Cleveland Fan Continues to Sink the Cleveland Browns' Franchise
For those of you who do not know me, I was once a “Featured Writer” on the 'Cleveland Browns' Section of Bleacher Report at its inception.
I stopped writing for a number of reasons: family commitments, job commitments, and not getting paid to commit 8 hours of my week to write and answer comments from readers. In short, I realized that the title Featured Writer was not nearly as important as it sounded.
But I also stopped writing out of my frustration with Browns Fans' inability to recognize that part of the reason for their favorite team's lack of success lied directly in the square of their own laps.
Instead of analyzing what was happening on the field, I found myself writing scathing pieces bashing the Cleveland media and Browns Fan for ripping apart any chance the team had for success.
I pleaded with ownership to turn a blind eye to the mob mentality of Browns Fan and stay the course. I pointed out that the success of the two franchises we were trying to chase (the Steelers and the Ravens) was largely due to the stability of those organizations – but I was whistling in the wind.
My anger was showing up in everything I wrote, my writing suffered, so I stopped cold turkey.
I, along with most of you, have been a life-long suffering Cleveland sports fan...so I do understand the frustration of Browns Fan. But it does occur to me that Browns Fan has yet to learn the lesson that even a four-year old can grasp once he has put his hand in a fire.
The reason I am just now writing this piece is not because I want to take another swing at Browns Fan with a baseball bat. It's more of a, “I am pleading with you Browns Fan! Please don't continue to ruin my favorite team! I want to see a championship before I die!”
I cannot help but to harken back to some of my warnings of the past to prove my point. In fact, I can go all the way back to The Bill Belichick Era to signify my irritation with Browns Fan and Browns Media:http://bleacherreport.com/articles/289564-cleveland-browns-eric-mangini-deja-vous-all-over-again
That piece was written on November 13, 2009, which means that Browns Fan was already lynching Eric Mangini just eight games into his first season as head coach!
People forget that had Al Lerner not suffered from a severe case rabbit ears, Mike Holmgren probably would not have ever been hired. Mangini's teams ripped off four straight wins to end that season (including an upset of the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers).
But by then, it was too late: Lerner had already caved to Browns Fan's mass hysteria and a new era would begin almost before the semi-new one would get started.
The team is ONE YEAR removed from the Club Crennel approach that led to a 4-12 season!
The team is ONE YEAR removed from a 2008 draft class that did not have a single pick until round four!
The team is ONE YEAR removed from a team that had not decided on its starting quarterback, and was precariously thin at just about every position on the football field!
Fans and the media may not like his [Mangini's] personality. The players may not like his methods. But one year is just not enough time to evaluate a coach who took over the mess he took over.
I am not predicting Super Bowl rings or even success for Mangini here in Cleveland. For all I know, he may end up being just another in a long line of disappointment us Clevelanders have had to endure.
I fully expect to receive plenty of angry comments from disaffected Browns fans who are calling, “Off with his head!”
At the time, I understood what Mangini was trying to do. He inherited a roster completely devoid of talent except for a few cancerous lesions he had to have removed (Winslow, Edwards to name just a few).
He was thrown into the middle of a quarterback controversy not of his making being stuck with The People's Choice (Brady Quinn) and Derek Anderson. Neither one could play a lick and he knew it. Does anyone see either of these two guys taking snaps anywhere in the league?
When he looked at that abomination of a roster, he realized that the only way to be even semi-competitive was to bring in some veterans to keep the seats warm while some of the younger players learned the system from them.
Let's run the hell out of the football, try to keep these garbage quarterbacks from losing games for us, and maybe we could at least keep games close!
The fans panned him because it was “boring.” The media bashed him because he wasn't media friendly.
So Al Lerner placated the fans once again. He hires a legend head football coach to run the operation, who in turn hires a General Manager with a pretty darned good track record for drafting players. Lerner did exactly what Cleveland Fan ordered him to do.
Cleveland Fan threw a party in the streets and declared, “Instant gratification...here we go!”
I tried to temper the enthusiasm to no avail: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/309698-clevelands-excitement-over-holmgren-should-be-tempered
Lost in all the hoopla was still the fact that the team would have to undergo another complete transformation of their roster to fit the Mike Holmgren system.
The team would now have to get players that fit the West Coast pass-heavy offense instead of the power running scheme that Mangini was trying to put into place. That would be no small task considering the team still didn't have a quarterback and the wide receiving corps was at best below average.
On top of that, there were rumblings from the start that Holmgren preferred the 4-3 defense that his championship teams played to the 3-4 defense that Mangini learned under Belichick's championship-winning teams. That would require a complete over-hall of virtually the entire front seven on defense.
At the time of the hiring of The Grand Poobah (January 6, 2010), I wrote:
“But let’s just get one thing straight Cleveland Browns fans—this is not some quick fix that automatically puts your team in playoff contention next season.
In fact, this new era in Browns football may take a step backwards first.” http://bleacherreport.com/articles/321008-the-new-cleveland-browns-one-step-backwards-to-take-two-steps-forward
My plea has obviously fallen on deaf ears.
Now, Browns Fan has questioned why Holmgren decided to keep Mangini for one more season. They argue that Holmgren “wasted a whole season” instead of getting started with the reclamation project a year earlier.
But Holmgren didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. He saw the same thing that Mangini saw a year earlier: this team needs a lot of work. Mangini would be his sacrificial lamb for a year so he could at least get two drafts in.
Only then would Holmgren bring in “his guys” to teach the young pups The Holmgren Way. “After all (he probably thought), by that time the fans would be so sick of Mangini that the new guy would be granted at least some kind of honeymoon period.”
On January 7, 2010, I wrote [on Holmgren's decision to keep Mangini]:
“Holmgren’s decision had more to do with saving face than anything.
If he lets Mangini sink with his own guys, then it will be easier to fire him and replace him with someone off the Holmgren tree.
On the other hand, if he had fired Mangini and replaced him with his own guys after a four-game winning streak, Holmgren (and Lerner) would have big trouble on their hands if the team started out slowly.
The  Browns did show improvement from the beginning to the end of the season. If there was a perceived step backwards, Holmgren would have egg on his face.” http://bleacherreport.com/articles/321793-mangini-is-still-a-cleveland-brown-what-is-behind-holmgrens-decision
So Mangini's 2010 team, still in the middle of a reclamation project, not coincidentally failed to perform up to Browns Fans' expectations. Holmgren was right - and the subsequent firing of Mangini would be easy.
Holmgren would now be able to hire his guy and Browns Fan would surely afford the new coach the opportunity and time to get his system into place. But what Holmgren did not grasp when he took the job was that there is no such thing as a honeymoon period to Cleveland Fan.
It does not matter to Browns Fan that there is a completely new coaching staff, new systems on both offense and defense, no mini-camp and a strike-shortened training camp to teach the young players [and old players who played in a different system], a virtual rookie at quarterback, the star running back (Hillis) and his two backups (Hardesty and Jackson) have barely played because of injury, the All-Pro guard (Steinbach) has not played a snap because of injury, the hard-hitting young safety (Ward) has been hurt all year, the number one wide receiver (Little) was a running back in college who missed an entire year of football, the number two receiver (Massaquoi) has barely played because of injury, the starting fullback, two offensive guards, defensive end, and defensive tackle have one season combined experience.
“Excuses!!!!” say Cleveland Fan and Cleveland Media. “We don't need no stinkin' excuses!”
Am I having “deja vu all over again?” [Again!?]
Please, Cleveland Fan, I am begging you one last time, “Don't make me go through this un-ending cycle of coaching-staffs and front office personnel again! I'm begging you...my children are begging you...my childrens' children are begging you that if this cycle continues...none of us are going to see a Browns' championship.”
This takes me back to my previously mentioned article on November 13, 2009:
Perhaps I take too much joy out of simply stating the contrarian opinion, but I do want to remind everyone of this rather apropos quote from philosopher George Santayana:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Cleveland Fan, get your hand away from that fire!