This is why I hate all the prediction-itis that surrounds the NFL. Every analyst on the planet is seemingly forced to make predictions every single week. It is a part of the underlying formula that makes the NFL so much more popular than any other American sports. It was gambling as far back as anyone can remember and now we’ve doubled down with the fantasy football culture. What ends up happening is that everyone ends up prognosticating so much that they (we) lose sight of reality staring us in the face.
Andy Baskin has been a really refreshing voice on the radio since he started his “Talking Heads” slot on 92.3. Sometimes he might sound more like NPR than a typical sports talk radio host. That might be off-putting to some of you who like your sports talk extra lively, loud and controversial. When I listen to that show though, even beyond the delivery, Baskin has a very different attitude and philosophy. He openly scoffs at the prospect of assigning Ws and Ls on the 16 game schedule at the beginning of the season.
It should be so simple and common sensical to think like that, but it is even easier to get caught up in all the juicy talk that comes from guessing, predicting and establishing some kind of phony guessing game. In the end though, given the Browns’ youth it makes more sense to just watch and analyze rather than try to predict anything so volatile. Make no mistake, I think this team has talent and potential, but it is raw. Trying to predict some kind of consistent performance from this group is the antithesis of logical thought.
I am not pointing outwardly either. I am including myself as well. I get caught up a lot. I predicted that the Browns’ defensive line wasn’t going to have problems with the Titans defensive line this week. How’d that work out? The Browns ended up getting schooled by the line and a veteran quarterback that was able to take advantage of the blitzing Browns frequently.
But let’s learn from our predictions. This team wasn’t expected to be a playoff team. This team was supposed to win somewhere between five and eight games based on most people’s predictions. Those predictions encompass a granularity of details that most of us don’t really think of as we are knee deep in an NFL schedule with so much hype leading up to every contest.
But losing somewhere between eight and eleven games could easily encompass a couple of rookie-like performances by a QB who is still basically a rookie, and his head coach who is also a rookie. That head coach might struggle at times to figure out the best combinations of personnel. Those players might get frustrated because they want to contribute and they hate losing. Those eight to eleven losses could also very easily encompass a defense giving up some uncharacteristically large plays via bad tackling and horrendous officiating. See that? A combination of understandable excuses and unacceptable, yet somewhat understandably sub-standard performances. Remember most of us predicted between five and eight wins. They weren’t going to get them all to start the season unless you predicted a 16 win season.
You don’t need to be satisfied with losing, but maybe it is time to be honest with ourselves and stop acting so surprised. Instead of embracing controversy and strife, call it what it is. These are growing pains with a healthy dose of frustration as the team figures out who they are, who they want to be and finally who they can be.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)