With five picks in the first two rounds of the draft, a rich free agency pool, and a not-so-talent-poor roster the situation in Cleveland seems to be trending up (not that they could trend down any further). But Cleveland has misery running through its veins. Ever since the Brown’s return they have found a way to disappoint each and every fan, time and time again. So here are the five ways the Browns organization can keep the Factory of Sadness from shuttering the windows.
1. Not obtaining Kirk Cousins in free agency.
To start off the list let’s look at the least damaging scenario for the Browns. In a shocking move the Chiefs sent star quarterback Alex Smith to Washington for a third round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. This assured that Kirk Cousins has played his last snap In the nation's capital. With Mr. you-like-that available the Browns need to make an effort to sign him. Kirk Cousins would bring stability, leadership and experience to a young Browns offense (not to mention above average quarterback play). A Cousins acquisition would allow the Browns to develop Kizer, who showed a lot of promise this season, over time and really allow him to thrive in this league. With Kirk coming to town, it would allow the Browns to use their first overall pick for a generational talent in Saquon Barkley. Barkley carrying the backfield would allow Hue Jackson to move Duke Johnson to the slot, a role he filled well for most of this season, and really improve the wideout core as Coleman continues to improve and Gordon gets a full offseason with the team. Even though there will still be plenty of hope in Believeland without Cousins they should still make an effort, and flex their 100 million dollars in cap space, to acquire a player that would really jumpstart the franchise.
2. Trading back.
Sashi Brown, before his departure, accrued a King's ransom of draft capital, all of which should be used by new GM John Dorsey. When you have the worst team in the league and only the second team in history to go 0-16 you don’t think about next year; you need to improve, and you need to do it now. Trading back only allows more talent like Watson and Wentz to slip through your fingers.
3. Drafting anyone other than Darnald at number one.
The verdict is in. The consensus is that Darnold will be a star in this league, a talent that even the Browns can’t mess up. If the Browns manage to talk themselves out of Darnald or fall in love with Rosen, Allen or (please God no) Mayfield sound the alarms, abandon ship, keep running until dawn because management can’t be trusted. If Darnald is half of what he has been talked up to be then he is a quality starter in this league and a wonderful young player to build around. Not to disparage the other three quarterbacks mentioned, all of whom I believe will be incredible starters some day, they just are not right for Cleveland right now. Darnald is prototypical and talented, just draft him, Mayfield is shiny and alluring (I wouldn’t mind the Patriots drafting him) but his big personality would be Money Manziel all over again.
4. Continuing to not house a healthy locker room.
The Browns in 2017 did not have the worst roster in the league. Talent wise they were bad but not the worst. The Jets showed us that with players playing hard for their coaches and teammates, one of the worst rosters assembled in this millennium can have 5 wins. So why did the boys in orange, with a more talented line up, not manage to beat a single team? Because Hue Jackson doesn’t have a fighting spirit instilled in these players. The players don’t have pride in their team. By mid season the players seemed to think 0-16 was as destined as the fans did. If you want to avoid another parade, Hue Jackson needs to change the philosophy of that locker room. I don’t know how, motivational speeches, group therapy, a buffet, whatever. Figure it out Hue, or you’re going in the lake again.
5. Trusting Hue Jackson.
To close out the list, we need to address the most glaring problem with the Browns. Hue Jackson might not be a good coach (gasp). I know it’s shocking to think about. But with a 1-31 record in two seasons, being one of only three coaches in history to post a donut in the wins column, and not a single playoff win in his tenure at Cincinnati maybe it’s time we start talking about why he is getting a third year. Maybe ownership thought it was a bad year to be trying court potential coaching prospects to such a down-and-out organization. Maybe they see something in Hue that fans don’t. Either way we are about to see the third season with Jackson steering the ship. Even with a marginally better season the Browns need to closely examine the head coaching position if he doesn’t begin building up that locker room and developing his young talent. It all rests on the shoulders of Hue Jackson, and that is a rocky foundation.
Hopefully, the Browns pull it together. The entire league is rooting for you, don’t fuck it up.
Thank you all for sticking with us through our first season. We aren't always the most accurate or engaging but hopefully you all find us mildly enjoyable enough to see what's in store for season 2 (more soundboard).