Over the course of the past 26 games, the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost seven, dating back to the start of the 2016 season. In that same span, the Cleveland Browns have lost 25 games. My preliminary mathematical findings suggest that they have, as a result, won just one game in that span, impossible as it may seem.
Yet, according to Ian Rapoport, the Browns’ owners, Jimmy and Dee Haslam, have continued to voice support for the current regime, which has just one ‘notch’ on their belt over more than half a season, most notably for head coach Hue Jackson, and key members of the front office, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta.
Rapoport rapoports that the Haslams spoke to the players in a gathered locker room last week to throw their support behind them as well, and to give context to the rebuilding process that began last season, and which appears to have no immediate end in sight.
While there were no direct quotes or anything of the sort, the aforementioned reports wrote that “the Haslams told the players they knew rebuilding would take time and while everyone wants to win, their work and effort down the stretch was appreciated. The wins haven’t come, but the owners wanted the players to know that this a process”.
It is nice and all to have an ownership that both understands and acknowledges that it takes time to go from basically the worst team in the league to one that is capable of at least competing for a spot in the playoffs, professional athletes don’t often want to hear about that. They just want to win.
Rapoport wrote that some players “are just sick of losing and no pep talk would have mattered”, but the ownership “implored their players to continue to give the same effort down the stretch” and that it was appreciated.
Another interesting note in the article is that Jackson “will want some say in the collaborative effort of picking players”, which sounds as though the bulk of the lifting with respect to personnel duties comes from the front office in Cleveland rather than the coaching staff.
Haslam reportedly signed off on the failed AJ McCarron trade because he understood that Jackson was trying to win games with very little to work with at quarterback. It would not surprise me if the owners supported a rearrangement of the player personnel power structure to give the head coach more responsibility.
The Browns had their worst season in the history of their franchise a year ago, and are well on their way to posting one as bad or worse if they fail to win one of their final six games. They also won only three games in 2015, giving them four wins in the past 42 games.
They even won five games in their first two seasons back in the NFL in 1999 and 2000. This could be historic futility. The Lions won just two games between 2008 and 2009, as did the Buccaneers in 1976 and 1977, though the latter was in 14-game seasons.