Browns and Steelers in Week 17 a familiar sight
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 has become commonplace. What comes next, however, may not be to head coach Hue Jackson’s liking.
The NFL hates the Cleveland Browns for some reason.
The Browns, once one of the league’s marquee franchises, has fallen on hard times since returning to the NFL in 1999, and the league office has had a hand in furthering the team’s woes.
It was the league, after all, that introduced Jimmy Haslam to Randy Lerner when Lerner was looking to sell the team in 2012.
Not content that that was enough to torture Browns fans, the league has decided that having the Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season finale is just a grand idea.
The Browns will travel to Pittsburgh again this Sunday to face the Steelers, the eighth time since 2008 that the regular season will close out with this matchup.
If history is any indication, Sunday is going to be another long afternoon for the Browns:
- In 2008, the Browns were shutout 31-0 as quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was five-of-16 for 18 yards and a quarterback rating of 1.0
- In 2010 it was a 41-9 loss by the Browns as quarterback Colt McCoy threw three interceptions and took four sacks
- In 2011 the Browns kept in close, losing 13-9, but quarterback Seneca Wallace could not get the Browns into the end zone as the Browns only had 240 yards of total offense
- In 2012 the Browns turned a 10-10 game in the third quarter into a 24-10 loss behind quarterback Thad Lewis’ 204 passing yards, three sacks and an interception
- In 2013, quarterback Jason Campbell could not get the job done as the Browns fell, 20-7, to a Pittsburgh team that finished just 8-8 on the season
- In 2015, the Browns failed to find the end zone again as quarterback Austin Davis was sacked seven times and threw two interceptions in a 28-12 defeat
- In 2016, the Browns actually took the Steelers to overtime, but could not contain Pittsburgh quarterback Landry Jones, who threw a touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton to send the Browns to a 27-24 defeat
That is all very depressing, but there is one other common trait that should brighten the day for Browns fans.
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After five of those previous seven meetings with the Steelers to close out the season, the Browns fired their head coach.
In 2008 it was Romeo Crennel, followed by Eric Mangini (2010), Pat Shurmur (2012), Rob Chudzinski (2013) and Mike Pettine (2015).
A loss on Sunday would make the Browns just the second team in league history to finish a season at 0-16 and drop head coach Hue Jackson’s record with the Browns to 1-31.
Haslam has stated that Jackson is coming back in 2018 no matter what, but another season-ending defeat to the Steelers could be enough to change his mind.
And if he does, the list of Browns head coaches fired after losing the final game of the season to the Steelers could start to rival that of the infamous quarterback jersey.
While we all ponder who will be leading the Browns next season, let’s take run through the weekly power rankings.
"No. 32 (no change): 4.5 wins: Switch that to 0.5. Does Cleveland go over? If it doesn’t happen, the Browns would be the second team in NFL history to finish 0-16, joining Detroit’s 2008 squad. (Pittsburgh No. 2, Baltimore No. 10, Cincinnati No. 22)"
"No. 32 (no change): This thing has been done a long time ago, and now 0-16 is happening. They aren’t beating the Steelers. (Pittsburgh No. 2, Baltimore No. 9, Cincinnati No. 25)"
"No. 32 (no change): Since the Steelers have to play hard because there’s a possibility they get the No. 1 seed, the Browns are going to have to pull the mother of all upsets to avoid 0-16. And don’t forget, last season Cleveland needed the Chargers to miss a last-second field goal in Week 16 to avoid 0-16. Pathetic. Also, if Josh Rosen and/or Sam Darnold and any other quarterback prospect refuse to play for the Browns, I’m not sure what Cleveland does. It needs to draft a quarterback and not give in to threats. That’s a bad precedent. But it would be the worst moment in new Browns history (and that’s saying something) to draft a QB first overall and basically lose the pick because the player sits out a full year. (Pittsburgh No. 3, Baltimore No. 11, Cincinnati No. 26)"
"No. 32 (no change): Another rough cut from the DeShone Kizer catalogue. Once again, the Browns struggled to get anything going on offense — and when they did, they couldn’t do anything with the field position. Much like in their showing versus the Ravens last week. Much like Cleveland’s entire 2017 season. The Browns conducted four drives that reached the Bears’ side of the field — one ended in a field goal and three ended in turnovers. Now the latest scuttlebutt is that Hue Jackson has lost this team. Forget a win – Browns fans deserve to get a competitive team from Santa. (Pittsburgh No. 3, Baltimore No. 10, Cincinnati No. 24)"
If history repeats itself on Sunday, the final result on the scoreboard should be no surprise.
Next: Could Bruce Arians be the Browns savior?
Depending on Haslam’s mood after the game, what comes next just might be.