Cleveland Browns: How to fix the unfixable team.

The Cleveland Browns haven’t had much luck since re-entering the league. After a three year absence from the NFL, an all new stadium, and a new owner with very deep pockets to throw money around fans had a reason to get excited. Unfortunately for fans that excitement quickly faded.

Since rejoining the NFL in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had just two seasons of football without a losing record. In 2007, they looked like they had their best shot at turning the franchise around finishing 10-6 on the year only to string together multiple 4-5 win seasons to follow. So where do the Browns start with all that money they have to throw around?

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Fix the coaching carousel.

Nothing screams losing like inconsistency. While Cleveland has been historically bad, a large part of that can be credited to the front office. As much as you’d like to blame the coach, Rome wasn’t built in a day and the Browns won’t be rebuilt in a season. It would be easy to throw the head coach under the bus, but the average length of tenure for a Browns head coach is 2.3 years since 1999. There’s no way to overhaul an entire 53 man roster in a season. Granted, maybe Hue Jackson who has just 1 win in two seasons probably isn’t the answer, the Browns need to find someone who can tread water. 5-7 wins while they build a team shouldn’t be grounds for getting fired. A reboot every 2 years obviously isn’t the answer.

Forget about the quarterback position.

This might sound like the dumbest statement you can make about a football team, but for the Cleveland Browns it might be their best move. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles have had success playing with journeymen quarterbacks Case Keenum and Nick Foles respectively. Cleveland has spent all their time and money trying to land the cream of the crop free agent quarterback or hit a home run via draft. Find that diamond in the rough and roll with a quarterback who’s just outside starter talent. Their offense has too many holes to spend all their time and resources on one position. Finding the next big quarterback isn’t like turning on a light switch and all the sudden you’re winning football games. The Browns need to go out and find those guys who had success on other teams but didn’t have enough to be paid by those teams. Sign the guys with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. Get players with passion instead of rolling the dice on the highest paid free agents. These kind of players will bridge the gap while you develop your young future stars.

Build the trenches.

If you want to build a successful team, you have to start with your meat-and-tater kinda players first. The guys who will be the heart and soul of your success, the offensive and defensive lines. Nothing hurts a quarterback’s development quicker than not having time to pick up the speed of the game. Sure, a young QB needs to be able to evade pressure, but it shouldn’t be on every play. Timing with your receivers is everything and Browns quarterbacks often never develop that chemistry. Bulk up your front 5 and give your guys time to grow. Same thing on defense. The Browns switched to a 4-3 defense last season but didn’t have the personnel to make a difference. Having the best defensive backs in the league wouldn’t even matter if quarterback’s never face pressure. Eventually someone will get open.

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Establish strengths.

Many teams have success being a passing threat or run threat on offense. On defense they’ll dominate in the run game or be feared in the passing attack. The Cleveland Browns have never managed any of those. Build two units to be feared, one on each side of the ball. Stop trying to fix the entire team in one season. Find a way to put one unit atop the NFL or even in the top 5. You can’t expect to win being in the bottom third of the league in almost every statistical category. Build that unit to be great then slowly expand the talent for it to grow to the rest of the team. Fix one thing first, then focus on the reset.

It’s time for the Cleveland Browns to stop gambling on maybe players. No, Johnny Maziel wasn’t going to fix your team. Neither was Tim Couch, RGIII, Brian Hoyer, or Josh McCown. The thought that a quarterback magically fixes everything needs to be reconsidered by the team. This offseason they have plenty of money to spend under the current salary cap. Maybe instead of throwing money at players, they could take a page out of the Moneyball playbook and get some stop gaps. Then, after this season, maybe it’ll be time to throw some of that money around. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Cleveland Browns won’t be built in an offseason.

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