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Four Years Removed From Cleveland Browns 0-16 Parade, Similar Issues Still Persist
Four years ago, thousands of Browns fans huddled outside a freezing FirstEnergy Stadium. There was no game. There was no Muni Lot tailgate. This was a different type of gathering.
This was a parade—a protest—to commemorate historic dysfunction within a historic, storied franchise. The Browns were winless. 0-16. Fans filled the streets with signs that described their frustrations within the organization they love so much.
1,460 days removed from that cold, sad day in Cleveland Browns history, similar issues plague the halls of Lou Groza Boulevard.
Similar to 2018, folks are still questioning culture, quarterback play, the coaching staff and organizational alignment. There's still one game remaining, but the drama is already back.
LeBron, Can You Play Quarterback?
Similar to LeBron's tenure in Cleveland, the drama with Baker Mayfield has spiked. Dissimilar to LeBron's tenure in Cleveland, Mayfield has won nothing.
An article published Wednesday on Cleveland dot com detailed a rift between Mayfield and Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski. They must resolve their differences in order to co-exist next season.
Mayfield doesn't agree with Stefanski's play calling or offensive scheme, utilizing a lot of running backs and three tight ends instead of wide receivers. In fact, Mayfield reportedly would have preferred Alex Van Pelt called plays.
It seems like a divorce is imminent between Stefanski and Mayfield. Regardless of how you feel about Mayfield's skillset and off-the-field persona, the Browns are in a familiar situation— searching for "the guy" to become a franchise quarterback.
Once again, there's finger pointing over "whose fault" this year's failure is. The quarterback and head coach are taking shots at each other in postgame press conferences.
Is this a professional football organization or a kindergarten classroom? Is this 2022 or 2018? The similarities are astounding.
Moving Forward With Hope
Despite not having the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks like the Browns did after their winless campaign, there's still that same sense of hope for next year.
Despite some holes in the roster at receiver, offensive line, and linebacker, this is still the most talented Browns roster in several years. Key pieces such as Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb are secured long-term, keeping Cleveland's Super Bowl window alive.
The Browns own all of their draft picks in 2022, plus an extra fourth rounder from the Lions. Cleveland's cap space situation is also flexible after releasing Odell Beckham Jr. and plenty of cuttable players once the season comes to an end.
Now, fans and pundits spend another offseason of speculating turnover.
The Browns will likely draft just outside of the Top 10, with plenty of studs to choose from on both sides of the ball. Additionally, it's a loaded wideout free agent class with big names like Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson to mid-tier reclamation projects like Michael Gallup and DJ Chark.
Realistically, Browns GM Andrew Berry will also have his eyes on the quarterback trade market as well. While big names like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers are considered long shots, perhaps Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Derek Carr would appreciate Stefanski's safer playcalling and scheme.
The More Things Change: The More They Stay The Same
Even with an upgrade at quarterback, who knows could be in store for the Browns moving forward.
In a season where Odell Beckham Jr.'s father ripped Mayfield on Instagram, players and coaches throwing each other under the bus in press conferences, COVID-19 outbreaks, mysterious injuries, and tweeted pleas to "Run The Damn Ball," anything could happen with the Cleveland Browns.
That mystery and intrigue of what bizarre story breaks next is the only constant with this organization. Even a story about a parade of thousands of fans celebrating and protesting the failure of their favorite team.
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