The View From Pluto: For the Browns, 'Stopping the Pain' Must Mean Staying the Course
The Cleveland Browns return from their bye week staring down an 0-16 season. The front office recently held a staff meeting for all team employees to argue that this is not the time to make coaching and management changes despite the team now having lost 30 of their last 33 games.
WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz talked to our commentator Terry Pluto about the state of the franchise:
The Browns play the Bengals this weekend at 0-12 on the season. The worst record in the history of the franchise was 2-14 in 1999, the first year the Browns returned to the league as an expansion team.
"Last year, they were 3-13," Pluto says. "So, I’m listening to people say, ‘Well they got rid of a bunch of players from last year and they can’t win a game!'
And I say, ‘So you’re telling me they messed up a 3-13 team?!’
When they were 3-13 last year, the Browns had the one of the older teams in the league, and they had the highest paid defense in the NFL. And they were still horrible.
And when they fired everybody and brought in Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson, they basically told everyone, 'We’re going to go young; we’re going to be horrible.' The idea was to move it up the next few years and to get better and try to really build some sort of foundation of a team."
Fans are tired of waiting
Pluto says fans have heard every single rebuilding or building speech from every type of executive before.
"From the lips of be it Carmen Policy, Phil Savage, Butch Davis, Joe Banner, Sashi Brown, Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer, Mike Lombardi – these are all guys since 1999 who were going to 'turn the franchise around.' Well that implied it was actually going in a good direction at one point. Other than one playoff appearance in 2002 and one playoff loss, there’s been nothing to turn around; it’s just been bad all the time."
Still making noise
Still, Pluto says Browns' fans aren't completely checked out.
"The last few weeks I’ve written a lot about the Cavs, Indians and Browns [for the Plain Dealer]. And according to the analytics, the stories that are dominating the readership still is the Browns.
"Here’s when you lose your fan base: When there’s silence. Yeah there’s a lot of empty seats, and I’m sure ticket sales may be down. But in terms of interest, fans may be taking a bit of a vacation now. But if I say these words: 'The Browns are on the clock for the 2017 draft' -- you know what’s going to happen."
Haslam must ignore the noise
"Here’s the test for owner Jimmy Haslam. The fan base is going to say, 'Do something! Stop the pain, S-T-P.' When the S-T-P starts, Haslam’s mode of operation has been to fire somebody. There isn‘t anyone around who studies business that would say the way you’re going to get your business built is by constantly changing. And even though fans may be screaming, 'S-T-P, stop the pain,' sometimes you have to ignore the noise.
Just one game?
"After about week three or four of this season, I insisted the Browns would win one game. I stand by that prediction. There’s only been one team in history to go 0-16 and that was the Detroit Lions in 2008. Meantime, the Browns are on the clock for the 2017 draft."