- 2011 Record: 4-12 (4th in AFC North)
- 2011 Point Differential: -89 (27h out of 32)
- 2011 Strength of Schedule (per PFR’s SRS system): +0.2 (14th)
- 2011 Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt (offense): 4.6 (t-28th)
- 2011 Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt (defense): 5.7 (t-10th)
- 2011 Adjusted Pythagorean Record (accounting for Strength of Schedule): 5.2-10.8 (26th)
- 2010 Adjusted Pythagorean Record: 7.3-8.7 (20th)
And now a story I call…The Texas Chainsaw Massaquoi
“Thanks again, you guys, for letting me tag along on this trip,” Trent said from the backseat of the 1970 Dodge A-100 van. Seated in front of him were new friends he had made in his first week of work: Joe, Colt, Mohammed, and Montario. “I’m really excited to be off on this journey with all of you.”
“Trust us, Trent, the pleasure is all ours!” Joe bellowed from the passenger seat. “You’re far and away the most talented guy we’ve had at that position since Jim B. way back in the day. I’m so excited that my vast talents aren’t going to be completely wasted like they were last year. Honest to God, Betty White would have been an improvement over who we had back there last year. No offense, Montario,” he added quickly, having momentarily forgotten who was driving the van.
“None taken!” Montario grinned happily. “I don’t know how I still have a job, either! All I know is I’m looking forward to a nice, quiet weekend at the old Hardesty homestead, courtesy of our employer…hey, look, a hitchhiker! Let’s pick him up!”
“I don’t know, Montario,” Colt said with a worried look. “He looks pretty old…and yet he also appears much more intimidating than I do. This is probably something that’s going to set us back a few-“
“Too late!” Montario shouted with a smile, as the van had already pulled over to the side of the raod where the old man was standing.
“Thank you kindly, everyone,” the stranger said with a weary face. “Name’s Brandon. And I sling oblong objects around with my right arm.”
“Nice to meet you, Brandon,” Trent said while extending his hand. “It’s funny, we’re supposed to have a new guy starting at our work in the next week with the name of Brandon who also slings oblong objects around with his right arm.”
“Uh-huh…” Brandon said with a devilish grin. “That’s me.”
Everyone in the van did a double take. “But…but that’s impossible,” stammered Trent. “This new guy was supposed be just out of college, like me.”
“And I am,” Brandon countered menacingly. “I slung spherical objects around before moving back to oblong. And now your employer is foolishly expecting me to turn around your organization. MUAHAHAHA.”
“AHH! GET HIM OUT NOW!!” Trent screamed and, after a brief struggle, he and Mohamed pushed Brandon back out of the van.
“That was TOO close,” Colt shuddered while sucking his thumb.
“No need to worry now!” Montario said blissfully. “We’re on the magical Hardesty homestead! Colt and Mohammed, why don’t you boys run out to the front yard and ask what that stranger with the leathery face is doing with that meat hook and we’ll be ready to start our nice, quiet weekend!”
After approximately two hours had passed, Joe ventured out of the van to see what was causing the delay. His search for the two was fruitless until, exhausted from his pursuit, he opened a walk-in freezer, hoping to find a popsicle but instead finding something very different.
“Ah! Mohamed!” Joe shouted. “What are you doing stuck in here?”
“I don’t know why I haven’t talked more,” Mohamed whispered with a cough. “The story is named after a pun on my last name, after all-“
“No time for words, Mohamed!” Joe cried while pacing about the room. “Oh, don’t you see this is all a trap?! Our employer has sent us out here in vain! We’ll never make it back! My potential Hall-of-Fame prime is ruined forever! Oh hi, stranger with the leather face, what are you doing with that sledgehammer?”
Back in the van, Montario and Trent were growing restless. “Man, I hope everything’s all right in there,” Trent said nervously.
“Oh, of course it is!” Montario said with a dismissive wave. “This is the old Hardesty family homestead! Nothing bad ever happens here! Let’s just go inside and see what’s going on with the others and we can finally start our nice, quiet weekend! Oh, look, it’s the stranger with the leather face again! Hello, sir! May I ask what you’re doing with that chainsaw?”
Trent awakened to find himself tied up in the kitchen of the house. “My friends…what has happened to all my friends?” he murmured, trying to regain his senses. When he looked up, he gasped. “Brandon?! And oh my-is that Leatherface Holmgren?!?!”
“Hehe, it certainly is,” Brandon cackled with glee. “‘Ol Leatherface and I have orchestrated this whole thing from the start. To the outside world, it’ll look like a good faith effort to get your doddering, stale fart of an organization back on the right track, but all the while we’ll be sabotaging it from the inside, ruining whatever promise you and the rest of your teammates may have had. And now, to give the final blow, I’d like to you to meet Grandpa…”
“Jim B.?!” Trent gasped as an old man came out of the darkness holding a hammer. “But shouldn’t you be trying to help me, not saying nasty things about me in public and hitting me in the head with a hammer in private?”
“I made love to Raquel Welch in a movie back in 1969,” Jim B. said in a low voice. “What do I care anymore?” And with that, he raised his hammer and attempted to ruin Trent’s career from the start. But for reasons that are unclear, confusion ensued and somehow Trent ran away and leapt into the back of a passing pickup truck as Leatherface Holmgren hopelessly attempted to catch up to him.
“Man, why couldn’t I have been drafted by Tampa Bay?” Trent said with a heavy sigh.
Here’s a list of quarterbacks who entered the NFL at age 27 or above and had substantial playing time in their rookie season. Five of the eight had originally played in Canada before heading to the NFL and Charlie Conerly and Paul Christman both entered the NFL late because they served in World War II. Thus, Chris Weinke is the only player in that group who is directly comparable to Brandon Weeden, which doesn’t bode well for Brandon Weeden. Other recent players who played baseball for some time before returning to football late include Drew Henson and Chad Hutchinson. Which, again, doesn’t bode well for Brandon Weeden…So Trent Richardson will likely be fighting a losing cause, but there’s little doubt about his ability. The Browns probably won’t be ahead enough late in games for him to put up Adrian Peterson-circa-2007 numbers, but a similar-type impact isn’t out of the question…The Browns defense has been steadily above-average the past two seasons, though with very different contributors each season. Last year, oft-injured linebacker D’Qwell Jackson stayed healthy and became a tackling machine. And rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard picked up eight and a half sacks; multiple Pro Bowls may be in his future…
One of the best attributes of the current brand of NFL football that has been on display for the past ten to twenty years is the parity that has reigned during that time period. It is no longer crazy for any team, no matter how poor their record the previous year, to dream of making the playoffs the next season. With that said, it would be pretty crazy if the Browns made the playoffs in 2012. They plan on being led by a twenty-nine year-old rookie quarterback who has no room for further development, a coach who somehow deserved a head job after leading the worst offense in the NFL for his two years as offensive coordinator, and a team president who has had little-to-no success as a talent evaluator. Other than that, everything’s fine. The defense will keep the Browns from being embarassed and Trent Richardson will be the first reason to watch the Browns’ offense in five years, but overall there’s perhaps less hope to be found here than any other place in the NFL.
2012 Projected Point Differential: 284.2-356.5
2012 Average Projection: 5.9-10.1 (4th in AFC North)