CANTON, Ohio- I have things on my mind regarding the Browns that need to be brought up. I need to bring up why this team has failed and failed miserably since it’s return in 1999. That, of course, excludes the 2002 and 2007 seasons. Sorry, but Cleveland fans deserve more than two winning seasons in a span of 17 seasons. I’m also going to talk more about the draft. Yes, I know, I’ve talked about the draft 100 times since the season ended, but there isn’t much else to talk about right now. March will be a light month for my Browns articles.
CLEVELAND…..WE’VE HAD A PROBLEM-
Many Browns fans had their hearts ripped out of their chest when Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. The move, from everything I’ve learned, was completely unnecessary. So, like a 2-year old that doesn’t get what he wants right away, he cries the blues. Art became a coward and ran from the problems that he himself created, and took the easy road by simple moving the team. Art claimed that he was losing money with the Browns when it came to sponsors and buyers for tickets. You’d have to show me paper work proving that. Anyone who knows football and is smart about the real fan bases of the NFL, knows that the Browns have been and always will be a cash cow. Was the stadium really empty towards the end of the 2016 season? Absolutely! When you haven’t won a game all season with no signs of winning, and it’s been like this for years, that wears on any fan base. Unfortunately for Cleveland and its fans, the Ravens have been the winners since that’s happened. Two NFL titles since the move and rarely does Baltimore have a bad draft. I always tell family and friends that the Ravens play how the Browns used to play before the move was announced. I never get an argument. Oh, and they have one of the best GM’s in the NFL. Former Browns great, Ozzie Newsome.
If the Browns are even close to .500, the stadium is packed. Period. Let alone, if the Browns look like they are a playoff team.
Let’s begin this process.
First, the front office has changed so many times. I can’t even remember off the top of my head all of the coaches Cleveland has gone through. So, I had to naturally do some research, here we go. Chris Palmer was the first coach in 1999, Butch Davis, Pat Shurmur, Mike Pettine, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Rob Chudzinski and now Hue Jackson. That’s just the head coaches. We aren’t even talking about the general managers. Plus, the ownership ordeal. From Al Lerner to now Jimmy Haslam.
There has been zero consistency in the front office. The regime that Romeo Crennel was a part of lasted 3 years. That’s tied for the longest with Butch Davis and his guys. You don’t see situations like that with teams like New England, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Baltimore. Want me to take a step back to the lower tier of teams? Well, Buffalo, Oakland, Kansas City and to a degree Dallas have all hit some rough spots in the past 10-15 years. What’s my point? While Buffalo is stuck as a .500 team, the Raiders are on the door step of making a deep playoff run and I don’t see the Bills dropping down to a 1-15 low anytime soon. The Browns are now in a class of their own. Can they get worse? Well, 0-16 would be devastating in the record books. The play on the field? Yes, it could get worse. But the front offices constant revolving door is the #1 reason this Browns organization, that you have stuck with through all these years, is the laughing stock of the NFL that it is. The sad part, is that if there are no signs of significant progress in 2017, Haslam will be releasing yet another regime. And it’s right back to where Cleveland was before the 2016 season.
Second, it’s no secret that the Browns have been an organization that has lacked the ability to draft well. Ask most Browns fans what they think Cleveland will do with the #1 overall pick in 2017, or any pick they manage to get in the top 10. Their response? Oh, they’ll probably figure out a way to mess it up somehow. That could mean taking the wrong players or trading down. It could even mean reaching for players. The bottom line for the Browns when it comes to draft night 2017 in Philadelphia, it’s the start of what could be, given they pick the right players, the biggest draft in team history. Cleveland has a chance to draft two impact players. Two players that can help the Browns win a few more games than they did in 2016. The inability to draft has put this team in the rut it’s been in for years! Johnny Manziel? Give me a break. Justin Gilbert? Why are you drafting a guy that doesn’t take his NFL career seriously? Brandon Weeden? I can’t read NFL defenses, but I have a cannon for an arm and I am tall. Braylon Edwards? They boo me because I played at Michigan. How about your ability to drop passes when the ball is thrown right where it’s supposed to be thrown…. consistently. You get the idea. Cleveland MUST come away with multiple IMPACT players! They’ll get 11 chances to make that happen as of now.
Third, not developing and keep young talent. When the Browns do draft good talent, they let them walk. I’ll even include free agents that the Browns have signed in the past that performed well and they let them walk. When you have good talent, you figure out a way to use that talent. But, again, that can go back to the changing of the front office. A coaching staff wants its players. Not a past coaching staff’s players. For me personally, I don’t care who brought you in, if you’re good, I’m keeping you. Not Cleveland. Bye.
ABOUT THE DRAFT-
I would prefer the Browns to take the best available QB in the draft anywhere from late in the second round or later. Picks 1, 12, 33 and maybe even pick 52 need to be addressed elsewhere. Unfortunately, this draft is lacking offensive linemen. Cleveland will probably depend on signing a free agent or two to improve the offensive line. I said a few weeks ago, that that’s the route I Would go if I were making the decisions. Plus, Cleveland will have all their offensive linemen healthy by training camp.
When it comes to the QB situation. I’m torn as to which way I want to go. I do not want Tyrod Tyler or Jay Cutler. I’d rather bring back Robert Griffin. Why? Yes, I know he’ll get hurt again sooner than later, but at least he knows the offense. Plus, he won’t cost you a draft pick. Keeping Griffin doesn’t mean he has to be the starter either. And his contract is not much by today’s standards. His base salary for 2017 is $6M with a cap hit of $8M. Tyler would likely be asking $5M more. No thanks. Cody Kessler would be given a fair chance to win the job, but only if he’s willing to become more aggressive down field. Then the Browns will obviously draft a QB. I’m not sure what to think when it comes to the situation with Jimmy G. Two weeks ago, I was almost certain Cleveland would make a trade offer for him. Now, not so much. If not, they’d have to sign another free-agent QB or draft another QB in the later rounds, which I’m not opposed to.
I’m not sold on any of the top QB’s in this draft being ready to start or become that franchise quarterback. I don’t think Watson is the answer, I like Trubisky, but he’s a project. DeShone Kizer seems to be the most NFL ready QB, but again, I don’t think he’s worth of a first round selection.
One of the reasons I do not feel any of those quarterbacks are worthy of a first round selection, is the fact that this draft is loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball. Hey! Cleveland stunk on that side of the ball big time! Need another reason? You know the Browns have a lot of holes that need filled. That’s all I should have to say.
The front office MUST get this draft right!
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis