Some people are fans of the Cleveland Browns. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cleveland Browns. This 2013 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the 2013 NFL previews so far right here.
Your team: Cleveland Browns
Your 2012 record: 5-11. FUN FACT: the Browns have won either four or five games every year for the past five years. OOOOH WHICH ONE WILL IT BE THIS YEAR?! My money is on four!
The Browns have lost 10 or more games in nine of the past 10 years. That's a large enough sample size for us to know this is no accident. You have to really TRY to be that bad. You have to deliberately plant staph fungus in the locker room showerheads and sign Jake Delhomme and hire Leo Bloom as your accountant to craft a failure this magnificent, this seemingly permanent.
Your coach: Rob Chudzinski. Here's a photo of ol' Chud.
Shouldn't he be leaking secret government cyber-surveillance programs to Julian Assange or something? Anyway, young Beau Bridges here was hired only after Chip Kelly gave the Browns a handjob for 12 hours before punching them in the balls and fleeing the massage parlor. Chud was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland back in 2007, the year Derek "Horse Balls" Anderson inexplicably threw 29 touchdown passes (OMG STEROIDS!) and the Browns won an un-Browns-like 10 games. So Chud is back to restore Cleveland to its former anomalous, soft-schedule-aided glory days. And he's brought Norv Turner with him! YAY! Can you believe it took this long for Norv and the Browns to join forces? THEY WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER. I hope he never leaves.
Also, the Browns have a shiny new GM in PANTHEON BS REPORT GUEST Mike Lombardi. Let's hope that Mike's time-tested method of kissing Bill Belichick's ass and assigning arbitrary "blue chipper" labels to good players helps the Browns reverse decades of institutionalized failure.
Your quarterback: Brandon Weeden, who should be pro-ready in just a few years, at which point he'll also be eligible for Medicare. Weeden will be 30 this October, which means that the Browns exhausted a first-round draft choice on a quarterback who was openly trashed on national television by his new GM, who failed to make a noticeable impact in his rookie season, and who is already in the wrong part of his aging curve. And yet, the story of the 2013 Browns somehow is even sadder than that, as you will soon see.
Your one fantasy player everyone will hate: Trent Richardson. I owned Richardson last year and he scored 12 touchdowns. Now, 12 touchdowns is great, but holy shit did he have to WORK to muster up those scores. We're talking about a guy who ran for a grueling 3.6 yards per agonizing carry. If he hadn't scored those touchdowns, owning him would have been like contracting syphilis. Having Norv around doesn't magically make things any better. Richardson will still be running into 26 men in the box on every down, with you sitting there praying that he gets the ball any time the Browns manage to block a punt inside the two-yard line.
Why your team sucks: Only in Cleveland. ONLY in Cleveland would the new owner be a minority Steelers owner who turned out to be a fucking crook. Not only is Jimmy Haslam a crook, but his company of truck driver handjob emporiums is a whopping FOUR BILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT. Oh my fucking God! Are his truck stops built out of fucking platinum? This man isn't even an effective crook. The feds are so far up Haslam's ass that his dad might be called in to run the team. Jimmy Haslam's father, you should note, is 82 years old. You get a crook AND you get Ralph Wilson all in one!
The Browns are so colossally fucked up that they stand as a monument to more than just football incompetence. They are a living allegory of EVERYTHING WRONG WITH AMERICA. Here's Roger Goodell, who is a glorified errand boy, defending Haslam despite the fact that the feds have said Haslam knowingly defrauded other companies out of millions of dollars:
"Jimmy Haslam is a man of great integrity," Goodell said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We're proud to have him as an owner in the NFL and think he's going to be a great owner for the Cleveland Browns and their fans here. [...] We actually hold ownership to a higher standard and management. I think we've proven that in what we've done."
Everything Goodell has said here, from beginning to end, is a breathtaking lie. It's amazing, really. To think that you can buy a billion-dollar football team with money that you probably don't have, and then have the commissioner of the NFL prop you up because the league can't ever admit in public that it's dealing in some seriously shady shit. Isn't that remarkable? If you know the right people, you don't even have to be rich to be rich in this country. You can just go billions of dollars into debt and then have everyone keep you afloat because they don't want to go down with you. What a complete and utter fucking disgrace. I hope Jimmy Haslam gets sent to Elkton, and I hope Roger Goodell is assigned to do cafeteria duty with him.
By the way, we haven't even gotten to the on-field product in Cleveland, which is wretched. Weeden will almost certainly be benched during the season for Brian Hoyer (former Patriot! MIKE LOMBARDI SAYS BILL BELICHICK KNOWS HOW TO DEVELOP YOUNG BLUE CHIPPERS!). The offensive line is somehow on the downswing. The receivers can't catch, even when they're not under suspension. The defense is terrible and is shifting base alignments. They also gave $15 million guaranteed in the offseason to THIS guy:
There's no part of this that isn't horribly depressing. I feel like I'm watching a dog being strangled. Of course, this is what Cleveland fans get for voluntarily living in one of America's most downtrodden cities and then acting surprised when they get trodden down.
Why your team doesn't suck: Barkevious! He nasty!
The 18 worst Browns ever:
1. Tim Couch. Still married to Heather Kozar! Something tells me he lives his life with few regrets.
2. Dwayne Rudd
3. Courtney Brown
4. Brady Quinn. Choosing your least favorite Cleveland starting QB is like choosing your favorite child. I simply can't decide!
6. Charlie Frye
7. William Green
8. Pat Shurmur. I'm telling you, I had already forgotten he was the coach last year. It's like they were coached by a vapor cloud.
9. Eric Zeier
10 (t). Kevin Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan, André Davis, Brian Robiskie. You guys should NEVER draft a wideout in the second round. Ever.
15. Jake Delhomme
16. Dwight Clark
17. Tommy Vardell. TOUCHDOWN TOMMY! (NOTE: Scored three touchdowns in his entire career)
18. Eric Mangini. Read this and be horrified.
Emails from Browns fans:
I've been to 30 or so home games and only remember seeing 6 wins.
Their best player in the last decade was LeBron hypothetically becoming a tight end for them.
Oh why Cleveland did you have to bring the Browns back? I almost escaped Browns fandom after not having them around for four formative years of my childhood, but they came back to make sure that I remember every fall that my city's sports teams will always be worthless.
I can already see it around me; fans getting excited and whatnot for the upcoming season, but I already know exactly how it's going to go for me at 1pm on Sundays...
Week 1: Tailgate in the Muni lot, get shitfaced, watch the team lose in the last minute but still have a reasonably fun day.
Week 9: Drink a beer and watch the first half before ending the misery.
Week 17: Get really high and play FIFA for three hours.
Every year, I lie to myself and believe that this team can go .500. My optimism for 14 years of expansion has revolved around them hitting 8-8 and not being in the basement with a high draft pick. And they can't even do that.
Everything about this team is screaming for yet another horrifying season. Unusually light schedule? Check. A defense with some hype behind it? Check. A RB most of the league thinks will break out? Check. A new owner who everyone seems to like despite being a potential crook? Check check and check. I'm already settled on the idea of Cleveland doing just well enough to be out of the Clowneystakes and decent QB range and having to settle for a reach at signal caller (Read: Derrick Carr or worse) in next year's draft, spitting my Great Lakes Brewing Co. Conway's Irish Ale all over the TV in disgust.
Rinse and repeat for 4 years, and then we can fire the QB, all the management and most of the coaching staff and start this hell over again. And a renewed hope for that magical 8-8 season will continue. Goddamnit Browns.
The simultaneous high and low point since they've been back was a 2003 wild card defeat in which an insurmountable lead was exchanged for a kick-in-the-balls defeat at the hands of Tommy Maddox (?!?!?!) and the hated Steelers.
We can romanticize the legendary tragedies that have befallen Browns fans, but the fact of the matter is that those tragedies gave us something to care about. Replacing that team with a generic pile of expansion suckitude has given us something that we care for only because of those memories. But let's not fool ourselves - there's no real connection there. We used to have something special. Now we're just the same as the Jags, Texans, or whoever ends up in LA. That's the biggest tragedy.
The face on this Charlie Frye shirt (21 dollars!) is the same face I've made after almost every Sunday since I started rooting for this team in 2001.
I get to watch Brandon Weeden throw interceptions to defensive tackles because apparently being 6’5” isn’t tall enough to get the damn ball at least to the other team’s cornerback. Our best receiver loves weed. Our other receiver is a converted running back that has been working on learning to catch. We don’t really have any other receivers. Last year I heard more than a few locals pining to get Troy Smith because “Buckeye, all he does is win”. None seem to remember him being field raped by Florida defensive ends and then sitting behind Alex fucking Smith.
I have no idea about this defense but they haven’t been able to stop the run in about 15 years. They plan to run Trent Richardson 30 times a game so his legs should be reduced to stumps by week 8. And they have Norv now. Seriously, Norv.
Everyone knows we suck. It's terrible. We used to have a great rivalry with the Steelers. Now they just kick our teeth against the curb every chance they get. Their fans don't even care about the Browns game anymore. Their coach laughed at a Browns reporter because Tomlin knows we suck. Even Cincinnati fans feel bad for us. Just let that soak in.
Yes, we have some talented players in Joe Thomas, Joe Haden, and....well fuck, that's about it.
I had to quit drinking during Browns games and I love beer. Yes, we suck.
Out of the games that I have been to the last five years, I have spent 90% of my time at the Club Level bar chasing beers with Long Islands instead of watching the steaming pile of shit teams that we had on our field. Over this time period, the best player on our team was the kicker, and now even he is gone. Staph infections run rampant in locker rooms. Our owner is about to be cellmates with Bernie Madoff. Our best defender got suspended for illegal substances... ADDERALL... is this high school? A quarterback from Duke started a game for us last year, so things are basically looking up.
Still waiting for next year.
I need a cocktail.
I actually love Cleveland. Big city feel without all the fucking people, most people are really friendly and the food is great if you find local stuff.
BUT....we lose poorly. I was at the 2002 game against KC where Dwayne Rudd threw his helmet off. You could not believe the amount of Browns fans that wanted to fight me. I'm 15 yrs old and 70,000 sore losers are leaving a stadium and the slightest brush on the should could have turned that place into a fucking riot.
I'll be a fan till I die, hopefully that will be soon.
Our icons are a running back who quit on the team 50 years ago to be in movies and beat women, and a barely better than average quarterback who couldn’t beat John Elway and sounds like he is drunk 100% of the time.
Taking yet another post-game walk of shame to the car after yet another loss to the Steelers with a mass of Browns fans and a sprinkling of Steelers supporters outside Browns Stadium, I saw a drunken 6’5” twenty-something Browns fan giving crap to a 5’ 2” twenty-something girl in a Steelers jersey. After a few F-bombs, the guy leaned over and hocked an enormous loogie on the girl's head. There was a collective moan, but nobody said or did anything. Everybody just kept shuffling along.
We used our good pick in a pretty loaded draft on a guy who isn’t big enough for DL but isn’t fast enough for LB and spent the last three years being coached by a nut who chooses plays by the flavor of grass and spends the off-season watching Andy Reid game management DVDs.
Half of our fans still think Colt McCoy is an NFL starting caliber quarterback.
Bad owner, bad management, bad coaches, bad players, no QB. I’d like to think they’re getting better, but I’ve thought that before and they continue to be awful. Somehow everyone they hire and everyone they draft comes to town and manages to suck. Last year my daughter, who was seven at the time, asked why I keep watching them when they make me sad and angry every Sunday. I told her that I was from Cleveland and I had watched them my entire life and I loved them no matter what. She said she thought I should get a new team that made me happy. Oh, if only it were that easy.
The day the Browns have a competent quarterback is the day the sun explodes in an all-consuming fireball. The Browns will never get better. Ever. There's no incentive for management to ever try to improve the team, because loyal fans will gladly pay up regardless of how bad things are. I have little more than a passing familiarity with the intricacies of football, but I know that if I had an upper management job at Browns HQ, I'd never get fired. We'd keep selling tickets, after all, and that's what matters. We will always win just enough games to have useless draft picks, we will never have a good quarterback, we will never have an owner who isn't a shitheel, and we will never be a good team.
This is all you need to know about what it's like to be a Browns fan: We bring up "Red Right 88," which refers to a play that went bad IN A DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME 32 YEARS AGO.
Is there another fan base — in any sport on any planet in any universe — that's capable of mourning a second-round playoff loss that occurred before Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president? But, then, this is the same city that refers to a first-round NBA playoff win over the Washington Bullets in 1976 as "the Miracle of Richfield" EVEN THOUGH THE CAVALIERS WERE THE HIGHER SEED.
This season will be the first season in since 1999-2002 (TIM COUCH...who is on the whole the best quarterback we've had for the past 15 seasons) where we have the same starting QB in back to back seasons.
There are too many easy jokes to make: An owner about to get indicted; PED suspensions two years in a row; the second best ginger QB in the division. But that isn't the worst of it. No, our consistent mediocrity has given that hack Bill Simmons a catchphrase that he has latched onto harder than a Ray Lewis victim latches on to the last few fleeting moments of life: "God Hates Cleveland." The man will put a footnote on very well-written Barnwell column with that phrase repeated a dozen times, in all caps, and I'm sure he imagines it as his version of Berman screaming "HE COULD GO ALL THE WAY."
Why would you want a version of that? Berman sucks, Simmons sucks, and we suck so so bad.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Running an all caps joke into the ground? What a GLORY BOY.)
When I watch Browns games today, I physically sense my time on Earth being wasted. Sitting through a whole game can raise dark existential questions that pierce through whatever booze shield I'm wielding.
The Browns suck on an impressive scale, and yet in between having heart attacks and being depressed, people here never shut the fuck up about them. Tune into any of the multitude of awful sports talk radio shows and you’re likely to hear Bernie Kosar slurring through his recollection of losing to the Broncos, followed by confusion, muffled crying, and awkward silence. I used to think Bernie was just a sad drunk, but my current running theory is that he unwittingly developed a rare form of Bell’s Palsy after telling the same story for 26 years ad nauseam.
And yet, the only way that the 300,000 balding dudes in Cleveland named Ray can get enough of an erection to shoehorn it into the old lady once every 3 months, is to think about that 1987 starting roster. People here are obsessed with the Browns of the 80s b/c there’s nothing else. (Remember that year Derek Anderson made the Pro-Bowl as an alternate?!). And what makes the whole charade even more tragically hilarious, is that no matter how many corned beef sandwiches Cleveland residents cram into their orifices, it will never be enough to get over the 2 Super Bowl wins from the Baltimore Ravens.
The Browns special teams consists of punting 15 fucking times a game, and the only "nationally televised" games they see are tucked away in the Thursday night NFL Network shoebox. Call me when you have a 30-year-old second-year ginger quarterback, an owner whose company is $4 billion in debt and being investigated for fraud, and a loser's complex that the French Army shakes their heads at.
They did sign Davone Bess though, so get fired up for that. WOOF WOOF.
Fuck Art Modell.
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