The Cleveland Browns were a franchise in the NFL for thirty years when team owner Art Modell suddenly announced plans to move his team to Baltimore. After that, with the Cleveland fans fighting to get their beloved Browns back, they got an expansion team that officially resumed play in 1999. However, success has not quite came as they expected…
How We Got Here
When the Browns started back up there were some relatively high expectations. This team, including number one pick in the draft Tim Couch, was rebuilt from an expansion draft. Expectations were kind of limited at the start as they were in fact still an expansion team, but they did worse than anyone could have possibly imagined. They have only made a shockingly bad two playoffs over the last 20 years. It seemed as if there was hope every time a new QB was drafted, but then they would just go on to flame out never reaching their potential. The Browns have one of the most loyal fan bases in the Dawg Pound, but even they at a point must become sick of all the last place finishes. There have been quite a few talented players over the years, but no matter how good the likes of Joe Thomas or Joe Haden would play, it still more often than not ended in failure. To date, the Browns have a disgustingly bad record of 88-216 since their return, which combined with having the longest playoff drought in the league at 15 seasons, has led to them being widely recognized as the worst team in the NFL. No matter how much optimism there seemed to be coming into each season, this hope was almost always replaced with sadness as another season would go by with little progress made.
In the NFL, a good quarterback can go a long way in changing a bad teams fortunes. Unfortunately for the Cleveland Browns, they have been unable to find a good, let alone even decent quarterback which has played a major role in stunting their progress. It’s not as if they haven’t tried, as they drafted first rounders pretty regularly at the position such as Brady Quinn, Tim Couch, and Brandon Weeden. However, the organization has consistently failed to surround these guys with the talent, therefore leaving them unable to develop into the type of player that can truly turn a franchise around. The Browns have started a crazy number of quarterbacks since they returned as they have started 28 different players in that time, far more than any other team. This also goes to show their inability to find a consistent source of production at the position as they have started seemingly more no names than players that can ever actually make a true impact.
The Lowest of All Possible Lows
Coming into the 2017 NFL season, there was some hope that the Browns would return to some form of respectability. With them drafting quarterback Deshone Kizer early in the draft, it seemed as if they finally may have at least some sort of stability at the position, but man were they wrong. The Browns would go on to become the second team in history of the NFL to go 0-16, worse than can be possibly expected from any team. So many things went wrong for them, but besides the endless carousel of unproductive quarterbacks, the Browns failures towards the end of games was the biggest reason behind their terrible record. Already in 4 of their first 7 games, they had lost games late in the fourth quarter, a tough pill to swallow as it shows they weren’t playing bad, but perhaps better coaching or discipline was the contributing reason behind another loss.
Hope For The Future?
It seems crazy to say that the Browns actually have a chance at a winning record next season considering the fact that they just ended with no wins in an entire season. However, several wise offseason moves have given the Dawg Pound faithful some hope, a feeling that has eluded them for too long. In trading for veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the Browns have an at least serviceable guy to man the quarterback position while they develop their future QB, who they can draft as they have both the number one and four picks in the upcoming draft. Now obviously this would not be enough, because no matter how great a team is at drafting, some solid veteran presences who can help lead are needed in order for a team to truly develop. They accomplished this in their additions of WR Jarvis Landry, running back Carlos Hyde, and cornerback Damarious Randall. The Browns are ready to put their 1-31 record over the past two seasons in the rear view mirror and start getting some wins.
The Great Wildcard
Wide receiver Josh Gordon was drafted out of Baylor in 2012 and went on to have a very productive first two seasons. In fact, he was so good that in only his second season, Gordon was selected as a first team All-Pro selection leading the NFL in receiving yards. However, Gordon’s career fell off a cliff over the past several years with him being suspended multiple times for violating the NFL’s drug policy. After his fourth violation, the NFL suspended him indefinitely. He was only reinstated midway through last season, and even though he may never reach his full potential, there is still hope for him to get back to being a stable contributor on the field, while also putting his bad habits in the past.
Nothing is better than when a team in sports is able to reverse losing trends and suddenly become perennial contenders. This seems to happen a lot in sports as could be seen just this year by teams in other sports such as the Houston Astros and Philly 76ers, whose fan bases patience during the dark losing times has paid off with both looking very good for the future. Soon, the Browns hope to be on that list and finally become a respectable football team.