Ask Vic: Breaking the cycle

Posted Dec 17, 2013

Senior Editor Vic Carucci answers fan questions from the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages, and

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages, and Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

Ginn says: “Obviously, the Browns need a few more ‘parts’ ... a decent, dependable QB would be a good start. But I really think they are on the rise, with a lot of good, young talent. They are IN games this year, which hasn’t been true for a while. There are games they should have won, but they don’t know how to close them out yet. But I can remember for the last many years seeing scores where they were lucky to score three or six points, maybe seven. They are much more competitive this year, and I think that is major progress and a very good thing to build on. Hang in there, Brown fans!”

I say: Love the sentiment, Ginn.

You make some valid points. Yes, more parts are needed. Specifically, this club has to find at least two more difference-makers, besides Josh Gordon, on offense, and at least two more on defense (on the presumption that they are able to retain strong safety T.J. Ward, whose contract is due to expire). Preferably, those acquisitions will be made in the offseason – the most critical the Browns have faced in recent years – but it’s probably unrealistic to think they’ll hit them all at once.

Still, I do think, for the most part, this is a better team than previous Browns clubs in almost every way except the record. There is better overall talent. There is better coaching. There is a much higher degree of competitiveness, and the Browns have gone toe-to-toe with stronger opponents (i.e. the Patriots and Bears) on multiple occasions.

Obviously, the Browns do not know how to close out games, and that is frustrating and disappointing. They should be showing signs of figuring that out by now.

Asking fans to “hang in there” once again is reasonable, but understandably much easier said than done.

Diane says: “Don’t you think that the continued losing (hate to call it a tradition) makes it harder to keep players and establish a winner? Everyone says Alex Mack, and especially T.J .Ward, are likely to leave after the season. They both talk of being tired of losing. Which means not only a loss of player, but also a loss of continuity on the offensive line and defensive backfield. Everyone says you need continuity to develop a good line or defensive backfield since what a player does at a particular time often depends on knowing what your teammate playing beside you will do. Players always say they love playing in Cleveland, but then leave as soon as they can. If the salary is the same, they can rationally say they want to go to a team/city with a chance of winning. Can’t this be a continual cycle that just leads to it happening with the next good player? If so, how can a team break the cycle?”

I say: Losing hurts a franchise on many levels, and free agency can definitely be one of them, Diane.

But I would put it sixth on the list of reasons a player signs with a particular team. The top five are: money, money, money, money, and money.

Your point about a player breaking a financial tie among contract offers by going with a team that gives him the best chance to win is well taken. However, those deals have a way of separating themselves through structure and other details, not the least of which are guarantees.

It’s also possible that, despite a long history of losing, a team such as the Browns is able to sell a marquee free-agent prospect on a program being headed in the right direction because it has good coaching, a solid front office, and is willing to spend what is necessary to acquire other high-profile free agents.

Rod says: “Really impressed with Teddy Bridgewater. Funny how the Redskins stole RG3 from the Browns last year. Could it be the Browns move up and get the ’Skins’ pick and draft Bridgewater?”

I say: I wouldn’t rule out anything when it comes to the draft in general and the quarterback position in particular, Rod, although I should point out that the Redskins don't have a first-round pick; they gave it up as part of their trade with the Rams to move up for RGIII in 2012.

It should also be pointed out that Bridgewater is undecided about whether he will enter the draft. But on the assumption he does, I don’t know that the Browns have any particularly strong interest in him, or at least at a level that would prompt them to give up the picks necessary to move up high enough to select him … if, in fact, it requires that sort of move.

There seems to be a reasonable chance that the Houston Texans will own the top overall pick, and if so, logic suggests that they would target a quarterback. And if that quarterback is someone the Browns would also covet, I have serious doubts about such a trade occurring.

My sense is that the Browns will draft a quarterback, and that there are multiple players at the position that interest them. Depending on how they finish the season, it’s probably fair to speculate that a quarterback they like could end up falling to them. 

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