Losing Faith

I have a lot of faith in people.  I always have.

And my whole life, I’ve had faith in the Cleveland Browns.  I had faith when I was little and the Browns were good.  And I had faith when they left that someday they would return. And since they’ve been back, I’ve had faith that someday they would be good again.

Maybe this quality of mine–my faith in others–is, in fact, inextricably tied to my Browns fandom.  Maybe years of living in Believeland (and not Win-A-Superbowl-Or-Any-Other-Championship-For-That-Matter-Land) has taught me that you just don’t give up on people.  That, if you believe in them, people might just surprise you.  And, if not, at least you can say that about yourself.  That you have faith in people.

And maybe I’ve had more faith in people than I should have.  For example, I wasn’t quite done with Mangini.  Maybe I’m the only one in Cleveland that’ll say that, but I’m just being honest.  And he’s not the only Browns HC I think has been sacked before getting a fair shot.  In fact, my husband and, to be honest, most other members of my family have heard me rail over the years about how a guy needs more than one or even two years to really build (or rebuild) a team.  And maybe other people should have more faith in Browns’ head coaches.  As my friend, The Football Expert noted, “The last four coaches fired in the AFC North have been the coach of the Cleveland Browns.”  That’s a pretty pathetic statistic.

And maybe my faith in people is why I (and, again, perhaps I was the only one) didn’t hate the idea of Josh McDaniels as the next Browns head coach.  The guy was trained by Belichick.  And, if you don’t over-focus on Tebow, he was a pretty great drafter for the Broncos–Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and Zane Beadles?  Pretty solid group of football players right there.  Much like I thought the Browns didn’t have enough faith in Mangini, I thought Denver didn’t have enough faith in McDaniels.

And I become nauseated thinking about the carousel of rookie quarterbacks the Browns have gone through in recent years–Frye, Quinn, McCoy.  If it hasn’t become somewhat of a joke in your house, I’m astonished.  Because it definitely (and sadly) has in mine: “Hey, you think  the Browns might draft a quarterback this year?  Haha.”  Except it’s not that funny.  Yeah, so maybe those guys just weren’t that good.  But maybe none of us will ever know because they never had consistent coaching or a veteran quarterback to learn from.  After all, most guys aren’t Andrew Luck.  Tom Brady had Drew Bledsoe.  Aaron Rodgers had Brett Favre.

So what’s my point?

I was excited for this season.  This time the front office seemed like they might actually do things differently.  Yeah, they brought in new coaches, but that was to be expected by a whole new front office.  And they seemed to have faith in the coaches they hired.  And why not?  Chud may have been a fairly unknown quantity, but Norv Turner and Ray Horton sure weren’t.  These were pros.  Proven winners.  And I was excited because this coaching staff seemed like a long term investment.  I mean, if you weren’t sold on Chud, why would you match him with Turner and Horton knowing full well that firing Chud would mean losing them?

And then these new coaches decided to stick with Weeden.  And I was even more excited.  Not because I believed Weeden could be a great NFL quarterback.  But because I thought we didn’t know yet.  And for what seemed like the first time in a long time, a kid was going to get a chance to really prove whether he could lead this team.  (And he couldn’t.  And that’s fine, because at least we all know that now.  But it was right to give him that chance.)

But what was most exciting was the change in the Browns players and fans.   The players bought in early.  In fact, there was talk of Horton hero-worship among the defensive guys.  And the buy-in stuck and grew.  Somehow, even after only four wins, the players and the fans still had faith in these three individuals.  There was faith in Ray Horton and the changes he brought to the Browns defense.  There was faith in an experienced Norv Turner and his ability to adapt to three different starting quarterbacks.  And there was faith in Chud.  Because he had faith in his guys, in himself, and in Cleveland.

And then Chud got fired.  And Turner went to the Vikings.  And Horton went to the Titans.  And the players pretty much hit the nail on the head when one of them brazenly announced, “This organization is a joke.”  Because, as Joe Thomas said, “You look at the great franchises. They don’t fire [their] coach after the first season.”  No, the great organizations have a little faith.

But the Browns front office lost faith in Chud.  And I’m not really sure why.  But I do know this.  I usually have faith in people.  And I’m losing faith in the Browns.