I wrote a post Thursday/Friday that was triggered by the Trent Richardson trade. It was emotional, hot, angry, pleading, salty. But yet it seems its point was not made effectively. I’ve read several responses to it where the reaction centers on the trading Trent Richardson (and what value the Browns got for him). That not just misses the primary point it ignores a whole section with a boldface heading that says, “Richardson trade *is* good value. But that’s not the problem here.” So let me try again and do better this time.
Joe Banner’s plan is a figurative keelhauling of Browns fans. You have been harnessed and thrown over the bow of the smokey oil slick of a 18th century whaling ship that is 2013 Berea. You will be pulled up from the stern after a long salt-water immersion-waterboarding and scoured by the thousands of barnicles on the vessel’s hull under water level. You will emerge in 2018 proven worthy and absolved of past misdeeds. If you aren’t dismembered or drowned by the process.
Still too allegorical? Ok.
Joe Banner is writing off the next three/four years on a 50-50 bet that the team will be better then; on the much smaller chance that the Browns-with-Joe-Banner’s-guys will show up in the playoffs in 2018.
You think Trent Richardson is the start? You think Teddy “My-God-Teddy-Bridgewater” Bridgewater is the end game?
Smarten up and grow up, you foolish child Browns fan.
Trent Richardson heralds the midpoint of the first step in the process: be just good enough to be competitive but just bad enough to lose. Bad enough to lose every game, that is. The Trent Richardson trade is the part where the strategy is non-verbally, formally announced to Browns fans. “Hey Browns fans, this is Vegas. Yeah, you’re not gonna be favored in a game until December and even that Jets game is looking iffy. Just thought you’d want to know.”
Fans are waking up to the reality of a tanked season and that is why they are pissed.
Fans are not pissed because (the possibly/probably overrated) Trent Richardson was traded for a first round pick in 2014. They’re pissed this transaction crystallized several vague thoughts for them:
- We’re really not trying? Damn Kanick was right: we’re REALLY not trying. TRich may not be all he’s hyped, but he is our best offensive weapon or so we’ve been programmed for the last two years and if he’s not our weapon then who the fuck is?
- The Colts organization embodies all the Browns are not. You say they got lucky with Andrew Luck. No doubt. But they’re supposed to be a crap team this year, just ask anyone at Grantland. This is the team that brought “regress to mean” into the football fan’s lexicon. In the face of the staggering analytical analyses of joyless stat nerds masquerading as football people, the Colts say: “Eff that, we ain’t regressing, we would we?” Colts have $3M in cap space which is also approximately their 2012 rollover amount. The Colts just acquired the third pick in last year’s draft to go with their #1 pick. The Colts are doing all they can to win. And as to the trade itself, who’s to say TRich doesn’t turn into Steven Jackson playing for a playoff team… Marshawn Lynch seemed to improve after he left Buffalo.
- Sidebar to all who believe Banner’s cap horseshit and think not competing and spending this year is sound financial planning and to do otherwise will condemn the Browns into a morass of cap hell: Colts 2014 cap is 30th in the league, $82M.
- And finally, they’re pissed because it’s dawning on them that this is just the start of the gutting.
Just the start of the gutting.
It was Kolonich who got me thinking about the idea that this is just starting.
Richardson was probably only the beginning of this new reboot. I can’t imagine Gordon, Little, Schwartz, Weeden (obvious), Lauvao, Pinkston, etc. survive into 2014 and beyond. Not to mention Mack, Rubin, Ward and possibly even Haden.
For those who didn’t figure this out way back in January, we’re in the beginning stages of a total reset. Just like Savage wiped out Davis and Mangini wiped out Savage and Heckert wiped out Mangini, and so on and so on.
Kolonich chess, Kanick checkers.
I mean sure, I’ve noticed that Alex Mack’s extension has been ignored in spite of heaps of cap space and I’ve noticed the smear campaign on Mack ‘needing to be more physical.’ In April, I noticed the redundancy at Ahtyba Rubin’s position and connected the dots that he signed a contract with Heckert/Holmgren which bodes ill for his Browns future. Never mind he’s been the greatest unsung warrior an unsung franchise… Rubin’s thanks will to be traded for a 3rd/4th round pick.
That’s just two. Go through the list like Kolonich does and you’ll see that the six holes that needed to be patched in this offseason will double next year.
- Offseason 2013 needs: OG, ILB, FS, TE, FB, CB. (Addressed: zero.)
- Offseason 2014 losses (predicted): RB (Richardson), C (Mack), SS (Ward), DE (Rubin), QB (Weeden), ILB (Jackson). … Gordon? Little?? Joe Thomas???
That’s twelve to fifteen positions in need of Banner’s fabulous magic genius.
You think that gets fixed in next year’s draft? In free agency?
No Mr. Browns fan, that won’t happen. Here’s what happens.
Developmental QB gotta developmental.
The 2013 punting, unwatchable as it is for us, doesn’t represent the low point. If we Browns fans know anything, we know the conventional wisdom on the developmental timeline for rookie QBs. God do we know. So let’s say we wind up with Teddy OMG Bridgewater in 2014. He is granted a three year bogey until you can start deciding whether he’s the guy. Sanchez/Jets anyone? Freeman/Bucs ring a bell?
Joe Banner has got 2018 circled on his calendar.
Who knows who will be the defensive coordinator or whether the new guy will need his own system with his own personnel set. Who knows what offense the new HC will run in 2016 after Banner fires Chud for going 6-26* this year and next?
Don’t worry though Mr. Browns fan. While you’re waiting Banner will fix the uniforms and of course the cellphone service will be better though that will have the unintended consequence of hundreds of vines and instagrams of empty seats in the stadium at which point Jason Lloyd and Tom Withers will spring into action and the sport of Cleveland fan-shaming begins anew as surely as your crocus bulbs will bloom in March.
Oh and by the way…
Derek Carr, top QB of the 2014 draft. And available in the second round, maybe third.
You KNOW how this plays out my friends. After punting needlessly the season of 2013 so that Joe Banner can bring in his guys and get his QB… this will happen:
- Marcus Mariota, returns to school;
- Jags win coin flip and take Bridgewater;
- Browns lose coin flip and take Boyd.
- Bengals take a flyer on Derek Carr late in the second round.
Bridgewater is turns out to be Terry Bradshaw to Tajh Boyd’s Mike Phipps. Mariota will be Elway in this imperfect metaphor. And in the third round comes the 2014 Joe Montana in the person of Derek Carr, who will lead CIncy to multiple Super Bowls.
And the great Browns tanking of 2013 on the promise of good things in 2018 will be discovered to be just more magic beans.
And I’ll be 57.
* Holmgren was right in his comments. Chud is going to be left holding the bag for the mess that are these two years. 6-26 head coaches neither keep their current job nor get hired to new HC jobs.