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Commentary: Browns' season raises a lot of questions, which is why Jimmy Haslam needs to provide some answers

  • Bengals-Browns-Football-7

    Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam stands of the field before an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Cleveland.

    AP PHOTO

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My first reaction to the news that the Browns next year were going to play one of their home games in London was: Only one?

Why not three or four?

Let them spend a month over there and play four home games. They could be sort of the house team at Wembley Stadium in November. A football lend-lease program from the NFL to Great Britain.

It would help spread the NFL brand and the Browns brand, such as it is, globally. It would give Londoners a home team to root for, for a month. And, most importantly, it would reduce the cost for Browns season ticket holders by 50 percent. They would only have to pay for four home games instead of eight.

In other words, everybody wins, even if the Browns keep losing.

At this point, a mere three games from a humiliating 0-16 season, Browns fans could use a break from the Browns. The fans have made that abundantly clear by their decision to stop coming to the games.

It’s taken a while, but the exodus has begun. The weather has been awful and the Browns have been worse. They have now gone over one calendar year without winning a game.

The last time the Browns played a game and didn’t lose was Dec. 13, 2015.

Since then they have played 20 games, counting the preseason, and lost them all. That’s right, in their last 20 games they are 0-20. In their last 28 games they are 1-27. That’s a winning percentage of .036.

The Browns are the only team in the NFL that makes all its news during the week. On Sunday: nothing.

During the week, embattled coach Hue Jackson must deal with all the brush fires and peripheral noise created by the latest loss. Last week it was the “antics,” as Jackson called it, of Terrelle Pryor, who seems to have a gift for antagonizing opposing players.

Pryor is one of only about three Browns players — Joe Thomas and Jamie Collins are the others — who would be starters on most other NFL teams.

The rest of the Browns roster is filled with filler. A high percentage of their players aren’t NFL-caliber players, much less capable of starting for other teams. It’s the roster of a bad expansion team, and their record proves it.

The new Browns regime did this to itself. When this latest new group of decision makers took over, the roster was gutted down to the studs, guaranteeing the season would be a dud. But it’s been worse than a dud. It’s been a sub-dud.

The jump start to the reboot was supposed to be the draft, but that hasn’t happened. In this year’s draft no team had more picks, and did less with them, than the Browns. That casts an ominous cloud over next year’s draft, in which the Browns will have two first-round picks — potentially two top-10 picks — and two second-round picks.

Caught in the middle of this blizzard of blundering is Jackson, whose job apparently is not, and should not, be in jeopardy. Even if the Browns whiff on the season, go 0-16, no fingers should be pointed at the head coach.

Jackson knew what he was getting into when he signed on, and, boy, has he gotten into it.

The person who’s responsible for all of it is the person who needs to step forward now and provide some context and accountability. It’s time for owner Jimmy Haslam to calm the masses.

Haslam doesn’t typically do so until after each season, but this is not a typical Browns season. This is a historically atypical season, even for the Browns, and Haslam’s the man in charge.

With his team careening down the hill toward 0-16, with his new, supposedly cutting edge, analytics-based front office nearing the end of its first fling at roster construction, the man who put all the pieces in place needs to publicly address all of it.

Because what we have here is an epically horrendous season by a team owned by the most impatient owner in the sport. A noxious mix if there ever was one.

Nobody expected the new front office to execute a 180-degree franchise turnaround this quickly. But nobody expected 0-13, 0-20, 1-27, either.

It’s not easy being the owner of a team that’s this big of a mess.

But sometimes an owner has to do what his title demands he do.

Own it.

At the very least, Haslam needs to exonerate Jackson and put to bed any further scapegoat speculation. You can only coach the players you’re given.

How does the owner feel the analytics approach is working? Would he consider adding a football person to oversee the numbers crunchers? Will the team finally draft a quarterback in the first round? And, oh, by the way, 0-16?

So many questions.

So no wins.

Contact Jim Ingraham at 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com. Follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter.



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