The politically correct description of the Cleveland Browns ugly 6-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks yesterday is the safe bottom line: They got the win.
Don’t hate, winning is what the NFL is all about. How would you feel if they lost 6 – 3?
The difference between Colt McCoy and Charlie Frye is that McCoy won, and Frye would have found a way to lose.
A win is a win.
These are all things your glass-is-half-full Browns fan will say on Monday when wins are rare, but don’t think for a second the people actually running the team are happy with what they saw Sunday. They’ve been walking-the-walk all year as if this season isn’t about wins and losses.
Mike Holmgren’s press conference just last week calmed everyone down by reminding us this season is really about getting your young players “valuable experience,” developing a foundation, and finding out if Colt McCoy is a long-term solution to the most important position on the team.
We can’t excuse a loss by saying the Browns are rebuilding and then congratulate them for a horrible win like they’re suddenly contending. The Browns are rebuilding when they lose, and they’re rebuilding when they win.
Teams fighting for a playoff berth like the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets can get away with saying “Hey, a win is a win.” Their time is now and their chips are on the table. The Browns meanwhile, have played their hand this way:
- They became the youngest team in the NFL by cutting everyone older than 30.
- They signed no impact free agents.
- They traded down in the draft for extra picks.
- They fired Eric Mangini and brought in Pat Shurmur.
- They installed a new offense and a new defense in a lockout-shortened offseason.
No team would have done all that if they expected to judge a rookie coach and rookie quarterback on wins and losses.
Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren are building for the future and they believe the best way to do that is to sacrifice wins of the present. Heck, the lockout pretty much sacrificed the present for them, so they have no choice but to look for who they can build around in the years to come.
Don’t kid yourself by saying “a win is a win,” as Heckert and Holmgren see the same things you do.
They see that the Browns had a bad Seahawks team on the road, flying from the west coast to the east for a 1:00 p.m. start time, playing a second-string quarterback, and still, Colt McCoy continues to regress.
Throwing for 178 yards with an average of 5.1 yards per completion, zero touchdowns against one interception, and a quarterback rating of 59.0 will win you a 6 – 3 NFL game, but not many others.
It is what it is, Browns fans. This is a year of waking up on Monday and looking to the future. For now, we can point to an improving defense, and Joe Haden in particular, but not to an ugly win as a sign in itself. The Browns still have a long way to go, win or lose, before they can be taken seriously.
Just look at it this way — With a record of 3-3, the Browns are off to their best start in five years, yet they’re still in last place in the AFC North.