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Commentary: Anything can happen the rest of this Browns season … and probably will

If you thought this Browns season has been dramatic to this point, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Buckle your chin straps, because the fun, the criticism, the scapegoating, the blame-gaming, the hero worshiping, finger-pointing, shoulder-shrugging, preposterous finishes (either way), goats, heroes and referee-bashing — it’s all up for grabs from here on out.

Players endorse idea of signing Joe Flacco, who worked out for Browns

Nobody knows what’s going to happen over the Browns’ last eight games, but whatever it is, it’s going to be noisy. Guaranteed.

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This is what makes sports great: the unexpected.

If anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, how it’s all going to turn out, don’t believe them.

Just sit back and enjoy the carnage.

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To this point the AFC North, which most experts feel is the best division in the NFL, has resembled a four-car freeway pileup at rush hour. The team that has the least talent (the Steelers) has the best coach and the healthiest quarterback.

The team that has the best quarterback (the Bengals) has the least chance of reaching the playoffs because that quarterback is injured. The team that has the second-best quarterback (the Ravens) has trouble protecting a lead and finishing games.

Notes: Dawand Jones listed as questionable, looks like he’ll return to face Steelers on Sunday

The team that has the best defense in the division and the league (the Browns) has the worst quarterback, a rookie, who in his only NFL start looked completely overwhelmed, although that might have been because he didn’t find out he was going to start the game until the national anthem was being played. (OK, that’s an exaggeration, but only slightly).

That’s the AFC North field as they go clippety-clopping down the back stretch.

Who you got?

The Steelers, with the best coach and healthiest quarterback, are hard to ignore, except for the fact that their offense, which has been outgained in every game they’ve played this year, scares nobody. That’s as opposed to the Browns, whose defense scares everybody.

We’ll get a look at that contrast Sunday at Haslam Acres, when the turnpike tough guys renew their rust belt rivalry.

Given the current state of the Browns, they are a total wild card for this game, and all remaining games, given the uncertainty of the quarterback position, which took a calamitous turn for the worst Sunday in Baltimore when Deshaun Watson finally emerged as the franchise quarterback Cleveland needs him to be.

The celebration was a short one, however, as two days later Watson’s season ended, due to a broken shoulder.

The repercussions of that injury could be far-reaching for several reasons, the biggest of which is that it exposed a lack of preparation and imagination by the Browns front office. It’s never a good idea to wait for an injury to a key player to happen AND THEN go looking for a replacement.

The quarterback position is too important to be treated so cavalierly, especially by a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Coach Kevin Stefanski said rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will start Sunday against the Steelers.

Meanwhile the Browns worked out 38-year-old quarterback-for-hire Joe Flacco on Friday, and 33-year-old former Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t thrown an NFL pass in three years, chimed in recently on his podcast by saying, “The Browns should start me as quarterback.”

Let’s see how Thompson-Robinson, with a full week of first-team reps, performs Sunday against the Steelers’ ravenous defense. There will be plenty of time to panic after that, if panic is what’s called for.

If it’s still on the menu after Sunday’s Steelers-Browns slugfest, panic it will be. The irony, of course, is that the Browns have tried forever to become a team of destiny, and now that they have the defense to do so, their offense is in desperate need of a healthy quarterback.

A loss to the Steelers on Sunday due to poor quarterback play will be a tough pill to swallow, because it will be a self-inflicted wound.

In the NFL, winning your division is hard. Especially if you are your own worst enemy, which is what the Browns have been for most of the last 30 years, during which they have finished first in their division exactly … um, let’s see here … no times.

The last time the Browns won their division was 1989, when the quarterback was Bernie Kosar, the leading rusher was Eric Metcalf and the leading receiver was Reggie Langhorne. Their record under coach Bud Carson was 9-6-1, but that was still good enough to win their division.

Fifteen coaches later, the Browns are still looking for their next division title. To win one they will have to find a quarterback who can quarterback the hay into the barn.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has cooked up a ferocious defense that is the best in the league. But you’ve still got to have a functioning offense.

We will know a lot more about everything Sunday.

Jim Ingraham is a sports columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Medina Gazette. Contact him at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com and follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter

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