The Cleveland Browns have played eleven games and are sitting at 7-4. After years of dismal football, this is so refreshing. As I mentioned on Sunday, the team hasn’t had 7 wins since 2007, six seasons between that one and this one.
2007 was a fun year. I watched many of those games start to finish, which I hadn’t done much of up until then and haven’t done much of since. There’s only one problem that I have with 2007: It’s tainting 2014.
2007 started off with the draft, and the Browns in the first round made two picks: They took Joe Thomas with the third pick, and with the 22nd pick, took Brady Quinn, which seemed like a steal at the time. Quinn was supposed to go at the top of the draft, and many speculated that he was the guy the Browns would take with the #3 pick. So when he fell, the Browns nabbed Quinn at #22.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The season started with our buddy Charlie Frye as the starting quarterback. He didn’t finish the first game; Derek Anderson did. He wasn’t much better, but the next day, Frye was traded to the Seattle Seahawks.
The next game was a barn-burner with the Cincinnati Bengals where the Browns scored 51 points! Anderson threw FIVE touchdown passes! Woo-hoo!
The Browns went on a run in the middle of the season, and after 11 games were – wait for it….wait for it – 7-4. Yeah, I know.
This is where Anderson started slipping. In the next game against Arizona, he barely completed 50% of his passes, and threw 2 picks to go with 2 TDs. Browns lose. The next game against the Jets, the Browns win, but Anderson completes 55% of his passes. The week after in a white-out, he completed 37.5%, not completely his fault. The Browns were now 9-5 and headed to Cincinnati where a win would get them into the playoffs.
They didn’t get that win. They lost and Anderson looked bad. He completed 60% of his passes, threw 4 interceptions, and ended the game with a QBR of 53.4. And though the Browns won their final game, they needed help to make the playoffs and they didn’t get it. Anderson was never the same.
Still, it was a fun year and nice to win 10 games. It was only the second winning season since the Browns returned in 1999. So why is that having a negative effect on the Browns in 2014?
Because, like everything Browns-related, everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Oh, sure, Hoyer has looked good…..BUT SO DID ANDERSON! Oh yeah, the 2007 Browns won ten games….BUT THEN HAD SIX STRAIGHT HORRIBLE SEASONS!
What if this is that all over again???? What if we fall apart at the end???? We better switch now! (Funny that they draw these comparisons to 2007, except the one where Quinn ended up being a dud.)
Look, I’ll be honest, I don’t get it. 2007 has nothing to do with 2014. Derek Anderson has nothing to do with Brian Hoyer. But fans are still stressing. And not just as pseudo-head coaches, but also as pseudo-general managers.
“We need to see what we have in Manziel so we know what to do in next year’s draft!” “Hoyer is a free agent after this season. I don’t know if we should give him a contract because of 3/4 of a season!”
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: REAL football is not FANTASY football. This is not about one guy; it’s about 53 guys. The players aren’t the damaged goods that Browns fans are. They see themselves a half game out of 1st place, making a push to make the playoffs. Winning.
Going in and telling them that you’re going to make a switch a quarterback for any of the reasons listed above, and you, as the head coach, are going to lose all credibility with the rest of the team. That camaraderie that the team has now? Gone. In fantasy football, all that matters is stats. But in real football, you’re dealing with human beings.
You want to see what I am talking about? Look at the Seattle Seahawks. They won the Super Bowl and by every statistical account, should be a front-runner to do it again this season. Except they aren’t, are they? Why? Did the coach forget how to coach? Did the players forget how to play? No.
It’s because of what people like to call “The Super Bowl Hangover.” Winning a Super Bowl makes everyone think that they are the reason the team won and now their agents and the fans are telling them how great they are. The human beings start making mistakes. They aren’t as sharp, not as focused. Why should they be? They’re the greatest thing ever! They just spend months having everyone tell them so. Endorsement deals, guests on talk shows, and big contracts.
There is a human element of every sport that people who have never managed people don’t understand. It’s not just about talent.
Is Hoyer the answer? I don’t think so. Maybe. He’s started 15 games in his career, less than a full season. Then again, he’s been in the league for several years. But if he is or if he isn’t, it should be based on him alone. It should have nothing to do with Derek Anderson, and nothing to do with how the team fell apart for several years after 2007.
After Hoyer threw his third interception on Sunday, someone tweeted, “This is Hoyer’s Cincinnati game,” referring to Anderson’s 4-interception game in 2007.
Guys, I’m making no promises about this team. I’m not going to tell you they will win another game. They may flame out, how would I know? But even if they do, that does not mean they are going to be a resurrection of 2008-2013. 2007 was a long time ago. Romeo Crennel was the head coach. Our running backs were Jamal Lewis and Jerome Harrison. The only player on this roster who was on that roster was then-rookie Joe Thomas.
My wish for Browns fans is that they enjoy what they’re watching, that they aren’t so battered by the Ghost of Browns Past that it ruins what is the best season we’ve had in years. 2014 has nothing to do with 2007, or any other year.
Think of some positives: We have Josh Gordon back and that’s only going to get better with more practices. There isn’t much tape this year on the guy. He’s opening up the run game – in case you missed it, the Browns averaged 5 yards per carry against Atlanta – and giving other receivers a chance. Maybe Jordan Cameron will be back! Combine those guys with the guys who have already been winning, and this offense could get really exciting.
I don’t have a beef with anyone who thinks Manziel would be better than Hoyer. Maybe he’d light it up. Maybe the things about him that create his constant off-the-field issues would surface in a game, like when he gave the Washington Redskins the finger. We just don’t know.
But from one Browns brother to the rest of the Browns family, don’t let it ruin your Sundays. And, please, whatever you do, bury 2007. It’s been a long time gone.