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Browns now 0-11

Some Browns games are more “fun” to write about than others. I put “fun” in quotation marks because none of them are fun to write about. But some are at least funny or quirky or maddening or emotional. The last two weeks, the Browns have lost convincingly and uninterestingly to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals. These were toothache games where the Browns did some “quote-unquote” good things and sort-of, kind-of, maybe-but-not-really had a chance to win the fourth quarter if this had gone right and that had gone wrong and Superman had come and whatever.

These two games were complete wastes of time, really. The Browns weren’t going to win either, and the good signs don’t add up to anything, and people are muttering the same nonsense about them not quitting and forget all that. Let’s do some math instead.

On the PosCast last week, Mike Schur and I wrestled with what seemed a spectacular statistic in USA Today’s “For The Win” column. They had said that in order for Bill Belichick to match the winning-percentage (or, if you prefer, losing percentage) of Cleveland coach Hue Jackson, he would have to lose 610,000 games in a row.

This seemed utterly ridiculous to us, but hey they printed it, and we thought it would make a fun topic on the PosCast. As usual, we did no prep work before the actual recording. So the minute we started talking about it we realized — Mike more strongly — that this statistic had to be wrong. There was no way that it could possibly be 610,000 games. So then we thought, “Maybe it’s 61,000 games,” but that’s obviously very wrong too.

Here is how you do the math.

Hue Jackson’s record now is 1-26. That is amazing in so many ways. Relish it: You might never see it again. How often do you think a team would let a coach keep going with a 1-26 record?

Anyway: 1-26 is a .037 winning percentage. That’s 1 divided by 27.

Bill Belichick’s record is 246-117, a .677 winning percentage. That’s a lot better. So our question is how many consecutive games would Belichick have to lose in order to have a .037 winning percentage.

First thing you do is divide 246 by the winning percentage of .037.

That number (247/.037) rounded up, is 6,648. That is the total number of games that Belichich would have to coach. OK?

Now, we take 6,648 games and subtract the 246 games he’s won. That’s 6,402.

So his record would have to be 246-6,402 in order to have a .037 winning percentage.

Now we take the 6,402 losses he would need and subtract the 117 losses he already has. That’s 6,285 games in a row that Bill Belichick would have to lose in a row for him to match Hue Jackson’s losing percentage. That is 392 consecutive 0-16 seasons and the first 13 games of the 393rd season.

When I texted Michael Schur this number, he wrote back: “Probably not going to happen.”

No. Probably not.

* * *

Cleveland’s second-year wide receiver Corey Coleman dropped a touchdown pass on Sunday. There are different levels of dropped touchdown passes in the NFL, obviously. A Level 10 drop would be something like what happened to Jackie Smith in the Super Bowl — you are standing alone in the end zone, the ball is thrown to you, it bounces off your chest and falls to the ground. And Verne Lundquist shouts out, “O bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America.”

Coleman’s drop was more like a Level 9. He had run by the defender and DeShone Kizer — in what was admittedly a rare moment — threw a beautifully weighted pass that dropped over the defender and right into Coleman’s hands. But to say the ball went through Coleman’s hands would not be exactly right; it was more like he awkwardly reached for the pass, as if he was not quite sure if it was a football or a bowling pin or napsack filled with gold medalions falling from the sky. He was more likely to befriend the football and teach it how to do advanced mathematics than catch it.

His momentary uncertainty about how to catch an actual touchdown pass was disturbing for many reasons but mostly Corey Coleman is kind of a touchstone for this Browns organization. As you already know, these analytical Browns do not like drafting players. They like acquiring draft picks instead. The last two years they were in the draft position to take quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson and in both cases they traded out of those spots in order to get more draft picks. You’ve heard that expression: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

The Browns expression is “A bird in the hand is worth a first-round bird next year, a third-round bird in 2019, and a fifth-round in 2018, and next year’s first-round bird might be worth a lower first-round bird next year plus a fourth-round bird in 2020 and it’s possible to package that fourth-round bird along with another first-round bird for two-second round birds and a conditional bird in 2021 …”

So, yes, Corey Coleman is a rare bird for the Browns, a player they actually took in the first round. He was the 15th pick in the draft last year out of Baylor, the first wide receiver chosen in that draft, and as such he offers special insight into a question we still do not know how to answer: How good is this Browns’ management is at scouting football players?

The signs are … not promising, no. Corey Coleman has been injured a lot in his young career and he has not exactly had Tom Brady throwing passes his way. So it’s not fair to make any final judgements. But you can say this with some confidence: He isn’t exactly great. He’s kind of small, fairly brittle and has dropped a lot of passes. He’s got good speed so every now and again he runs by a defender, but generally speaking he doesn’t seem to get open all that much.

I realize that “Catch Percentage” is an imperfect statistic — it takes actual catches and divides it by number of times the receiver was targeted — but it might mean something that of the 181 receivers and tight ends who have caught 25 passes the last two seasons, Coleman ranks 177th in catch percentage. He has caught just 45.7% of the passes thrown his way, and yes some of that is on the dreadful parade of quarterbacks who have been throwing those passes. But I mean at some point, you have to beat your man and catch the ball. The Browns drafted him 15th overall to do that. He ain’t doing it.

Coleman was last year’s first-round skill position pick. This year the Browns took Myles Garrett with the first overall pick — he was the consensus choice, they really didn’t have another option, but he looks promising — and then later in the first round they took safety Jabril Peppers and tight end David Njoku. Both played terribly Sunday as they have all season.

Peppers committed the most significant penalty of the game, though to be fair to him it seemed a terrible call. He was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver late in the game when it looked like what he actually did was hit a receiver and knock the ball free, the thing a safety is supposed to do. But just as Browns fans were building righteout ourtage in defense of Peppers, he promptly got run over by Bengals ball carriers on the next two plays. It is hard to focus too much on Peppers being wronged when he’s looked entirely overmatched all season.

Njoku, meanwhile, committed what I believe was the 4,398th offensive pass interference penalty of his young career. They didn’t stop the game to give him the football.

If these are the players you actually get when you draft, maybe trading draft picks is the wiser play.

* * *’s Dan Labbe got the “Hey, the Browns aren’t quitting” story this week.

“It’s a man’s game,” (Christian) Kirksey said. “Men don’t quit. Men don’t fold. So I was just encouraging the guys to keep grinding, keep trying to move forward, don’t get down on yourself, don’t hold your head.”

It’s one thing that you can point to with this roster the last two years. For all the flaws, the one thing that no one can say is that they have given up.

NO ONE can say that, Dan? NO ONE? OK, you know what, let me say it. They’ve given up. I don’t really know that they’ve given up, I don’t even know what giving up would mean in a real sense, but I don’t like the construction of that sentence: “One thing that that no one can say.” It is one thing that people CAN say and SHOULD say as many times as they like. This Browns team is 1-26 the last two years. Of course they have given up. The Browns have given up. They have totally given up. They have completely given up. They absolutely given up. They have quit. They have packed it in. They have stopped trying. They have GIVEN UP.

Here’s what I don’t get about the whole “At least the Browns haven’t given up,” line of analysis: How much different would it look if they really had given up? I mean, would they not show up for games? Would they forget to put on their uniforms and come instead wearing raggedy old sweatpants and T-shirts? Would you have to call players at halftime because they were at home eating chips and salsa.

“Dude, what are you doing?”

“Don’t call me Dude. I told you before. I’m watching last week’s Kevin Can Wait.”

“Are you not coming to the game? Cause we, like, really need you.”

“Nah, man. I quit already.”

“You can’t quit. We need you. We love you.”

“All right, fine, let me pause it. I’ll come now.”

Would they just try running their own plays just for the heck of it (kind of like Kizer did at the goal line with 15 seconds left in the half against Detroit?). Would they sloppily commit the most turnovers in the NFL? Would they lose all eleven games they play in a season?

What powerful indication is there that the Browns have not given up? Their promptness? Giving up, if that’s even a thing, is not easily seen. Giving up might represent not putting in the same heightened effort as an opponent, not making the sort of deeply considered decisions that other teams make, not playing up to your potential, not believing entirely in yourself or your teammates, not doing everything possible to win a game. Heck, most Browns fans (and people in Browns management?) at this point, even some of the hopeful ones, are rooting for the winless season so that the Browns can lock down the No. 1 pick next year. Just think how many future draft picks THAT could yield!

Some might call that “Tanking.”

Another phrase for that is GIVING UP.


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27 Responses to Browns now 0-11

  1. Bryan Adams says:

    I’m glad your simplification hasn’t prevented you from doing this weekly. At this point, your columns are by far the most enjoyable part of this season.

  2. Ricky B. says:

    I applaud your work with mathematics, but you did A LOT more work than you had to in order to get how many games Belichick would need to lose to match Jackson’s winning percentage (and unfortunately came up with an incorrect answer). For every one game Jackson has won, he has lost 26. So for every game Belichick has won, he needs to lose 26. Simply put, 246 multiplied by 26, or 6,396 losses. Subtract the losses he already has (117) and you get 6,279. That gets you an exact duplication of Jackson’s current winning percentage.

    • KHAZAD says:

      Of course, he is taking Jackson only with the Browns and Belichick with everyone. Jackson is actually 9-34 overall, so Bill would actually only need 812 consecutive losses to match Hue’s overall winning percentage. Still not going to happen.

      Belichick is 36-44 with the Browns, but as Jackson has only won 1 game there it would take slightly more losses (892) for him to match the winning percentage as a Browns coach only.

      • KHAZAD says:

        Properly though, as Jackson has less games, you would say “What would it take for Jackson to match Belichick?” As a Brown’s coach it would only take 35-18 or 21 consecutive wins to get there faster. To match the total wins in the league, Jackson would have to go 235-83, or putting it in consecutive wins, 63 in a row.

  3. Matt Cramer says:

    Hey Joe, your Belichick/Jackson math is correct, but unnecessarily complicated. Here’s an easier way to accomplish the same thing:

    — Jackson has lost 26 times more games than he’s won (1).

    — Belichick has won 246 games.

    — 246 x 26 = 6,396

    — 6,396-117 = 6,279

    Slightly different number because of your rounding, but same result. Winning percentage of .037

    By the way, have you ever written about Jackson’s one win — the Browns’ “Christmas miracle” last year? It might be worth revisiting as they home in on 0-16 once again. Of course it had to involve the Chargers, who have their own special genius for losing, missing multiple fourth-quarter field goals. What are the chances for a repeat next week?

  4. shagster says:

    No puns intended.

    Option A. Colin Kaepernick. Paired w Gordon, it makes Browns immensely more entertaining and possibly lead to a win.
    Option B. Connor Shaw. Individual with strong enough will to make Cleveland team collectively do the impossible — win.

  5. Brent says:

    A lot of people here aren’t old enough to remember that Jackie Smith drop, but it is referred to all the time as a Super Bowl losing drop, and that isn’t really accurate (and I realize Joe is not saying that here). But for the record, the drop happened in the 1st half of the game, assuming that the Cowboys make the extra point, they tie the game at 21, they did kick a FG to make it 21-17 and they eventually lost by the 4 points they lost from the drop, but . . ., the Steelers were up by 18 in the 4th quarter (and back then that meant the Cowboys were 3 TDs behind, no 2 point conversions), so it’s very possible that the Steelers, both on offense and defense, would have played the 4th quarter differently had they not had such a large lead.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Julio Jones dropped a sure touchdown a couple of weeks ago that could have cost the Falcons an important game. The next game he dropped another simple short pass early in the game. He tapped his chest and seemed to be saying, that’s on me, won’t happen again. Since then he’s caught everything. Receivers all drop balls. But when you start to get a reputation for dropping balls like the Browns receiver, you probably won’t last very long in the league.

    • Rob Smith says:

      Brent: everything you said is true…. but that drop was probably the worst drop in history. He was all alone, mostly stationery, and the ball was put right on him without being thrown too hard. It was literally like playing catch. Everyone feels badly for Smith because he was a great player that is now remembered mainly for that horrible drop.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      But if the Cowboys had gotten the touchdown and tied the score, the the rest of the game might well have played out differently. The Steelers might have played differently, but maybe the Cowboys would have done so as well. It’s a different type of game if the Steelers are ahead 28-21 rather than 28-17 or even 35-21. That’s not even mentioning the emotional lift that Dallas would have gotten if he had caught the ball. Obviously, the Steelers might have won anyway, but the drop, I think, was more important that your analysis suggests.

  6. denopac says:

    Cute, except Hue Jackson’s record as a head coach is 9-34, not 1-26. Why would you include the entirety of Bill Belicheck’s coaching career (including the Browns years), but ignore Jackson’s year with the Raiders?

    • Joe Posnanski says:

      Well, the whole point of the story/stat is to figure out Belichick vs. Jackson’s Browns’ record, but OK, I’ll play along. In order for Belichick to match Hue Jackson’s FULL winning percentage, including his year with the Raiders, he’d only have to lose 805 games in a row or 50 full seasons and the first four games of season 51. So that’s more likely.

      • denopac says:

        Ok, sorry to be so nitpicky (and in a comment in which I misspelled Belichick to boot). But it does seem that you did a little cherry picking of statistics here for maximum effect. For consistency you could have used Jackson/Browns vs Belichick/Pats, but that would have been only 5387 games, which is not as impressive as 6279 or 6285 or whatever it is.

        It’s your blog, and it’s a fun stat, and you’re entitled to twist it however you like. I guess it just seems to me that you’re piling on a little here.

  7. Paul Schroeder says:

    You know, Joe, they do keep talking about adding a couple of games to the season, so Belichick could get that record a little faster than you calculate. Don’t give up hope.

  8. Mark Daniel says:

    Rooting for the winless season. Can’t be good karma in that.

  9. Rob Smith says:

    I think the idea of a team “quitting”, especially in the NFL, is a fallacy. For the team to quit, the players have to quit. With the NFL accurately being known as the Not For Long league, players can’t afford to quit. They’re playing for their jobs every week, but in a bad season, they can’t afford to put themselves in a position where a team considers them expendable. Without a guaranteed contract, they are always in danger of being cut, especially on a zero win team. Worse than being cut, if you’re on film as not trying, very few teams will be interested in even giving you a tryout.

    I think the more accurate description might be “demoralized”. They may be trying hard and playing as hard as they can, but a demoralized team that plays without confidence might have the look of a team that’s not trying.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I agree that no player is going to literally quit as that is most likely to result in them losing their job, but that doesn’t mean they are giving as much effort as they could. If a guy is running down the sideline, does the defensive player go all out to catch him at the one yard line or does he just not quite make the effort. That’s not quitting but it’s not giving full effort. I don’t blame a player for that; it’s hard to give 100% when there is not going to be any reward. But I do think that players on a team like the Browns are likely not making their peak effort, possibly without even being aware that they are not. They aren’t quitting but I doubt they are playing as hard as they can. Who would?

  10. Dan says:

    “Of course they have given up. The Browns have given up. They have totally given up. They have completely given up. They absolutely given up. They have quit. They have packed it in. They have stopped trying. They have GIVEN UP.”

    I’m looking around for John Cleese to start thwacking the Browns against the counter and say “This team wouldn’t VOOOM if you put four thousand volts through it.”

  11. John Nacca says:

    Have to admit that I was very bummed there was no diary last week. Thought you may have given up LOL.

    That being said, I think the Browns end up with two wins. Five games to go, here is their schedule…

    12/3 at Chargers
    12/10 vs Packers
    12/17 vs Ravens
    12/24 at Bears
    12/31 at Steelers

    Going cross-country to play the Chargers will be tough, but you can bet they will be thinking about last year’s loss. Plus we aren’t talking about a powerful team; although they are playing very well, these type of games trip up teams from time to time.

    Home versus Green Bay? Very winnable game. Packers shot their load versus Pittsburgh.

    Joe Flacco looks hopeless, but the Ravens defense should win out.

    The Bears are one of the 5 worst teams in the NFL next to the Browns, Giants, 49ers, and probably Dolphins. THEY look like a team that has quit.

    Steelers always play down to their competition, but I feel it is a game they may need to win for home field throughout.

    My odds for a Browns win….
    Chargers 25%
    Packers 50%
    Ravens 15%
    Bears 65%
    Steelers 5%

    • Gordo says:

      John, I’ll bet you ANY amount of money you care to wager (I’m betting against the Browns) with odds you are quoting. With all due respect, the won’t be close to favored in any game this year.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Well, it’s almost as hard to lose all your games as to win them, so I’m not counting my chickens yet for the Browns going 0-16. I actually think, though, that the Browns being so forlorn makes it less likely that a team like the Chargers overlooks them. Who wants to be the first and likely only team to lose to them?

      • John Nacca says:

        My gambling days are over LOL. My point is more the fact it is virtually impossible to go winless. Think of how bad some teams have been over the last 20 years. All of them except one has snuck out a win at some point after starting the season with 0-11. I just think the schedule is set up for them more then most 0-11 teams to suck out a W. I mean seriously, what do you think the point spread will be for the Bears game?….even if Cleveland is still winless. Bears at home so maybe 5 points? What team seriously are the Bears 5 points better then in ANY location? I bet if the game was in Cleveland, the Bears actually might be an underdog.

      • John Nacca says:

        FYI….today the Bears lost to the 49ers, and Brett Hundley (Packers) threw for 84 yards in a game that went into overtime. Still think either of these two teams are THAT much better then Cleveland?

  12. Knuckles says:

    But… But Paul DePodesta is a GENIUS, Joe! Ken Tremendous told me that 59 trillion times, and he’s always right.

    You’re so hung up on outdated old stats like wins and losses that you don’t appreciate DePodesta’s brilliance.

  13. Kris says:

    For Joe Thomas’ Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, the Hall should fly in all the Quarterback’s he protected. Each could give a 1 minute speech. I think that would be about 35 minutes or so. Add all the NFL head coaches he’s played for, same manner, another 10 minutes! At 45 minutes – does that leave any room for someone more meaningful in his life to speak?

  14. Simon says:

    This line made my week:
    “As you already know, these analytical Browns do not like drafting players. They like acquiring draft picks instead.”
    Gold, Jerry. Gold!

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