Cleveland Browns: Complacency setting in, fueled by ignorance

Dec 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns fans during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns fans during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that the Cleveland Browns have lost ten consecutive games, many fans are used to losing every Sunday, and expect nothing more from the team.

As a result of a continued, established losing tradition, Cleveland Browns fans have become complacent. For many, it is a matter of when and how the Browns will find a way to lose, not if. Following their latest heartbreaking loss to the Washington Redskins, fans feel numb, as they have gotten used to the feeling of losing and expect nothing different.

What is often lost in all the discussion surrounding these defeats is just how close the Browns keep coming to winning. After all, they have now blown legitimate opportunities to win in the closing minutes of each of the last three contests.

We need not look any further than this past Sunday’s game, as it sums up the numb feeling many Browns fans have at this point. Based on the final score, 31-20, or the three-minute highlight clip, the average casual football fan would come up with a much different conclusion than someone who viewed the entirety of Sunday’s game.

Head coach Hue Jackson‘s decision to hand the ball to Malcolm Johnson as the Browns had the ball inside the red zone late in the third quarter proved costly in Cleveland’s latest defeat. If Jackson were to instead elect to continue running with Isaiah Crowell, it is quite possible that the Browns would have had a 27-17 lead that would never have been relinquished.

Of course, one can never say for sure if the outcome of the game would have been any different as a direct result of an alternate play selection, but what is undeniable is that the Browns were very close to taking command of Sunday’s game. But instead of coming away with the victory, it was once again a loss, and many Browns fans continue to pin the team’s failure on what they see as a “cursed” franchise, or the “same old Browns.”

The point of all of this is not to dwell on the past, but to point out a widespread misconception. The Browns organization has been scorned, mocked and labeled a joke for quite some time now. Unfortunately, fans are at the point where many of them join in and promote this sort of falsity that the Browns are cursed and will never find success. This is a direct result of complacency which is taking over in many instances, and understandably so. Browns fans have been constantly exposed to difficult losses, and the trend leads to the drastic lowering of expectations.

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When taking a serious look at the beginning of this season though, were these first four losses really solely a result of a rebuilding process still in its early stages? Usually rebuilding processes don’t require fluke moments or terrible decisions which directly impact the outcome of a given game. The truth is, the Browns have played well enough to win three out of their first four games. Therefore, even if the team is in the midst of a rebuilding process, fans shouldn’t lower their expectations as much as they seem to have done.

This isn’t to say that fans should not exercise patience with a rebuilding organization, as the Browns clearly lack many necessary pieces to becoming a winning organization. Yet when expectations are no longer that the Browns will struggle in certain areas, but that the team will always find a way to lose, a line has been crossed.

There is no reason to believe that the Browns could not have won their Week 4 matchup with the Redskins. There is no reason to believe that it was Cleveland’s destiny to miss a potential game-winning field goal in Miami, or to suffer from a controversial Duke Johnson fumble, or that the team is simply incapable of holding on to a twenty-point advantage. This is still a football team. They still have eleven players on each side of the ball, each giving their all, trying to end up with more points than the opposition.

The Browns can win games and have shown us that they have to potential do so. Whether or not they actually will or not in the near future has yet to be seen, but there’s no logical reason to dismiss the possibility of future victories because of the nature of the organization alone or its history.

There is a major difference between expecting the team to struggle and expecting the team to downright lose. Over the course of the last three games, it has been made apparent that the Browns have the skill to compete and defeat some NFL teams. The fact that they haven’t is the result of several different factors, but it’s not that they just can’t win.

Sports media and other NFL fans will continue beating up on the Browns. After all, they are easy to pick on. But in the midst of all of this, Browns fans must remember that their team is capable of winning. They’re not cursed. Losing has become the norm, but it doesn’t have to be. There is no legitimate reason for it to be the expectation based on how the team has performed the past four weeks.

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So Browns fans need to keep their heads up. Maybe victories are coming. They would be well-deserved and long overdue if they did. But for now, all of this nonsense about it being in the very nature of the Browns to lose or that losing is just a normal part of a Cleveland fan’s Sunday afternoon is getting ridiculous. Complacency is getting ridiculous.