CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Ownership is lost. Sashi Brown is lost. Hue Jackson is lost.
And now another season is lost.
Following Sunday’s most recent defeat – a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets – the Browns are turning quickly into a lost cause.
The Jets, who many picked to go 0-16 after they began their own retool, makeover, rebuild or whatever you choose to call it last offseason, are 3-2. They are a win shy of equaling the Browns’ win total – 4 – since the beginning of the 2015 season. Even the expansion Browns rosters from 1999 and 2000 managed to win 5 games – including beating the Steelers twice – while the current kids struggle to just get a lead in a game.
It took 18 quarters but mercifully at least that streak ended against New York when they went up 7-3 in the third quarter, which as per usual was short-lived. That must be the first glimpse of the slow steady progress they’ve been telling us all about which is going really well, according to them.
No team looks as utterly clueless, helpless and hopeless than the Browns do week in and week out.
It’s becoming comically sad watching the team and the decisions they make blow up in their face regularly. And there is equal blame to go around for this mess from ownership to the front office to the coaches and then the players.
Start with the quarterback.
Robert Griffin III, whom Jackson wanted bad last year, was a failure. Meanwhile Carson Wentz has already won as many games with the Eagles that the Browns have since the start to the 2014 season – 11 – but he wasn’t projected as a top tier quarterback by the Browns. He threw another 4 TDs Sunday. Deshaun Watson continues to put on spectacular performances for the Texans – 5 more TD passes Sunday night – and if everything goes according to the script he will probably light the Browns up next week too, so get your popcorn ready.
Meanwhile, the Browns’ pick to be the franchise quarterback, DeShone Kizer, got benched by Jackson because he’s too indecisive, can’t read a defense, isn’t quick or accurate enough and turns it over too much in the red zone. Basically all the problems he had at Notre Dame, he has here. Kevin Hogan came off the bench in the second half and managed to make them look like a football team.
The receiving corps is a catastrophe – 3 were brought in on cut-down weekend, 1 more in each of the last 2 weeks, and their prize free agent acquisition Kenny Britt is cashing his big paycheck while contributing the bare minimum – all to support a rookie QB.
Brown decided to cut veteran kicker Cody Parkey in favor of his seventh round pick Zane Gonzalez, who missed 2 field goals and as a result caused Jackson to rethink sending him out for a chip-shot field goal early in the fourth quarter that would’ve tied the game. It’s probably a bad time to mention that Parkey has yet to miss a field goal for the Miami Dolphins this season and with him the Browns probably have their first win.
The Browns don’t get credit for picking Myles Garrett, who had 2 sacks in his NFL regular season debut that saw him play just 18 snaps, No. 1 because 31 other teams would’ve done the same exact thing with the top pick in the draft.
In the NFL you don’t get 5 years to build a team. Not in a league where teams – not named the Cleveland Browns – go from worst to first every single season. Unlike baseball there’s no farm system to groom players either. In the NFL, you can either play or you can’t. Players don’t magically improve over a 4-5 year span. Within 3 years you can tell if a guy has it or not, more often than not, which is why the average lifespan of many players is about 5 years.
Jackson is left grasping at straws at this point to find a way, any way to eek out a win while the stain on his coaching resume continues to bleed.
So what do the Haslams do now?
Option A: stay the course. Swallow the losses week in and week out and the criticism that comes with them in the hope and belief that with another offseason of free agency and a another draft the team will actually be able to compete in 2018.
Option B: light the match and blow it up again. Fire everyone in January and then pray that there is someone left in the league that actually would want to work in Cleveland. Firing Brown or Jackson in-season accomplishes nothing, but as the losses mount the prospects that someone goes before January increase weekly.
Option C: choose between Brown or Jackson and then replace the loser of that competition. If Brown is fired, Jackson becomes a lame-duck coach because new GMs tend to want to be able to hire their own coaches, not inherit them. If you keep Brown and fire Jackson, again, good luck finding anyone who’d actually want to coach for the Haslams.
Option D: hire a respected team president immediately and then pick between Options A-C. Under the current management structure every department – business, public/media relations, football operations and head coach – all report to the Haslams directly. With all due respect to them, it is clear that they need help running every department of the franchise. Joe Banner didn’t work out as CEO and they got burned by Alec Scheiner so it is understandable why they took matters into their own hands but the franchise absolutely needs someone with the expertise to oversee both the business side of the building as well as the football side.
At this point the Browns are in a no-win situation no matter what they do next. Just like they are when they take the field every Sunday.
That’s why this franchise is turning into a lost cause. Utterly clueless, helpless and hopeless.