CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Week after week, loss after loss, the Cleveland Browns say they are a better football team.
But their record says otherwise.
Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Chicago Bears was the team’s 5th straight defeat and the 8th loss in 9 games after they started the season 3-2.
It secured a 6th straight 10+ loss campaign and marked the 10th time in 11 seasons and 12th since 1999 the franchise has hit the monumental milestone.
And they always seem to accomplish it just in time for Christmas.
It’s like Groundhog Day – the movie – just less entertaining and with a different cast of characters every year.
In the quick turnaround, worst to first world of the NFL, it takes talent – combined with incompetence – to be this bad all the time. But these are the Browns.
Losing is a habit and just like smoking, it’s hard to kick.
At least the team has gone from laughing stock of the league to up and comer status – so they have that going for them.
Head coach Rob Chudzinski has said all of the right things in his first season as head coach and it’s hard to question his aggressive approach and desire to change the culture of losing that has engulfed the franchise since it’s return. But the team and results look no different.
The only constant for the Browns since 1999, with the exception of 2002 and 2007, is no matter the quarterback, coach, GM, or owner (and there have been many) – they lose in excruciating, creative and spectacular fashion often.
This year’s bunch hasn’t won a game since Nov. 3 and even then, 4-5 never looked so good.
CEO Joe Banner said that the team’s failure and success rests squarely on his shoulders. Well, he’s carrying a heavy load because the first team under his stewardship is a disaster. The talent might be improved but the results haven’t and that is what counts.
Banner scored by dealing Trent Richardson to the Colts for their first-round pick, but that’s about it this year.
Desmond Bryant, who signed a 5-year, $34 million contract, had to be shut down because of an irregular heartbeat. You’d think that showing up in a physical would be a red flag and make a team think twice about handing out a big contract – but not for the Browns.
Paul Kruger has been consistently inconsistent and not the dominating defensive presence that a 5-year, $40.5 million contract would indicate.
Banner traded for Davone Bess and quickly gave him a 4-year, $14.18 million contract extension. The weekly game checks are probably the only thing that Bess hasn’t dropped this year.
Then there’s the No. 6 pick in the draft Barkevious Mingo. Sure he leads the team in sacks but he’s not been the impact player that he was sold to be and leaves fans and media asking nearly every week if he even plays. That’s how unnoticeable he is on the field.
There have also been a litany of injures which are out of the team’s control. Running back Dion Lewis broke his leg in the preseason, Brian Hoyer blew out his ACL after making the offense look watchable for just over 2 games, the same happened to speedster returner Travis Benjamin. Linebacker Quentin Groves and cornerback Chris Owens have also landed on IR.
Star cornerback Joe Haden went down Sunday and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler carved up the secondary for 21 fourth-quarter points. It seems as if this stuff only happens to the Browns.
After the clock hit 00:00 Sunday, the PA announcer at FirstEnergy Stadium read an announcement hyping fans for a whole new fan experience in 2014 that includes improved access, new lower bowl seating and video boards.
Notice more wins were not included.
But that’s what fans really want – to win.
The new seating, escalators and scoreboards are needed to keep the Browns relevant financially in the NFL, but wins are needed to finally make the team relevant on the field where it matters most to the people that actually buy the tickets, merchandize and concessions.
Banner needs to get to work this offseason and fix it. And not with another 3-5 year plan either, because all they produce is more 10-12 loss seasons, high draft picks and no football talent to go with those picks.
If the stadium can be fixed in 2 years, so can the team.
And fans shouldn’t have to wait that long because they’ve been waiting for 15 years as it is.
In fact, the team should’ve been fixed first.
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