I’m still in total disbelief that former Bengals Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson ended what seems like the 1000th Cleveland Browns head coaching search of the past decade. Jackson, who has always seemed a reasonable man, guided the Raiders to an 8-8 record in between the Kiffin/Cable/Allen debacles, the best season for the franchise during any of the aforementioned tenures. Jackson, as was the way of Al Davis, was then promptly fired. Of course.
But in Cincinnati, Jackson found a perfect landing spot, molding a young offense with a weak-armed genetic mistake of a quarterback into an upper echelon aerial attack, securing playoff appearances and endless contract extensions for football’s best negotiator: Marvin Lewis. After last year’s franchise record-setting offense, Jackson became a hot commodity in the coaching world, interviewing for a slew of jobs, all of which remain far more enticing than the one he eventually chose: the Browns.
The Browns are so bad that I actually wonder how they would fare in the SEC West. While it’s absurd to imagine a team full of professionals losing to teenagers, the exodus of essentially all of the established talent from the Cleveland roster and addition of perhaps the league’s worst starting quarterback, and worst draft bust, cannot help but raise the question: Alabama or Cleveland?
Just take a look at this fucking team. On offense, the Browns have already anointed RGIII the next in line in their decades-long merry-go-round of hopeless signal callers. Griffin will not break the trend of locker room poisoning on-field disasters that have lined up under center of late. Josh Gordon, the most talented player on the roster, remains the most unreliable, with his status still up in the air after his reinstatement. First round pick wide receiver Corey Coleman is injured, last year’s big play threat Travis Benjamin is no longer on the roster, and perhaps the best position group on the 2015 version of the Brownies, the offensive line, loses star center Alex Mack, starting tackle Mitch Schwartz, and sees anchor tackle, Joe Thomas eclipse a decade in the league.
When your most proven starter on offense is Gary Barnidge, you’re in for a trash heap of a season. Yes, the Browns do have some semblance of young talent on the offensive side of the ball with the eventual return of Coleman, running backs Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell, and linemen Joel Bitonio and Cameron Erving (Go Noles), but aside from a decent yet injury plagued rookie season for Bitonio, the others have proven essentially nothing at the NFL level, while being asked to assume a massive role in this year’s version of the offense. Terrelle fucking Pryor is currently listed as a starter. Yes, Mr. tattoos.
Defensively, the Browns front office has compiled more expensive busts than Colin Farrell’s IMDB profile, with first round selections Justin Gilbert and Barkevious Mingo struggling to make the 53-man roster while still on their rookie slotted contracts. Joe Haden is a star at corner, and second-year defensive tackle Danny Shelton showed some, albeit not a lot, of promise in his rookie campaign, but this is one of the absolute worst and least talented defensive units in all of professional football. Unfortunately, the porous unit will be tasked with defending some of the league’s most prolific offenses, with both the Steelers and Bengals in their own division.
Jackson is a decent coach, that I truly do believe. He’s a massive upgrade from the Mike Pettine-type hires of the Browns’ recent past, but is not some transcendent genius with Xs and Os that can mask what is the league’s most horrifically inept roster. The front office in Cleveland has mangled this rebuild worse than the patient’s original doctor on an episode of Botched, damning Cleveland to prolonged misery, and even less rational hope.
But, for a city just three years removed from languishing in last place division performances from all of its major teams, be grateful for the Cavs and a likely Indians playoff berth..
Editor’s note from Harrison: I bet him $1K they Browns will not go 0-16.
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