Crookston High School student-author Cam Harren analyzes the Cleveland Browns "perfect" 2017 season.
There have been a lot of bad football teams in the history of the NFL. Tales of overhyped quarterbacks, endless bloopers that make you shake your head, and terrible management that wouldn’t even be able to keep a little league team together. There is always at least one team to laugh at, year in and year out, and this 2017 NFL season we saw the lowest you can possibly get. The Cleveland Browns, who in there previous year finished with just one win, finished an astonishing 0 and 16. No wins for an entire season. And they only had two games that were tied at the end of regulation and only about four more games they could have realistically won. That also gets added to the aforementioned 1-15 season from last year, and a 3-13 season the year before that, for a combined 4 wins and 44 loses in three seasons. In a professional sports league, that is abysmal, and this most recent season ending at 0 and 16 is just the cherry on top. So, why not go into detail and see what it is that makes the Browns so horrible.
One thing that I find interesting is that the Browns actually went 4 and 0 in the preseason. If that isn’t any evidence of how the preseason doesn’t matter, I don’t know what is. Anyway, their first game was at home against the previous year’s AFC North champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and believe it or not, they didn’t play too bad except for a blocked punt in the first quarter. There was actually some promise that they might be a little better this year, maybe at least watchable again. They also had a new quarterback that, granted, was still a rookie, but maybe he’d lead him to relevance again (spoiler alert: he only had 16 touchdown and had a whopping 22 interceptions, so it’s safe to say he did not). This quickly turned south, however, as they lost badly next week to Baltimore Ravens, extending Joe Flacco’s record against the Browns to 16-2. Their next game was against another terrible team, the Andrew Luck-less Indianapolis Colts. They were actually slightly favored in this one, but they still lost despite a noble comeback effort that ended in a terrible game-ending interception that was thrown into quadruple coverage. Then, they played the Cincinnati Bengals, got blown out, they played the Jets, which actually was a close game, and then got blown out by the Houston Texans.
At this point no one even knew if they were even going to have any chances to win a game at all. Well, in Week 7 they played the Tennessee Titans, and the game actually went to overtime, were they promptly lost after a giving up a sack, forcing 4th down, and collapsing on defense to allow the Titans to escape with a game winning field goal. After that they played the Minnesota Vikings in London where they had the lead at halftime, only to score nothing but a field goal in the second half and letting the Vikings score 18 unanswered points.
Then we get to the bye week. Now you’d think this would be the best week of the season for the Browns, but they managed to screw up their bye week too. This week happened to be the week of the trade deadline, and the Browns attempted to trade for A.J. McCarron, but the paperwork wasn’t submitted in time. Yes you read that right. A professional organization failed at submitting paperwork. And that isn’t even the worst this story gets.
The next three weeks were relatively average loses to the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Los Angeles Chargers, with one particular low light in the Lions game, where, at the end of the first half, the Browns had a 2nd and Goal at the 2 yard line with 15 seconds left, and they tried a QB sneak. It didn’t work and since the clock moves when your down in the field of play, they had to line up quickly, only they didn’t do that. The time ran out and they went to the locker room empty handed. The next game against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers was the closest they got to a win all season. They started off with a 21 to 7 lead after the 3rd Quarter, but allowed the Packers to come back in the fourth and force overtime, where the Browns quarterback, DeShone Kizer, after escaping pressure, threw it almost straight up in the air as a desperation throw. You can probably guess what happened (the ball was intercepted then the Packer went on to score a game winning touchdown).
Their next two games against the Ravens again, and the Chicago Bears, were both pretty standard loses. Their final game was against a Steelers team resting their starters, which gave them one last chance for a win. And props to the Browns for playing hard despite everything mentioned above, and they played hard enough to make this a game. Down 24 to 28 with 1:42 remaining in the 4th Quarter, the Browns faced a 4th and 2 on the Steelers 27 yard line. DeShone Kizer escaped heavy pressure and got a perfect pass off to a wide open Corey Coleman, only to have Coleman drop it, ending this season on the most perfect of notes.
It’s easy to laugh at all of this if your a non fan, but the truth of the matter is that all teams have to face this at some point. Maybe not to this extent, but even my Minnesota Vikings not to long ago went 3-13, so I know what it’s like to have to watch a crappy football team. And personally, I think there is some hope for Browns fans. They have two top 5 draft picks and there are a lot of quarterbacks that will be available for free agency this offseason. If they play their cards right, it might not be long before we will no longer be laughing at the Browns. Or they could draft absolute nobodies and sign someone like Sam Bradford that will get injured by Week two. How come that scenario seems more likely?
Harren is enrolled in the communications and broadcasting course taught by Kristi Swanson at Crookston High School.