The DEFEND Cleveland Show

Browns(y) 2017 Season Preview


Here come your 2017 Cleveland Browns!  Another season of doom and disappointment awaits!  Yet there is an odd combination of ambivalence and hope amongst the fans.  The last time we had hope was when we thought John Football was going to do amazing things in Cleveland.  To be fair, John Football did do amazing things in Cleveland, but those were mostly involving booze and cocaine, not football.  We all knew that the RG3 Experiment would only end in disaster and it did, in more spectacular fashion than we could have hoped.  The team kept every single draft choice last year, and I don’t recall any of them making a real impact.  1-15 was tantalizingly close to The Promised Land of the Failure Parade.  Yet, there is still a cautious optimism surrounding this team.  

I think the fans have talked themselves into two beliefs to buoy their hopes going into the season.  The first is the every revolving quarterback situation.  For some unknown reason, there was this odd group think going into training camp that the Browns had three legitimate starters at QB in Kessler/Osweiler/Kizer.  As none of these players had distinguished themselves, all of the sudden people clung to this idea that the cupboard was full at the position.  “We have three QBs that we can choose from, each one as good as the next!”  It quickly became evident that “Shit, these guys all kind of suck but at least Kizer looks exciting once in a while.  Let’s start him!”.

I don’t believe Kizer is really that good so much as those other guys suck so badly that it elevates him to loftier heights in Browns fan’s minds than he deserves.  For example, one time I had to go to a concert with the triple bill of Peter Frampton, Loverboy, and REO Speedwagon.  Loverboy easily rocked the most of those three bands.  Now, this is not to say that Loverboy “rocks”.  If they had to play on a bill with Black Flag and The Stooges, it would quickly become evident that Loverboy totally sucked.  (Note, in this analogy Cody Kessler is Peter Frampton and Brock Osweiler is REO Speedwagon)  Yet if you just focused on the reference points of Frampton and REO, next thing you know you are buying a $35 Loverboy shirt at the merch booth.  (In this case, a $125 Kizer jersey)  Let’s be honest.  Kizer is the only possible option at QB.  He’s going to make a lot of mistakes.  I know this because I watched him lose games to Duke and Navy last year.  That does not portend to great success when having to play the Steelers and Ravens twice a year.  The bottom line is this.  Kizer is a better QB than Kessler.  However, just because you are better than Kessler doesn’t make you good.    

Let’s also discuss the Browns front office baffling decision to ignore wide receiver.  Perhaps it is an “analytics” decision that I don’t understand to say “We have three really young QBs.  Let’s give them no real weapons.”  Kenny Britt might actually be Dwayne Bowe with Kenny Britt’s passport.  He has the look and feel of a guy that is swinging through Cleveland for a big check on his way out of football.  Corey Coleman might be OK, assuming he doesn’t get injured 13 minutes into the season.  The team drafted four receivers last year.  I don’t remember any of their names.  From my understanding, not being able to remember a skill position player’s name is not what one looks for in an “impact player”.  The Browns drafted that kid from Miami at TE and kicked Gary Barnidge to the curb quicker than a bad prom date.  I seem to recall Barnidge as the only dependable receiver after Pryor last season.  I don’t remember seeing the first round TE from Miami in preseason.  This fulfills a “core competency” the Browns look for in a receiver, being forgettable.  This brings me to the perplexing personnel issues on this team.

The Browns cannot get rid of their legitimate players fast enough.  In the last two years they have lost Barnidge, Taylor Gabriel, Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Travis Benjamin, Tashaun Gipson, Terrell Pryor, and Joe Haden and got nothing in return.  The only player they lost and got something from was an unbelievable 5th round pick for Cam Erving, universally regarded as The Worst Offensive Lineman In All Of Football.  That was a coup.  Yet, getting nothing for Haden?  A guy that gets signed 17 seconds after release by a divisional opponent?  The front office appears to be playing “moneyball”.  That would be fucking killer if this was baseball.  Fans have seemed to have bought into this idea of “so-and-so makes too much money, so we need to cut them loose.”.  Please note, it’s not your money.  The Browns are well below the salary cap.  The league is designed for them to spend all of it.  They can afford to sign these guys, or at the very least, some of them.  Gabriel, Benjamin, and Pryor would have been starters.  Pay the players.  I could care less how much any of these guys makes.  Furthermore, I am not going to feel sorry for an owner that sells $12 beers at games and sends out fake invoices for his gas stations.  Jimmy can pay the players.  Let’s stop pretending the team doesn’t have the same resources as everyone else.

The defense is expected to be the strength of the team.  This is insane as they gave up 150 more points (or about 50% more) than anyone else in the division.  There is good news.  Garrett and Peppers look like actual football players.  The D line looks like maybe the best the Browns have had since 1989.  That is saying absolutely nothing though as Gerard Warren might have been their best D lineman over the last two decades, and if we are being honest, he kinda sucked.  I’d say the defense has gone from “pathetic” to “well, maybe we can get a turnover”.  Let’s temper our optimism.  They still need three defensive backs if they are going to stop anyone.  The Greg Williams defense takes lots of chances.  This means they will create more turnovers.  They will also give up 87 yard bombs with frightening frequency.  I see some 38-7 games coming in 2017.  Someone still has to cover Antonio Brown and AJ Green.

It is very tempting to say that the team is headed in the right direction.  After pointlessly tanking last season, anything is an improvement.  If they win 5 games, it will locally seem like the team is playoff caliber.  Let’s not lose our minds.  If they win five games, they will also still be drafting 4th overall in their comfortable spot of lowest 15% of the league.  The best scenario for this season is Kizer showing he can be the answer at QB as they bungle their way to 4-5 wins.  There is also another very real scenario in which Kizer shows he isn’t the answer and Kelly Hogan is running around throwing dropped passes to an indifferent Kenny Britt for the 2-14 Browns.  Yikes.  Vegas, who usually is right on this type of thing, has the Browns over/under win total at 4.5.  I am going to go with the under at 4-12.  Remember, no one ever lost money by being pessimistic about the Browns.

This just in…  The Browns gave all fans a quick dose of Brownsy reality with the announcement that somehow their #1 overall pick of the draft has injured himself on the Wednesday before the opener.  The prognosis?  As of now they are saying 4 weeks or more, but I feel confident they will be talking about amputation of the leg probably by mid October.  I am already pumping some air into my Courtney Brown signed football to get a soon-to-be-cherished Myles Garret signature  to it on my “Browns Defensive Line of the Damned” souvenir ball.  With this being Garret’s second career Browns injury despite having yet to play an actual game, is it too soon to start whispering “…bust…” to each other?  Looking forward to hearing sometime Saturday how Peppers blew out his ACL roller skating.
Go Browns.
-Greg Miller
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Posted by on Sep 6 2017. Filed under Featured, Greg Miller on Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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