How is this possible?
How can a professional sports team suck so bad for so long without showing any signs of progress or competency?
I’ll tell you how.
Quarterbacks that have red hair.
It all started 12 years ago….
After a 5-11 2003 campaign, it was clear the Browns needed a change under center. Tim Couch was cut, Luke McCown was drafted and the man that would surely lead Cleveland to Super Bowl XXXVIII was signed via free agency – 34 year old Jeff Garcia. 4 years, $25 million for at least two, probably 3, maybe 4 rings? No-brainer.
After a week 1 win against the Ravens, the Championship Train’s next stop was Texas, to square off against the Dallas Cowboys. Garcia would complete 8 of 27 passes to the Browns, 3 passes to the Cowboys and record a passer rating of 0.
Like putting your name on a standardized test, I’m pretty sure you get a passer rating of 1 when you put your shoulder pads on.
Garcia would be cut 5 months later.
It took another 6 years but it was finally looking like the Browns had found their quarterback. After Jake Delhomme was released and Seneca Wallace stayed being Seneca Wallace, the decision was made to finally give 2010 3rd round pick Colt McCoy the reigns at QB heading into the 2011 season. After an inspiring 2-6 record as a rookie starter the previous year, McCoy’s emergence freed the Browns front office up to pass on quarterbacks in the draft in order to select talent such as Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard and Greg Little. The Cincinnati Bengals would select TCU signal-caller Andy Dalton with the 35th overall pick in the 2nd round. His hair color is red.
WEEK 1 – Bengals 27 Browns 17 Dalton wins his first NFL start vs Browns – 10/15, 81 yards 1 TD. He would leave the game with an injury but would go on to play the following week.
WEEK 12 – Bengals 23 Browns 20 A professional performance from Dalton – 21/31, 270 yards and a touchdown.
DRAFT – The Browns selected quarterback Brandon Weeden 22nd overall, who had already failed at one professional sport and was 28 years old at the time we drafted him. Also, red hair.
Quarterbacks taken after Weeden: Brock Osweiler, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins. None with red hair.
WEEK 2 – Bengals 34 Browns 27 Dalton went toe to toe with Weeden and won, something that doesn’t happen often (it has happened in 19 of 25 career Weeden starts.) He would finish 24/31 with 318 yards and 3 TDs (Weeden 26/37 322 yards 2 TD.)
WEEK 6 – Browns 34 Bengals 24 Running back Trent Richardson, the Browns 3rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, got hurt in this one, so we had a bit of an unfair advantage. Browns 11 game losing streak snapped, but Dalton still 31/46 for 381 yards and 3 TD.
WEEK 4 – Browns 17 Bengals 6 Dalton 23/42 for 206 yards in Brian Hoyer’s first start in Cleveland (due to Weeden injury.) He never stood a chance, we weren’t losing this one.
WEEK 11 – Bengals 41 Browns 20
Coach Chud looked like this at his post game presser:
Dalton was 13/27 for 93 yards and 3 TDs.
WEEK 10 – Browns 24 Bengals 3 More Hoyer magic in a Thursday night prime-timer. The Browns are legally obligated to disappoint us, so they had to take this one to go to 6-3 on the year and set us up for soul-crushing depression later. Our first road division win since 2008.
WEEK 14 – Bengals 30 Browns 0 Aaaaand back down to Earth we go. Dalton was barely even needed (14/24 117 yds), Johnny Manziel arguably played football in his first career start.
WEEK 9 – Bengals 31 Browns 10 Dalton 21/27 234 yards 3 TDs
WEEK 13 – Bengals 37 Browns 3 – Dalton 14/19 220 yards 2 TDs, rushing TD vs Austin Davis (230 yards, 1 completion to Bengals.)
In his career vs the Browns, Dalton is 7-3 with 1920 passing yards and 16 touchdowns.
Weeden was 5-15 with 23 touchdowns, 26 interceptions and got snuck up on by an American flag the size of a football field once (that we know of) in his 2 seasons in Cleveland.
DRAFT – The Browns had the 2nd overall pick and Josh McCown as a starting quarterback, but didn’t like Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State. Paul DePodesta, new Browns chief strategy officer, said you don’t take a player that early “if you don’t believe he’s one of those top 20 guys.” We opted instead to trade the 2nd overall pick to Philadelphia, outbid everybody (nobody) to sign Robert Griffin III as a free agent and take quarterback Cody Kessler at the end of the third round.
PRESEASON WEEK 1 –
WEEK 1 – Eagles 29 Browns 10
Wentz (not top 20 guy) – 22/37 278 yards 2 touchdowns in his first professional game and start, after taking just 38 snaps in the preseason.
Griffin – 12/26 190 yards 1 INT and 1 sprained shoulder.
Kessler – inactive.
So what now? We’ve already reversed one Cleveland curse this year, how do we take care of this one?
Well let’s see. Garcia in 2004 (even year, free agent) was a bust. Dalton in 2011 (odd year, draft pick, FBS school) has been good. Weeden in 2012 (even year, draft pick, FBS school) sucked. Wentz in 2016 (even year, draft pick, FCS school), the jury is still out on/he’s going to Canton.
It seems that, if you want to acquire a good, red-headed quarterback from an FBS school, an odd-numbered year and the NFL Draft is the way to do it.
Cooper Rush, motherf***ers.
2012 Central Michigan Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year.
2013 Academic All-MAC team.
2014 Division I CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team, Academic All-District First Team, Academic All-MAC and MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete.
2015 Second team All-MAC, Academic All-MAC, MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete, team captain, Herb Deromedi Most Valuable Player Award.
Run that resume through your damned analytics.
While the Browns were getting set on fire by the Eagles, what was Cooper up to this weekend? Oh, just beating #22 Oklahoma State with his freaking rocket launching right arm.
And peep his highlight tape from junior year of high school:
Top 20 guy if I’ve ever seen one.
Walter Football has Rush somewhere outside of their Top 20 QB prospects for 2017. I know this because he’s not on their list and their list stops at 20. CBS has him as the 7th best QB and a 4th round projection. Not the highest profile prospect out there, I’ll admit that.
But if there’s one thing the new Browns regime has taught me, it’s that they still stink.
See you Sunday.