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The View From Pluto: The Browns Will Be Bad By Design

The Browns are a young team with 17 rookies on the 53-man roster.
The Browns are a young team with 17 rookies on the 53-man roster.
The Browns are a young team with 17 rookies on the 53-man roster.
Credit Wikipedia
The Browns are a young team with 17 rookies on the 53-man roster.

Cleveland sports fans have been enjoying a banner year with a Cavs championship followed by an Indians team that's likely bound for the postseason. But for the Browns, the focus is on building for the future. The Browns open the season Sunday in Philadelphia, and WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says there’s already a twist to this game that has fans lamenting and second-guessing.

“Cleveland has an obsession with quarterbacks,” Pluto says.

And heading into the opening game of the season, fans are ruminating about former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, who will start for Philadelphia on Sunday.

“Once upon a time the Browns had the 2nd pick in the NFL draft. The quarterback they had their heart set on was Jared Goff. He was gone by the time they picked No. 2. The second-best quarterback, according to the experts, was this kid, Carson Wentz. The Browns decided they really didn’t like him very much and they traded down and piled up the picks. The team they traded with was Philadelphia."

Pluto says the Eagles weren’t planning to start Wentz this week. They were going to start veteran Sam Bradford. But, this past week, Philadelphia traded Bradford to Minnesota, whose quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, got injured and is out the rest of the season.

“So, now it’s Wentz against Robert Griffin III. Now, of course, Browns fans are sitting there going, ‘We should have taken Carson Wentz!’ We always want somebody else’s quarterback."

A bad streak

Pluto says the Browns carry an ugly streak into this weekend’s game – they’ve lost their last 11 season openers. “I’ll let the Browns analytic department sit with that,” Pluto says. “You would think you wouldn’t just lose 11 in a row because you’re not always facing a great team opening day. It’s kind of luck of the draw.”

Trying to lose?

Pluto says the Browns are basically playing to lose this season. “They may not have to try real hard; that may come naturally. Last year they were 3-13. So, when you look at the new front office and new coaching staff, it’s not as if they inherited the 1964 Browns.”

And Pluto says the team is doing what the Cavs did after LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010 -- accumulating draft picks to try to build some talent. “What the regular season then becomes is you’re almost running tryouts for all your young players.”

A young team

Pluto says the Browns drafted 14 rookies and they only cut one. “And that wasn’t enough. They went out and claimed some guys who were cut by other teams. They now have 17 rookies on the 53-man roster. That’s a staggering amount. But they’re goal is, ‘Can we find some of these players who are going to help us two or three years down the line?’ Now fans say they’ve been hearing this forever but it’s the only way you get good.

Still tuning in

Pluto says despite yet another dismal outlook, the fans are expected to tune in. “The television rating on this for the opening game will come in on this like a Cavs playoff game.” 

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The View From Pluto: The Browns Will Be Bad By Design

Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.