Some people are fans of the Cleveland Browns. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cleveland Browns. This 2018 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Cleveland Browns.
Your 2017 record: 0-16. CONGRATULATIONS! Everything the Browns do is a sadder version of something another team has already done. And you know what? They didn’t get anywhere NEAR enough shit for going winless, in my opinion. I think some people pity the Browns so much for being the Browns that they let this 0-16 slip by quietly. I am not one of those people. I am a hater of the first order and so allow me to put on my Mack North suit and remind you people again that YOU WENT OH AND FUCKING SIXTEEN. You suck in ways that the NFL specifically structured itself to prevent. Who goes 1-31 over two years in THIS NFL, with a hard cap and immensely favorable rookie contracts? You do.
You have not won a game since Christmas Eve of 2016. No team scored fewer points last season. Only one team allowed more points. You blew a 21-7 fourth quarter lead to Brett Hundley, of all people. You cut Joe Haden and he IMMEDIATELY joined the Steelers and found himself in the AFC playoffs because of course he did. Leaving the Browns is like leaving prison. You see sunlight for the first time. You remember what real food tastes like. My God, is this a fresh orange? SENSORY OVERLOAD! I don’t know if I’m gonna remember how to pee alone!
It gets worse. This team of bumbling shitheads lost every game by an average of 11 points. They lost Joe Thomas for the season thanks to a triceps injury, and then to eternity thanks to his formal retirement. They got clowned on by a dead guy. They cut Brock Osweiler, but not before releasing the world’s worst hype video in his honor:
I’m still angry they made an AC/DC reference but used Metallica’s font. It offends me as a 41-year-old suburban dad, and it should offend you as well. They benched DeShone Kizer for a game before realizing that they only had Kevin Hogan behind him, so they unbenched Kizer and then traded him when the season was over. Andy Benoit praised them for having an identity. Court documents showed that the president of Jimmy Haslam’s truck stop cartel, currently awaiting sentencing for a wire fraud conviction that Haslam himself paid $92 million to avoid, called the city of Cleveland “nothin’ but niggers.” They tried trading second- and third-round picks for future failed Buffalo Bill AJ McCarron, only to have the trade fall through because they botched the paperwork.
A source with knowledge of the Browns’ sequence of events told cleveland.com that they sent their signed document to the Bengals with the expectation that the Bengals would also sign it and forward it on to the league.
Amazing. Fucking amazing. I wouldn’t trust the Bengals to make a fucking mustard sandwich properly, and yet here are the analytics masters of the Browns blindly entrusting their fate to Mike Brown’s fax machine. Why, it’s almost like the Haslam family is instinctively careless with formal documentation! Did I mention that the Niners got Jimmy Garoppolo for just a second rounder? And that even Jed York can get his paperwork filed in a timely manner? And that Belichick probably gave San Francisco the bargain of a lifetime simply because he hates the Browns so much? And did you know LeBron left? ROCK. FUCKING. BOTTOM.
Anyway, you would rightfully expect a team going 0-16 to clean house and start from scratch. That’s only halfway true in the case of the Browns, who booted GM Sashi Brown in favor of football guy’s football guy John Dorsey but retained most important building block of all…
Your coach: Hue Jackson. THE MAGIC MAN!
Leave it to the Browns to finally opt for continuity the ONE time they shouldn’t have. What evidence is there that Hue is worth even half a shit? All Hue does is get into power struggles he ends up eventually losing. The Browns’ point differential was actually WORSE in 2016, when they went 1-15 under Hue. No team has scored fewer points over the past two seasons. Tasked with developing a quarterback, Hue has shuffled through five different starters, only to have all of them fail horribly.
Now here’s the funny part: Hue is somehow even worse at interpersonal relationships than he is at actively attempting to win football games. Here he is taking a dump on Isaiah Crowell (who has since left for the somehow greener pastures of the Jets). Here he is attempting to motivate his team by removing the anodyne stripes from their helmets. OH NO! WILL I EVER GET TO BECOME A TRUE BROWN?! Here’s the new GM not telling Hue whom he plans on drafting at No. 1 overall, because teamwork! And here is Hue addressing rumors that he was feuding with then-GM Brown:
“Criticizing the front office? How would I make the front office look bad? I coach a football team… That right there is bad enough. 1-27 is bad enough. I don’t have to say anything. Just look at our football team. I’m a part of that as I said earlier. I don’t deal in leaks. This has been a leaky place for years. This isn’t the first time you have ever heard leaks out of the Cleveland Browns. Hopefully, some of that stuff will go away in time, but it is not going to go away when you are losing, that is for sure. If anything, it is going to ratchet up even more.”
In a related story, Hue ALSO denies grinding his feet in Eddie Murphy’s couch. What a colossal idiot. Thankfully, our man has brought in some manpower to help boost the Browns offense:
HELL FUCKING YEAH. Todd Haley and his Camaro are all yours now, Cleveland! I can’t even imagine how many bar fights this man is gonna start this fall. Are you lookin’ at Todd’s woman? You better not be lookin’ at Todd’s main squeeze if you know what’s best for ya, smart guy.
Your quarterback: I know you guys could have had Garoppolo, or Carson Wentz, or DeShaun Watson. Ah, but what if I told you that the Browns instead elected to draft a guy who is two feet shorter than all of them?
Yes, it’s America’s favorite dick hoister, Baker Mayfield. Now, it took a lot to bring Mayfield to Cleveland. The Browns had to miss out on every good quarterback in every previous draft. They had to fuck up the McCarron trade. They had to get rejected by Nick Foles. They had to knock Josh Rosen down their draft board because, uh, his girlfriend plays volleyball or something? And, lastly, they had to reach for Mayfield at No. 1 overall despite ALSO having the No. 4 overall pick, and despite the fact that Mayfield almost certainly would have fallen to them in that spot anyway. They could have had Bradley Chubb and Mayfield. They could have had Saquon Barkley and Mayfield. Instead they drafted Mayfield and Denzel Ward. If Ward is anything like Justin Gilbert, I think we’re all in for a treat.
Oh wait! I almost forgot that they traded for Tyrod Taylor! Blessed with a surfeit of draft picks, the Browns gave away a third rounder to Buffalo for a one-year rental on Taylor, who routinely struggles to throw for over 200 yards a game. Fantastic. I can smell the excitement, can’t you? Behold Cleveland’s QB trailer of MYSTERY:
They’re clearly fucking in there. I’m calling it.
What’s new that sucks: As I previously mentioned, your new general manager is former Chiefs pencil-pusher John Dorsey, who is apparently comfortable referring to himself as Mister and who wasted no time at all trashing the previous Browns administration:
Okay, I see no lies there, but still. Dorsey has spent the majority of this offseason exhausting Sashi Brown’s draft supply and reshaping the Browns roster into something that LOOKS respectable but is, in fact, still an extremely Browns roster. Take Mayfield, who has to overcome both his own physical limitations and the Browns rich history of destroying quarterbacks. Take the third-round pick wasted on Tyrod. Take linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who went on a profane rant when it was reported that he was going to the Browns before he, uh, went to the Browns.
Take Jarvis Landry, who arrived here in a trade with the Dolphins and was immediately handed $47 million in guarantees. My guess is that he starts skipping practice somewhere around Week 6. Take running back Nick Chubb, who had so much potential before the Browns drafted him and officially doomed him to be the second coming of Trent Richardson. The Browns went from trusting the process to very much NOT trusting the process, and as a result they’ve cobbled together a Knicksian roster that’s built kinda for the future and kinda for the present, and ultimately for neither. If they ever sign Dez Bryant, that’ll sum up the dysfunction PERFECTLY. If you expect this team to win more than four games, you’re a moron. If you expect them to win more than four games NEXT year, you are also a moron.
What has always sucked: The Browns have the easiest value proposition in the world: “We are not the Bengals.” And yet, they can’t even fulfill it. This is not only the saddest franchise in football but also, somehow, the dullest. That contagious glee that Mayfield brings to the football field? That’s staying in Oklahoma. Here in Cleveland, his soul will be eaten and he will be transformed into the same kind of lifeless dropback passer this team always ends up spitting out. By next year, he’ll have a 70.6 passer rating and openly daring Tilted Kilt patrons to take video of him doing body shots off of waitresses.
It’s tempting to blame Cleveland itself for this malaise. It is Cleveland, after all. But the New Browns don’t suck because of curses, or because of the general air of depression that lingers over Northeast Ohio at all times. They suck because Haslam is a conman who cultivates a noxious workspace anywhere he’s in charge, and no amount of window dressing can hide that. The Browns are a rotten franchise that exists so that the rest of us can feel better about ourselves.
God knows this organization—this feeble, corrupt, hilariously incompetent organization—would like you to believe this there’s a brighter future ahead after 0-16 … that 0-16 was a building block, the start of something lasting and wonderful. It was not. You went 0-16 because you suck.
The Browns are an end: a perpetual terminus where hope is snuffed out right in front of your very eyes. Do you know how much better off everyone on Earth would have been if the Browns had never come back to the league? You could have been free of this bullshit, Cleveland. No more NFL. No more Goodell. No more stadium rip-offs. No more ruined Sundays. Instead, you brought the team back and brought Drew Carey—the skinniest man in Ohio’s history—out onto the field to usher in two additional DECADES of misery and counting. You did this to yourselves. I hope Haslam gets run over by a fucking semi.
What might not suck: I can’t believe Josh Gordon has to come back to play for THIS team. This team IS a relapse. It’ll never get better.
Let’s remember a guy who sucked: It’s Tommy Vardell. In four years at Stanford, Tommy scored 49 touchdowns. In four years with the Browns, he scored three. What a fucking fraud.
I’d like to believe that, at age 49, he’s still wearing that hat.
HEAR IT FROM BROWNS FANS!
I don’t think the Browns will be good this year, but I think they’re a couple years away from being decent. I have thought this before the season starts almost every year since 2009. I am an idiot.
I’m genuinely excited by the prospect of going 5-11, but deep down I know it will be 2-14.
We’ve amassed more assholes in the past seven months than the Supreme Court.
You can go on all day about draft picks they traded out of or passed on, but you can’t convince me it would have made a difference.
Fuck Jimmy Haslam with a Pilot Flying J rewards card until he shits out fraudulent rebates and drowns in federal indictments.
The best part about waiting for football season for me is trying to guess who is going to be the one skill player (there is only always one) that is surprisingly decent this year. It’s even sweeter if it isn’t a Tight End.
Kelly Holcomb is legitimately a Top-5 Browns quarterback of all-time statistically. I have said this out loud and no one even challenges this claim.
Deep down, I think the worst thing about LeBron leaving (again) is that so many Browns fans low-key thought he might play QB here someday.
The Browns suck. They are the alpha and omega of sucking. They define sucking. The name of this series of articles should be renamed “Why your team is like the Browns”. If you took a random team and challenged the coaches to go 1-31 over two seasons they probably couldn’t do it. It defies the laws of statistics to be that bad.
My first Browns game - Browns v. Jets, October 1984. I was 11, and my dad and uncle took me up to Cleveland for the game. As we walked up towards Municipal Stadium, the first thing I saw was a 3-card monte table set up by a hustler in the middle of the sidewalk. As we got closer, I noticed two bums pissing on the side of the stadium. Just to the right of our seats were seated two Jets fans, one of whom was missing a hand. The Browns fans behind them were upset they had the temerity to be rooting for the Jets, so bought a Jets pennant, set it on fire, and used it to set aflame the hair of the fan missing his hand. His mullet was just lightly singed, but everyone nonetheless applauded lustily and my dad took photos. Once things settled down, I needed to go to the bathroom, and as we were navigating the concourse, my dad sternly warned me not to talk to anyone or wander near the Dawg Pound (which was the next section over). Just then, a fight broke out near said Dawg Pound, and I was ushered away towards a different restroom. The Browns blew a 20-17 lead and lost at the very end, 24-20. Sam Rutigliano was fired 2 games later.
The Browns won 5 games that year and I genuinely miss those days because we actually won 5 games.
My god we are the worst. Browns fans are low rent Bills fans: all the drunkenness and sloppiness without any of the cheeky, table crashing fun. Whereas Bills fans head to their frozen stadium and up the ante on fun debauchery, Browns fans just use it as an excuse to lean into our angry alcoholism. We will rival anyone in drunkenness, but be dead last in fun had.
Drew (not me):
I have a Browns tattoo and a straight edge tattoo. If I had a gun to my head, I would get the Browns tattoo removed first.
When I was 22, right in the middle of college finals, I was diagnosed with cancer, and it was still a less annoying and painful experience than watching the Cleveland Browns every year. Elon Musk sucks but if he put this team on a rocket and fired them into the fucking sun I’d model a religion after him.
This year the draft had four consensus blue chip players. The Browns had 2 of the top 4 picks. They came away with ZERO of the aforementioned blue chippers.
I once accepted and touted Brandon Weeden as our quarterback. This team is fucking clown diarrhea.
Between the Browns and watching Trump interact with foreign dignitaries, it’s a miracle I haven’t doused myself in gasoline and lit a match.
Speaking of gasoline, if there was a 1991 movie where Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a trucker that cage-fights at Flying J stations, the part of Jimmy Haslam would be played by Robert Loggia and the best part of the movie would be after the championship fight, when Haslam loses, tries to escape, and then JCVD roundhouse kicks his face into a diesel pump and takes his money back.
The Browns have one prime time game in 2018 (hosting the Jets on TNF in week 3) and that is most certainly one prime time game too many.
We drafted a QB who’s can’t see over his o-line, tries to plant a flag in field turf, and can’t outrun campus cops when he’s drunk.
I don’t learn.
I got into an extended argument with a Browns fan where he tried to tell me that going 1-31 over the past two years and trading down to avoid now-established franchise QBs was the best thing that could happen to the team because they were able to get the best QB available this season in the draft (“a generational talent”) as well as Tyrod Taylor whom he considers a top 10 QB currently in the league.
I talk to my friends about the Browns this season and we say “Hey, they might win 4 games this year!” with legitimate enthusiasm. It isn’t faked or tongue-in-cheek. We are so excited that they might be a fucking 4 win team this year. Any other fanbase would be agonizing if they thought their team could only win 4 games. And it is something to be excited about! We’re 1-31 over the past 2 seasons, so 4 games would be such a dramatic victory for the organization! Also, Haslem is a crook and Joe Thomas deserved better than us and LeBron is a Laker because he knew he deserved better than us and the baseball team still sells merch with a racist caricature on it.
The saddest garment I’ve seen in my life was a woman at a sports bar near me in a pink jersey with “Mrs. Hillis” on the back.
I declined invitations to events where I would have had a great time because I NEEDED to watch Deshone Kizer throw an interception every time we got to the red zone or have the defense blow a brief lead immediately upon receiving it.
My spirit has been broken to the point where I have no optimism. I’m just expecting them to lose every game until the end of time. And I’m still going to watch every game. I hate myself.
In the Mid 90s, I worked a summer job at my college as a camp and conferences coordinator (if you were a New Orleans head coach or a former Dallas quarterback, you might be familiar with this school). Essentially, our job was to act similar to RAs to any visiting groups, we stayed in the dorms and covered a floor as well as the front desk, welcomed the groups, answered questions, and washed a ton of linens when they left. One of the groups that came in every summer was the NFL referees. These guys were kind of a big deal and the school staff put a lot of effort into taking care of these guys.
In addition to our normal duties, one other thing that we did was to decorate a bulletin board on our floor of the dorm. I had gotten the nickname Mad Dog from some of my friends in college due to my occasional partaking in MD 20/20 wine as well as my ability to convincingly mimic the sound of a dog barking. Because of my nickname, I decided to put “Welcome to the Pound” and a goofy, bulldog-looking dog in a doghouse on my board with the school’s name on the house. I hadn’t put much thought into my decoration other than my nickname, and I didn’t even think about the Browns having a Dawg Pound at all.
So Friday morning on the last day of the NFL referee’s conference, I walked out of my room to take a shower and I see one of the referees pulling down all of the construction paper of my decoration. I walked up to him and asked him not to take it down because it’s up there for everyone and I have another camp coming in later. I thought that my request was a no-brainer and he tried to explain that he thought it was for him because he was from Cleveland. Just a little confusion, I guess. I asked him again not to take it down and he smiled and nodded and I went to take my shower.
Lo and behold, I come out of the shower room ten minutes later and the whole bulletin board decoration is gone. The ref’s dorm room door was wide open and empty and he had obviously taken the opportunity to get his stuff and get out as fast as he could.
I wasn’t angry about this; I was a little befuddled but mostly amused by this guy’s antics. I went down to the front desk and talked to my peers working there and it became a bit of a laugh for all of us in our group. I did, however, also get his home address and I sent him a letter to tell him of my disappointment and how I thought that an NFL referee, whose job is to be honest and impartial, snuck away with my decoration while I was taking a shower.
Imagine my surprise when about a week later, I get a letter back from this Cleveland shitbird. He didn’t apologize for taking the decoration but he was kind enough to share the blame for our miscommunication and he had several paragraphs about the importance of cooperation and some other garbage buzzwords. The best part though is that he sent me a replacement decoration: printed out on regular printer paper (and folded), some kind of an anthropomorphic dog shaking the hand (kind of?) of an anthropomorphic panther (my school’s mascot) and some kind of message about friendship and his dumb buzzwords displayed over the two characters. The picture looked like he spent about 10 minutes in MS Paint on it, it had only one color (bluish), and it looked like it was printed from a dot matrix printer or something.
So maybe this whole experience is an allegory for the Cleveland Browns. The rest of the NFL is making construction paper bulletin boards with nice cutouts of dog houses and dogs while the Cleveland Browns are making dot matrix printouts of stupid cartoon animals enjoying communication-ness and together-osity.
Drew Magary (on Manziel’s career with Cleveland in 2016): “You couldn’t pack that much disaster into a two-year stretch if you tried.”
Cleveland Browns: “Hold my beer!” (goes 1-31 in the following two years)
Every pre-season I promise myself I won’t get my hopes up, and I’ve been doing such a great job. Hue Jackson makes Jeff Fisher look like Vince Lombardi.
Why do the Browns suck? Because this moment, where they look just a little bit promising, is the Brownsiest moment of all. Right now I’m seeing lots of “the only place they can go from here is up” takes and I am here to say: there is another place. They can just stay here.
Fuck the Browns. Only Browns fans can watch a team go 1-31, draft a shitbag #1 overall, sign a QB who took a team to the playoffs and STILL GOT RAN OUT OF TOWN, and retain enough optimism to drop $100 on a Super Bowl bet. I’m locked in at +6600.
Whenever I call home, my dad wants to talk about how this is the Browns’ year (The man swore RG3 was giving Cleveland its first Super Bowl) before handing off the phone saying “Here’s your Mom”. He is either the most optimistic person I know or Alzheimer’s is setting in.
Growing up in Fort Worth during the 80s when the Cowboys were in the final garbage days of Landry, it was actually cool talking smack because my team had Kosar and kept ALMOST making it to the Super Bowl and the Cowboys SUCKED! It was an exciting time. The Drive and The Fumble are my last good memories.
Bullshit happened, Kosar was replaced by Vinny “Too bad for the Bucs” Testaverde , more bullshit happened, the team moved, I made a Modell voodoo doll, the team came back, I married into a Patriots family the year after Brady was drafted, yet more bullshit happened, and I no longer know what it feels like to be happy. Holiday dinners with my insufferable Mass-hole in-laws and their G.O.A.T gloating are miserable.
My wife looks at me with pity and says “just stop” when she hears me saying positive things during the off-season. “You do this to yourself every year and I have to pick up the pieces,” she says while stifling a laugh. Every year she buys me a new Browns t-shirt for my birthday hoping it will become my lucky shirt. She has said on many occasions she knows I will never cheat on her because of how loyal I am to a team that kicks me in the balls 16 times a year. I listen to each game on satellite radio. Every game. Every Sunday. I guarantee you I am the only bloody idiot in Scranton Pennsylvania listening to Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken try to describe the group of chucklefucks on the field.
I hate myself because this is the first year I have been actually hopeful since Derek Anderson. Some people pay good money to be tied up, pissed on, and beaten. Some people are Browns fans. Same thing.
Fuck Jimmy Haslam with a concrete two-liter.
At some point last year, the Browns had an estimated 98.2% chance of beating the Packers. They lost.
I’ve survived the team fucking leaving, the UFO defense, Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb, Dennis Northcutt dropping that fucking pass that could’ve sealed our only playoff game since 1999, Charlie Frye as a starting NFL QB, going 10-6 and missing the playoffs because Tony Dungy rested his starters, STAPH EVERYWHERE, Eric Mangini violating the Geneva convention to “toughen up” rookies, Pat fucking Shurmur (enjoy him NYG fans), a blur of 4-12/5-11 seasons which are completely indistinguishable from each other, Ray Farmer getting in trouble for texting TEXTING, Johnny somehow only being our second worst first round pick in 2014, a litany of “I can’t believe we drafted X over Y” that my family and I recite every Fall like it’s The Night Before Christmas, Sashi Brown becoming Browns fans answer to “thanks, Obama”, Hue Jackson and 1-31, and a million other soul-sucking things I don’t have the time to recall right now. But the Baker takes may break me. It’s going to be awful. As a city we just lost maybe the GOAT take generator in LeBron, but from what I’ve observed from our fan base over the last 3 months the Browns just drafted his heir apparent.
Also, Tony Grossi can eat my shit forever.
I once saw a port-o-potty shoved onto its side, and then some wild, deranged animal took a massive shit atop it. That’s the Browns. A complete, freakish collapse of rationality and order.
Submissions for the 2018 Deadspin NFL Previews will be open for 24 more hours and that’s it. Put the acronym WYTS and your team name in the subject line. Next up: New York Giants.