There are no magic elixirs to fix what ails the Cleveland Browns

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Kevin Hogan #8 of the Cleveland Browns is pressured by Marcus Gilchrist #21 and Eddie Pleasant #35 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 15: Quarterback Kevin Hogan #8 of the Cleveland Browns is pressured by Marcus Gilchrist #21 and Eddie Pleasant #35 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter at NRG Stadium on October 15, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns are a beaten and broken franchise, but more change is not going to help fix what continues to ail this team.

The Cleveland Browns were set up to fail when they returned to the NFL in 1999.

Fearing a repeat of the early success of the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, who both made their respective conference championship games in just their second seasons, the league’s owners gave the Browns a short window to put the team together.

That resulted in a poorly constructed roster, even by expansion team standards, a quickly assembled coaching staff and front office, and the inevitable early season struggles.

But that doesn’t explain why this franchise is still performing at an expansion level 18 years later.

Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans dropped the Browns to 0-6 on the season for the second consecutive year and the third time since their expansion season. The Browns are now 1-22 under head coach Hue Jackson, have lost 39 of their past 43 games, and have not won a road game in more than two years.

There have been glimmers of hope — the 10-6 record in 2007, the 7-4 start in 2014, the playoff appearance in 2002 – but those have been fleeting.

This season started out like so many others before it, not with thoughts of a playoff berth — thinking that would be absurd on several levels — but rather the hope that the Browns would be competitive as they continue to rebuild the team.

Cleveland Browns
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

But even that appears to have been nothing more than a pleasant fantasy as the Browns have quickly turned into the team that fans are far too familiar with. Going 0-16 on the season is a very difficult task to accomplish, but while watching the Browns on Sunday bumble their way through another game, it was hard not to envision that becoming a reality.

That, in turn, has led to the annual rumors, reports and whispers for the Browns to once again blow things up and chart yet another new course to fix the franchise.

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That usually doesn’t occur until late November or early December, but all the losing has apparently accelerated the process. So we now have Pro Football Talk reporting, per unnamed league sources of course, that the Browns are making contacts with people in anticipation of a change in the front office.

That means we have reached the point of the season where people start looking for magic elixirs to fix the Browns, like hiring Peyton Manning – who is “Tennessee royalty,” whatever that means — or former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar to take over the front office. And no Browns season would ever be complete without a call for the team to throw a large pile of money at a college coach, despite the continued evidence that that does not work.

It is understandable, we suppose, that this all occurs on a regular basis. Not only are the Browns a beaten and broken franchise, but the fan base is as well. Owners, players, coaches and front office workers come and go, but the fans are the one constant through all the misery, the frustration and the wasted Sunday afternoons.

The Browns are not going to change their fortunes, however, by hiring a former player just because the owner likes them or because they once played for the franchise. They are also not going to fix things by paying a college coach to come to town for two years, collect a fat paycheck, and then run back to campus.

They are also not going to fix the situation by starting over once again. To believe that 16 years of mistakes can be remedied in just two offseasons is naive. The current group has made its mistakes, which are magnified as the Browns continually face rookie quarterbacks they could have drafted, but that doesn’t mean the plan in place is not a sound one.

The worst thing that owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam can do is continue to hit the reset button. If they do, the new people are going to want to rebuild the roster with their guys and their philosophy, which means more turnover and more stumbles along the way.

Oh, and the precedent that will be set is that they only have two years to do it or else. So that will certainly lead to shortcuts, like overpaying aging veterans to “win now,” which has been proven to be one of the worst ways to build a roster.

The Haslams don’t need to accept the status quo, of course. Everyone might be on board with the reality that this was going to be a difficult task, but 1-21 and being completely uncompetitive is a sticking point. Sitting Jackson down and explaining to him the value of hiring an offensive coordinator would be a good start. After that, checking in with executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown to make sure he understands the importance of the quarterback position would make sense.

But wholesale changes? That just can’t happen.

Next: DPD Podcast: Discussing Browns Week 6 loss

There are no magic solutions to what ails the Browns. No one is riding up I-71 or coming down from Rocky Top to save them.

Hopefully everyone involved comes to that same conclusion before it is too late.