Joel Whitmer: Yes
John Hnat: No.
They both make excellent points, but I tend to side with Joel on this. The Browns have nothing to play for anymore; sure we're in the midst of another great quarterback debate, but at this point the Browns are really fighting for two things: draft positioning and Romeo Crennel's job.
Like I said, I'm with Whitmer on this, I believe the Browns should lose. Get that better draft pick!
I'm also for not giving Browns fans false hope. Let's face it- this team sucks. They aren't close or on the cusp. They stink. Teams jump from 6-10 to 10-6 all the time in the NFL, with the Browns ending up at 6-10 with a 2 game game win streak, many Browns fans will mistakenly think that the Browns could have a good chance at 10-6 next year.
Let's take last year's Raven team. They ended up with the same record the Browns had, 6-10 and this year they are one of the top teams in the AFC (11-3 record). Does anyone think that the Browns can make that kind of turnaround next year? Anyone? Hello? Bueller?
The Ravens were bad because one aspect of their team was bad (I know this is a gross oversimplification, but I'm gonna run with it). The offense stunk but the defense was still world class. Well, they bring in a guy like Steve McNair (and get Jamal Lewis back, one more year removed from jail) and they can turn their team around within a short period.
The Browns aren't a Steve McNair away (or even a few moves away).
Another way to look at the issue is by asking the question: how many top picks have led their teams to the Super Bowl? From 1999-2005, of the 35 players drafted in the first five slots, three (McNabb, Jamal Lewis, and Julius Peppers) have played in a Super Bowl for the team that drafted them. By contrast, in that same period, no fewer than six of the 35 players drafted in slots 11 through 15 helped their teams get to the big game (Damione Lewis, Dan Morgan, Jerome McDougle, Ty Warren, Marcus Trufant, Ben Roethlisberger).
Granted, these facts are tainted by other influences. Teams who draft very high tend to be there because they make bad personnel decisions, and they perpetuate that incompetence by making even more bad picks. Teams in the 11-15 range (the range that I randomly selected for my analysis; I am not pretending that it is a comprehensive study) are often good teams that simply had one bad year.
Exactly. The Browns haven't had one bad year. They've had multiple bad years. They need soooo much. What are their weaknesses? Well, they can't stop the run, they can't pressure the quarterbacks, their cornerbacks have lost their knees, they can't pass block, they can't run block, they can't run, they can't pass and they can't catch. Have I missed anything? Their only real strength is their receivers and even they aren't sure things (who wants to remember that game in Pittsburgh).
The Browns need many things. They could also use some more draft picks. If they somehow lose their games and move up in the draft, there's a decent chance they could trade down for multiple picks (the Browns have no one need, they have multiple).
That's what I really want. The Browns to trade down for more picks. Hnat's main point is that the top picks make too much money and take up too much of your salary cap. Fine, get that high pick and then trade to someone who really (really, really) wants Brady Quinn or Adrian Peterson (however, I've been saying all year long that Peterson is the only non-offensive linemen I'll accept, that's still true). The Browns need so much, there is no one guy coming out who I think the Browns have to have. They need a lot. I'm just going to keep repeating it. They need a lot. They need a lot. They need a lot.
But this is all moot. The Browns are going to win their last two games. Why? They're from Cleveland, that's how we do things around here. The year before LeBron, the Cavs won their last game. Of course they did. They only won 16 of the previous 81, but they decide to win the last one. The Browns won 2 of their last 3 last season, their final game in 2004 and 2003.
When it's winning time, Cleveland teams lose. When it would behoove them to lose, they win. This is how it works.
The Browns are going to win their last two games (versus Tampa at home this weekend and at Houston next week) to finish the year 6-10. They'll proceed to ignore the offensive line in the draft, take a receiver on the first day (Peter King has the Browns taking Ted Ginn Jr.) and for some inexplicable reason take some skill position players from Oklahoma.
Come July, Browns fans will be all excited for the season to start because the Browns finished last season on a strong note (2 wins in a row baby!) and Derek Anderson has a strong arm. The Browns will go 5-11 and I'll be writing how they should draft a lineman in the first round.
I can't wait.