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Browns to 0-13

I guess we will begin this epic recap of an epic week in the epic Cleveland Browns history with a common refrain: I knew the Browns were going to lose to Green Bay Sunday. I knew it. People kept texting me that they were going to win. The announcers seemed to think they were going to win. Logic suggested they were going to win.

I knew they were going to lose.

I’m not bragging. Why would anyone brag about such a thing? It is our curse as Browns fans. We are like Salieri; we are the only ones who can hear and understand the true genius of Mozart.The  Browns were up 14 in the fourth quarter. The Packers looked eager to lose. The Browns even seemed to complete a first-down pass late that would have all but iced the game.

I knew they were going to lose. I think most Browns fans did.

More than that, I can tell you EXACTLY when I knew they were going to lose. It was late in the third quarter and the Browns were up those 14 points. They had already blown a timeout because they are the Browns and this is what they do. Then, the Packers completed a 5-yard pass on 2nd and 1, Brett Hundley to Randall Cobb. I’ll remind you, not for the last time, that it was a 5-yard pass. Five yards.

On the play, Cobb bobbled the ball before reeling it in and going out of bounds.

As soon as the play ended, Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams began screaming at the official that Cobb didn’t catch the ball. When Williams was yelling, I didn’t yet know the Browns were going to lose. It was still a mystery. The Packers without Aaron Rodgers were pretty terrible. On fourth and 1 earlier in the quarter, they set up a play … and then apparently forgot it before the snap. Their defense couldn’t stop the Browns running attack, which makes the Packers the first team all year who had that particular trouble. At that moment, I could still envision the Packers losing the game..

But then the Browns decided to challenge the Cobb play.

And that’s when I knew that Cleveland was going to lose.

Yes, in the end, this impossibly stupid challenge — and the resulting lost timeout — had nothing at all to do with Cleveland losing. But it was such a magical bit of incompetence, such a comically droll piece of anti-strategy, that it reminded me that the Browns would absolutely find a way to lose this game because of course they would. No team can match the Browns when it comes to losing.

It was a FIVE YARD PLAY. Remember how i said that earlier. Five yards. Even if the Browns were right and Cobb really did bobble the ball or not get two feet in bounds, SO WHAT? The Packers would be facing a third-and-one. I think of Tom Cruise’s classic line when the real villain of A Few Good Men, Demi Moore, tells him to put Jack Nicholson on the stand.

“What possible good could come from putting him on the stand?” Cruise asks.

Right: What possible good could come from challenging that play? But when they challenged it, I assumed: “OK, well, that’s stupid but if they areactually challenging this I guess they must have a clear-cut, no-doubt, absoultely-can’t-miss camera angle that shows that Cobb very clearly did not catch the ball.”

Nope! He caught it. He got both feet in bounds. It wasn’t even CLOSE.

I just knew the Browns were going to find a way to lose after that.

The Browns were very busy this week, as I’m sure you know. First, they fired Sashi Brown from whatever the heck title they gave him in the Browns front office. You might recall that when the Browns hired Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta they decided that neither of them was actually the team’s “General Manager.” The Browns didn’t want a General Manager. So Sashi had some horrific non-title like “Executive Vice President and Enterprise Director of Football Operations and Athletic Activities VIs a Vis Field Performers in Grass and Turf Exercises.”

And DePodesta’s job seemed to “Chief Strategy Officer in Charge of Analytics that Suggest Ignoring Good Players in the Name of Acquiring More Draft Picks.”

In any case, the Browns fired Sashi Brown and, just a few hours later, hired John Dorsey to be an actual General Manager. I should say: I know John Dorsey a little bit. I spent some time with him a couple of years ago when he was GM of the Chiefs, and I like him. I think he’s a smart guy. I think he’s a good football person. He gives me the first sign of hope that Cleveland will actually take advantage of all those high draft picks that they’ve collected the last few years. I’m not going to say that hiring Dorsey is the move that changes the future of the Cleveland Browns because, really, who the heck knows? But he’s a football guy, and the Browns need a football guy, and it made so much sense that it is hard to believe the Browns did it.

But, alas, one good potentially good move can only mean that the Brownd combined it with something so wacky and baffling that it defies belief.

Right, the Browns announced — with four games remaining in a winless season — that coach Hue Jaackson (he of the 1-27 and now 1-28 record as Browns coach) definitely will be back next year.

OK. Deep breath. There are three things I think about here.

(1) I like Hue Jackson.

(2) I have been begging for the Browns to stick with a plan, any plan. There is no doubt in my mind that a big reason the New Browns are this historic mess is because they have gotten rid of a general manager, coach or coordinator EVERY SINGLE YEAR OF THEIR EXISTENCE.

(3) Huh?

Let’s go with No. 3. Why with four weeks left in the season (a winless season) would you definitively announce that you a coach who has never won a game on a Sunday? I mean, let’s say they show some signs of life in the last four weeks? Let’s say that he and John Dorsey hit it off well? Let’s say that everyone decides when they year ends that there is real hope and that Hue Jackson is the best guy to go forward. OK, I might buy that.

But NOW??? What if the Browns go 0-16 this year? What if Hue Jackson personally blows two or three games (a distinct possibility, by the way)? What if John Dorsey realizes that there’s no way that the team can win with Jackson as the coach (a belief that is already making its way around the league)?

Why would you box yourself in NOW with this team at the lowest point in this team’s subterranean existence? Why? You worried that without this vote of confidence Hue Jackson would quit? You worried that some other team would swoop in and steal him away? Just say what everybody says: Hue Jackson is our coach, we have faith in him, we think he’s is doing the right things, we are all obviously disappointed in what has happened so far, and we will evaluate things when the season is done.

No. The Browns voluntarily tied themselves to a coach with a 1-27 (now 1-28) record. If you made something like this up, nobody would believe you.

Back to Sundays’ game, the Browns seemed to complete a pass to David Njoku with less than three minutes left that would have given Cleveland a first down. Replay showed that Njoku dropped it, and the Browns punted. Then, the Packers got a long punt return where the Browns had roughly 58 chances to tackle the guy but did not.

Then the Packers tied the game up with less than 20 seconds left in regulation. And, then finally, mercifully, came the overtime and the classic Browns blunder. On third and two, Cleveland quarterback DeShone Kizer — who had, undeniably, played his best game — dropped back to make a quick throw. The receiver wasn’t open. A good quarterback throws the ball away. A better quarterback makes a quick turn and looked for a second or third receiver.

Kizer decided to run backward. That was a bad sign. Then he motioned for his receiver to run downfield. That was a worse sign. Then he decided to just heave the ball downfield with no idea what it would do, all while Green Bay’s Clay Matthews closed in on him. That was what made it a particularly Browny moment.

It goes without saying that Clay Matthews hit Kizer’s arm while he was throwing it, and the ball popped up straight in the air, and the Packers intercepted the ball, and six plays later Green Bay scored the winning touchdown when the Browns decided to call their Electric Football defense. I’m pretty sure two Browns were just going in circles on that last play.

After the game, Hue Jackson said more or less what he has said after all 28 of his Browns losses — this team fights, they did some good things, they didn’t make the plays when it mattered most, they will learn from the experience, they will not put their heads down, they will get better from the experience.


The Browns play a pretty good Ravens team at home this weekend. I’d say they have a 30% chance of winning that game. Next week, they play at Chicago, and the Bears are kind of dreadful but still better than Cleveland. Let’s be kind and say that the Browns have a 50% chance of winning that game, even though they probably don’t. The last week, they will play at Pittsburgh, and their best hope there is that the game won’t mean anything to the Steelers and Pittsburgh will play all their scrubs. Even then, I don’t think you can give the Browns any more than 35% chance of winning … even that’s generous.

If you believe those percentages, the Browns have a 77% chance of winning ONE of those final three games and not going winless. Then again, if you think the Browns has a 10% chance of beating the Ravens, a 20% chance of beating the Bears and a 15% chance of beating the Steelers, the Browns have only a 39% chance of winning one of their last three games.

So it’s probably somewhere in between.

I suspect they will go winless. But that’s because I’m a Browns fan.





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27 Responses to Browns to 0-13

  1. Nik says:

    You forgot one detail – GB backed up at their own 6 early in the game, Hundley throws an incompletion on 3rd down, then Kai Nacua shoves Davonte Adams after the play was over right in front of an official, turning 4th-and-6 deep in their own territory to a 1st down + 15 yards. I fully expected the Packers to score on that drive. That’s the way I thought Browns magic worked. But as every good screenwriter knows, it’s important to fake your audience out now and then. The ending we actually got…brilliant. I mean, they really believed!! Kizer heaving the ball straight up into five defenders – a real “a-ha” moment. So THAT’S how they’re gonna blow this thing. Genius.

  2. Pat Hobby says:

    I knew Hue was in no way, shape, or form the answer on November 10, 2016. The Browns led the Ravens 7-6 at halftime of the Thursday night game with Cody Kessler at QB. In Baltimore.

    The Browns got the ball to start the second half and went three and out. At this point Kessler is 11 for 18 for 91 yards, 1TD 0INT. He is managing the game well, and more importantly as the 3rd round draft pick and potential future QB of the franchise, learning. The Ravens got the ball back and drove down the field and scored a TD to go up 13-7.

    At this point Hue pulled his young QB and inserted 37 year-old Josh McCown. McCown proceeded to throw an interception on his second pass, another interception two drives later, and a lost fumble on the drive after that and the Browns lose 28-7 to fall to 0-10.

    Kessler started the next game with the newly gained knowledge that no matter how well he played, his head coach had no confidence or commitment to him.

  3. shagster says:

    Connor Shaw. Colin Kaepernick. Insert either. Browns win out. At worst, you have a good ‘backup’ going into next season.

  4. Cynthia Kartman says:

    I’m a Packers fan, but I feel your pain. The Browns had to work really hard to lose this one, but once again they found a way. Honestly I’ve been worried about your mental health since yesterday afternoon.

  5. robert says:

    So now you know how it used to be to be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan for 49 years 1967 – 2016. 49 years. Hope your guys wake up before that and get some promise like we’re starting to show. 49 years. Jeez. My sympathies.

  6. John Nacca says:

    I was all ready to pull up the post I made about my percentages of the Browns beating one of the last 5 teams they played. It was in the post where the Browns were 0-11. I thought FOR SURE this would be one of the weeks where the Browns would win 2 of their last 5 games. Like you, I knew when they were up two touchdowns that somehow, some way, Brett Hundley would turn into Brett Favre, or Kizer would do something Kizer-like.

    I want to drop this little bit of info on you, to show how bad this team is. During the Steelers game last night versus Baltimore….after they gave up their 14 point lead….NBC showed a stat. In the history of the Steelers at home…and while they obviously had a dynasty, they also had teams for about the first 40 years of their existence that were about as bas as Cleveland is now……when having a 14 point lead at home, their record was …….215-0-2. Once they showed that stat, even though they blew their 14 point lead, and even though Baltimore went up by 11, I just knew that somehow, some way, Pittsburgh would win to keep that stat alive. Think of that, since 1934 (I think that was when the Steelers were formed), they had a home lead of 14 points 217 times AND NEVER LOST.

    Hey what do I know, I’m a Giants fan LOL.

  7. rabidtiger says:

    Cynthia Kartman is right to be worried about Joe’s mental health. He has a condition kind of like the Stockholm Syndrome in which every opponent of the Browns, no matter how hapless themselves, will seem to sprout wings to fly over the Browns below. When the Browns win again, Joe’s reason will be sorely taxed, and, we all hope, not to the breaking point. Laugh if you can, Joe, and bet on the Browns to lose, if you can legally and ethically. Win game, lose money: lose game, win money. There’s the balance.

  8. JF says:

    Great medical evaluation by the Browns to traded injury cases like DeSean Watson and Carson Wentz for draft picks!


  9. Rob Smith says:

    I think what might be lost in all of this is that good teams overcome coaching and player mistakes. Take the Falcons last week against the Saints. Matt Ryan threw 3 interceptions and nearly lost the game. That was one the worst performances in his career. Coach Dan Quinn decided to refuse a holding penalty to force 4th and 1/2 yard for the Saints, thinking they’d kick a field goal. They didn’t. They went for it and QB sneaked the yard for a 1st down near the red zone. It looked bad. Deion Jones then picked off a pass in the end zone with a great athletic play. That reduced the three picks and coaching blunder to a footnote & minor topics in the post game press conference. Granted, that many mistakes usually loses games. But good teams can overcome a turnover, or two and a coaching mistake. In fact, the culture of winning teams is for the team to overcome mistakes & “Pick up” the player (or coach) that made the mistake. They play for one another & often pick up for one another. The defense has a bad game, the offense scores more points. The offense is slowed, the defense creates stops and turnovers.

    The Browns, as a team, have to play a perfect game just to have a chance. They’ll need someone like the Bears to implode in order to win. As has been stated many times, the Browns just do not have enough good players. That said, how does a coach who’s lost nearly every game sell his system to the players. You have to get players to buy in. How is that possibly going to happen for the Browns? What exactly is that message? We’ve won 1 game in the last two years, but our system is solid? Yikes.

  10. Mark Daniel says:

    Maybe the Browns think organizations win championships, not coaches and players. Just like Jerry Krause when he seemed to refuse to give Jordan, Pippen, etc. credit for all the titles the Bulls won.

    So keeping Hue Jackson may be a way for the Browns front office to prove that their draft picking, draft pick stockpiling, and analytical acumen can create a winning team even with a lousy coach like Hue Jackson.

  11. Dave says:

    I found myself getting upset that my team – Buffalo – did get to play Cleveland this year. That could mean the difference between making the playoffs for the first time this century!!! Then I checked their record since 1999. Buffalo is up 5-4-0, including that awesomely boring 6-3 loss in 2009. I’m *ecstatic* we don’t play Cleveland. I mean, hey, at you guys have a QB. 😛

  12. Mr Fresh says:

    As a lifelong Browns fan, it’s probably not surprising that my initial reaction to Jackson’s challenge of that Cobb catch was: “that’s going to come back to haunt them.”

    Up 14, late in the 3rd, fans of most teams probably wouldn’t think twice.. but not us scarred Brownies fans.


    • Rob Smith says:

      You know, that’s a good point. Every team’s coach makes mistakes and bad challenges. Sure, fans get annoyed. And, if the team loses, it’s going to come up in the post game press conference. But fans of winning teams aren’t thinking that a bad challenge in the 3rd quarter, up 14, is going to be a game losing decision. Browns fans are definitely suffering from PTSD.

  13. Brad says:

    Should have kept Mike Pettine.

  14. bk says:


    I would like to purchase the rights to make a musical out of these Browns essays. I only have $50 to purchase those rights and I don’t know anything about making a musical, but I’d like to purchase the rights all the same. I see “Hamilton” potential here.

    • Carl says:

      1) How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in Cleveland by providence, impoverished, in squalor without dinner, Grow up to be a hero and a Super Bowl Winner?

      2) Undrafted QBs, we get the job done.

  15. KCramer says:

    The Browns were popularly supposed to be better this year than they were in the previous. This was not really a high bar to exceed. Hard not to be better than 1-15. Some decent draft picks, a weak schedule… 3-13 maybe? Even 4-12? And yet… and yet…
    Jackson has lost them at least a couple games all on his lonesome. Granted, a tough job, Hue, but still…
    Bringing him back next year is an atrocious idea. What? Is Rich Kotite not available?

    • Rob Smith says:

      Yeah, I can’t see retaining Jackson. He won one game last year, you expect to build a little on that this year. Like you said, a 4 win season…. then maybe flirt with .500 next year, or something. But a 1 win season followed by a 0-1 win season…. nobody keeps their job after that. On the other hand, they’ve gotten so much criticism with the revolving door coaching job, that almost anything they do now will be considered the wrong thing to do. And, what kind of coach could they attract? Sure, it’s an NFL coaching job with all the perks and dollars associated with it. But it is the worst coaching job in professional sports. A job that a long succession of hopeful coaches have failed to succeed in. The Browns are in a no win situation with the coaching decision.

      • Marc Schneider says:

        Wouldn’t a coach who took the job and succeeded be considered the second coming of Vince Lombardi? And if he failed, it wouldn’t really hurt his career (see Belichick, Bill) because people would say, well, it’s Cleveland, he didn’t have a chance.

        Seems like a no lose scenario to me. Coaches supposedly like challenges.

        • Rob Smith says:

          You can’t use the Belichick example because when he coached the Browns it was the Browns, now Ravens team. A team that had some history of success, including while he was there, even if that was just one winning season for coach hoodie. This version of the Browns has two seasons with winning records in almost 20 years…. and the winning seasons were a long time ago. The problem is that ownership is a train wreck and you can’t fire the owner. Of course, if you get the right guy, anything could happen. But the guys who are the best candidates will probably take other jobs. That leaves the Browns with the leftovers that weren’t selected anywhere else. How many head coach opening are there every year? Like 6-8? The Browns get choice #8, or #25, or something. I don’t see an end to it.

          • Marc Schneider says:

            But other teams have similar issues. IN DC, there is a lot of discussion about whether to fire Jay Gruden. Part of the issue is what good coach would really want to come to such a dysfunctional organization. (Which, of course, has been far more successful than the Browns.) There are a lot of dysfunctional organizations in the NFL although, granted most have not been the train wreck of the Browns. But most good teams/organizations aren’t looking for coaches so if a coach only wants to go to a solid organization, he probably won’t get a job.

  16. John Nacca says:

    I agree with both of the readers above, regarding what coach would take the Browns job. No one with any cred would jeopardize their career with taking the job. On the other hand, if a guy takes the job and turns around the team he will be lauded non-stop.

    I don’t think a college coach would take the job, and I can’t see a rising NFL coordinator taking it either.

    I’ll tell you two guys who I could see getting an interview, and who I think would make a good hire and potentially launch themselves to something bigger. Two guys who are VERY well regarded in the league. Both are Special Teams coaches….John Fassel of the Rams, and Dave Toub of the Chiefs (I would throw in Ravens STC Jerry Rosburg but at 62 he may be a bit old for the job; Fassel is 43 and Toub is 55). Neither are re-cycled guys (although Fassel coached the Rams for 3 games at the end of last year when they dumped Fisher), neither have any ties to the current team, although Fassel was on Hue’s staff in Oakland (worst thing would be to hire Gregg “Bountygate” Williams, former HC of the Bills where he failed terribly), Toub has been considered for jobs in the past so he has gotten to the altar, just hasn’t slipped on the ring.

    Neither hire would make the Browns any more relevant within the league’s visibility, but either hire could change the culture of the franchise. Neither hire would bring an “offensive dynamic” (like Hue was supposed to, or Pat Shurmur), nor a “defensive swagger” (like Mangini or Crennel). Both men have had VERY successful runs in their positions. Neither would be considered an “out of the box” hire due to their high regard within the league. In fact with Dorsey coming on board (a former KC guy), I VERY easily could see him changing course and dumping Hue and going with Toub.

    Save this post for future “I told you so” reference……..

  17. Harold B Zitter says:

    What do you think the last Browns Diary will be called? My bet is on “Browns go 0-16”.

  18. MikeN says:

    The Browns owner runs Tennessee football. Schiano was his pick. So maybe they will get some good players that way. More likely he will drive UT into the ground.

  19. Kris says:

    So we all agree (and most Brown’s fans do) they should dump Hue. If Dorsey is any good at all, there will plenty of choices for a coach. My only take on this is they should get one from outside the division. Dorsey has a plan and if he gets to make choices (via the owner not meddling), we could have a decent football team in 3 years (possibly less, but some of the current personnel … gotta go).

    The only interesting thing about the Haslam era, so far, is that he did draft Johnny Manziel. If you remember, the first few weeks before training camp and until about 2 weeks after, the entire media was possessed about Manziel( aka Johnny Football). So much so, some of the other teams wondered if they even existed. (a small hyperbole there but you get the point).

    And to top it off, most teams were gunning for him whenever he played!

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