Mercifully, New York’s football season is over. The nightmare of the Giants’ 13 losses – most in one season franchise history – and the Jets’ 5-11 record, including nine losses in the last 11 games, can be buried behind them.
Things could be worse for their fans, though. They could be in Cleveland.
The Browns completed the embarrassment of a winless season and their 0-16 record followed a 1-15 season. Over the last three years, Cleveland has won four games and lost 44. Add on five straight losses at the end of 2014 and it becomes 4-49.
Only twice in the 21st century have the Browns won more games in a season than they have lost, 9-7 in 2002 and 10-6 in 2007.
It’s no accident that this city is dismissed by cruel critics as the mistake by the lake. The description certainly fits its football team.
Futile would be a fair description of the franchise’s condition. There is some hope though. Going 0-16 has earned the Browns the No. 1 pick in the draft and the team is starving for a franchise quarterback. Trades the last two years have delivered exactly that for other teams, with Carson Wentz arriving in Philadelphia and Deshaun Watson in Houston, courtesy of Cleveland.
So what do the Browns do this time? Well, there are two quality quarterbacks playing across town from one another in Los Angeles, both thinking about declaring their eligibility for the NFL draft. But one of them, Josh Rosen of UCLA, has already advised the Browns not to expect him to rescue them. Rosen said he won’t come out if the Browns intend to draft him, so don’t bother.
That leaves Sam Darnold of USC but he hung up a stinker of a preview in his last game, throwing a pick-six interception and losing two fumbles against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl. It was not an inspiring performance.
So what does Cleveland do? The last time the Browns spent a first round draft choice on a quarterback was 2014 when they selected Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M and we all know how well that worked out
The good news is that trades have supplied Cleveland with 12 picks in the draft, including their own No. 1 and No. 4 from Houston in the Watson trade. The bad news is that the Browns had 10 picks last year, three of them in the first round, and still lost all their games.
This drumbeat of misery has been going on for many years in Cleveland. This is the franchise if Jim Brown and Otto Graham, of Dante Lavelli and Lou Groza. This is a franchise that won four championships in the old All-America Football Conference and finished in first place in eight of the first nine years and won four more championships after being merged into the NFL in 1950.
So where did it all go wrong? Well, owner Art Modell shepherded his team off to Baltimore in 1996 renamed them the Ravens and won the Super Bowl with them in 2001. Cleveland threw itself on the mercy of the league and had its franchise restored in 1999. But not much has gone well for the Browns in a steady downhill spiral ever since.
So don’t despair, Jets and Giants fans. Things could be worse. After all, at least you’re not stuck with the Browns in Cleveland.