once again the Browns believe that they know better than the rest of the league, and their fans, how to build a winning team.

Or do they?

Conventional wisdom says that you win in the NFL by establishing consistency at the head coaching and quarterback positions. The Browns have yet to do either, and while they claim they are looking for long-term solutions for both jobs, their actions at this point clearly speak louder than their words.

Since rejoining the league in 1999, the Browns are the only team in the AFC North that hasn't won a division title. It's no coincidence that they are also the only team in the AFC North to have more head coaches (6) than winning seasons (2).

If you are a Browns season ticket holder, I am not sure how you don't demand a refund on your 2013 season from Jimmy Haslam and company at this point. I can remember him last season sitting with the fans and talking to them to get their perspective. I doubt the conversation went like this:

'Hey Jimmy, we're glad you have decided to buy the Browns and put all your efforts into making them a winner. Do whatever it takes to turn this team around. Even if that means firing the head coach you just hired when he fails to take the team to the playoffs. Let's git 'er done, Mr. Haslam.'

Instead, I can envision the back-and-forth between the diehard Cleveland fan and Mr. Haslam III going something like this:

'Mr. Haslam, congratulations on your purchase of the Cleveland Browns. We like the enthusiasm you bring to this organization and hope you can help turn this downtrodden franchise around. While I feel there are many areas where this team can improve, establishing some consistency at the head coach and quarterback positions would be my first order of business. Thanks for asking for my input.'

What a joke. The Browns are doomed to another 10 or 11 loss season next year. I have heard that management's replacement for Chud is Josh McDaniels, the man who didn't even last two years in Denver. Like I believe that he is going to last that long in Cleveland. And it might not be long before Tim Tebow is Cleveland's starting quarterback.

The bottom line is that, when it comes to professional sports (especially football), a winning culture is not built overnight. It takes time.  But that is something that will never happen if the establishment keeps trying to 'blow the whole thing up' every year or two.

Cleveland fans, those who live in the city, I sympathize with you, even though I haven't been to a game in over three years (Living three hours away, can you blame me? Why would I spend $60 and 10 hours on a Sunday--the time it takes to get to and from the stadium, plus the four hours spent watching the game--just to see the Browns lose, when I can watch them from my living room just the same?). Thing is, my patience with management is beginning to run very thin. And I don't trust they are building a winning team at all.

Enjoy your losing team. I guess it's better than no football at all. Yet it is becoming a train wreck that I'd rather not watch anymore.

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