CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – After getting an up close and personal look at the league’s greatest show on turf, Browns head coach Hue Jackson didn’t leave Sunday’s 33-13 thrashing discouraged.
He left it dreaming big.
The Patriots are everything Jackson wants his team to be, and then some. The only problem is they are also everything his team currently is not.
“I’m very envious of that team and their organization because of what they are,” Jackson said. “Someday, we are going to have that here. That is the plan.”
That may be the plan, but the reality is the divide between the 2 franchises is about twice the size of the Grand Canyon and even deeper than the 20-point differential on the scoreboard. Jackson has dreamed big since leaving the comforts of Cincinnati and taking the Browns job, and Sunday he was no different even while staring 0-5 – the second worst start to a season since 1999 – in the face.
The Patriots are well on their way to a 15th double-digit winning season in 17 years since Bill Belichick took over in 2000 while here in Cleveland, Jackson’s Browns remain the league’s biggest bunch of losers on their way to the team’s 14th double-digit loss season in 18 years making Jackson’s vision appear to be a very unrealistic fantasy for fans.
“We have to understand that is where we are going, where we are trying to get to,” Jackson said. “Until you can get there, you have to keep reaching for it. You have to keep building to get there, and I think that is what we are attempting to do. We want to be one of the best organizations in football so there it was. That is what you have to look at to compare and contrast of where you are trying to go.
“It is a good eye-opener for all because that is where we want to be.”
That it was. A difficult and demoralizing one.
Jackson preaches that his team “expect to win” while fans just expect the Browns to lose. Every week. Just like they did Sunday. It’s not a question of if, but by how much, and in what ridiculous fashion will it happen.
It’s become a coping mechanism for every miserable Sunday afternoon since 1999.
Tom Brady emerged from a 4-game suspension and looked like the future Hall of Famer he is throwing for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns against Cleveland’s winless, woeful football team.
Rust? What rust?
Meanwhile the Browns would be thrilled to just get through 4 quarters each week with just 1 guy taking all the snaps while still having the physical ability to take them again the following week. That’s not hyperbole, that’s fact. While Jackson is trying to set the bar at the highest level, the reality is that rests as low as it can possibly can go.
Jackson hopes to use the Patriots as a model for building and sustaining a wiiner while doing it on the Cowboys’ timetable we saw in the early 1990s. Dallas went 1-15 in 1989, 7-9 in 1990 before reaching the playoffs and going 11-5 in 1991. The Cowboys won 3 of the next 4 Super Bowls after that.
The problem is that the Browns still don’t have a quarterback and until they find one that can not only survive a 16-game schedule but play at a high level, they have zero chance to compete, no matter how many pep talks Jackson gives his team. Through an awful combination of incompetence and bad luck, the Browns are incapable of even reaching the lowest setting for the bar – getting through a season with a single quarterback.
And who knows if Jackson or the Harvard-degree bearing big 3 in the front office can even find that quarterback.
They already failed to properly evaluate Carson Wentz. Sure, he finally lost a game Sunday and even threw an interception, but the early consensus in NFL circles is that the kid is the real deal and the Browns failed to see it. The decision to trade out, no matter how soundly thought out it was, calls their evaluation ability immediately into question moving forward.
The Browns’ decision to allow a 2-time Pro Bowl center to walk away along with their starting right tackle, all in the name of saving money and or protecting salary cap space, has also blown up in their face in spectacular fashion – regardless of the reasoning behind it – while quarterback after quarterback is helped off the field by trainers every week.
To build a dynasty like Belichick and the Patriots have requires good decision-making, drafting and luck. And that is why Jackson talking about the Browns being the Patriots one day is so laughable, to everyone.
The Browns’ decision-making still remains suspect, the ability to draft is still a question and as for luck, please. This franchise is beyond cursed. How else can the first 5 weeks, or last 18 years for that matter be explained?
Jackson has to talk and think in terms of achieving greatness but there is nothing for fans to cling to right now that could say it is remotely possible in this lifetime. Sure his team fights and doesn’t give up, which is something we haven’t seen much of over the last 18 years, while the losses continue to pile up.
That’s how low the bar here is. The Browns at least try.
“We have a ways to go,” Jackson said. “I get that, but to be able to play against an organization and a team that kind of demonstrates what you want to be someday, it was right there for us all to see.”
Just like every other week, the Browns were out-gunned and out-manned before they even took the field.
Playoffs? Super Bowl? Multiple Super Bowls? A Patriots-like dynasty?
Jackson believes. Following Sunday’s ugly loss, he might be the only one.