The worst season in Cleveland Browns history is playing out in front of our eyes. You thought “Paranormal Activity” was scary? You thought “Saw VI” was disturbing? Try watching the last 10 games of this season.
If you can, that is. Three of the last four home games threaten to be blacked out in the Cleveland area. You think games against the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars are going to sell out in December and January? Heck, Jigsaw contemplated making going to Browns games a choice in one of his traps in the latest “Saw” movie but decided even that was too horrifying. Who wouldn’t rather gouge out their own eyes than watch what’s going on on the football field this season?
The Browns have scored six touchdowns this season. Six! The New Orleans Saints have scored six touchdowns in a game FOUR TIMES this season. The New England Patriots scored five touchdowns IN A QUARTER last week. Six players have more touchdowns than the Browns. How bad is it for the Browns? Their leading scorer, Billy Cundiff, hadn’t played in a game since 2006 and hadn’t scored in one since 2005. His bank-shot field goal for the Browns’ only points in Sunday’s 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers was as form-fitting as an Olympic Speedo. Nothing has symbolized the Browns season any better than that kick.
We thought we left this behind when the Browns jettisoned many of those responsible for the six-game streak with no offensive touchdowns that ended last season.
- Bruce Gradkowski, gone. (Though he miraculously resurfaced today in Oakland, one of the few places with a worse quarterback situation than the Browns — mostly because Bruce Gradkowski is the backup. And because JaMarcus Russell is the starter. But no matter how bad JaMarcus Russell has been — and he’s bad — he still has a better passer rating and has completed a better percentage of his passes than Anderson. Oh, and Gradkowski did not produce a touchdown today. Again.)
- Ken Dorsey, out of the NFL. (And currently serving as as quarterbacks coach of a high-school football team, although an article warns that Dorsey is still a free agent and could come back to the NFL at any time. Yes, that is a warning.)
- Donte Stallworth, suspended from the NFL. (Remember him?)
- Kellen Winslow, shipped to Tampa Bay. (No, not a lot of it was his fault. But still, now he’s on a worse team than the Browns. That’s a true sentence.)
- Brady Quinn, benched. (He’s nailed there by the $11 million incentive clause in his contract. You don’t think he’s stuck on the pine because DA is so good, do you?)
- Braylon Edwards, escaped to New York. (And the Jets picked up their first victory with Edwards today, although he caught only one pass today. Hmmmm, correlation?)
- Romeo Crennel, out the door. (And into a pretty funny couple of Coors Light commercials.)
So many causes of the problems from last year’s 4-12 season, gone. And yet the problems are worse. The Browns are in the bottom three of the NFL in points per game, yards gained per game, and yards allowed per game. Their leading receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi, has 50 more receiving yards this season than Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Miles Austin had in one game.
Not many expected a Super Bowl season this year. Most of the rest figured a winning season would be nice and weren’t even thinking playoffs. But this? The possible worst season in franchise history? And don’t think it won’t be. To date, here’s the worst records for a Browns squad:
- 1981 Browns: 5-11
- 1974 Browns: 4-10
- 1975 Browns: 3-11
- 2008 Browns: 4-12
- 2006 Browns: 4-12
- 2000 Browns: 3-13
- 1990 Browns: 3-13
- 1999 Browns: 2-14
And that’s it. That’s all the atrocious records in Browns history. Half of them have come since the team returned from the dead in 1999. The 2009 Browns have the bottom of the list targeted. Even should this year’s edition of the Browns win two or three or even four games, it ranks as a worse season than either 1999 or 2000, simply because those were the first two years of an expansion team. Even should they match the four-win Browns of 2006 and 2008 this season will be much worse because those seasons were supposed to be left behind in the dust. Those seasons were supposed to be building blocks, especially with the 10-win 2007 season stuck in the middle. Now that season sticks out like a sore thumb.
The 1990 season probably goes down as the worst Browns season. The team was coming off five straight AFC Central Division titles and three AFC Championship Game appearances in four years. And they simply collapsed. Bud Carson, who had taken over for Marty Schottenheimer the year before, didn’t make it through the season. They were next-to-last in scoring. They had the worst defense, which must have been a nightmare for Carson, a defensive guru. They lost eight straight games. They were shutout three times, losing all three games by 34 points or more. Bernie Kosar completed just 54.4% of his passes and threw more touchdowns than interceptions. It was the beginning of the end for Bernie, who went 11-21 as a starter the rest of his career. But at least they beat the Steelers, something this year’s edition won’t be able to claim when the season ends.
So it’s looking more and more like a repeat of the disastrous 1990 season. The worst season in Browns history. And it’s not even half over yet.