The Browns are back to work this week after the mother of all bye weeks.
Most NFL teams use their bye week to relax, recover, reassess and recharge.
The Browns used theirs to implode.
Like the games aren’t bad enough.
It’s even worse when they don’t play.
Their record says they are 0-8 but they’re really 0-9, because they lost their bye week.
It got so bad that in the middle of the firestorm the desperate, image-starved Browns played the diversionary card, proudly yet slyly announcing they were giving fan favorite Joe Thomas a $3 million raise.
Good for good-guy Joe, who gets a nice salary bump while his employers shamelessly and unsuccessfully play to the crowd.
But now it’s back to work, and — right on cue — who shows up on the doorstep of the most dysfunctional, chaotic franchise in sports?
Serial sad sack Josh Gordon.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Gordon’s return coincides with a GQ cover story in which he said he used drugs or alcohol before every game he played in his NFL career.
That should sell some tickets.
Of course, the last thing in the world a three-ring circus needs is a fourth ring, but here he is. And here they are. The Browns and Josh Gordon, together again.
Cute couple, aren’t they?
But enough about the pathetic past.
Let’s talk about the pathetic future.
As the Browns continue to crawl from the wreckage of their bye week, let’s reluctantly look ahead, to the gloomy remainder of the worst Browns season ever.
What can the team hope to accomplish over the last eight weeks of the season? (I’m going out on a limb here and assume that they are not going to make the playoffs).
In no particular order, here’s a second half of the season to-do list for a demonstrably can’t-do team:
Show that the coaching staff and front office can put down their swords and work productively together — or at least fake it.
This boat has probably already sailed, but when the dismissed go looking for their next jobs, being able to say they at least gave it one last try in Cleveland might count for something.
All you need to know about the icy relationship between the coaching staff and the roster builders was on display during Monday’s too-little, way-too-late bizarre bye week damage-control press conference, in which coach and former team player Hue Jackson categorically refused to talk about the roster builders. At all.
Transcripts of Sashi Brown’s portion of that press conference are available by calling (800) ANTASYLAND.
Talk DeShone Kizer down from the ledge.
The biggest loser from the bye week implosion was innocent victim Kizer, who now knows what the organization really thinks of him.
Browns roster builders were scalded for apparently hanging out at the water cooler while Jimmy Garappolo, a quarterback they panted after during much of the offseason, was traded to San Francisco.
Then, in what will surely be remembered as the signature slapstick moment of this slapstick regime, the Browns acquired quarterback A.J. McCarron from Cincinnati in an 11th-hour trade that was vetoed by the NFL at 11:01 because the Browns forgot to tell anyone.
But somebody has to quarterback the last eight losses, er, games, so it’s back to Kizer, who knows the organization is 100 percent behind him, win or draw.
Stop trying to explain the McCarron trade fiasco.
During his Twilight Zone presentation Monday, Brown denied the front office intentionally sabotaged its own trade. Think about the implications of that astonishing question even being asked. It’s got to be an NFL first.
Yet if it wasn’t sabotage, the only other possible explanation is simple incompetence.
The Browns need to walk away from this one fast.
Call all back channels.
Now would be a good time for the Haslams to start quietly letting it be known that if there is a proven, experienced “football guy” out there who would like to come to Cleveland and run their “football team” and make all the important football decisions, they’re all ears.
The bigger the profile, the bigger the football brain, the better. There is one that immediately comes to mind. Rhymes with “Meyton Panning.” I know that’s not much of a clue, but with rumors that USC’s Sam Darnold may choose to stay in school because he doesn’t want to be drafted by the Browns with the No. 1 pick, that would at least get Darnold’s attention.
Win a game.
I know, it sounds crazy. But I’ve done some research on this, and I’ve learned from multiple league sources that in every NFL game that is played there is usually one team that — get this — wins! It isn’t just hearsay, it actually happens. Yet the Browns are just eight games away from doing the impossible: Going 1-15 and then getting worse.