I bought this book on a whim because I like reading about football. I am a New England Patriots fan but I do share the misery of losing seasons with bleak prospects for the future. From 1987 to 1995 the Patriots had a losing record every year except one, including seasons of 1-15 and 2-14. We also had bad ownership until Robert Kraft bought the team and turned it around. Much of what happened to the Patriots during that span of time is a lot like what has happened to the Browns.
This book lays out the key themes that have made the Browns the worst team in the NFL for the last decade. Let’s lay it out here.
Bad ownership. While the three owners during this time are not bad guys like a Victor Kiam or Daniel Snyder, they certainly did not know how to establish a winning team. They never came up with a structure that was clear on who was running football operations, so internally GMs, Head Coaches, Team Presidents often worked at cross-purposes. With no structure and no accountability in place, the Browns have churned though coaches and front office personnel with no continuity in place. A losing formula.
Horrible drafts. The author goes through just how utterly awful the Browns drafts have been. Every year the first-round yields busts and before the rookie wage scale, salary cap issues. Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft??? It doesn’t get much more disastrous than that. Add to that players they missed out on that they could have drafted like LaDanian Tomlinson and Kalil Mack.
Bad quarterbacks. I don’t even recall how many bad starting quarterbacks the Browns have gone through in the past decade. Tim Couch got hurt behind and awful line then Brady Quinn turned out to be a bust. From Tim Couch to DeShone Kizer it’s been 1st round draft pick busts, perineal back up quality quarterbacks (Doug Pederson, Brian Hoyer, Colt McCoy), or has beens (Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia, Jason Campbell). Not a winning formula.
Bad Coaches. Up through and including Hue Jackson, the Browns have had bad head coaches. The author has some affinity for a few of them but frankly I just don’t see any of the coaches as quality head coaches.
No culture. The Browns created a losing culture by having zero stability in leadership positions and not establishing one voice to run football operations. Mike Lombardi, who was briefly the General Manager of the Browns, said they never established any kind of culture, much less one of winning, which is needed to be a winning franchise.
Hope for the future? Time will tell.
This book might be painful for Browns fans but it certainly lays out the reasons for its abysmal showing the past two decades.