So, it’s Tuesday, February 4th, 2014. It has been almost 48 hours since the Seattle Seahawks hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy as the champions of Super Bowl XLVIII (48). This Super Bowl featured the #1 offense in the Denver Broncos vs. the #1 Defense in the Seattle Seahawks. Going into it, you would have thought that it was going to be a close, competitive game. But, to say the wheels fell off for the Broncos would be an understatement. The Seahawks never gave the Broncos a chance to put their wheels on in the first place. The crazily suffocating defense, along with the balanced offense, and superior special teams play caused my jaw to drop. It was near-perfect football coming out of Seattle.
I was just happy that John Elway didn’t smile throughout the entire game. I was running low on toilet paper that night.
As any good Browns fan would do, I reflected back to 2010. Retrospect is a Cleveland fan’s best friend, and our worst enemy. It’s our worst enemy because it makes us realize just how poorly our team has been run over the years. But, at the same time, it’s our best friend because it confirms to us all that our complaining about the poor decision making and awful play on the field is completely, 100%, without a doubt justified.
Both the Seahawks and the Browns began “rebuilding” their teams in 2010. The Seahawks brought in a new coaching staff, and the Browns brought in the Walrus. Let’s take a small peek into the head coaching moves and drafts of the two teams, shall we?
** Disclaimer: Wrap your hands in some towels before continuing… you may punch the table, floor, or your family pet when you read this. **
2010 Coaching Decisions
Ahh… remember the good ol’ days when Mike Holmgren took over as President of the Browns? He came in as the savior of the Browns… a football guy who was going to make all the right moves. Remember how Mangini was the head coach at that time? Holmgren kept Mangini on for one more year, even though both he and Mangini knew the arrangement wasn’t going to work. While Holmgren was busy being lazy about finding the right coach (which ended up being his unqualified buddy-pal Pat Shurmur), Seattle was out hiring a man who would win them a Super Bowl… the cheating Pete Carroll out of USC. (I don’t like Pete Carroll as a person, but I’ll take anyone, even a cheater, if they bring a championship to Cleveland.)
Let’s also take a peek into three of the drafts the two teams have had since 2010. Who did the Browns take and who did they leave on the board for Seattle to scoop up? Keep in mind that all of the picks by Seattle that I’m citing were starters on this year’s Super Bowl team. (This is by no means an exhaustive list.)
Montario Hardesty- 2nd Round (59th overall)This is one of only three picks I’m going to write about since it was such an obviously bad one… I think that the only better decision made by Heckert, other than this pick, was to drive drunk (<– insert sarcasm here). I say this, why? Well, while playing for the Tennessee Volunteers, Hardesty tore the ACL in his right knee in 2005, he underwent a left knee scope in 2006, had a high right ankle sprain in 2007, a stress fracture in his left foot in 2008, a right knee drain in 2009 and shoulder subluxation in 2009. Then, in his first preseason appearance for the Browns, Hardesty tore his left ACL! The rest of his career with the Browns was spent mostly on IR. It was obvious from his college career that he was brittle and couldn’t stay healthy. The pick was poor and everyone knew it before Hardesty even played a single down.
Colt McCoy- 3rd Round (85th overall)
Kam Chancellor – 5th round (133rd overall)
Greg Little – 2nd round (59th overall)
Owen Marecic – 4th round (124th overall)
Buster Skrine – 5th round (137th overall)How could Buster Skrine possibly have interviewed better than Richard Sherman at the NFL Combine? Not that Skrine is unintelligent… in fact, I think he’s a pretty with-it guy. I like the way he interviews, personally. But Richard Sherman is an extremely intelligent man who reportedly graduated from Stanford University with a 3.9 GPA (although I couldn’t find any reputable sources confirming this). That translates to an A-letter grade average. Looking at the combine results the only things Skrine was better than Sherman at were speed and the 225 Lb bench reps. And, on the field, you can see a vast difference. Skrine consistently gets beat like Justin Bieber got beat by Zach Galifianakis.
Richard Sherman – 5th round (154th overall)
Byron Maxwell – 6th round (173rd overall)
Malcolm Smith – 7th round (242nd overall)
Trent Richardson – 1st round (3rd overall)
Brandon Weeden – 1st round (22nd overall)
I remember watching this draft with my buddy Ron. When Goodell announced that the Browns took Weeden with the 22nd pick we both were just floored and held our heads. Ron even laughed a little as if to say “Did you expect anything else?” There was no way they took the 4th quarterback in the draft in the late first round. Certainly Weeden would have been available in the 2nd or even 3rd round. He just wasn’t a first round talent. Period.And then the first regular season game for the Browns happened. And no, the bad signs didn’t show up with Weeden’s first interception. They started before the game even began. Ron and I were together again for the first game of the season. We were watching as Brandon Weeden got engulfed by a field-sized American flag. I looked at Ron with a dumbfounded look and I will never forget the words that I uttered. I said “Ron… this is not a good sign. The guy is oblivious to a field-sized flag coming at him. How’s he going to know where the defense is on the field?” The stats for that game speak for themselves: 12 – 35 attempts for 118 yards 0 TDs and 4 INTs. That’s good for a 5.1 QB Rating. Ugh…
Bruce Irvin – 1st round (15th overall)
Bobby Wagner – 2nd round (47th overall)
Russell Wilson – 3rd round (75th overall)
Yes, a retrospective view of the Browns is what we as fans have every year. There is rarely any looking forward. If we looked forward, that would mean there was progress and we were trying to stay on an appropriate path. No, we look back every year and compare our team with more successful ones. We do this so we can understand where we went off course and learn which direction more successful teams took.
Going through these draft picks, I don’t know where the Seahawks and Browns would be if they flip-flopped picks. For all I know, the coaching up of these players has been so poor that we may have been talking about Buster Skrine calling out Michael Crabtree instead of Richard Sherman doing so. The Browns could have had Russell Wilson throwing multiple ill-advised flip passes last year and Seattle could have had Brandon Weeden hoisting up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
What I do know is this: Starting in 2010, the Seahawks began rebuilding their team by bringing in a new coaching staff. The Browns started rebuilding (again) in 2010 by bringing in the Walrus. The quality of the teams we see today are separated by a distance as long as the Grand Canyon. Four years later, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl while the Browns are in the Toilet Bowl.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a cup of Jello sitting here that I must wear as a hat!