Cleveland Browns is the team that keeps on givingWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Economists have a term they use to describe money that’s already been spent towards achieving a particular goal: “sunk costs,” It’s usually used when deciding whether they want to continue to build toward that goal or abandon it, in those cases where the goal is not going to be achievable or profitable, and continuing to spend more money is wasteful. Colloquially, you could call it “throwing good money after bad,” or even “deciding to fish or cut bait.”
That would be the Cleveland Browns.
Only two weeks into the regular season, the Browns have thrown up the white flag by trading Trent Richardson, the only decent player on the team, to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick in 2014. This came hours after they announced that not only will their starting quarterback Brandon Weeden miss this week’s game against Minnesota with a sprained thumb, but that he’ll be replaced by Brian Hoyer under center. Hoyer leapfrogs Jason Campbell, who entered the season as the backup.
Fans, as you can imagine, are apoplectic. I don’t think anyone expected the team to compete, to be honest, but all of the new faces in the organization, from head coach Rob Chudzinski to CEO Joe Banner, talked a lot in the preseason about how the team was going to show renewed effort.
Instead, they’ve seen two games of lifeless football, and a front office that just threw its arms up. Might as well take that season ticket package and flush it, because you’ll get more entertainment out of that then actually using the tickets for their intended purpose.
Let’s be honest, though — this Browns team wasn’t going anywhere even with Richardson in the lineup, and in the new NFL, star running backs aren’t as high of a commodity as they once were. Just look at the Minnesota Vikings: they have one of the premier rushers in the league in Adrian Peterson, but they’re oh-fer coming into Sunday’s game against Cleveland. Meanwhile in Detroit, you have a renewed offense that can use the pass more effectively because defenses have to look out for Reggie Bush. The ground game sets up the pass game, but the pass game brings the wins. Richardson did a lot of good things, but when you have Weeden passing to, what, Greg Little?
Nobody’s respecting that.
Now, turn Brandon Weeden and Greg Little into Teddy Bridgewater and Mike Evans … and with two first-round picks, the Browns can do just that.
If you want to see what “throwing good money after bad” can do to a team, you can look to the Meadowlands and see what a sack of failure the Jets have become. That is an organization that needs wholesale changes: coach, QB, defense … everything. But nobody wants to make the tough move. At least, not yet.
The Browns have made changes at the top of the team, but now it’s time to dig through the roster and weed out the problems there. They correctly recognize that previous management mishandled drafts and free agent signings, putting less-than-stellar teams on the field. They’re not tone-deaf, either — they’re fully aware that this move takes the lone bright spot off the team.
But just as the reality show contestant says, “I’m not here to make friends,” the brain trust in Cleveland isn’t here to play nice, or scrape together five wins just for giggles; they’re here to build long-term success. Trading away Richardson hurts now, but it’ll pay dividends down the road.
And if Cleveland is that upset, they can go support the winning team in town: the Indians. I hear there are tickets available.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director for 1370 WSPD.
Tags: 1370 WSPD, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Weeden, CEO Joe Banner, CLeveland Browns, Detroit, Greg Little, Indianapolis Colts, Mike Evans, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Reggie Bush, Rob Chudzinski, Terry Bridgewater, Trent Richardson