The Browns finished 4-12 last season, having accomplished nothing and boring everyone. Peyton Hillis followed up a breakout season by being a recalcitrant, quitting dickbag who thought long and hard about leaving football for the CIA. Instead of joining the spooks, he left the Browns for the Chiefs. To restart their anemic offense, the Browns took Jim Brown-decreed “ordinary talent” Trent Richardson plus a 28-year-old rookie quarterback in the first round. It won’t work out, but it’ll be different, and that means something.
Five Fast Facts About The Browns:
– Trent Richardson is going to visit renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Not to worry. It’s only his second visit this year. He has at least three more until it’s a career-ending procedure.
– A lot was made about Jimmy Haslem being a former minority owner of the Steelers and claiming he’s “1,000 percent a Steelers fan.” However, on a 2010 profile on Steelers.com, he identified himself as an erstwhile Cowboys and Colts fan. If you’ll excuse me, I have to throw a library of books at this owner’s face. [Is immediately tackled by security]
– When Colt McCoy is concussed, all he sees is American flags and free market Jesus. He likes it there.
– We’re still working on a petition to get Phil Taylor seated next to Peter King on every flight.
– In medieval Italy, D’Qwell Jackson would be known as “Of The Qwell Jackson”.
Notable acquisitions: Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Juqua Parker, Frostee Rucker
Notable departures: Peyton Hillis, Mike Adams, Eric Steinbach
Vegas win total over/under: 5.5 wins
KSK verdict: UNDER
Fantasy player you’ll want to dig at with rusty hooks: Anyone who isn’t Trent Richardson
Possibly Trent, also, depending on the condition of his knees. Why in God’s name would you be starting anyone on the Browns? Though Greg Little is an enticing possibility if your league dictates each team starts six receivers.
Fan forecast, by Cleveland Frowns:
In theory, this season kicks off with as much good news as Browns fans could dare to hope for in Randy Lerner’s impending sale of the franchise. 13 seasons on the Lerner family’s watch, 10 of them with 10 losses or more. Throw in five different head coaches, five different GMs, and zero playoff wins. And for presiding over the transformation of the once-great Cleveland Browns into the Cleveland Concussed Bitches of James Harrison, Randy will get $500 million more than his father paid for the team in ’99. (Don’t forget that the old man earned the privilege in the first place for helping Art Modell steal the real Browns away to Baltimore. Who doesn’t love this game?)
So enter our new Tennessean overlord, Jimmy Haslam, truck stop king of America and top Republican fundraiser who’s actively trying to kill us all. On Haslam’s first visit to training camp, the Plain Dealer reported that he “looked as if he’d been watching his team practice all his life,” that the fans “were thrilled to see the new owner looking like a regular guy — just out watching some football,” and that his decision to remain standing at his introductory press conference “made him look bigger and more authoritative.” Peter King reported that Haslam will spend “at least one day a week” in Cleveland. If this doesn’t break Cleveland’s curse, what will?
Of course it’s all extremely exciting, especially for Mike Holmgren, who’s likely to be replaced by Haslam partner Joe Banner (who quit as President of the Eagles for this). This means Holmgren gets to jump ship with Lerner’s $40 million, can just point at Haslam and Banner for whatever hellborne dumpster fire that might be left in his wake.
Which of course brings us to head coach Pat Shurmur, nephew of Holmgren’s old defensive coordinator Fritz, one of many beneficiaries of Holmgren’s policy of handing out six and seven-figure positions to Bob LaMonte clients like they’re preseason tickets. (LaMonte is Holmgren’s buddy from high school. Today, no fewer than seven members of the Browns front office and coaching staff are his clients.)
Last season’s 4-12 record and historically low (even for the Lerner Era) offensive output doesn’t really tell the full story of how terrible the Browns were in Shurmur’s first season. Nor does Shurmur’s Wikipedia page, despite a laudable effort that doesn’t even get into the time the Browns had a first down at the Ravens 8-yard-line with 57 seconds left in the first half, and let time expire on a run play without scoring points (No one had ever seen a bigger fuck-up in a pee-wee game before that.).
But if you really want to understand why the experts are unanimously picking the them as the league’s worst, consider that no team in the modern NFL will ever again face a suicide row of impaired quarterbacks that the Browns finished 4-12 against last season. Also note that three of these four wins turned on one play, and three of the four came against teams with a new head coach in 2012, then look at who we’re playing this year. These charts should help:
If the Browns are to break into the zone of “beating a team with a quarterback as good as John Skelton” in 2012, they’ll have to do it with a rookie quarterback (Brandon Weeden) whom they used the 22nd overall pick on after missing out with a record-breaking bid on RGIII, and even only then because the wide receiver that they really wanted at 22 (Kendall Wright) went two picks earlier. They’ll also have to do it without a meaningful upgrade to a defense that was 30th against the run last season, and without Joe Haden for (apparently) four games (Adderrall!), and Phil Taylor for at least six.
With Trent Richardson and what should be one of the better offensive lines in the league, they should be able to run the ball just well enough to miss out on drafting the player they really need next April.