If I may be realistic for a moment, my immediate reaction when applying this to the Cleveland Browns is “that’s stupid.”
But here I am, and I’m going to do the unthinkable: I’m going to defend the Cleveland Browns in spite of everything I witnessed last week, and the week before…and the year before, and the 11 years before that (Note, this is not what I set out to do with this post, but screw it, you only live once).
I’m not going to say that the Browns are good at many things that are related to playing professional football, so let’s get that out of the way early; they’re a 3-5 team who could be 5-3 or 0-7 if a few plays had gone differently.
Be warned, I’m going to have to dig a little bit deeper than normal here to get to the good stuff, but I’m going to try.
Let’s start with the defense. The defense got shredded last week like nothing I’ve seen in quite some time. The good news? I haven’t seen that in quite some time! It wasn’t that long ago that teams were wrecking the Browns every week (Jamal Lewis for 295 yards, anyone?) and they were trying to play catch up after going down by 20.
Well now they’re trying to play catch up from being down only 10-14 each week! See? This is progress!
Another point of curiosity was the article that LeCharles Bentley wrote earlier in the week about how the Browns are always a better team in the second half. To summarize it into one sentence, they can adjust well in the ten-minute halftime, they just can’t prepare over the five days prior to the game.
That’s bad. But that’s a silver frame around a photo of feces if you ask me. The picture is awful, but there’s a hint of “well, it could be worse.”
I mean, the Browns are not the Colts. Think about this – the Colts are in a worse situation because they’re accustomed to winning 12-14 games per year over the last 13(ish) seasons and suddenly find themselves completely winless. Granted, they can all say “well, it’s because Peyton Manning’s out,” but they’re still completely irrelevant as a football team for the first time since Monica Lewinsky was a household name.
The Browns, on the other hand, are accustomed to this ineptitude. That doesn’t make it okay, but it’s familiar so Browns fans know the pain before they feel it, unlike teams that are experiencing it for the first time.
But I digress.
The Browns look terrible at times, that’s true. They are without their top wide receiver, top two running backs, and half an offensive line. If you poll your friends about who they’d keep before blowing up this team and starting over, you’d get a consistent answer of “Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, a healthy Eric Steinbach, and maybe one of our tight ends” when it comes to offense. That’s not good. Defensively the consensus is a bit larger: Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, D’Qwell Jackson, Jabaal Sheard, Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor. That’s not bad.
Not to mention, whether it’s by their sheer lack of skill in other areas or if it’s just good drafting, a substantial amount of players from the Browns’ last two drafts are currently contributing to the team. So again, that’s a sign of progress.
I know that’s not as many positives as other teams out there, but it’s a small consolation for the depression and anguish that Browns fans are going through on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
There’s just one really terrible part.
I wrote all that, and I had a pretty tough time convincing myself that any of it was true.
On an unrelated note, yesterday was Veterans Day. I want to extend my undying support and respect to the men and women of the US Armed Forces – past and present – who have helped and continue to help make America the paradise that we enjoy today. A place where you can be a dropout billionaire or an elephant dung cleaner and still receive the same constitutional rights and freedoms. You can badmouth me, public figures, the state/federal government, and even my loved ones, but if you question the integrity of the American soldier, you have made an enemy.
Thank you, veterans, with all my heart.