Plumbing new depths
Seen the latest issue of Sports Illustrated? If not, Browns fans, buckle up. It’s going to be a long, a very long season.
In their National Football League issue, SI staffers review how each team will fare this season with a game-by-game prediction of how well they perform. In the Browns’ case, however, the word “well” is, well, an oxymoron.
If you thought last year’s 3-13 record in Mike Pettine’s last season was bad, SI’s prediction makes it look good by comparison. Staffer Jacob Feldman, in a game-by-game graphic above the story, says the Browns will do something this season they have never done in their history: win only one game.
Since the return in 1999, the closest the club came to losing all its games was the expansion 1999 season when it won just twice. On two other occasions, it lost three and compiled five seasons with four victories.
Feldman believes the Browns will lose the first 11 games of the season, then knock off the New York Giants at home on Nov. 27, the week before the bye, before dropping their last four games. The Giants are predicted to finish 8-8.
In 2009, the Browns came somewhat close to winning just one game, rallying to win their last four games after an 1-11 start.
Las Vegas oddsmakers have made the Browns underdogs in every game this season. That doesn’t mean they’ll lose every one, although Feldman believes they’ll come close. But in the NFL, as they say, on any given Sunday . . .
This, it would appear, is how far this franchise has fallen in the eyes of the media. If Cleveland coach Hue Jackson is looking to incentivize his team, he might consider thinking about using this media slap in the kisser as a start.
There is no question the Browns’ roster lacks the talent to put up a winning season, let alone one in which they at least compete. That is not going to happen. But win only one game? Not even this pessimist believes it will play out that way.
Thrice in the last 18 seasons have the Browns gone through a season without beating an AFC North rival at least once. That was 2006 season, when they finished 4-12; 2008, another 4-12 finish; and 2011, yet another 4-12 record.
They have never in the last 18 seasons gone an entire season without at least one victory on the road. And going back to their inception in 1946, the Browns have gone winless on the road in only one season, 1975, when they were 3-11 under coach Forrest Gregg.
Somewhere, somehow, the 2016 edition of the Browns will win more than one game. Maybe even more than two games. And maybe on the road.
But not much else.
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Now that he has been traded by the Browns to the New England Patriots, it will be very interesting to watch the future trajectory of Barkevious Mingo’s career.
The lean outside linebacker never really progressed in his three years with the Browns. He was too lean to play defensive end, his position in college, and clearly was out of place at linebacker.
The Browns tried everything with him. They tried crashing him on blitzes; dropping back into pass coverage; and helping with the run. Practically nothing worked.
He went from five sacks as a rookie to two in his second season to zero last season. The former No. 1 draft choice suited up for 46 games, started 15 and wound up with just 108 tackles.
A draft bust? Bill Belichick up in New England apparently doesn’t think so and surrendered a fifth-round pick next year to make that determination. If anyone can successfully tap into Mingo’s talent, it’s Belichick. How well he does bears watching.
We won’t know for a while since Mingo is joining the Patriots so close to the beginning of the regular season. It will take some time for him to learn a new system. But it is intriguing that Belichick at least wants to take a look.
Maybe he sees a young Willie McGinest in Mingo. The 6-5 McGinest, who played three seasons with Cleveland in the twilight of his career, began his 15-year career in New England at around 255 pounds and beefed up to 270. Mingo is listed at 6-4 and near 250 pounds.
Browns fans will get a chance to see Mingo when the Browns and Patriots play in the fifth game of this season, a game that will see the season debut of Pats quarterback Tom Brady. Mingo most likely will be a bit player in that one.