Let me preface the following by saying that I will continue to regularly write for this site and will continue to love the Browns, often against my better judgment. But I’m getting close to the point of exhaustion. Again.
I don’t want to hear about all of the soon-to-be-fired personnel, the revolving door of management, and the coaching changes that come as often as the 3-6 win seasons. Wake me up when it’s over so I can remember how ridiculous it is that the entire staff changed again.
I have been very clear about my disdain for the idea of changing leadership every few years and how this team is clearly making progress (while still being kind of bad at football) vs. the team that existed last year.
When the Browns are close to full strength – or when cornerback Joe Haden is in the lineup – they’re 5-4. The offense shows signs of life and signs of embarrassment, while the defense has been above average for most of the year. As much as we’ve been up and down on him, Josh Cribbs has pretty consistently gotten the ball to about the 30-yard line to start each drive. Phil Dawson has been as much of a monster as a 5’10″ kicker can be, and punter Reggie Hodges has been…well, let’s move on.
The Browns are not terrible. They’re just not very good. It’s exhausting to see this week in and week out, but the fact that there was a three-game winning streak (which, if you recall, included a game where you could have stopped watching at the end of the third quarter because it was a near-blowout…in the Browns’ favor) tells you that this team has a puncher’s chance at competing.
With that in mind, regime changes are just aggravating. I jumped off the Pat Shurmur Support Cart (much smaller than a bandwagon) about six weeks ago and refuse to alter my position. However, the talent has improved on this team, and the young players are major contributors. General manager Tom Heckert needs to stay, I was lukewarm on president Mike Holmgren, and I just don’t want more change in the front office. But it’s coming. We all know it’s coming. It’s going to change, I’m going to get mad, I’m going to argue with people about it, we’re not going to come up with a conclusion, and we’re going to wait and see how it is in two years. This is a terrible cycle. Wake me up in two years.
There is always a chance that things work out. Whether it’s with a new regime or a combination of the old and new, there’s still a chance that the Browns work things out and put together a competitive bunch of adults. I’m not holding out a ton of hope, but another year of solid draft picks could be all that’s needed to turn the Browns in a quasi-contender.
They have already hung with some decent teams, won five games after being predicted to go 0-16, and stuffed some potent offensive attacks. Fill in a few more holes (another offensive playmaker, maybe, and another good linebacker are on the to-do list, I think), keep plugging away, and there’s a pretty solid core of players to work with for the future.
But that’s the problem. I just don’t see the future happening with the same people in charge. Wake me up a month after it changes so I can shrug off how stupid it was.