The Cleveland Browns remain winless in 2016 after a 33-13 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots. When will this franchise return to any level of prominence?
The Cleveland sports landscape has seen drastic changes recently, but one franchise in town seems to be immune to the success seen by the other two.
The Cleveland Browns lost yet another game Sunday, falling to 0-5 on the season. The loss itself was not too unexpected, as it came against arguably one of the most successful franchises in all of professional sports. The surprise was the fact that another quarterback went down with an injury, continuing the ongoing cycle of zero consistency at the position.
Cody Kessler left the game in the first half, only to be replaced by Charlie Whitehurst, also known as “Clipboard Jesus.” Whitehurst nearly made it through the rest of the game, only to injure his knee late in the fourth quarter, leaving Terrelle Pryor as the only player left on the active roster capable of lining up under center.
The Browns will now prepare for a Week 6 matchup against the Tennessee Titans without knowing who is ready to play quarterback. Fans must hope Kessler is healthy enough to play because a start by Whitehurst may seal the team’s fate before even stepping foot on the field.
The quarterback problems have been around for years, becoming less surprising each time they appear during the course of a season. But this alone is not the main cause of why the Browns are 0-5 this season. It hasn’t helped the team’s chances of winning any games, but it has not been the sole reason for the losses.
The Browns are an incredibly young team trying to focus on development, when fans are hoping for wins. The loss of Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz along the offensive line was done to focus on younger, cheaper players taking over the roles, but it has led to a glaring weakness that has allowed four quarterbacks to be injured this season.
Then look at the quarterback position as a group. Instead of going after the next potential franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, the Browns chose to build up other positions on the team. This meant putting the team in the hands of Robert Griffin III, a player who had one successful year back in 2012, and who is notoriously prone to injury. After his injury in Week 1, the team turned to a career backup in Josh McCown. The veteran has earned the respect of Browns fans, but he too has suffered countless injuries throughout his career, with that fact holding true in 2016 as well.
The front office knew it may not be the best idea to invest heavily in a quarterback given the state of the entire team, but it has led to five tough weeks of football to start the season. This is awful for fans, but is actually what the group in charge may have been hoping for.
It goes according to the plans of a rebuild, and since this is yet another new group in charge, there is no sense of urgency based on the years of losing. For this new group, this is the first year of a long process. For fans, it is another wasted year of Browns football. The only hope for success is if Jimmy Haslam puts trust in the current group in charge. If he doesn’t, well, Browns fans are currently experiencing the fallout of the lack of trust in previous regimes.