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Oh Cleveland. I’m so sorry.
For years you’ve been the butt of all the jokes in the NFL. Your mediocre at best play has resulted in exactly one playoff berth since your return to the NFL. In all honesty, it was starting to get old. I was almost looking for a new team to crap on.
But you guys have outdone yourselves here.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the most cursed city in football, the team that consistently puts up 5 or fewers wins almost every season, a 1-15 season in 2016 seemed to be rock bottom. For most teams, that SHOULD be rock bottom. But, in true Cleveland Browns fashion, they find a way to outdo themselves in 2017.
There had only been one prior 0-16 season in NFL History. The 2008 Detroit Lions lost all 16 games just one season after the 2007 New England Patriots won all 16 games. The Cleveland Browns were one Josh Lambo field goal away from achieving that in 2016, but with three first round draft picks, there was no way the Browns could screw that up, right?
Only in Cleveland…
To be fair, the Browns’ first round picks weren’t awful. First overall pick Myles Garrett had 7 sacks, despite a number of injuries. Tight End David Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and 4 Touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Strong Safety Jabrill Peppers had 57 tackles and an interception. But, as the Browns do, the quarterback was th biggest concern for the team. Rookie QB Deshone Kizer was thrust into a starting role and did not show up very often. Throwing only 11 Touchdown Passes to 22 Interceptions, coming rather close to Peyton Manning’s rookie record for most interceptions by a rookie quarterback.
In reality, for an 0-16 team, the Browns didn’t play awful. Some of the games they played were actually competitive. Just, they couldn’t finish. Take a look at these scores
Week 1: Pittsburgh 21, Cleveland 18
Week 2: Baltimore 24, Cleveland 10
Week 3: Indianapolis 31, Cleveland 28
Week 4: Cincinnatti 31, Cleveland 7
Week 5: New York Jets, 17, Cleveland 14
Week 6: Houston 33, Cleveland 17
Week 7: Tennessee 12, Cleveland 9 OT
Week 8: Minnesota 33, Cleveland 16
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Detroit 38, Cleveland 24
Week 11: Jacksonville 19, Cleveland 7
Week 12: Cincinnatti 30, Cleveland 16
Week 13: Los Angeles Chargers 19, Cleveland 10
Week 14: Green Bay 27, Cleveland 21 OT
Week 15: Baltimore 27, Cleveland 10
Week 16: Chicago 20, Cleveland 3
Week 17: Pittsburgh 28, Cleveland 24
If you look at those scores, 6 of those 16 losses were decided by 7 or fewer points, two of those against the AFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, and another 2 were losses in overtime. Additionally the loss to Indianapolis came on a last-second field goal. So, if those one-score losses flip their way, Cleveland is a 6-10 team instead of 0-16. Still, not great look by NFL standards, but for the Browns, that’s a successful season.
So, going in to 2018, the Browns have two of the top 4 picks in the 2018 draft. Many projections are saying that if the Browns keep their picks, they’ll be used on one of the quarterbacks in this draft class, Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield and UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen are two names that come to mind, and the second would likely be used on Runningback Saquon Barkley from Penn State.
With two Top-5 Picks, can the Browns possibly screw THIS up?
Following this 0-16 season, the Browns can only go up from here unless they find a way to lose the BYE week, which I wouldn’t exactly put out of the realm of possiblities, either. They would need a rather good season for head coach Hue Jackson to keep his job, where he has already earned himself an abysmal 1-31 record (.03125 win percentage). That needs to improve quickly before Jackson loses his job.
What do you think about the Browns next season. Will we see out first back to back 0-16 seasons? Or will Cleveland finally get its act together and put out the dumpster fire we know it as. Let me know on Twitter @ianmcusick