I’m not really referring to the fact that the Browns have won one game since then, going just 1-5, including a four-game slide that will probably conclude as a five-game slide after next week’s season finale. The losing has been very disappointing, but I’m not completely surprised. I had been cautioning this throughout the season. The team seemed to be over-achieving. There was a good chance that it would catch up with them sooner or later. It has.
No, it’s not the record or the losing streak that has made the ending to this season a raging fire. It’s the quarterback position. Again.
Brian Hoyer, who gave us hope to begin with, suddenly stopped overachieving. Heck, Brian Hoyer stopped achieving at all. It got ugly among the fans as they became divided over Hoyer holding on to the job and rookie QB Johnny Manziel taking over. It didn’t take long until Hoyer gave his job away to Manziel. And that’s where the disaster began.
With everyone excited about the debut of Johnny Football – a nickname I despise – the kid came out and fell flat on his face against those same Bengals. Yes, there were other issues, but there were other issues when Hoyer was playing and nobody gave that any credence. The numbers for Manziel? 10 of 18 for 80 yards, 2 interceptions, 13 yards rushing, zero points.
Well, that was disappointing. All real hopes for the postseason were gone and now everyone was left wondering what the team had in it’s first-round draft pick. Is Manziel the future? Does he have the ability to stand in the pocket and make throws? Does he have the arm strength?
Well, the only caveat was that the team would get two more games to see. And that caveat went out the window in the second quarter when Manziel injured his hamstring and left the game. Brian Hoyer, welcome back.
In his six quarters as starter, Manziel did worse than Hoyer did in his last two quarters of play:
No, I’m not re-opening the quarterback debate, I’m simply pointing out that Manziel has not been impressive. There are obvious arguments in Manziel’s favor, but definitely not impressive in any way.
And now he is hurt. Now we don’t know how much of a look the team will get with him under center. That’s enough to qualify as a nightmare, right?
No! This is Cleveland! When it comes to quarterbacks, we take nightmares to a whole new level!
There are whispers that Hoyer may not be able to play the final game because of a shoulder injury on Sunday. Now, they may be starting practice squad quarterback Conner Shaw. Yep. Why stop there? Reports say they tried signing Rex Grossman, but he couldn’t because his in-laws were visiting. I swear I’m not making anything in this paragraph up.
Now THAT is a Cleveland quarterback fiasco!
So, let’s recap: 4-game losing streak; 1-5 since being in first place at 6-3; a good probability that they will finish another season under .500; a quarterback controversy that ended up with the original starter looking like the Ghost of Derek Anderson, and the latest football savior who looks like the Ghost of Brady Quinn; no real look at Manziel as starter; and either a practice squad quarterback or a veteran off the street to start the final game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens who are playing for their playoff lives. Awesome. Freaking awesome.
For me, the losing isn’t the hardest part. It’s the mess. Because with Cleveland Browns football, there’s always a mess that needs cleaned up. I hate that, just as I hated the quarterback controversy because we always have one of those as well.
Can’t this football team just come out and have a season that isn’t filled with huge question marks? You can’t win it all in a year, but can’t we just get some steady progress?
A season that started with such prominence is now looking like just another steaming pile of Browns football. It’s deflating. Can the Browns get things going in the right direction in 2015? Who cares? We still have a week of this nightmare to go.