For The Cleveland Browns, It's All About The Roster

By Dick Primo
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Cleveland Browns fans, that sucked.

With everyone’s hopes up about a new, exciting team, we watched a game against the Miami Dolphins that could have been from any number of years. Romeo Crennel‘s 2008. Eric Mangini‘s 2009. Pat Shurmur‘s 2011. But it wasn’t. This was Rob Chudzinski‘s 2013 opener.

This was supposed to be exciting! Norv Turner! Throwing from the shotgun! Pittsburgh Steeler-like blitzes! What did we get? The same product we always get: An offense that looked unimaginative and uninspired and a defense that looked good at the beginning of the game but wore out as the offense did nothing. There were eight-yard gains on 3rd-and-10, dropped passes, and a quarterback who looked overwhelmed.

It could have been almost any of the games that fans have forced themselves to sit through ever since the team returned in 1999. Here’s why it looked the same as those teams: This 2013 team’s talent level isn’t any higher than the talent level before.

Management see turnover over again and again, yet no matter the background or the pedigree, the teams always look the same. It’s for one reason, and one reason only: The roster.

Since 2005, less than ten seasons ago, Cleveland has had four GMs, four head coaches, an in-charge team president, and two owners. The team has cycled and recycled through the 4-3 and the 3-4. It’s used a classic running attack, drop-back passing, the West Coast, the Wildcat, and the Pistol. They’ve made every change from the sidelines and up.

The only constant is the results, and the reason is the talent level.

Turner may have one of the best minds in the past 20 years, but if the players can’t execute, it really doesn’t matter. When all is said and done, talent wins. The same as in any organization, the best managers in the world are nothing without the people who work for them.

True that the roster has also been turned over many, many times (I will avoid the obvious Kim Kardashian joke). And the team has had more quarterbacks than we care to count.  But I’m not talking about players, I’m talking about talent.

This is what I keep saying every time the fans start calling for Jon Gruden or Nick Saban: It isn’t going to matter. The talent level isn’t good enough. The Browns need better players, not better systems. They need a couple of superstars and offensive threats. They don’t need the read-option; they need players who can execute and, on occasion, dominate. There are hardly any of those kinds of guys on this roster.

You can quickly point to Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner‘s 2013 draft. Why didn’t they get better players? Why did they trade away draft picks? And what about free agency? They had the money. I believe that actions of those guys reflect a truth what I am telling you: This roster is in trouble.

It is not a couple of pieces away from the playoffs. It needs revamped. I believe that’s why they stockpiled picks for the next draft. They need those picks to have serious impact.

Maybe that was the right move and maybe it wasn’t, but look at the current team. You have, what appears to be, a mediocre quarterback, mediocre receiving corps, a weak offensive line, a good running back, a good front defensive seven, and a weak defensive backfield. You were really going to fix that with a 4th and a 5th round draft pick?

Oh, you could have picked a couple of guys to fill a void, but that’s just it: There’s a roster full of those players now. There’s a need for a higher caliber of talent on this team. The draft picks – as well as the free agents – have to be just that. Until they are, all we’re going to see is this same movie week after week.

I know it sucks to watch them be bad year after year, but what needs fixed is going to take time, time that is needed because management has changed so many times. It’s been more than proven that is a waste of time. Leave those guys alone. It’s time to fix what’s really in need of repair.

It’s time to fix the roster.

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