The Cleveland Browns play at the New York Jets on Sunday. It’s a game that has no meaning for the 4-10 Browns and little-to-no meaning for the 6-8 Jets.
I can break down the match up, but really, who cares?
Let’s talk quarterbacks.
The Browns are — once again — going to finish with four or five wins. Outside of a small chance the Browns win their final two games, this will be the sixth consecutive season the franchise has finished with either 11 or 12 losses.
During this span, there have been four coaches, two owners, a general manager (Phil Savage), a coach/GM (Eric Mangini), a pseudo GM (George Kokinis), a pseudo team president (Mike Holmgren) and a lot of crappy football.
What has been the one consistent quality of crappy Browns football? No franchise quarterback.
I know this isn’t a mind-blowing take, but nothing else truly matters in the NFL aside from finding a franchise quarterback. In the NFL you either have a franchise quarterback and your team is making perennial playoff appearances, you have a marginal quarterback and you’re hovering around .500 or you have no quarterback and you’re picking in the top five of the draft every single season.
The Browns have fallen into that latter category for many years, but is it about to change?
Brian Hoyer is the wildcard to this offseason. The Browns are in what seems to be a two-decade-long quest to find a franchise quarterback. From what little we saw of Hoyer in 2013, he seems to fall into the “marginal quarterback” tier.
Is that a bad thing?
This year, an AFC North team that finishes 9-7 could very well win the division. The Steelers who are closing in on 8-8 have an outside shot at the No. 6 seed. If the Browns were in that position, everyone in northeast Ohio would be thrilled.
Consider some of the Super Bowl winners of previous years. In 2007, the last year the Browns didn’t finish with 11 or 12 losses, they finished 10-6. So, too, did the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Four years later the Giants did it again this time with a 9-7 regular season record. Last year, the Baltimore Ravens were 10-6. The Green Bay Packers were also 10-6 in 2010 before the Packers went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Of course average isn’t the ultimate goal. It’s playing in and winning the Super Bowl is.
Hoyer at least appeared to be able to lead the Browns to a respectable record in 2013. His capable play along with the Browns’ improved defense looked as if it would help this team win some games. But his knee injury Oct. 3 was followed with the all-too-familiar quarterback carousel that has plagued the Browns since 1999.
Speaking of 1999, remember Tim Couch? In hindsight, he has been the best Browns quarterback since the franchise’s return. In 2001 and 2002, the Browns were among those teams hovering around .500 because of their marginal quarterback play.
Hoyer could be that guy next season. Way to aim low, right?
Well, the best step this franchise could take would be to play decent football next season coupled with a revamped stadium, new uniforms in 2015 and potentially some stability from the head coach on up.
There is no doubt the Browns will draft a quarterback. The debate begins on what quarterback and when that pick will take place. We have plenty of months ahead to dissect the quarterbacks who have entered the 2014 NFL Draft and whether or not they are a good fit for the Browns.
The ultimate goal is to find that franchise quarterback, but it isn’t easy as evidence by what has occurred in Cleveland the last decade. Hoyer may very well be the quarterback to help this franchise turn a page from hapless to respectable.
Somewhere out there is a quarterback who can take this franchise from respectable to world champions.
Good luck to Joe Banner and company. Many have tried, but few have succeeded in this league. Meanwhile, many have tried and failed in Cleveland.
Forget good luck, Joe, you’ll need great luck.