Cleveland Browns on the bye, 4 takeaways


Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) walks off the field in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have more questions than answers heading into the final six games of the season.

The good news is the Browns didn’t lose this week. The bad news is that a 2-8 record remains.

Thanks to an Ohio State collapse against Michigan State, and ensuing locker room fallout, the Browns have been out of the football spotlight this weekend.

Next Sunday will also be without a game, and a loss, as the Browns take on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. I’m not sure if ESPN envisioned its Week 12 primetime matchup being between a 2-8 team and a 3-7 team, but at least they still have Johnny Manziel to talk about all game.

It’s a cold, lazy Sunday here in Cleveland, so let’s look at five takeaways from the bye week.

Six weeks of Manziel awaits

Finally, the quarterback controversy is over in Cleveland. With the news that Manziel will start for the rest of the season, a sense of normalcy will come to the position on a team where nothing is remotely normal.

Instead of freaking out and calling for Manziel when Josh McCown made a mistake, fans will get to see what Manziel is all about these next six games.

And when Johnny makes a mistake, which will happen, he will not have to worry about his immediate job security. That is nearly as important as getting the starting job to begin with.

Not firing coaches is sometimes more painful than firing them

It is no secret that the Browns are a really, really, really bad football team. But whether the majority of the blame falls on the front office, or the coaching staff, or the players is not all that clear. Partial blame falls on all three, but everything is so bad it is tough to find the one source that must be changed.

The coach is often the scapegoat for losing, but Jimmy Haslam has made it clear that no changes will be made. Great news for Mike Pettine, although he may prefer a world in which Ray Farmer is not the general manager of the Browns.

This team has talent, but it not built to compete for a playoff berth. Just looking at the wide receivers is enough to show that. And that is nothing against those individuals, but there is no legitimate threat other than Gary Barnidge, and he is not technically a part of that group.

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So instead of taking out the collective frustration of the fan base and firing Pettine, Haslam is teaching us to endure. That is, unless the Browns have a slow start next season. Then Pettine will stand no chance.

With the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft…

The Browns are currently in great shape to attain that elusive top overall pick in the NFL Draft. Losing out would nearly guarantee the top selection, but that is a tough way to view the final six games of the season.

Personally, I hate rooting for draft picks. I know, it sound ridiculous to hope for a 4-12 season compared to 3-13 or 2-14, but I just find it hard to root for the team to lose. If anything, a win would provide some measure of happiness and some semblance of an actual NFL team playing in Cleveland.

With the way this front office drafts, I am not even sure that having the top pick would be that much of a help to the team as a whole. It would serve as a building block, but would only be patching a small part of a giant problem. I would much rather see the Browns pull off some wins than watch six more games of what we saw last Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Another wasted season

Having a Sunday off from watching the Browns allows you to see what real NFL teams are like. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up 45 points over the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Carolina Panthers put up 44 against the Washington Redskins to remain undefeated.

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Being undefeated this late in the season would cause chaos in Cleveland, with fans not being sure if this life is real or simply a virtual projection of our own world.

It is just frustrating to watch teams like Tampa Bay and the Oakland Raiders turn their franchises around while the Browns have only gotten worse as time has gone on. One can say ‘there is always next year,’ but it, like all of us, gets old after a while.

But as a fan, there is no solution to this problem. We either keep cheering blindly or find a different team to root for, with the latter being classified as either an unforgivable sin or a genius move by a sane individual.