Cleveland Browns: An Argument for Intelligent Design
Glass half full. Spin. Rose colored glasses. These are all terms that could be applied to the recent comments made by the Cleveland Browns veteran leader and All-Pro left tackle, Joe Thomas. Thomas took to the MMQB to voice his support for Head Coach Hue Jackson as well as his optimistic outlook on the Browns dealings during the past two seasons. Two seasons where the Browns managed an incredibly lackluster 1-31 record. Thomas thoughts certainly smack of a player trying to find hope in an otherwise tough situation, but is it possible another term could apply here? Perhaps the term we should be using is – fact.
Thomas paints a picture of a Browns organization that, for all intents and purposes, planned to fail. “It wouldn’t be fair to judge Hue based on his record after just two seasons…” Thomas said, “… few NFL teams have put themselves at such a disadvantage in order to save assets and focus on winning three or four years down the road”. To hear the All-Pro tell it, the 1-31 record is no accident. But does the evidence back that theory up? It just might. Here’s a timeline of some key moves from their 2017 off-season:
3/9/17 – Browns trade a 4th round pick for QB Brock Osweiler and Texans 2nd round pick.
4/27 – Browns pass on Mitchell Trubisky (QB) and take Myles Garrett (DE) with the first pick of the 2017 draft.
4/27 – Browns pass on Deshaun Watson (QB) and trade the #12 pick for the #25 pick and a 2018 first round pick.
8/30/17 – Browns terminate final two years of CB Joe Haden’s 5 year, $75M deal.
9/2/17 – Browns terminate Brock Osweiler and his $16M contract
There is a pattern here to support Joe Thomas claim. These look like the moves of a team bent on clearing out dead-weight contracts and stockpiling draft picks in a full rebuild mode. Is it possible that Cleveland wasn’t sold on Trubisky, Watson or the lackluster pile of veteran signal callers in 2017 and thus made the decision to look ahead to the 2018 off-season and what is now a veritable treasure trove of quarterback options both in the draft and as veteran targets through free agency or trades? Factor in that Josh Gordon was not near a return in 2017, Corey Coleman and Myles Garret were early season injuries, as was Joe Thomas himself. This was a team built, whether through purpose or misfortune (fortune?), for tanking. Certainly, they didn’t set out to be 0-16 this past season, but the #1 overall pick may have been a goal. There is evidence to support Thomas’ theory as the Brown loom over the 2018 off-season with $110M in projected cap space, the #1 overall pick, the #4 overall pick, as well as multiple 2nd round picks.
Browns fans have every reason to assume that this is just the resulting outcome of another failed season by a franchise that has disappointed them so many times. Hope is a commodity in short supply in Cleveland these days when it comes to their football team. Perhaps, though, there is more than meets the eye here.
But hey, don’t take my word on it, let’s hear what you think and comment below.