The Cleveland Browns have officially become the laughing stock of the NFL. This current Browns team finished with a winless season, going 0-16 and becoming the second team in NFL history to accomplish this feat. However, this is not the thing that makes Cleveland the butt of all football jokes; the fact that the team has went 88-216 since an expansion team was granted to Cleveland in 1999. Furthermore, the Browns have continually shown that they are not great at selecting players in the draft, complicating things even more.
The Browns started their franchise off with a bang in 1946 by winning four straight All-America Football Conference championships. Cleveland continued its dominance into the next 16 years; they only missed the playoffs 6 times, going to the championship game 9 times and winning the championship four times.
It isn’t as if the franchise dropped off the maps after the 1970s either, as they were dominant in the 80s and were competitive through the mid-90s. However, the problems began when then-owner Art Modell moved his franchise to Baltimore. Cleveland won the right to keep the team name, however the actual team did move to Baltimore to become the now Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have gone on to have great success, even winning two Super Bowls since the Browns returned to being members of the NFL.
Once the Browns became an expansion team in 1999, the team was in trouble. The Browns became a revolving door of quarterbacks, which started with their first overall draft pick, Tim Couch. Since then, the Browns have had 27 other quarterbacks and nine had been added in the draft. In this time, they have missed out on Donavon McNabb, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Carson Wentz and DeShaun Watson, who would have been quality starters for the team.
As Quora reported on Sporting News in, “The Cleveland Browns’ long, sad history of failed draft picks,” Cleveland has consistently failed to pick up a quality first-rounder since returning as a franchise. Between 1999 and 2014, the Browns only drafted three players that have been a success: Alex Mack, Joe Thomas and Joe Haden. That would make 16 first round picks that the Browns have failed to capitalize on.
In the first four years, the team went 21-43, but they did go 9-7 in 2002 and make the playoffs. 2002 and 2007 are the only winning seasons since 1999.The Browns have played 304 games since returning to the NFL and have a winning percentage of 28.9. To put that in perspective, when the New York Knicks were experiencing their own rough years of play, their winning percentage was 37.8. The Browns are worse by almost a full 10 percent.
The Browns are entering miserable placement in the league as they have literally become the worst team in the history of the league. However, as always, Browns fans seem hopeful for the future. With recent first draft picks Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku showing promise during their first year, there is hope for a better future. On top of this, the Browns were awarded the first overall pick for the second year in a row as well as the fourth overall pick, one of which will most likely be used to pick up another quarterback.
Finally, Browns fans are salivating with the recent coaching and administration hires. Some have argued the Browns have received some of the best executives in football this offseason by employing General Manager John Dorsey, Assistant General Manager Eliot Wolf and Vice President of Football Operations Alonzo Highsmith. Cleveland also recently reworked many of their positional coaching staff, but the big move was hiring Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley after his contract was not renewed by the Steelers. So, Cleveland fans enter the season hopeful, even if the franchise’s logic may be faulty in some areas. However, there is always next year.