For fans of some teams in the National Football League, they will be quick to get frustrated if two or three years go by and their favorite team has not reached the postseason; but little do they know that it could be worse. The Cleveland Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002, while they are well on their way to a tenth consecutive losing season. After going 3-13 in 2015, and 1-15 last year, the Browns are already 0-5 this season as they are in the process of producing the worst three-year stretch in the NFL since the league expanded to a 16-game regular season schedule in 1978.
Since the Browns re-entered the National Football League in 1999, they have had three different owners, eight general managers, nine head coaches, and a whopping 27 different starting quarterbacks which allows you to fully understand why this franchise continues to have the futility that it has had.
That constant turnover at these key positions within the organization has resulted in Browns owner Jimmy Haslam being more patient with his current brain trust of general manager Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson. Both Brown and Jackson are in their second year with the Browns as Haslam acknowledges that this won’t be a quick turnaround which is why he is practicing patience with his club.
So far this season the Browns have shown a ton of fight as three of their five losses have come by three points. However the Browns need something to get them over the top as they are lacking on-field leadership.
The Browns only have three players on their 53-man roster who are 30-years of age or more, while just three players on this team have postseason experience as it is hard to learn how to be a professional when nobody is around to teach you. This year alone the Browns drafted ten players which included three in the first round. However the fact that the Browns are lacking a solid veteran presence in their locker room will hinder the progression of their youngsters. This season saw the Browns begin with a rookie quarterback in DeShone Kizer under center. And after Kizer was 8-of-17 passing on Sunday for 87 yards with a critical red zone interception versus the New York Jets, Jackson benched him for quarterback Kevin Hogan who himself is just in his second season in the National Football League. Jackson does have the luxury of going back to Kizer, but the fact that he is set up to continue taking a beating puts him well on his way to being ruined before his career even gets started.
Along with Browns team president Paul DePodesta who up until last year had never been involved in professional football as his background was developed in Major League Baseball, the current front office in Cleveland has focused more on analytics, and stock piling draft picks, while putting the human element on the back burner. It is okay to go with a young team as well as getting a fair share of draft picks. However draft picks are only good if you know what you’re doing; especially when selecting players early on in the first round which is something that the Browns have consistently done for nearly 20 years.
Defensive end Myles Garrett was the first overall selection of the 2017 National Football League Draft by the Browns, and he was able to get his first game action yesterday as he was able to record a pair of sacks versus the Jets. But will Garrett be able to avoid the dreaded curse that most recent players selected in the first round by the Browns have had to endure which is being a bust?
If Haslam is going to be patient with DePodesta, Brown, and Jackson, they must hit home runs between the draft and free agency in finding players that are going to change the culture within the Browns locker room. The Browns must seek out players that hate to lose more than they enjoy winning; especially with free agency as Cleveland needs to bring in vets that know what it takes to win in the National Football League in order to school the youngsters.
The Browns still have 11 games this season which includes rematches with all three of their counterparts in the AFC North. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals all have victories over Cleveland this season, while they have not respected this team for the longest time, nor should they due to the futility. Victories will be continue to be few and far between this season for the Browns who don’t know what it takes to win in the National Football League. And as an organization the Browns don’t even know where to start in regards to developing the formula for it.