July 22, 2014

There’s no way for the Browns to win right now

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It’s an impossible task to win the off-season in January and February. The Browns are used to finding ways to win back their fans around draft time, but right now, it’s impossible. The fans have lost complete faith and trust in this entire franchise once again, and there’s nothing to be done. Even hiring a coach right now would only appease (maybe) 50% of the fans who are paying attention to the team right now. Even given that revelation that there’s nothing to do to win, I’m still in a bit of shock over just how bad this team looks right now. I can’t think of a time when there’s been as much doubt as there is right now considering the coaching search and the latest revelations about the circumstances surrounding Davone Bess at the time he was given a pretty lucrative extension.

Before I talk about Bess, the NFL asset, I need to talk about the fact that he’s a real guy who seems very troubled. When you’re talking about pro athletes, there’s a tendency to talk about them like stocks in a portfolio. It doesn’t make us evil. It’s a part of the game. But first let me say that beyond the financial and team considerations of Davone Bess, I know there’s a real guy who is a real human who might be in trouble. I won’t pretend to be literally concerned about him in the way his mother might be, but I do have sympathy and empathy as an outsider for anyone going through the kinds of instability he is experiencing.

That important part being said, we don’t know how much of the Bess situation is even the Browns’ fault. There’s an idea that any organization that is good at their job of dealing with personnel should have been able to find out about Bess’ involuntary committal in Florida, mere weeks before being traded to the Browns, but as of right now, we don’t know. We do know that the Dolphins and their former general manager Jeff Ireland look increasingly bad. Even in not being sure, the Browns are taking some of the brunt of this too. It might not be their fault, but you can’t really blame the fans for including this in the dossier of doubt, either.

So, what does all this mean? I have no idea.

I’m just being realistic. I don’t know what I want the Browns to do. I don’t know what would alleviate any of the doubt in my own mind, let alone everyone else’s. If the Browns re-engaged Josh McDaniels and hired him? Nah. That wouldn’t do it. If the Browns somehow landed Gus Malzahn? It might help a bit, but even that feels questionable considering what we’ve seen from this front office. But I do have a recommendation for anyone who is lost in the land of Browns negativity.

Take a break. Go on vacation from the team. Realize that I’m right and there’s nothing they can do right now to convince you they’re turning things around. Come back around draft time when there will be a reason to be somewhat optimistic with flashy YouTube highlights of all the young stars on their very best days to make you think this team will be able to win games on the field. And even if you don’t take a break, just chill out and let the news (or lack of news) roll off you like it’s just another meaningless progress report.

Of course, I say this now. You never know when this team is capable of dropping another bomb, either real or perceived.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Agreed that stepping away is just about the only option for the fans right now. Problem is that circumstances make doing so very difficult at the moment. We just watched six hours of great, exciting football. In two weeks, we will see the two best in the sport slug it out at the pinnacle of the game. All of this serves to magnify (for many, myself included) the gulf that exists between what professional football can be and what the Cleveland Browns actually do. Even in the excitement of the final minutes of the NFC title game yesterday, I still found myself feeling disappointed that, based on current circumstances and supported by the past 15 or so years of experience, we the Browns fan base are unlikely to see such spectacle with our team involved. I mean, I can’t even IMAGINE the Browns playing at the level of these final four teams, or Cleveland playing host to a roaring, positive crowd with the chance to be the best on the league on the line. Add in the fact that the reported favorites for our head coaching position will be on the sidelines in New Jersey on Super Bowl Sunday, and this franchise and its seemingly endless futility just can’t seem to avoid focus. Hopefully it gets easier to simply set them aside once the big game is over. And with draft day pushed back to May, hopefully there’s more time to recharge before re-engaging the circus in Berea.

  • Achilles

    I agree. I think the media needs to calm down as well. While I have grown to expect the knee-jerk, reactionary, I am emotional train wreck response from Cleveland fans, I thought the outpouring of similar sentiment from entrenched media luminaries was ridiculous. Bruce Hooley’s article advocating for the firing of Mike Lombardi was embarrassingly unprofessional, particularly given that all the outrage stemmed from a decision to fire the coach prematurely. I think Mary Kay Cabot has been the only even-keeled reporter in the fray although Tony Grossi has as of late tacked back to the more reasonable end of the spectrum.

    At the end of the day, Haslam, Banner and Lombardi are going to preside over the impending offseason, a crucial one for this organization, and as a fan, I think it’s more productive to drop the strident whining and the name calling and hope for some quality decisions to be made. Also, from a talent standpoint, this team is not far away from being a serious contender.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I personally think they are very far from being a “serious contender” from a talent standpoint or just about any other standpoint. There’s simply no other reasonable stance when you are missing not only a head coach but a QB and RB and that’s just part of it.

    I would have no problem with setting a goal of 8-8 and becoming relevant within the division. But that’s just me.

  • Kildawg

    The only true cure is winning. I think the Browns should start the season on the road. Perhaps that would help change things up a bit.

  • 240

    Its hard to get away. I very much enjoy a few of the radio media people and want to listen to them. I do a lot of driving in the area so I listen to them and hear about the Browns.
    In regards to Bess…where was the internal investigation into this guy before the trade? If Greg Little does 80 in a 65 we all know about it…but there isn’t a single guy within the Browns organization that could learn of what Bess went through last March? Its seems like Jimmay and Joe are spending more time prepping for disastrous press conferences than actually doing any work.

  • humboldt

    “all the outrage stemmed from a decision to fire the coach prematurely.”

    I believe Hooley listed nearly a dozen personnel decisions that Lombardi was accountable for, and thus actionable in his firing. You can disagree with his conclusions, but to reduce his argument to mere “outrage” is obfuscatory.

  • Jeremy Campbell

    I couldn’t disagree more. They deserve every bit of scrutiny from fans and the media. There should be more focus put on Berea now then there ever has been in the past. If these guys thought that no one was paying attention who knows what kind of new debacle we would find out about.

  • CLE23

    hey craig, just to be clear, wins can only happen on the field. the rest of the stuff you are talking about is public-relations nonsense. the browns went 4-12 and lost 10 of their last 11 games so they fired their coach. that decision was based on what the browns did on the field.

  • CLE23

    it is funny to see a lot of grown men whine and complain that the browns are not making offseason moves that they approve of. it reminds me of the simpsons character, comic-book-guy, when he complained about the poochie episode of itchy and scratchy…

  • CLE23

    In the Android’s Dungeon…
    COMIC BOOK GUY
    Last night’s Itchy & Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.

    BART
    Hey, I know it wasn’t great, but what right do you have to complain?

    COMIC BOOK GUY
    As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.

    BART
    What? They’re giving you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? I mean, If anything, you owe them.

    COMIC BOOK GUY
    (pause) Worst episode ever.

    source: http://www.simpsoncrazy.com/scripts/itchy-scratchy-poochie

  • Kildawg

    “Worst. Episode. Ever.” – Comic Book Guy.

  • CLE23

    In the Waiting For Next Year website…
    EVERY WFNY WRITER
    Last night’s Browns Management decision was, without a doubt, the worst decision ever! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.

    CLE23
    Hey, I know it wasn’t great, but what right do you have to complain?

    EVERY WFNY WRITER
    As a loyal fan, I feel they owe me.

    CLE23
    What? They’re giving you thousands of hours of entertainment on TV for free. What could they possibly owe you? I mean, If anything, you owe them.

    EVERY WFNY WRITER
    (pause) Worst decision ever.

  • CLE23

    CLE23 would like to nominate his post below for a Pulitzer

  • CLE23

    gotta love the simpsons!!!!!

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    People like you make it all worthwhile.

  • Achilles

    He listed the decisions that were convenient to his point. But he forgot to mention that Brian Hoyer was delivered to the Browns courtesy of Lombardi, that while Kruger and Bryant are being incorrectly categorized as free-agent busts, both players made substantive contributions (neither player was great I’ll admit, but neither were outright busts). Also, Mingo displayed flashes during the season, is unquestionably an athletic freak that also needs some weight and polish. I thought Leon McFadden was serviceable in limited service and Armonty Bryant was a late round find.

    Frankly, the outrage against Lombardi began when it was announced he was being considered as General Manager during the 2012 season. At the time, Lombardi was on record as trashing the Cleveland Browns 2012 draft, which ticked off a lot of local pundits that were thoroughly invested in that draft (Let’s not forget Grossi, Cabot et al fawning over Brandon Weeden’s big arm in the 2012 training camp).

    As it turns out, Lombardi was 100 percent spot on the money correct about that draft. It was an absolute atrocity. He was right about Brandon Weeden (too bad Chud didn’t listen to him). He was right about Mitchell Schwartz. And although Josh Gordon has emerged as a top tier talent concerns about his ability to pass drug tests linger.

  • CLE23

    whenever life gets you down, sing “always look on the bright side of life”

  • CLE23

    AMEN

  • James Workman

    Re-read your first sentance and apply it to the rest of your post. While humboldt has a tendency to troll a bit, I have to agree with him here. You can disagree with hooleys conclusion, but how he arrived at it can not be questioned. The facts are there for all to see. Lombardi is a failure, unfortunately banner and hasn’t realized it yet, which makes him….

  • James Workman

    8-8? Wow, you got big ones. I’ll take the under. Unfortunately. Sigh.

  • James Workman

    Worst comment ever.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    LoL hey I was trying to be optimistic. I realize how sad wanting to be .500 is but after the last 14 years you have to start somewhere.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Amen they still get cut entirely to much slack 14 years and counting!

  • CB Everett

    “At the end of the day, Haslam, Banner and Lombardi are going to preside over the impending offseason, a crucial one for this organization, and as a fan, I think it’s more productive to drop the strident whining and the name calling and hope for some quality decisions to be made.”

    AMEN. Can we just give it this offseason before we storm the castle?

    I’m not sure how we got to such a level of unrealistic expectations where one offseason (last) was expected to instantly cure 1999-2012 failures. Ridiculous heaps of fan pressure coupled with unrealistic expectations with no checks in the system. And the media is just feeding the beast pure sugar, trolling for more fan hate. I just wish we had some objective counterbalance to the constant flood of emotional and irrational rage. “Losing even in the offseason”? Ugh, not even the holy blogosphere can be counted on to be the least bit balanced anymore.

  • rtpinfla

    Taking the Bess situation by itself, I could probably be convinced that the Browns simply got fleeced by the Dolphins and say, “Well, that could have happened to any team”.
    However, the fact is this Bess thing is simply one more chapter in what appears to be complete ineptitude on the part of the front office. Incompetent decisions seem to be the rule rather than the exception anymore.
    And each new “revelation” makes their recent press conference- the one where they put the blame for the season squarely on Chuds shoulders- that much more incredible for their complete lack of self awareness.
    Now, Chud may or may not have been a good coach, but sooner or later Haslam has to see that the FO is at least, if not more, incompetent than the coach he fired.

  • Big Z

    Agreed. I have less faith in the Browns to get it right and win than I’ve had in a while. There isn’t a coach out there that I believe can come in and quickly turn things around. there aren’t any QBs in the draft that look like they’ll come in and rescue the team next year, and the #4 position that the Browns occupy at the top of the 1st round might put them just out of reach of the top prospects. I have no reason to believe that the FO will make good decisions in this year’s draft, as last year’s was awful. We’re sure to lose some key players in free agency and the FO’s track record in that arena leaves a lot to be desired. It also seems Haslam could be thrown in the slammer or hand over his ownership or eat a myriad of other poop sandwiches at any given time. I’m just like “whatever” until opening day next season when I get all hyped up for an all but guaranteed loss.

  • Big Z

    Here here. They’ve got to end that godforsaken opening day curse somehow.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I don’t think anyone of a reasonable mind was expecting 2013 to be the season in which the team atoned for the sins of the previous decade-plus. What I think (and I can only speak with certainty for myself) is that the overall lack of any real progress, coupled with the unexpected firing of the first-year HC and scattering of his largely respected staff, has people questioning the entire organization from the top down. Few had much idea the sort of owner Haslam might be, save that he could experience legal trouble. We all knew that Weeden was not guaranteed to work out as a starter in the NFL. We absolutely knew that growing pains were to be expected with new coaches and schemes. Unfortunately, what we ended up with the the worst-case outcome at almost every turn. This has created a sense of abject disappointment and frustration, and not unreasonably so. Given the past 15 seasons, the cumulative effect has pushed many to their limits in terms of patience and optimism. What we are seeing are the results of that.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Professional sports are business, like it or not. So PR, while not the most exciting topic, does matter. And PR can be the difference between keeping your fan base interested and engaged (especially in terms of spending) and watching more and more seats left empty once the season rolls around. I have no doubt that you, like me, would rather be talking coaching schemes and players and what needs to be done on the field. But given the state the franchise is in, this is where the relevant discussion will inevitably be.

  • CB Everett

    Believe it or not, I largely agree with you, right up to the point where you say, “Unfortunately, what we ended up with the the worst-case outcome at almost every turn.” What are you talking about, four wins has been pretty par for the course!

    In all seriousness, we had four wins but we were competitive in nearly every game (finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory mind you)–and for the first time in ages, I saw an actual football team that wasn’t an embarrassment playing a fairly tough schedule. The talent level we had was the best I’ve seen since 99 (I know that’s a bit like saying ‘tallest midget’), and we were having playoff discussions in week 9 IN SPITE OF the likes of god awful Weeden and Campbell. This team has the core, has the picks, has the cap space, and has a misleadingly bad record. I don’t think it’s “worse case” by any means. In fact, it’s not all that bad (especially considering years past of absolute hopelessness).

    A big point is that the media and blogs have been constantly beating the war drum and FO trolling without much of the ol’ “fair and balanced.” For example, do we hear anything about a record 98 underclassmen being draft eligible and a really deep draft (and any credit to the Browns having stockpiled picks)? Nope. We’re blaming the FO for not knowing Bess had mental issues. Nothing’s rosy, but it’s not as bad as all the negative media trolling.

  • CB Everett

    Believe it or not, I largely agree with you, right up to the point where you say, “Unfortunately, what we ended up with the the worst-case outcome at almost every turn.” What are you talking about, four wins has been pretty par for the course!

    In all seriousness, we had four wins but we were competitive in nearly every game (finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory mind you)–and for the first time in ages, I saw an actual football team that wasn’t an embarrassment playing a fairly tough schedule. The talent level we had was the best I’ve seen since 99 (I know that’s a bit like saying ‘tallest midget’), and we were having playoff discussions in week 9 IN SPITE OF the likes of god awful Weeden and Campbell. This team has the core, has the picks, has the cap space, and has a misleadingly bad record. I don’t think it’s “worse case” by any means. In fact, it’s not all that bad (especially considering years past of absolute hopelessness).

    A big point is that the media and blogs have been constantly beating the war drum and FO trolling without much of the ol’ “fair and balanced.” For example, do we hear anything about a record 98 underclassmen being draft eligible and a really deep draft (and any credit to the Browns having stockpiled picks)? Nope. We’re blaming the FO for not knowing Bess had mental issues. Nothing’s rosy, but it’s not as bad as all the negative media trolling.

  • not_gravy

    Who is doing the photoshop lately? Not trying to insult but posterize is pretty late 90′s.

    I’ll offer my help, just to prove my concern :)

  • CLE23

    Well said B-bo.

  • Dan Hagley

    Fire Lombardi tomorrow and that would help

  • hadenough

    I have to give you guys credit for your strength. I’ve followed the Browns all my life (in my 40s) and my break is going to be longer than yours. Tired of hearing about which crummy coach we’re going to get, which great prospect we draft that just didn’t work out, and then start the season with the ever popular bumbling rookie vs. washed up veteran quarterback controversy. The only thing different this time around is our owner is a the worst kind of crook, deliberately targeting his least sophisticated customers.

    Too depressing to keep repeating the cycle. Hang in there.

  • BenRM

    It isn’t so much that they can’t win the post-season, it’s that they’ve lost it so spectacularly. It’s completely deflating.

  • mgbode

    I’m not going to bury Schwartz yet. he played much better down the stretch after a bad start to the season. I still don’t understand why we didn’t draft Cordy Glenn there, but Schwartz wasn’t the weak link on our OL last year (even in the first few games when he was really bad Cousins held that honor).

  • Lovetron

    I hate Joe Banner.

    Signed – Eagles Nation

    From one loser fanbase to another, please do whatever is necessary to rid your franchise of Banner. He is a talisman of doom.

  • the golden flasher

    Hire Tressel. That’s a good start.

  • dimoko

    “The fans have lost complete faith and trust in this entire franchise once again, and there’s nothing to be done.”

    This is quite a generalization. I think to say that you have lost complete faith is accurate. To say that the media at large is steaming mad is also accurate…but to say that the fans have lost complete faith? A bit of a stretch.

    I do agree with your overall attitude, wake me up when it is may and time for the draft. Until then i’ll concentrate on the Cavs one and done coach.

  • Clay for the HOF

    Now that we have no coach, how can we ever win? This ownership group fires a guy because they want “their” guy – none of “their” guys wants the job. So we will once again be stuck with a subpar coaching staff to lead us to 4-12 seasons. Get rid of the arrogance, Banner and Haslam. Maybe you need to move your search to the high school game.

  • Robert Madda

    Your an idiot!!!!

  • mgbode
  • BallsMahoney

    “I can’t think of a time when there’s been as much doubt as there is right now ”

    i can, last year at this time the year before that, the year before that, the year before that…
    its the same thinking it always is right now

    after the draft and FA it will change to ” this is probably the most talented team weve had since ’99 definatly going 8-8″ its a cycle