By In Stuff

Browns go to 0-12

I had this weird feeling on Sunday that the Cleveland Browns were going to win. I almost never have this feeling, for obvious reasons, so it was noticeable. Things just seemed lined up. The Browns were playing the Los Angeles Chargers in LA where nobody cares about them. The Chargers needed to win the game in order to pull into an improbable three-way tie in the AFC West and such pressure often plays havoc with a mediocre team’s mindset. The Chargers had to scoop up a kicker off their practice squad this week, and he missed a 38-yard field goal right off the bat. so that seemed like it would play a part in the story too.

And, mostly, the Chargers are just the sort of team that loses to the Browns. That’s what they did last year. The Chargers just seem perpetually doomed.The Browns have not beaten a non-Chargers team since December 13, 2015 when they beat a terrible 49ers team. The Browns have not beaten a non-California team since October 11, 2015 when they toppled a terrible Baltimore team in overtime.

Just to keep this going: The Browns have not beaten a team with a winning record since — are you ready for this — they beat the Cincinnati Bengals on November 6, 2014, more than three years ago. The Browns quarterback was, no kidding, Brian Hoyer. The Browns have started EIGHT DIFFERENT QUARTERBACKS since their last victory over a team a with a winning record.

Yeah, I have no idea WHY I thought the Browns were going to beat the Chargers on Sunday.

But I did. All game long, I just had this feeling. The Chargers offense moved up and down the field freely but they kept settling for field goals. That seemed a sign. The Browns returned Josh Gordon, their freakishly talented and troubled wide receiver. That seemed a sign. Los Angeles (man, it’s weird to call the Chargers “Los Angeles”) had the game in control pretty much throughout but the Chargers never seemed to be leading by quite as much as you would have thought. That seemed a sign too. As a Browns fan, you seek out those games when the opponent SHOULD BE leading by two touchdowns but ACTUALLY leads by six or nine or something more manageable.

The Browns did not win. They did not threaten to win. And I’m reminded again that this team has a gift.

These Browns are the best team I’ve ever seen at losing.

Now, you can say that the 0-16 Lions or those early John McKay Tampa Bay Bucs were great at losing, and they were. But here’s the thing: Those teams were badly overmatched. They had no talent whatsoever and week after week they were simply overwhelmed. Those 2008 Lions were outscored by more than two touchdowns, on average, and as the year went on the talent gap increased. They were outscored by 18 or more six times that season. The 1976 Buccaneers were outscored by an average three touchdowns per game and were shut out in five of their 14 games. They were outscored by 18 or more nine times.

These Browns have a little bit of talent. They have been outscored by 18 or more points only one time all year. Admittedly, that’s a cherry-picked number — the Browns have been outscored by 17 and 16 — but even with that, Cleveland has been in all but a couple of games in the fourth quarter. I use the phrase “in games” loosely, but a normal team that is within a score or so in the fourth quarter would consider itself “in the game.” These Browns have outgained opponents six times in 12 losses. They have had quote-unquote chances to win most of their games this year. And yet they have not come especially close to winning any of them, even the overtime loss to Tennessee. This is their talent. We know of professional hitmen, professional hitters, professional chefs. The Browns are professional losers.

* * *

It seems silly to discuss actual strategy considering that the Browns did not come close to beating the Chargers but with 12 or so minutes left in the game, the Browns trailed by 12 points and drove fairly deep into San Diego territory. They had first and 10 from the Chargers 17, at which point DeShone Kizer threw three incomplete passes in a row because this is what he does. Kizer has completed an astonishing 26.4% of his passes in the red zone. He’s not alone at this level of red zone stinkiosity — Tom Savage and Jacoby Brissett are right there with him — but he’s the only one at this level who anyone is (with a straight face) calling “The quarterback of the future.”

*MIke Schur, who you might recall promised to become a Browns fan and then reneged about 12 seconds later, actually watched a little bit of Sunday’s game, the first time all year he’s watched Cleveland play. He sent me this text: “Has Kizer been this bad all year? Because he is not a pro QB.” 

Anyway, fourth and 10 from the 17, twelve minutes left, down 19-7.

The Browns kicked the field goal. Sure they did.

Now, look, I won’t play dumb: I know why they kicked it. By kicking the field goal the Browns went from needing two touchdowns to win to needing a touchdown and a field goal to win. I guess you could argue that’s better. Plus fourth down and 10 is a longshot play for even a good team and a no shot at all play for DeShone Kizer’s Cleveland Browns. So, sure, I can explain why they kicked.

Still … kicking that field goal in that situation perfectly describes the Browns’ unique talent for losing games professionally. The Browns came into this game 0-11. Their coach came into this game 1-26. How bad do things have to get for the team to actually try and win the game? Kicking that field goal all but guaranteed a loss. Do you know what that field goal did to the Chargers win percentage?

Before: 97.9% chance of victory.

After: 97.3% chance of victory.

That’s right, that field goal improved the Browns chances of winning by less than one percent. Good math! It was a losing play made by a losing team with a losing administration and a losing coach … and at a time when all of them should have nothing to lose. What were they worried about? That they would miss the playoffs? Heck, they have next year’s first pick all but wrapped up — every other team in the NFL has at least TWO wins.

And let’s say the Browns went for it and failed. So what? How is that significantly worse than kicking the field goal there? Meanwhile, MAKING the first down would actually give the Browns a reasonable chance of making a comeback.

Professional losers.

* * *

After the Browns kicked the field goal, a minor-miracle happened — the Browns defense forced the Chargers to punt for the first time all day. The Browns promptly went into a beautifully orchestrated hurry-up offense, moving down the field with lightning speed, and ha ha ha ha ha, no I’m joking, the Browns coughed and wheezed and plodded down the field, huddling between plays, wasting time like it was a snow day home from school.

Eventually — and somewhat improbably — the Browns got the ball down to the Chargers 6 and you know what that means.

Red zone plan!

First, second-year wide receiver Corey Coleman had to commit a holding penalty, which he did splendidly. Corey Coleman, reminder, was the Browns first-round pick last year and the first wide receiver taken. True, he caught exactly zero passes on Sunday but to be fair he did commit this holding penalty. So, you know, win-win.

First and goal from the 15, Kizer threw an incomplete pass intended for Josh Gordon (a nice defensive play), and then he threw an incomplete pass to Corey Coleman (kind of a drop) and then the Browns called timeout because that’s what you do when you’re down nine points with five minutes left in the game. You down want to have too many of those pesky timeouts when you’re trying to make a comeback.

After the timeout, DeShone Kizer dropped back to throw, didn’t find anyone open, and so he just held on the to the ball and held on to the ball and held on to the ball and held on to the ball (the Chargers’ Joey Bosa started to close in on him) and held on to the ball (Bosa got ready to hit him) and held on to the ball (BLAMMO!).The ball came loose. Los Angeles recovered. It was the most predictable ending possible.

Here’s where the television announcers made what I have come to call their “Browment.”

Browment (BROU-mint), n, a thoroughly silly comment national announcers make about bad football teams or players because national announcers have to say mostly nice things, even about bad football teams or players.

Fortunately, this week’s browment was not “The Browns did not quit.” That’s the usual browment, and it’s beyond annoying. But, all credit, they avoided that one this week. Instead, this week’s browment came after the fumble and it went something like this, “Well, that’s a tough break, DeShone Kizer was trying to make a play there.”

He was trying to make a play. First of all, that ridiculous, they’re ALWAYS trying to make a play. But more to the point here, DeShone Kizer by holding on to the ball WAS trying to make a play, sure … if he was back at Notre Dame and they were playing Navy. NFL quarterbacks learn more or less at their first practice that the one sure way not to make a play in this league is to hold on to the football for a half hour. In the NFL trying to make a play means THROWING THE STUPID BALL BEFORE THE GUY HITS YOU FROM BEHIND.

DeShone Kizer hasn’t quite picked that one up yet in Week 10 of his NFL career.

Professional losers.

* * *

There’s one more play to discuss even though it had nothing to do with the final score. The Browns got the ball back with 2:08 left, still down by nine, and though they only had about a 1.6% chance of winning if they were a decent NFL team (and a 0.0% chance being the Browns), Kizer did manage to hit Josh Gordon for a 39-yard play against a soft Chargers defense. That moved the ball to the Chargers 28, and if they could score quickly and recover an onside kick and …

With 1:58 left, Kizer dropped back to throw. Nobody was open. So he held on to the ball and held on to the ball and held on to the ball and you know how this will end. The Chargers’ Darius Philon started to chase him down. This time, Kizer saw the defender so, naturally, he threw the ball away to stop the clock and give the Browns …

… no, he didn’t do that.

He just kept on holding on to the ball. He had, no exaggeration, 25 opportunities to throw the ball away. Even as he was getting dragged to the ground, he could have thrown the ball away on his way down. But he didn’t. He just didn’t.

It’s weird that this meaningless play would end up being my breaking point on Kizer, but it is. No quarterback who would hold on to that ball in that situation for no reason at all and take a sack in the final two minutes can ever become a good NFL quarterback.*

*Mike Schur just texted me to ask what quarterbacks the Browns have passed on in the first round, year by year.

In 1999, the Browns had the first pick and took Tim Couch. They passed on Donovan McNabb. So the franchise started off well.

In 2000, the Browns had the first pick again but the best QB to go in the first round (the only one) was Chad Pennington. Of course, a fair quarterback went in the sixth round that year.

In 2001, the Browns had the third pick and took Gerald Warren. Drew Brees went with the first pick in the second round.

In 2002, the Browns took running back William Green with the 16th pick. They didn’t miss anybody.

In 2003, the Browns took Jeff Faine, a center, with the 21st pick, and again they didn’t pass up a good quarterback.

In 2004, the Browns took tight end Kellen Winslow. Five picks later, Pittsburgh took Ben Roethlisberger. Sigh.

In 2005, the Browns used the third pick on Braylon Edwards. There were rumors that if one of the top two quarterbacks dropped to Cleveland, they would take him. One of those quarterbacks dropped to Cleveland and just kept on dropping. It might not have been bad if Cleveland had taken Aaron Rodgers.

In 2006, Cleveland took defensive end Kamerion Wimbley. They didn’t miss a quarterback.

In 2007, Cleveland made their one glorious pick of the decade, taking Joe Thomas with the third pick. The Browns drafted quarterback Brady Quinn with the 22nd pick — trading ahead of KC to make that pick — but he didn’t pan out. There really wasn’t a better option.

In 2008, the Browns did not have a first, second or third round pick. That’s how you build championships.

In 2009, Cleveland took Alex Mack with the 21st pick. They didn’t miss a quarterback.

In 2010, Cleveland used the seventh pick on Joe Haden. No quarterbacks missed.

In 2011, Cleveland took Phil Taylor, a defensive tackle, with the 21st pick. They could have taken Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick and done better. Heck, they could STILL take Colin Kaepernick and do better.

In 2012, Cleveland made the colossal blunder of taking Trent Richardson with the third pick. Then with the 22nd pick, they took a quarterback — Brandon Weeden. Not great. Quarterbacks that went later (outside of the first round) included Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins.

In 2013 — and I must admit that seeing these picks all in a row gives me a whole new appreciation for just what a fiasco this organization has been,  the Browns took Barkevious Mingo with the sixth pick. There were no quarterbacks to take, however.

In 2014, the Browns had two first round picks! One of them ended up being one of the all-time busts in NFL history, Justin Gilbert. And the other was Johnny Manziel. The fact Johnny Football was the second-worst first round pick for Cleveland that year is a nice touch. Sure, they could have taken Teddy Bridgewater or, better, Derek Carr. But they didn’t.

In 2015, the Browns took nose tackle Danny Shelton, who has developed into a pretty good player, and offensive lineman Cameron Erving, who has not. They really did not pass on a quarterback.

In 2016, the Browns traded out of the second pick rather than take Carson Wentz. Later, they took Cody Kessler instead of Zak Prescott.

In 2017, the Browns traded out of the 16th pick rather than take Deshaun Watson. Later, they took DeShone Kizer, and we’re all caught up.

Anyway, after Kizer took that pointless sack that ran 30 seconds off the clock, he tried to throw the ball into triple coverage and had his pass intercepted. Professional losers.






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44 Responses to Browns go to 0-12

  1. Steve Sneiderman says:

    Great as always, but one error. In 2000 the Browns didnt take Justin Smith (I don’t even know who that is). Instead they took Gerard “Big Money” Warren, who was according to Butch Davis, the nicest person ever arrested by Pittsburgh police on a gun charge.

    There has to be a bottom somewhere, doesnt it?

  2. Scott says:

    I know that Joe did this because they are the Browns, but I don’t think that anyone can seriously criticize them for not picking Tom Brady; every team passed on him. But this raises an interesting question: at what point in the draft can a team be criticized for passing on a player?

    • Darrel says:

      This reminds me of the Detroit Red Wings. I’m a hockey guy, being Canadian will do that to you, and the story is that the Red Wings built a consistent winner through draft and development. Or at least that is how most people will tell it. Unfortunately it isn’t really true. They built a team that made the playoffs for 20+ years by drafting Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, 2 hall of fame players, with 6th and 7th round picks. This is not brilliant drafting it is pure dumb luck. If I’m a team owner and he tells me that he knew player z was going to be a hall of famer but decided to wait until the seventh round to draft him then that conversation ends with said GM being fired.
      The same is of course true of Brady. If the patriots had any clue what kind of player that he would become then they would have drafted him in the first round. No team can be blamed for passing on Brady when even the team that did draft him passed 5 times. To me blame has to stop after the first round. If consensus was the player isn’t a first round guy then the individual teams shouldn’t have to wear that forever.

      • Rob Smith says:

        Agree. And passing on Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson are in this same realm…. along with Zak Prescott. Nobody looked at any of these guys as franchise QBs. Apparently, for some reason, the Redskins still aren’t sold on Cousins despite him giving them several more than solid years in a row. He’s arguably a Top 10 QB. And let’s not forget, in light of his performance this year, Case Keenum was an undrafted FA. Nobody saw him as an NFL starter… and he already did start for the Rams several times.

        I would say Deshawn Watson is a big miss…. but a miss that was made by a lot of teams letting him go as long as they did. The 12th pick was WAY too late in a league where a franchise QB is a requirement to win. I don’t understand that one. He had talent and winner written all over him & some were saying he should have been the top pick. I guess the draft reports thought he turned the ball over too much at Clemson (true) and some questioned his arm strength. That last one is a head scratcher. Those opinions feel like someone looking for a reason not to draft him, though, and not real reasons.

        And I somewhat understand missing on Wentz. The talent evaluators did think he was a top pick & he rocketed up the boards after the combine and pro days. But he also did play at a lower level which is bound to give teams pause. Especially a team like the Browns that always get it wrong & aren’t willing to think too much outside the box.

        All that said, I didn’t see Deshone Kizer as being the answer. His own college coach didn’t think he was ready. I personally think he would have been available in a later round, as well, if someone did like him.

        • nightfly says:

          There are so many positions to fill in a football team, and only seven rounds per year… so in that case, I think you’d have to extend “missing on a pick” beyond the first round. NFL teams *need* some of those other picks to hit, too. It’s more of a crapshoot when you’re taking guys who slid for whatever reason, but that’s where you have to develop a sense of which guys will live up to their potential, warts and all.

          Look at any typical NFL draft and nearly all of the players taken will eventually get at least a few games in the NFL; you also find an appreciable number of undrafted free agents making contributions. Compare that to the NHL – same number of rounds, but with much smaller rosters. There the number of guys from lower rounds who appear in even a single NHL game is usually under 30%.

          Case in point: the 2012 NFL draft, exactly one player in the top 100 picks never made the field (#79, Brandon Hardin). In the same year’s NHL draft, that number is 34 different players, including picks #32-35. (Interestingly, three of the four were in the Islanders organization at one point.) Only two of the top ten NFL draftees in terms of games played were first-rounders in 2012; all of the top-ten NHL players were.

          Top talent? The of the eight All-Pro NFLers so far in that draft class were first rounders, covering five of the eleven selections. The 2012 NHL class hasn’t had any All-NHL selections yet (a function of there only being 12 total instead of 24), but the five years covered show an overwhelming bias towards the first round in general and even top-five picks in particular – 35 of the 60 total selections went to first-round talent, including the first overall picks of six different drafts, and four other top-five players.

          • Rob Smith says:

            I did a mini analysis on MLB players. As far as starting every day players and starting pitchers (at least the front end starters, not the back end, barely there starters), they virtually all came from the first couple of draft rounds. You’d find some variations, of course. Like Tim Hudson in the 8th round or obviously Mike Piazza in the 50-something round. But, by and large, the stars in the league were drafted very high.

        • Brian Schwartz says:

          Also, all of those quarterbacks the Browns missed on would have looked much worse if they played for the Browns. If Tom Brady played for the Browns, even if we assume he never got injured and singlehandedly added four wins a year, he would have only had five 10-win seasons in an 18-year career. He’d be considered a quarterback who had a few good years but can’t win consistently.

      • John Nacca says:

        Spot on……there was actually an article (the yearly one) in the Rochester paper after the Patriots, again, beat Buffalo and the headline was “Bills passed on Brady”. Well 198 spots were used on someone else then a Michigan QB (never been a glamorous QB-school) that split time with Drew Henson (who actually WAS supposed to BE somebody). But teams that have sucked since 1999 (Bills) ALWAYS post a stupid article like that after Brady beats them.

        Funny thing is, EVERY Patriots fan that have been fans since 2001 need to send a boatload of gifts every Christmas to the Mo Lewis household. Dumb luck indeed.

    • MikeN says:

      This always bothered me when people criticized Rick Pitino’s draft picks. They would declare the best player taken later and say he took X instead of Y! By that standard Jerry West would have been a bad drafter as well.

  3. Marc Schneider says:

    The Browns are 4-40 since 2015. At least, I guess, they can savor each win. My god, how do you do that in the NFL? Why does anyone still go to the games?

    • Rob Smith says:

      Thinking about sad sack teams, I thought about the old Falcons before Arthur Blank bought the team and changed the culture. When the Smith’s owned the team and basically had no idea what they were doing & the Falcons were usually terrible. They were famous for never having had back to back winning seasons until a few years ago. The first 3 years of their existence, after being an expansion team, they were 5-35. And that’s not really fair because under the expansion rules of the time, they were going to be bad. The next worst three year stretch they were 11-31. That’s two 4 win and one 3 win season. And that’s still WAY better than the the Browns. Heck the first three years as an expansion team were better than the Browns. It’s truly amazing how bad the Browns have been. Historically bad.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Yes, you can’t really compare the early Falcons in the pre-free agency days to the Browns. The Falcons won their last three games in their first year after starting 0-11. Expansion teams had no chance in those days. (Of course, the Falcons were lousy most of the time for their first thirty years of so.) There’s no excuse for the Browns.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Looking at another historically bad team, the ‘Aints of the 1970s: They had a three year stretch where they were 8-30-4 and one where they were 9-33. Terrible, but still not as bad as the Browns.

      Also: the Lions. They had a 5-29 streak in the 40s. More recently they had an 8-40 stretch. It’s possible (not really) that the Browns could win their last four games and get to 7-40 over the last three years. But it looks like the Browns will end up 4-44 (although they certainly could beat the Bears and merely go 5-43).

      The expansion Bucs were 7-37 in their first three years, btw.

      Can anyone find a three year stretch worse than the current Browns streak?

      • nightfly says:

        You’d have to go back to World War II, with the Cardinals going 1-29 from 1943-1945. Include the year before that and they had a 29-game losing streak as part of a stretch where they went 1-36 (they also lost the 1946 opener). And that’s pretty much the gold standard. The Cards from ’38-’45 went 12-70-3. That takes some real doing. What’s perhaps more impressive is that they won the NFL Championship in 1947.

        What Cleveland is currently doing is truly astonishing. If Cleveland can win 9 of their next 33, that gets them to 13-69, or .1585. That gets them (barely) ahead of the Cards if you ignore the ties, or gets them close enough in win percentage if you could the ties as a half-win – the Cards would wind up at .1588, and out of charity to the Browns I think we could just round both numbers up to .159.

  4. Bryan Adams says:

    What’s still sort of astounding is: in their ONLY victory in two years, they literally had to block the winning field goal to seal the victory. They are literally a regular-made-field-goal away from being 0-28 right now.

  5. Ken Tremendous says:

    Joe, like most writers, is still hung up on outdated stars like wins.

    If he were a genius, like Paul DePodesta and me, he’d understand that winning is for losers. A GM’s job is to have a master plan that only makes sense to people as smart as me.

    I mean, idiots like Brian Sabean are proud of themselves for winning championships, which is a matter of luck. But it takes far more than luck to go 0-16.

  6. Scoop K says:

    “They had first and 10 from the Chargers 17, at which point DeShone Kizer threw three incomplete passes in a row because this is what he does. Kizer has completed an astonishing 26.4% of his passes in the red zone.”

    Kizer also has 5 red zone INTs and a couple of fumbles there too. It’s staggering. Maybe the Browns need to take another cue from baseball and bring in a relief QB when they get down by the goal line. Cody Kessler has 6 career red zone TDs and, more importantly, no picks! Plus “closer” is right there in his name!

    • Rob Smith says:

      Kessler was known at USC as the checkdown king. He would check down regularly & rarely throw the ball downfield unless it was wide open. The funny thing is that current QB at USC Sam Darnold is the exact opposite. Kind of a Brett Farve type gunslinger.

  7. Mark Daniel says:

    This is probably a good time to remind everyone that DeShone Kizer wasn’t even a good quarterback in college.

  8. DSE4AU says:

    Of course, the obvious other side to the “draft miss” thoughts is would those guys have been successful in Cleveland. Wentz has a pretty good running game and O-Line in Philly. Dak has a great supporting cast in Dallas. I suspect ANY QB Cleveland picked the last couple of years would be viewed as a bust right now. Of course, they would be better than Kizer, who I don’t remember being that good at ND. Still, if a Prescott or Wentz came in and Cleveland had won 3 games last year, and 2 or 3 this year, we would still say they were terrible! But I got back to my comment last week, I would only be 1 loss worse as coach of the Browns over the last 2 seasons.

  9. Kris says:


    In the red zone, instead of Kizer holding onto the ball or throwing an incompletion or an interception, why doesn’t the coaching staff teach him to drop-kick it? At least if it goes through the uprights, it’s 3 pts.

  10. moviegoer74 says:

    Jets to Cleveland: Hold my Beer.

    My favorite draft futility note of all time… The Jets passed on the all-time leading passer (Dan Marino), the all-time leading receiver (Jerry Rice), and the all time leading rusher (Emmitt Smith). All 3 were 1st round picks so it’s not a “Tom Brady hidden gem in the 6th round” kind of deal either.

    Some details. First, this is no longer exactly true as Marino has long since been eclipsed. But it was true. Second, there may be other teams that passed on all 3. Probably not, but maybe. But this is where it gets good. The Jets passed on all 3 of those guys TO TAKE A GUY AT THE SAME POSITION. That’s right, the Jets drafted a QB ahead of the 1st round pick that would become the all-time leading passer, they drafted a WR ahead of the 1st round pick that would become the all time leading receiver, and they drafted a RB ahead of the 1st round pick that would become the all time leading rusher. That is draft futility that will never be topped.

    It’s one thing to pass on Dan Marino because you’ve decided to take the best left tackle on the board. It’s another to pass on him to draft Ken O’Brien.

    It’s one thing to pass on Jerry Rice to take a linebacker, it’s another to take Al Toon.

    It’s one thing to pass on Emmitt Smith to take a QB. It’s another to pass on him to take Blair Thomas.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      In fairness to the Jets, neither Ken O’Brien or Al Toon, while obviously not Dan Marino and Jerry Rice, were really busts. They were pretty good players. Marino was the subject of rumors coming out of Pitt about drug use. That’s likely why he lasted until the Dolphins’ pick even though the Dolphins has been in the Super Bowl the year before. So a bunch of teams passed him by. Obviously, a lot of teams were wrong about Marino as they were wrong about Aaron Rodgers. A lot of people were skeptical about a kid coming out of Mississippi Valley State as well.

      • Rob Smith says:

        Yeah, the whole league passed on Marino. Not just because of the drug rumors, but because he had a less productive senior year than he had the year before. I don’t recall the reasons, but this happens pretty often if a team graduates a bunch of stars. I’m thinking USC this year with Darnold. He had a new offensive line, a new set of receivers and everyone’s shocked that he’s not as good this year. A lot of those guys that graduated are in the NFL. The Aaron Rogers thing was really a puzzler. He turned Cal into a power and was going toe to toe with the great USC teams of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinert. In both the case of Rogers and Marino (and Leinert too for that matter…though obviously for good reason in retrospect), teams found reasons NOT to draft them. So a couple of smart teams that didn’t really need a QB (Dolphins and Packers) were essentially handed HOFers. I think the same thing could happen with Sam Darnold. He’s a future Brett Favre type QB. But teams will look at the turnovers and his supposed lack of pocket presence…. translation, his offensive line is terrible so he’s running for his life (because his offensive line isn’t that good)….and he’ll drop down the draft board. You already have “draft experts” saying that Darnold needs another year in college and isn’t read for the pros. That might have some truth in it, but it also doesn’t mean that 2-3 years from now he won’d be a Pro Bowl QB. It just might take a little longer and some good coaching.

    • MikeN says:

      The Portland Trail Blazers in taking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan let the Dallas Mavericks off the hook. They had two picks in that draft and
      took forward Sam Perkins and guard Terrence Stansbury exactly one spot ahead of Charles Barkley and John Stockton.

      • Rob Smith says:

        Obviously the Bowie pick can’t be justified in hindsight. But I will say that he would have been a very good player if he could have stayed healthy. The problem with that argument is that he wasn’t really healthy in college. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Obviously Hakeem, picked ahead of Jordan, wasn’t exactly a bad pick.

        To be fair on Barkley and Stockton: The concern on Barkley was that (1) he was a 6′ 4″ power forward and (2) he had weight issues. How many guys fitting that description have made in the NBA. Remember, he was cut from the Olympic team that year and ended up using that and his draft position as motivation to get in better shape and prove everyone wrong. And STILL, Barkley was picked #5. That’s a pretty high pick. Also, Perkins did have an above average career, though clearly not at Barkley’s level.

        As far as Stockton, he was drafted 16th which is not out of line for a 6′ 1″ guard from Gonzaga (which wasn’t on the map like they are today). I don’t think too many people saw him as a future HOFer. Otherwise, half the league wouldn’t have passed on him.

        • Brad says:

          I remember watching Barkley play in college and was stunned at how good he was. He dominated games. The real shocker was not that he dropped to #5, but that he didn’t make the Olympic team, which if I recall was more about a personality clash with Bobby Knight (imagine that). Most sites listed him at 6’6 but that might have been generous. Waymon Tisdale was the only other college player I saw in that era who could dominate like Sir Charles.

          • Rob Smith says:

            I don’t think there was really a clash between Knight and Barkley. There was somewhat an issue with Knight (and John Thompson) perceiving that Barkley was out of shape. But the team was constructed with big men around the basket (Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, Joe Klein, Jon Koncack) and three point specialists (Chris Mullin, Steve Alford, Alvin Robertson). So I think Barkley ended up being kind of a tweener. Not a big man and not a three point shooter & became the odd man out because of the style of play. Obviously Barkley could have been a big factor in that Olympics. But the US did win rather easily without him.

  11. Brad says:

    I actively follow the Big 12, and was shocked when they picked Gilbert. I’d never heard of him, and he was not an impact player, yet the Browns vastly overrated him. I was wrong about Manziel, who I thought might develop into a Doug Flutie type. Flutie, was serious about his football and worked hard at it. Manziel, well, we all know the story.
    Same with Kizer. I’d seen enough ND football to see that he was not a player. Seems the Browns scouts confuse being athletic with being a player. I’m afraid the Chiefs made that mistake by passing on Watson and taking Mahomes. We shall find out.
    In summary, the Browns should have kept Mike Pettine and gotten rid of their GM and scouting department. That seems to be where the problem is emanating from. You keep picking crappy players year after year and it’s tough to win.

    • Kris says:


      Obviously, you’re spot on about the GM and scouting department selections which have been, for the most part… dreadful. My question is this – how good can Cody Kessler and/or Kevin Hogan be – since they can’t crack the lineup or start? I say this with the caveat that some backup QB’s have been backups and then became decent starters.

      Another irony of being a life-long Cleveland fan, it always appears that the Browns and Indians … do better when they get players from other teams than from their own selections (farm system in Tribe’s case). Of course, over the course of time there are some exceptions to this … but really not many.

  12. Dale says:

    Did they use analytics to fire the GM?

  13. Zach says:

    You know what? I think you’re going to love Dorsey as the new General Manager.

    You’re always complaining that the Browns don’t like players. Well, Dorsey loves players.

    His first year with the Chiefs was wonderfully pragmatic. The Chiefs needed a quarterback, but there was nobody worth taking in the draft? No problem, we’ll take that guy (the beginning of the Alex Smith era). They worked the waiver wire hard, and got some pretty quality players just by virtue of having open positions where they could play.

    • Zach says:

      The Chiefs, of course, are frustrating in their own way. They always take whatever quarterback is available, and never invest in a young guy (until this year!).

      But it was kind of bracing at the time. They had such terrible quarterback play the year before, there were no prospects on the draft board, and they just decided “You know what? No sweat. Let’s just take the best guy available and build around him. We can find the quarterback of the future another year.”

    • Brian Schwartz says:

      If Dorsey is going to have a chance to do the job right, Jackson and DePodesta need to be fired too. Continuity is a nice ideal, but doesn’t make sense with guys who are terrible at their jobs.

  14. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Give up on the Browns. Give up on the NFL. Give up on the sport of football. What if the Browns threatened to move (unless what? dunno) and the city fathers and local media and the guys in the Dawg Pound all said fine, just don’t slam the door on the way out? Oh, they already did? Concussions won’t hurt the brains on the field. The guys on the sidelines and the FO could also stand a few. I can manage a few weeks between baseball and basketball. I can even read books. I also grew up in Cleveland. I’m on the other side of the world now, but yes, I remember Jim Brown, Frank Ryan (a QB who was and is an intelligent man, a professor with a Ph.D.) all those great linemen and receivers and defense. You would be better off doing job retraining than to keep writing about the Browns.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      Yehoshua, If you don’t like Joe writing about the Browns, don’t read the articles. No one is forcing you too. I would guess most are enjoying his articles. As for reading books, why can’t you enjoy football AND read books. I do. Really, your rant is incomprehensible; I can’t tell if you are upset with football generally or the Browns being bad. But I find it very annoying when people try to tell other people what they should or should not like. If you are on the other side of the world, you should be able to find something to do other than read Joe’s columns about the Browns without lecturing people.

    • Ted Logan says:

      It’s actually pronounced GPODAWUND.

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