Well, here we are. On the precipice of the most shameful season in Cleveland sports history.
Welcome to 0-16 Sunday.
The only team in history to go 1-15 and be WORSE the following year, will give us one final baleful eyeful Sunday in Pittsburgh, where too many Browns seasons, too many careers of Browns executives and coaches, and too many dawg day afternoons for Browns fans go to die.
Zero and 16.
The playoff-bound 12-3 Steelers will use their JVs to chase the Browns’ varsity out of Condiment Field and back to Cleveland, wearing an 0-16 shiner, as the rabbit hole-bound Browns disappear for the next month or two, along with the NFL’s other have nots, never weres, and has beens.
Zero and 16.
The good news is that the losing stops after today, only because after today there are no more games. After today, it’s all over but the firings, which actually began a few weeks ago when serial trade-down artist Sashi Brown was asked to leave the building.
Under Brown, the Browns passed on Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Mitch Trubisky, and Deshaun Watson — which is why the Browns eventually passed on Brown.
Brown acted as though franchise quarterbacks are a dime a dozen, when in reality it’s Browns chief football decision makers who are. Just ask somebody who currently isn’t: Brown himself.
Will he be the only casualty for this, the most shameful season in Cleveland sports history? If so, how can that possibly be? Zero and 16 isn’t a near miss. Zero and 16 isn’t a bad bounce or a bad call or two. Zero and 16 is a full-blown, code red, nuclear winter, scorched earth organizational implosion.
This is Johnstown, after the flood.
Can owner Jimmy Haslam be serious when he says he’s bringing Hue Jackson — who in two years as coach of the Browns has won only one more game than YOU have — back next year?
How can Haslam even bring himself back next year?
How can the Browns react to going 1-31 over the last two years by merely getting rid of a lawyer trying to be a general manager, then stating confidently, “OK, we should be good to go.”
Who’s buying that?
If Haslam really wanted to make Browns fans feel good he would sell the team to somebody better at owning it than he is. He’s tried everything else. He’s tried hiring and firing coaches. He’s tried hiring and firing front office executives. He’s tried nine uniform combinations. Nothing’s worked. The only constant through this five-year franchise death spiral has been the owner himself.
But Haslam isn’t going anywhere. NFL owners, even the owner of a team that loses all of its games, see the value of their franchises constantly going up year after year.
You really don’t have to do anything but just keep showing up.
Haslam is very good at that.
Hence, The Hue Watch (the Hue View?), which begins today and ends when Jackson does or doesn’t get fired — whenever that is.
An argument could be made that Jackson shouldn’t be fired. It goes something like this. Actually, it goes ONLY like this: Jackson can only coach the players he’s given, and in his two years on the job all Brown gave him was a bag of doughnuts.
On the other hand, 0-16 is 0-16. A team with no coach at all could go 0-16. So where are Jackson’s footprints? Where are his fingerprints?
The only other team in NFL history to go 0-16 was the 2008 Detroit Lions, who fired coach Rod Marinelli after that season. In 2009, the Lions used the first pick in the draft on quarterback Matthew Stafford. Two years later they went 10-6 and made the playoffs.
Jackson had a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. In 2017 he’s whispered DeShone Kizer to the lowest quarterback rating in the league, the lowest completion percentage in the league and the most interceptions in the league.
The Browns, of course, have the first pick in the draft, and it’s presumed that they’ll take a quarterback. One of the candidates is USC’s Sam Darnold, who looked like DeShone Darnold in a 24-7 loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl, throwing one pick-six and fumbling twice, a performance that screamed for some whispering.
But is Jackson, at 0-16 and 1-31, assuming the Browns lose to Pittsburgh’s JVs today, the man for the job? Haslam apparently thinks so, which means, given Haslam’s track record, Jackson probably isn’t the man for the job.
Jackson, remember, is Haslam’s guy, not new GM John Dorsey’s guy. General Managers tend to prefer — the ones with clout insist — on being able to pick their own coaches.
But that’s on teams that know what they’re doing. Teams that are not, you know, what the Browns are.
Zero and 16.