When the regular season ends, it’s usually a slow time for anyone following the Browns. I mean, they’re certainly not playing in the postseason.
A lot of writers will use the time to grade positions, getting themselves in position for when all talk turns to free agents and draft picks. For the fans, you watch the other teams play in the postseason and sort of space out on the fact that none of these teams are yours. Other than that, nothing. Well, there’s the biannual coach firing, but not much more after that, not until after the Super Bowl.
I was really looking forward to that this year, after having to watch the team nosedive at the end of 2014.
But no, not this year. Not this team. They just couldn’t lay low for a few weeks. Check this out:
- December 28, 2014, the Browns played their final game of the 2014 NFL season.
- January 10th, Kyle Shanahan resigned.
- January 23rd, ESPN releases a story that cites players who said famed quarterback Johnny Manziel was often late to meetings and didn’t seem to take his job seriously.
- January 25th, news leaked that Josh Gordon was being suspended for a year for, as it turned out, drinking alcohol while on probation.
Wow, that’s enough right there, yes? Oh no. This is Cleveland, son!
- Four days later, Josh Gordon responded with a public letter addressed to his critics, namely Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, and Cris Carter. He took responsibility for getting busted yet again, but also lashed out at those who thought he was spiraling down, trapped in the clutches of addiction and heading towards an early death.
- On Monday, Manziel checked himself into rehab.
It’s been 36 days since the season ended, and the Browns have gone through all of that. Oh, and I failed to mention that they’ve hired an offensive coordinator, a quarterbacks coach and a wide receivers coach. Same old Browns.
Honestly, I don’t know who to believe. I don’t really even know what to think. I don’t even know if I care to understand it. This organization cannot really always be this bizarre. Not because I give a crap what some yahoo in Bristol, Connecticut thinks, but because I know that they cannot have true winning as long as they are this dysfunctional. It’s not about Manziel and Gordon and Shanahan. Those are just symptoms of a deeper illness.
The Browns need to fix this. I’m not saying cut anybody or fire this person. I have no idea how to fix this team because I’ve watched people pass through here and all with the same level of failure.
To be honest, the optimist in me wants to say that letting Shanahan leave when it was obvious that he was looking to go elsewhere is a sign that the team doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t buy into the vision. That this is part of building a strong foundation. The optimist says, “This is addition by subtraction.”
And, hey, the optimist shouts! Manziel! Yes, it’s not good that he’s in rehab, but maybe he will come out of this a more mature, responsible man. Maybe this is his awakening, the frat boy who had to go. Maybe rehab is simply his chrysalis from which he will emerge better than when he went in.
But we all know what the cynic in me is saying: Same old Browns. I hope not. But it’s hard to trust them to be otherwise.
I hope Ray Farmer has a good plan for this offseason and I hope his draft decisions are as solid as his undrafted free agent evaluation last year was. I hope the new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo can create an offense as efficient as it was during the first half of 2014. I hope Mike Pettine can find a starting quarterback, be it Manziel or someone else. (I won’t get dragged into that conversation, not yet.) I hope this team can quit being ridiculous.
I love this team. I do. They really need to turn a corner. Maybe 2014’s 7-9 record was them turning a corner, but the total collapse to end the year did not make it seem to be so.
Well, this is it, folks. The 2015 season has now unofficially begun. Let’s see if this team can build playoff team between now and the end of next December. I really don’t want to sit through another year of Same Old Browns.