In the week prior to Ohio State’s game against Toledo in Cleveland Browns Stadium, there were plenty of jokes about how the best football team in the state was finally going to make an appearance in Cleveland.
After watching a bit of Sunday’s game between the Browns and the Ravens, I’m actually wondering if that assessment is closer to the truth than anyone thought.
After the completion of last year’s NFL season, I made my feelings about the Browns fairly plain: I was disgusted. With the ownership, with the management, with the coaching and, with the exception of maybe a half-dozen actual professionals on the roster, each and every one of the players. The Browns had a weak running game, two quarterbacks who hadn’t proved they could be consistent in the NFL and a defense that didn’t defend.
At the start of this season, I hoped to see signs of improvement, even little ones — a couple indicators that things were moving in the right direction would have made me happy. Instead, I saw a team that would struggle in the Big Ten get waxed by the Ravens, a pathetic performance that came on the heels to two second-half collapses in the previous games.
0-3 isn’t necessarily a surprise. But seeing a team that appears to have uninterested, under-talented and unprepared players is a shock. If what I saw on Sunday is the norm, I’m not going to be investing a lot of time or energy in the Browns this year.
Back in January, I wrote one simple thing to Browns owner Randy Lerner about what I needed to see from the team:
Randy? Give me a reason to care. Anything. And do it in 2009. Or you may lose me forever.
Randy? That still applies. And the clock is ticking.
UPDATE, Tuesday: How serious am I? This column, in today’s Dispatch, makes a lot of sense.