By In Stuff

The Unwinnables

First, we bow to the achievement: It is really, really, really hard to go 0-16. The 1980 New Orleans Saints couldn’t do it and, apparently, that entire team was coked up. The 1989 Dallas Cowboys couldn’t do it even with all the bad mojo that came from Jerry Jones firing Tom Landry. The 1990 New England Patriots — who played eleven games that they NEVER LED — couldn’t do it. The 1991 Indianapolis Colts couldn’t do it even with Jeff George as their quarterback.

The 1996 Jets of Rich Kotite — when he was fired at the end of the season the New York Post ran a backpage headline that said “End of an Error” — couldn’t do it. The 2000 San Diego Chargers with Ryan Leaf couldn’t do it. George Seifert’s dreadful 2001 Carolina Panthers could not help but beat Minnesota to kick off their lost season. The 2007 Miami Dolphins started quarterbacks named Cleo Lemon and John Beck and had an atrocious defense but couldn’t do it. The 2009 St. Louis Rams under the watchful eye of Steve Spagnuolo seemed to have a great chance to lose them all, but then they faced the Lions.

Even last year’s Cleveland Browns, under the steady hand of the Doyen of Defeat, the Lieutenant of Losing, the Maestro of Moral Victories, the Conductor of the William L Overture Hue Jackson could not lose every game in a 16-game season. True, they won only once and mainly because the Chargers kicker Josh Lambo missed two field goals and also the Chargers so clearly didn’t care. But this is the point: There’s always a game like that. Only the 2008 Detroit Lions, a team for the ages, with a defense only moderately more effective than forfeiting, with an offense run by every retired quarterback from the previous 20 years, only they could pull off 0-16.

These 2017 Browns are, I suspect, better than those Lions. at least in surface ways. This is what makes 0-16 so special. Those Lions gave up, by far, the most yards in the NFL. These Browns actually had a Top 15 defense in yards allowed. Those Lions gave up an obscene 2,744 yards rushing suggesting that they were uncertain about the rules. These Browns gave up 1,000 yards less and were often quite tough against the run. Both offenses stunk, but the Browns offense certainly wasn’t any WORSE than that Lions offense. Those Lions lost by less than a touchdown twice; these Browns lost by less than a touchdown five times. Sunday was the fifth.

Yes, I think the 2017 Browns were a better football team than the 2008 Lions.

And that makes their 0-16 achievement more majestic and masterful and impressive. It was a miracle, really.

One True Statement

Before last season only nine teams in NFL history had gone 1-15 and only one had gone 0-16. The Browns have done both in consecutive two seasons — under the same coach. Hue Jackson said after Sunday’s game, “I don’t think anybody else could have did this,” and while it wasn’t the most grammatical statement he’s ever made, it was probably the truest.

Pretty Tough

Corey Coleman’s nickname in college was “Pretty Tough,” apparently because whoever came up with it intended the two words to be treated separately. See, Corey Coleman is PRETTY off the field and TOUGH on the field, Pretty Tough or, perhaps better, Pretty/Tough.

Unfortunately, the nickname seems to fit better as a combination of words; it has been a pretty tough NFL career so far. Coleman was the first receiver taken in the 2016 draft, a rare attempt by Cleveland Browns management to use a “draft choice” to “get a player.” They must have really liked Coleman to actually take him rather than flipping that pick for a first rounder in 2025 plus a conditional third-round pick the year we lose the war with intellegent apes.

In Coleman’s second game as a pro, he caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and it seemed like, hey, this might work out. Coleman looked fast and elusive and like a guy who would make big plays for a team that desperately needs them. Then he got hurt and all that ended.

It has been pretty tough ever since. A typical Corey Coleman game these days involves two or  three steps:

Step 1: You forget that he’s on the team.

Step 2: He commits a holding penalty to remind you.

Step 3 (Optional) He drops a pass.

The third step is optional because the Browns don’t always throw him a pass, and even when they do, they don’t always throw him a pass good enough to be dropped. But Sunday they did. Sunday — it happened to be on fourth down, late in the fourth quarter, with the Browns trailing Pittsburgh by four — Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer had what I would consider his best moment as a professional. The Browns needed two yards for a first down to give themselves a bonafide chance to beat Pittsburgh’s second-string, and Kizer dropped back, couldn’t find anyone, appeared to be sacked, somehow eluded the tacklers and (this was new) looked up the field to see that Coleman was wide open. He then (this was also new) flipped a sweet little pass on the run.

Coleman flat dropped the ball. This was not new. It was pretty tough.

“That play will be remembered,” Hue Jackson said. It probably won’t be. The hope is we can forget this whole season.


On bullshit

I have been friends with Bill James now for, yikes, I guess it’s close to 20 years, and while he has taught me a great many things I would say that the enduring lessons have involved bullshit. I think of our conversations about Derek Jeter’s defense — and why there was this insistence that he was a good defensive shortstop when all evidence seemed to suggest he was not. It wasn’t just one defensive metric that showed Jeter to be a poor defender; it was all of them. And the more intelligent and inventive the metrics became, the more clearly they showed his defensive inadequacy.

But people just kept on saying that Jeter was a good defensive shortstop anyway. He won five Gold Gloves. He inspired a million “You can take all your statistics and shove them because I’ve seen this guy with my OWN EYES …” soliloquies.

Bill explained the reason to me many different ways but I particularly like this way, from 2007:

“Derek Jeter has a halo effect that would crush concrete. His teams win a lot of games, and he’s likable and polite and the media loves him, so any area of performance that is poorly documented or poorly understood — defense, base-running, clutch-hitting, leadership — the media will use as a rag to polish Derek Jeter’s trophies.”

All year, I have known that this “the Browns play hard” bullshit would lead to something impossibly stupid. Week after week after week, announcers and writers and players and especially coach Hue Jackson have told us repeatedly and with absolutely no evidence that the Browns play hard; they have said it so often and with such certainty that it became accepted, not as truth but as something even more dangerous: As PLAUSIBLE.

How hard could the Browns have been playing? They went 1-31 over two seasons. No team in NFL history has ever done that. The defense forced 13 turnovers all year, the lowest total in the NFL. How hard could they have been playing? The Browns offense turned the ball over 41 times, by far the highest total in the NFL. How hard could they have been playing? The Browns consistently committed impossibly stupid penalties — heck, just on Sunday they jumped offside on a field goal to give up a first down and roughed the passer on a third-down incomplete pass to give up another. How hard could they have been playing?

You could argue that not forcing turnovers or committing incredibly dumb penalties or losing week after week might not directly reflect on how hard the team is actually playing — but this is precisely the point of bullshit. NOTHING reflects on how hard the team is actually playing. There is no good way, as Bill says, to document or understand it. What does it mean “The team played hard?” How would you know? These are empty calories. This is air. This is bullshit.

There is not one logical reason, not one, to believe that the Browns played hard. Two weeks ago, they played a Chicago team that had long before been eliminated from the playoffs and was also starting a rookie quarterback and was playing for a coach who was considered a dead man walking for weeks — the Bears sure seemed to PLAY A LOT HARDER THAN THE BROWNS.

This week, they played a Pittsburgh team that did not start a single star player, a team of backups with a guy who basically had never played center snapping the ball, a team that had basically agreed to lose before the game even started — the Steelers also seemed to PLAY A LOT HARDER THAN THE BROWNS.

That’s just the last two weeks.

But people just kept saying this, kept saying it, until it became plausible. Plausible bullshit is the worst. Hey, maybe the Browns are playing hard, despite their unprecedented losing and blatant lack of progress and complete lack of discipline. Why would every announcer say it if it wasn’t true?

And plausible bullshit led to Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns and architect of the worst org chart in NFL history, standing in front of reporters to explain why he is bringing Hue Jackson back to coach next year.

“You could say a lot of things about us this year,” he said, “but down to the last minute, two minutes, our guys played hard. And I think the primary job a coach has to do is provide leadership and I think Hue has provided great leadership.”

Great leadership. This is where bullshit leads. Also here:

“I don’t think anybody could have stayed in this job for two years and been 1-31,” Jackson said. “A lot of coaches would have said uncle after last year. I know that. I think you guys do too. I think a lot of guys doing this would have said forget it. I’m not walking out on those players.”

Yes, that’s right, Hue Jackson doesn’t just feel like he deserves to keep the job … he wants credit for NOT WALKING OUT, like all those other coaches who have quit because the losing simply got too rough, all those coaches I cannot name and neither can you. He wants us to believe that another coach would have walked away from their $5 million NFL head coaching job because they couldn’t handle it.

Ah, the power of bullshit.

“Two years ago, Hue Jackson was one of the hottest assistant coaches around,” Jimmy Haslam said. “I don’t think Hue has lost his magic.”


“Our record is unacceptable and we accept full responsibility for that,” Haslam said.


“Our guys fought hard all year,” Jackson said. “We just didn’t have enough.”


No bullshit.

Why we hope

Here’s the hardest part of being a diehard fan: Even when your team does impossibly idiotic things, you’re stuck rooting for them anyway. It’s part of the terrible pact that you never signed. I happened to be born in Cleveland. If I had been born even 60 miles East, I might have been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and I’d have six Super Bowl trophies dancing in my memory. But I was a Clevelander through and through and when I was seven years old, I was in a bowling alley — this is absolutely true — and I heard grown men on my Dad’s bowling team arguing whether Mike Phipps or Brian Sipe should be the Browns’ quarterback, and I wanted to know what that was all about. I didn’t know what I was signing up for; you never really do.

But once you’ve made the deal with a team like the Cleveland Browns, you can really only do one of two things:

1. Quit

2. Hope

Quitting, as the courageous Hue Jackson has shown, is not really an option, so we seek hope. It isn’t easy. The Browns are an absolute mess, and I mean from the top down. They apparently have a system — this is that org chart I was referring to earlier — where GM John Dorsey, coach Hue Jackson and draft-pick accumulator Paul DePodesta all report directly to the owner. That’s a good way to make sure nothing good ever happens. Everyone with a direct line to the owner, whose expertise is truck stops , leads to drafting Johnny Manziel on the advice of a homeless man, leads to a failure to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo even though they were dying to get him and had 17,000 spare draft pick, leads to the team making a trade before the deadline but forgetting to actually turn it into the league.

This is a system where an owner hires a good football guy like John Dorsey only on the condition that he keep Hue Jackson as his coach.

But what choice do we Browns fans have? We must hope. So we hope that Haslam will reorganize things so that everyone answers to John Dorsey, who is the one football guy in all of this who inspires any faith.

We hope that Dorsey or Haslam or someone convinces or compels Hue Jackson to hire an offensive coordinator because as bad a job as Jackson has done preparing a team to win games, he has proven even worse at putting together the Browns offense.

We hope that the Browns actually take good players with their draft picks this year — they have the first and fourth pick — and are active in free agency. Get players, guys. Get good players.

We hope that the Browns not only take a quarterback with the first pick (assuming any quarterback will be willing to come out into the draft and be taken by Cleveland) but that they also overpay for a veteran quarterback, like A.J. McCarron; I’d be fine if they drastically overpaid for a really good one like Alex Smith or Kirk Cousins. This Browns quarterback fiasco has gone on for almost 20 years.

We hope that Hue Jackson — as bizarre as all of this is — does flash some of the coaching talents that he showed as an assistant in Cincinnati and even in his one year as head coach in Oakland. This has never been personal; I like Hue Jackson. I think a lot of us like the guy. I don’t know that I can name a single good thing he has accomplished as Browns coach, but he’s personable, he generally doesn’t make excuses (though that part of his game has withered in recent weeks), he has shown in the distant past an ability to build an offense, and the players seem to like him. I agree with Tom Withers; bringing Hue Jackson back defies all reason, but he’s coming back anyway. All we can do is hope.

And there are some players to work with. Let me talk actual football for a few paragraphs:

On offense: Josh Gordon returned and if he can stay clean and healthy, he’s a big-time player. The offensive line when Joe Thomas returns should be pretty good; the Browns guards Kevin Zeitler and Joel Bitonio are top notch. I suspect the Browns will get a running back to join the versatile Duke Johnson — Isaiah Crowell has probably complained about not getting the ball enough for the last time — and another receiver or two. WIth a good quarterback, they could take a step forward.

On defense: Defensive end Myles Garrett made a lot of mistakes — a LOT of mistakes — but what a force. Put the perfectly acceptable Emmanuel Ogbah on the other side, fill the middle of that line with Danny Shelton and the super-promising Larry Ogunjobi, and that defensive line has a chance to be special. This, to me, was the best thing that came out of 2017 (not that it was a long list). For the first time in forever, the Browns have a chance to have a unit that is not just good but superior. Build around this defensive line.

The linebackers were pretty dreadful — everyone sang the praises of middle linebacker Joe Schobert who did make a lot of tackles, but realistically a lot of that was because nobody else did.

The secondary was kind of blah — the corners seemed fine, and Derrick Kindred was pretty stout at safety. But he had to be because it was a disastrous season for rookie Jabrill Peppers. I don’t blame him entirely; I think he’s a perfect example of the Browns drafting a player with particular talents and then doing everything in their power to blunt those talents with how they use him. Jabrill Peppers is lost in space (Danger Will Robinson!). Put him out there where has to make open field tackles or has to make quick geometric calculations, and he is entirely helpless. Even armed with this knowledge, Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (who I thought had a very shaky season, but he’s coming back too) put Peppers 25 yards off the ball where he had absolutely no chance. Maybe with an offseason to refigure things, Williams will find a place for Peppers, who is fast and dynamic and I dare believe cane be a useful NFL player.

This team COULD turn around fairly quickly. Add a real quarterback, a handful more playmakers, a dash of confidence and a whole lot of administrative competence, and this could happen. Do I believe it will based on what the Browns are doing now? Do I really believe that this group can turn things around?

I’m a Browns fan. What choice do I have?



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47 Responses to The Unwinnables

  1. Scott says:

    You still have the Chiefs Joe! They are playoff bound and primed for another heartbreaking loss

  2. Dale says:

    Joe, on the one hand I advise you that there truly is no hope, so your best option is to quit being a Clowns fan (I did this a few years ago). On the other hand, if you did quit, we would no longer have these brilliant and hilarious blogs. So my vote would be for you to continue to hold onto your silly hope. Happy New Year.

  3. Rob Smith says:

    From the time Joe started this weekly post, this final post was inevitable. Not just the 0-16, but the Next year. Every fan believes next year will be better. I pity Josh Rosen should he become the Browns first pick. The Browns HAVE to pick him after NOT picking Deshawn Watson, Carson Wentz, et al….right? Or do they?

  4. TribeFanInMD says:

    You’re going to collect these weekly reviews in a book, right? At least an e-book?

  5. Brad says:

    This team is a mess. Where to start? I think Dorsey is a good hire. I believe they need to replace Hue Jackson. They need to get a lot better in player evaluations. The Gilbert/Manziel picks were insanely bad. Garrett may eventually turn into something, but as I recall in his last game at A&M, he was manhandled by a freshman left tackle from Kansas State. I do not think that left tackle from KSU will play in the NFL. Is that a red flag? Peppers was a player created by ESPN style hype. Flashy name, played both ways a little, but the consensus around the Big Ten was he was vastly overrated. His play has confirmed that and the pre-draft consensus was no secret. Same with Kizer. Even Kizer’s own college coach said he wasn’t ready. Do Browns scouts live in a bubble or do they talk with other football people? Same with Gilbert. No one outside of Oklahoma State had even heard of the guy yet they pick him in first round??
    Getting a new owner would probably improve things 100%. Then invest in and hire the best scouts you can buy. Obviously the people they have now aren’t cutting it.

  6. Ken Tremendous says:

    Paul DePodesta is a genius. Joe is too hung up on old-fashioned, outdated statistics likewise and losses to appreciate his brilliance.

  7. Brian Sabean says:

    Alas, Ken is right. If only I hadn’t spent so much time concentrating on the wrong things, like winning championships. If only I’d been a genius like Paul DePodesta!

    Oh well, I’ll just polish my world series rings, and thank goodness we still have a brilliant thinker like Mike out there, writing more knew slappers about Ned Coletti’s boots.

  8. Rick says:

    What a difference a coach in the NFL can make. Last year, the Rams were unwatchable, with the worst offense in the league by a wide margin. They had been losing for year after year with Jeff Fisher at the helm.

    Then the Rams cleaned house and hired Sean McVay to be their head coach, and suddenly the Rams became a juggernaut with one of the best offenses in the league. QB Jared Goff, who looked like a bust last year, came into his own as a quarterback, leading the Rams to their first division title since 2003. Not only that, but the Rams other QB from last year, Case Keenum, signed with Minnesota and led them to a division title as well. The main difference was that they were playing for a different coach.

  9. rabidtiger says:

    It is sad to realize that the occasion for Joe’s brilliant season of posts is the diametrically opposite awful season of the team. I look forward to Joe continuing to Hope next year. He can show us more writing and thinking skill when the Browns win a game. Hey, they could have been the Lions, who with the same number of victories, could have gone to the playoffs in the AFC. Nah, the Lions were 5-1 in the division, 4-6 against the rest of the league. They’re not worthy this year.

  10. Anon says:

    You can’t overcome bad ownership. Bad players and bad coaches are temporary things if you have good ownership because good owners eventually replace bad players and coaches. BUt bad owners never realize it and just keep hiring or retaining bad players and coaches.

    I grew up a Suns fan and for 35 years the team was under the control of Jerry Colangelo. THe Suns weren’t always good but they were never far away from being good. From 1968 when they were an expansion team through 2004 when Colangelo sold the team, the Suns’ only dry years were the mid-80’s (when a drug scandal tore the team apart). They were never far from winning. However, when Robert Sarver bought the team in 2004 it quickly became clear that he was a meddler and a cheapskate. You can survive one of those but not both. The A’s and Rays in baseball have been cheap but have found success. Mark Cuban was a meddler but found success with the MAvericks (Same with Jerry JOnes and the Cowboys). I finally quit following the Suns in 2010 when it became brutally obvious that Sarver was never going to lead a winning franchise and also that he was never going to sell the team. (Why would he? Given that modern pro sports franchises only get more and more valuable no matter how the team actually does, why would anyone sell?)

    My take on the Browns is that they are in the same place. No owner who is even nominally responsible would bring back a coach who is 1-31. That’s just inconceivable. I really think the time has come for Browns fans to just pack it in. Ownership sucks and has had 6 years to prove that without anything to show that it is capable of anything other than the occasional decent season (you can’t keep drafting at the top of the draft year after year after year and not eventually put together one decent season).

    • Rob Smith says:

      Why would the owner sell? The increased value of the franchise is only realized when you sell. Until then, it’s just a number. Most owners aren’t necessarily in it for the dollars, but a cheap owner just might be. So, there’s your hope.

      • Scott says:

        This owner is also likely more consumed with the much larger scandal involving his primary business (Pilot Flying J) than the struggles of the Browns. A well-executed prosecution of the lower level employees could lead to big fish (the Haslams) facing prosecution and long jail terms.

    • Steve Buffum says:

      The Oakland Raiders were 12-4 last season.

  11. Scoop K says:

    Congratulations to the University of Central Florida who went winless two years ago and today completed an undefeated season. Of course, they had a good coach.

    • Rob Smith says:

      UCF is an odd situation. George O’Leary, the prior coach, is known as a very good coach. (Who lied on his resume or he would have been the Notre Dame Coach). In 2013, UCF won 11 games. In 2014, the team went 9-4 & had high hopes for 2015. Somehow that team managed to go winless. But there must have been talent because Frost only had two years to recruit, and often that first year can be pretty difficult. So, Frost was winning with largely O’Leary’s players. Was it great coaching? Or was 2015 some cosmic disaster that would have worked itself out regardless of the coach? Obviously Frost deserves credit, but it’s an odd situation at UCF for them to have been winless in 2015.

  12. MikeN says:

    1 seed on the line, and the Steelers didn’t open with their starters? Were they that sure the Jets wouldn’t get an upset, or that sure they didn’t need the starters?

    • Rob Smith says:

      The Patriots held the tie breaker and were playing the Jets. I don’t think Pittsburgh felt there was a really good chance of the Jets beating the Patriots.

    • moviegoer74 says:

      “Were they that sure the Jets wouldn’t get an upset, or that sure they didn’t need the starters?”

      Yes. To both.

  13. Jeff says:

    Bobby Ross is the one coach I can remember quitting. #Lions

    • rabidtiger says:

      I remember that. I wondered why at the time, because Ross left the Lions with a 5-4 record that year. His successor, Gary Moeller, also had a winning record, 4-3. Some curious points: Ross loss his last two games, while Moeller won his first three. Had the team lost confidence in Ross? The three games Moeller lost were to Minnesota, Green Bay, and Chicago, the three division rivals. Perhaps they knew the Lions too well.This seems to argue in favor of a change of leadership at the Browns. I suspect that the current Lions as an organization have more confidence and more ambition than the Browns do. Mrs. Ford, I’m guessing, feels that her time with the team is growing short and she wants the team to excel. Why else would they fire Jim Caldwell?

    • moviegoer74 says:

      Bobby Petrino quit on the Falcons after 13 games in his first season as their coach. They were 3-10 at the time. I know he expected to have Vick as his QB when he took the job, and then the dog-fighting scandal broke, but still. He totally just quit. Didn’t even finish out the season.

      • Rob Smith says:

        Petrino is reviled, to this day, in Atlanta. He left notes on the players lockers one day to tell them he was bailing (he never spoke to the team) and was calling the hogs in Arkansas that evening. Winning really trumps everything or that POS wouldn’t be able to get a job polishing the goal posts.

        The one good thing about Petrino leaving is that he would never have been a good NFL coach. He created a very negative atmosphere and that’s not how you coach NFL players. You may be able to MF college players into performing, but that’s not how you work with professionals.

  14. Jason says:

    What about the Browns better than replacement level run defense? Isnt that one metric that sort of correlates with “playing hard.”

  15. Steve Buffum says:

    Wali Rainer led the team in tackles one year.

    I have not met Joe Schobert, sir, but he is no Wali Rainer.

  16. Marco says:

    I think my favorite part is that Joe seems to be one of the nicest people in the world. Never says a bad word about anyone, always bends over backwards to try and find a context where things and people are OK.

    The Browns have broken him. That’s how bad they are.

  17. Tom Flynn says:

    Explaining Jeter’s Halo Effect is easy; he played for the Yankees.

    • Big Apple Hater says:

      Sure- that’s why he won all those MVP awards he didn’t deserve.

      Wait… Jeter NEVER won an MVP award.

      But the point is, Mets and Yankees s always win the big awards.

      Wait… Nobody from the Mets has ever been MVP.

      Never mind.

      • SDG says:

        Why are you bringing the Mets into this ? The point wasn’t that NY teams have a halo effect but that the Yankees specifically do.

        • Chuck E says:

          Yeah, you’re right. Look at all those undeserving Yankees in the Hall of Fame: Roger Maris, Bernie Williams, Allie Reynolds, Ed Lopat, Graig Nettles, Thurman Munson… They all coasted in the first ballot.r

          What? None of them are in? But that’s impossible!

    • invitro says:

      I don’t think it’s that simple. Jeter also won many World Series, was around the #7 best offensive shortstop in history, and had an impeccable character. If he didn’t have those things, he wouldn’t have this “halo effect”, and if he had them but wasn’t on the Yankees, he probably would. Also, it’s hard to find counterexamples… name someone who did the above things, and also had a huge weakness. In any sport. I can’t think of anyone, but I just woke up :).

      • Rob Smith says:

        Jeter is obviously a HOF player. The major disconnect is the defensive stuff. People just seem to not accept that he was an excellent offensive player and an average-ish (at best) defensive player. I think it has something to do with the high profile plays where he jumps into the stands or makes and incredible cutoff to throw out Giambi in the playoffs. I also think he might get unfairly trashed for his offense based on his last few years of being essentially a slap-hitter. A lot of players with long careers gather some moss in the last few years. Jeter was no exception. That said, I know his fans think he was a great hitter even in his later career. Thus the term Jeterate. He can be over and underrated at the same time.

        • invitro says:

          “People just seem to not accept that he was an excellent offensive player and an average-ish (at best) defensive player. I think it has something to do with the high profile plays” — You’re over-complicating it. The reason is that Jeter won 5 Gold Gloves, and that’s all you need to know. I’d guess that almost all baseball fans would think the idea that a player could win 5 Gold Gloves and *not* be a great defensive player is a crazy idea. (If someone disagrees with this, give an example of a player who the general baseball-fan public thinks is a great defender, but who *doesn’t* have Gold Gloves.)

      • Marc Schneider says:

        The thing about Jeter being a poor defensive shortstop, as the metrics indicate, is interesting. The Yankees won five World Series with Jeter playing a supposed critical defensive position. If Jeter was as bad as reputed, what does that say about the importance of defense?

        • invitro says:

          It looks like Jeter cost the Yankees between 2 and 4 games a year with his defense, compared to an average or good defender. That’s a heck of a lot, but what it says is that if you have a horrible defensive shortstop and want to win the World Series, the shortstop better be a great hitter, ideally as good a hitter as Derek Jeter. 🙂

  18. Tim says:

    You’re giving Haslam too much credit. His expertise isn’t truck stops, it’s in truck stops that profit from criminal fraud. And that does seem to make him ideally suited for running the Cleveland Browns.

    It’s sad to know that the Browns continue to sell out at the expense of the competent team at Progressive Field that’s going to enter tear-down mode because they have lousy attendance.

    • KCramer says:

      They actually had about 82% attendance this year, which seems astonishingly high for a team this awful, but it was very near the bottom for NFL teams.
      As for the Progressive Field team, I hope you’re wrong, but Indians fans have been strictly fair-weather for many years. And last year’s weather was pretty fair.
      They barely beat the A’s and the Rays for worst attendance. This for a team that had been in the previous World Series and had the best record in the league.

  19. Patrick says:

    I kind of disagree on the playing hard thing. I mean, your point isn’t without merit, but what I think they really mean is “They haven’t objectively quit.” Which, look, that’s something. In 2011, when the Bucs lost their last 10 in a row, they lost the last five by an average of 25 points. In their final game, they trailed Atlanta 42-0 with 6:49 left in the *second* quarter.

    There’s something to be said for teams that don’t just throw up their hands and say “The heck with this”

    • Rob Smith says:

      I didn’t watch much of the Browns this year, why would I? But ironically I was in the airport walking to my gate when I noticed that the Browns were on. I saw them driving late against Pittsburgh, so I thought I’d watch the end of the game and see how it played out. The second play I saw was the fourth down drop that essentially ended the game. I watched 30 seconds and I completely understood what Joe has been talking about. They FINALLY have a chance to win. It’s fourth down, and when Kiser is flushed from the pocket, I’m expecting a pick or a sack. Suddenly it’s apparent that he’s throwing to a wide open receiver for a first down…. and it goes right threw his hands! It’s not just the ineptitude, it’s the complete sucktitude when the game is on the line.

      I honestly don’t think it’s “giving up”. I DO think they are playing hard. They are just playing with no confidence. They expect to mess up, so they do. It’s a snakebit team. They can’t win even when they should. BTW: Pro players aren’t inclined to give up. They are all on non guaranteed contracts. If they get caught on film giving up, they’re career might be over. It happens, but I think it’s rare. If it does happen, it’s more likely a talented vet on a team out of contention that’s playing not to get injured, but is confident in their position. There aren’t that many of those.

      Because they are snakebit and have no confidence, to me that implies that a coaching change needs to be made. Not because the coach is terrible, but because he’s in charge of the culture & the culture is a losing one. How many coaches talk about changing the culture? All of them. That’s the one thing a new coach brings for sure…. the hope of a new way of thinking. (And, in many cases, the hope of better competence). This isn’t one of those situations where a team has dumped assets and has tanked purposely to get the #1 pick, though in effect, that’s what’s happened. They were truly trying to win. Nobody thinks the Browns were going to have a winning record…. but zero wins? 1 win in two years? You can’t keep that coach. You just can’t. That said, I hope Hue Jackson proves us all wrong next year. Next year. Hope springs eternal.

  20. Nick says:


    Love your posts usually. Unfortunately this one seemed angry…. Lots of good content but angry which tends to dim the brilliance.

  21. eD says:

    I’m guessing that Joe became a Browns fan when the Old Browns were in Cleveland, before they left for Baltimore.

    I realize the NFL and the fans claim that the New Browns are the same team as the Old Browns, and the Ravens are an expansion team. But for people living in reality, the Browns moved from Cleveland to Baltimore and became the Ravens, and an expansion team called the “Browns” was placed in Cleveland, which has not exactly built a winning tradition. Same as there having been two separate Senators baseball teams in Washington, both of whom eventually left and changed their names.

    Has Joe considered just rooting for the Ravens? Generally when your team leaves your city, that snaps the allegiance, and you root for the replacement expansion team when the league gives your city one. But I’m not sure if Joe himself still lives in Ohio. It might be OK to still root for a team that left your hometown if you too left your hometown.

    • Scott says:

      I know people in Baltimore who are still mad that the Colts left (especially how they left) despite the Super Bowls that the Ravens have won. They would never start rooting for the team that abandoned them.

  22. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    The team is a disastrous result of affirmative action management. Results don’t count. I think that justice for Cleveland fans demands that a community consortium buy out Haslam and institute a Green Bay style community ownership. That is, of course, if the NFL itself doesn’t die. I suppose waiting a few years for the value of the franchise to go down so that the fans can afford to buy it out is a good move. Good luck, Cleveland. Maybe Haslam will decide to move the team to Timbuktu and go 0-16 there.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      This is nonsense. I don’t think community ownership is why the Packers have been good. They’ve had plenty of bad years, especially before and after Lombardi. What the Packers have had is good management and, in recent years, Aaron Rodgers, which has nothing to do with some fans holding worthless pieces of stock.

      And, of course, your racist statement is even more nonsense. I didn’t realize that Paul DePodesta was an affirmative action hire.

  23. KHAZAD says:

    That shirt is awesome. I hope you bought one.

    The thing that strikes me about the Browns is that nationally I don’t think anyone is surprised or expects them to get better. Just driving to and from work I have heard three epic rants on national radio about the Bengals keeping Marvin Lewis, but not one word about Hue Jackson staying on with the Browns. I used to lament the Royals being a national joke in the mid 2000s, but it seems as if the Browns have gone below that level to complete irrelevance.

    While thinking about Lewis, I thought about how odd it seems that there are only 6 NFL coaches who have been with the same team 10 years, and half of them are in that division. It may help that Harbaugh, Tomlin and Lewis are a combined 59-13 against the Browns.

  24. Karyn says:

    There’s a decent quarterback out there, just waiting for a needy team to sign him. Good character, gives to the community, principled guy. What’s not to like?

  25. jonathon says:

    I love baseball game. it’s my passion.

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