The Cleveland Browns are not tanking in 2017

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The national media may try to create a narrative of tanking, but the Cleveland Browns are focusing on winning during the 2017 season.

Articles have surfaced in recent days that peg the Cleveland Browns as a team that is tanking during the 2017 season. The Browns adding Paul DePodesta to their front office last year has certainly opened them up for speculation and criticism, and rightfully so.

The Browns have been bad for a long, long time and until they prove people wrong they will continue to be the butt of jokes versus getting the benefit of the doubt that teams like Seattle, Green Bay and New England often get. Winning is the only way to build credibility, and that is exactly why this season is the furthest thing from a tank job.

These news outlets are framing the cuts of Joe Haden, John GrecoBrock Osweiler and the trade of Cam Erving to be another tank job in the works for this new regime, and if any of these pundits have followed the 2017 Browns even remotely closely, they would realize that these players (Greco aside) were beat out by younger, higher-upside players.

Haden looked like he lost a step in the first few preseason games and looked like the third, maybe fourth corner on this depth chart. The Greco cut is confusing because offensive line depth is always nice to have, but Osweiler and Erving were both sub-par players.

Osweiler looked like the same quarterback he was in Houston, and Cam Erving continued his awful blocking, yet somehow Sashi Brown got a fifth-round pick in return for him.

With the recent news of Myles Garrett missing around four weeks due to an ankle injury, it has taken a chunk of optimism away from the regular season opener. That being said, there are a few big reasons to be optimistic this year versus the oh so little reasons for optimism before the regular season last year.

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This year, the Browns have a roster with much more overall talent, and a rookie quarterback that has looked the part of a franchise quarterback in a small sample size. That alone is more optimism than last year and the biggest reason why the Browns are not tanking in 2017. Plus, this Jabrill Peppers guy from Michigan looks like an absolute animal. But let’s focus on Kizer for right now.

If the Browns were “tanking” why would they throw out their newly-drafted second round pick instead of  a below-average backup in Brock Osweiler?

They could’ve rolled with Brock to make sure Kizer doesn’t get hurt or because this team isn’t ready to win (some of the takes I’ve seen about why Kizer shouldn’t start which make no sense).

Hue Jackson chose DeShone Kizer because they went with the quarterback that gives the Browns the best chance to win, not because they’re trying to get a better draft position. No, the Browns are not likely to make the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to win games.

The Browns are trying to establish a winning culture that so many other front offices have failed to cultivate. If the Browns wanted to tank they would have thrown Brock Osweiler and his $16 million albatross of a contract on the field and made him earn it. Not put a 21-year-old rookie on the field that outplayed every other quarterback on the roster.

In 2016, the roster needed to be ripped down to the studs. With a presumable agreement between ownership and the front office that the team would not be good last year, that was most certainly a tank job even though no one will admit to it. It was one of the most brutal seasons to endure as a Browns fans.

However, it set them up to really kick-start the rebuild that hasn’t been done since 1999. You know how they say it always gets worse before it gets better? Last year was the worst. Jimmy Haslam has relented to the 2018-2019 seasons being the target dates for competitiveness, but that still does not mean the Browns are tanking again this year.

Even with the injury to Myles Garrett, the team is undoubtedly better this year. DeShone Kizer is the most promising quarterback to start Week 1 for the Browns since Tim Couch, and the thought of finally landing a franchise quarterback gets me excited more than anything.

There are other exciting pieces on the roster that make it hard for me to believe that just because the Browns cut Haden/Osweiler/Greco and traded Erving that now they’re not trying to win. None of the players on that list would win the Browns more games if they were on the roster, and there are more talented options ahead of each of those players on the depth chart.

Next: Top 5 QBs Browns will face in 2017

The bottom line is that Browns fans (and Jimmy Haslam, especially) need to trust the process. It has become quite easy to view every move they make as “another Browns move,” as I am guilty of that quite often. But a lot of the moves I’ve seen from this front office in the last two years have really changed my tune and I’m excited to see what the 2017 season holds for these Cleveland Browns.