The Cleveland Browns entered the 2019 season with optimism not seen on the banks of Lake Erie in nearly two decades.
The Browns were coming off of a strong close to the 2018 season, appeared to have their franchise quarterback set for the first time since returning as a franchise in 1999, and had added Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade in the offseason. Everything was set up for them to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002, and their Vegas projected win total was set at 9 wins.
On Sunday, the Browns got steamrolled by the now 4-9-1 Arizona Cardinals in Glendale by a final score of 38-24, dropping Cleveland to 6-8 on the season and officially cashing tickets for Under bettors on their win total. It was the latest disappointment in a season full of them, and came after reports that new head coach Freddie Kitchens’ job would be safe barring a collapse. The question now is what constitutes a collapse, because the Browns are very close to nearing one as players appear to be angling for a way out.
A week ago, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported Beckham had been telling opposing players to “come get me,” appearing to request that teams save him from the Browns. On Monday, Mike Silver reported that his friend Jarvis Landry, among others, joined him in that chorus of asking the opposition to get him out during Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
More fallout from the Jarvis Landry tirade during the Browns-Cardinals game: I'm told by two sources that before the game ended, 'multiple' Browns players yelled at the Arizona sideline to 'come get me'–asking to come play for the Cardinals. Landry, I'm told, was one of them.
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) December 16, 2019
I’d like to take a moment to explain how wild it is that there are players asking the Cardinals, a team that has four wins and won 1 game a year ago, to come save them. For a franchise that was supposed to be changing the narrative about itself this season, that is pretty damning.
The question, of course, is what are the Browns options to fix things. There’s, of course, the option to make yet another head coaching change given that the close to this season and apparent desire for a mass player exodus would indeed constitute a “collapse.” Beyond that, John Dorsey has to look inward to figure out where the team can upgrade outside if needing to be better coached — which they certainly do. The idea this summer was to give Baker Mayfield more weapons, but that possibly came at the expense of upgrading the offensive line in front of him. The result has been accuracy issues and an inability to consistently get the ball to those weapons — the fault of both Mayfield and the protection.
The defense figured to be a strength, but was left largely alone in terms of major moves and with Myles Garrett suspended, they’ve lost their best pass rusher and seen some stagnation on that side, compounded by offensive issues that put them on the field more and more. All of it has been disappointing, but perhaps the biggest mistake was expecting the leap for a team that was still as young as it is at key spots. Patience is not exactly a trait associated with NFL teams, but it’s likely needed in Cleveland. The problem may be that their veterans aren’t willing to deal with the ups and downs that come with it.
The actual answer, of course, is to contract the franchise and push the entire thing into Lake Erie for the greater good of everyone from fans to players to the league.