While going 0-16 wasn’t fun for the Cleveland Browns or their fans, the winless season may have actually improved their chances in the future
Thankfully, the Cleveland Browns went winless in 2017.
That sounds insane, of course, but imagine if they’d have won three or four of the close ones. Had they done that, they may have found themselves with a less desirable draft situation.
They were actually pretty close to that too. How close?
ESPN’s Pat McManamon says at least six of the 2017 games were:
"“Winnable with a play or a break:New York Jets (17-14), at Detroit (38-24), at Cincinnati (30-16), Green Bay (27-21 in overtime), at Chicago (20-3), at Pittsburgh (28-24).” — McManamon"
What if the Browns had gotten even four of those plays or breaks to go their way?
A 2017 Browns team with a 4-12 record might have looked like an improvement, however slight, over the 2016 record of 1-15. The conclusion might have been that things were on track. With those four wins under his belt, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam might have started feeling hopeful about the minor progress and assumed that general manager Sashi Brown does know how to evaluate talent or that head coach Hue Jackson can run the offense or that DeShone Kizer is our next franchise quarterback.
And that would have been disastrous for the Browns’ future.
A few wins might have meant not hiring John Dorsey. Cleveland.com’s Dan Labbe says Dorsey, the Browns’ new general manager,
"“has beefed [the front office] up with Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf. Dorsey also managed to keep [VP of Player Personnel] Andrew Berry in his current role and transition Ken Kovash to work under Paul DePodesta in the strategy department.Dorsey has tapped into his network of highly-touted, upcoming executives to build a front office that will address not only the Browns’ alarming lack of difference-making talent, but also attack the one position [quarterback] that has either befuddled previous front offices or left them incapable of taking a shot when the opportunity arose.”"
A 4-12 or 5-11 finish last season might have been enough to keep Sashi ‘the guy who passed on Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson’ Brown in the general manager role. But zero wins in 2017 forced the Browns to let him go and fill their front office with men like Dorsey and his crew who are actually quite experienced at evaluating talent.
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A few wins last season might have meant not hiring offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
A slightly improved 4-12 Browns might have given Haslem the impression that on top of running the entire team, Jackson can develop players, can create the weekly offensive strategies and can call the plays during the games when clearly he can’t.
Jackson showed just how smart he is, though, by hiring someone with a stellar resume like Haley to be his right-hand-man. Now Jackson can confidently delegate all the specifics it takes to put together an effective point-scoring offensive unit and focus more on the Browns’ bigger picture.
A few wins last season might have made Kizer look like the answer to our ongoing quarterback woes.
And believing in Kizer might have changed how the team approaches the upcoming NFL draft with all of its high-level quarterback options, from USC’s Sam Darnold to UCLA’s Josh Rosen to Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. But fortunately zero wins in 2017 forces the re-vamped front office to use at least one of their first round picks to choose one of those top contenders to lead the Browns into the future.
Going winless is embarrassing, but it’s forced the Browns to take a different tack.
A few wins might have confused the Browns into thinking that the direction they were taking was actually working. But zero wins has forced Haslam to accept the fact that the way he was doing things and who he had doing them were never going to result in a successful franchise. Einstein says insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
By that definition, for quite a few seasons the Browns have been completely insane.
But with a different front office doing the selecting this time and a different offensive coordinator doing the developing of whichever quarterback gets picked, let’s hope that the results translate into something a whole lot different than before: enough 2018 Browns wins to prove they’re on the right track. That might just keep their fans from going totally nuts. Or worse, from abandoning Cleveland’s most frustrating team for saner pastures elsewhere.
Zero wins helped the Browns get to this point.
Let’s hope they use the draft and free agency differently (wisely) this time and set themselves up for a victorious future.