Never let it be said that the Browns lose halfway.
Either a defeat is excruciatingly painful, or excruciatingly embarrassing. Sunday’s 38-21 shellacking at the hands of the Redskins fell into the latter category. It was brutal.
And now the Browns new management has all the justification it needs to clean house — in the front office, on the coaching staff and on the field. Pat Shurmur had made it interesting with his three wins in a row following an 0-5 start. Tom Heckert had stated his case when he told the media Friday he wanted to retain control over personnel, something he has in his contract.
But this was the kind of loss that prompts a housecleaning.
And if new ownership and management were even slightly tilting toward bringing in their guys, they now have justification.
Brandon Weeden played very poorly.
Trent Richardson did not run well.
And both indirectly pointed the finger at the coaching staff, Weeden by saying Washington put Kirk Cousins in position to win, and Richardson by saying it was “shocking” he got two second half carries and adding the Browns should have stuck with their gameplan.
Shurmur pointed to the next game in Denver, and Heckert never speaks after games (and rarely otherwise unless it’s an issue he wishes to address).
Put everything together and the picture is not one of togetherness — though mistakes and miscues always are magnified in a loss.
No one game should determine a team’s direction, but if Richardson and Weeden wish to point fingers, they might start with themselves. Richardson didn’t even average three yards on his 11 carries, yet he lamented only getting the ball twice in the second half when the Browns only had the ball for 8:28. Perhaps there was cause and effect? Heck, as good as Richardson looked near the goal-line, he was otherwise not even a factor. Aside from a six-yard touchdown run and a 14-yarder, Richardson carried nine times — for eight yards. No sense hiding: Redskins rookie Alfred Morris ran with more quickness and fluidity.
Weeden was entrusted with a lot, but he threw two poor interceptions and looked more lost than he has all season, or at least since the opener. His early interception in the third quarter allowed Washington to erase a 14-10 halftime deficit, and the defense caved the rest of the way.
Rarely has a team looked so inept, baffled or confused by the simplest of play-action calls. Over and over and over.
This was a bad team effort, and the loss ensured the Browns fifth losing season in a row, and ninth in 10 years (13th in 15 if you really want to count).
For the Browns to avoid their fifth season in a row with double-digit losses, they’ll have to win their final two games: In Denver and in Pittsburgh.
We all know how successful the Browns have been in those two cities over the years.
The last three wins still count, and the team did grow in those wins. But given a chance to make a statement and validate the wins with a victory over a good team with a winning record, the Browns fell flat. Again.
The past five seasons the Browns have lost 54 games — with two tough ones remaining this season. In those five seasons there have been three head coaches, and six “starting” quarterbacks (Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden).
That is a recipe for change, and it sure seems like more change is coming after the season.
With the Browns, the more things change, the more they merely stay the same.