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Joe Thomas Believes Browns Are Going to Win a Championship

Joe Thomas signed a seven-year $84 million contract extension with the Browns Monday, a move that will likely keep him in Cleveland most of his career. Since being drafted in 2007, he has made the Pro Bowl every year and has been named All-Pro twice. He has never missed a game, and perhaps more impressively, has not even missed a practice according to Rotoworld. The fans in Cleveland must love him because of his ability and work ethic, but they should also be enamored with him because of his optimism.

Though the Browns have gone 14-34 the last three seasons, Thomas says he signed with the team long-term because he believes they are going to win a Super Bowl. “I know a championship is coming to Cleveland and I have to be a part of it,” Thomas told The Plain Dealer. “That’s everything. That’s why I wanted to do a long-term deal. Five years ago when I started this thing, that was my top goal on my list was to bring a championship here and I see the huge strides we’ve made.

“Sometimes we’ve had to take one step back to take steps forward, but I see the direction this thing is headed and I want to be part of the championship.”

That’s an awfully bold statement by Thomas. Typically I support players who believe in themselves and their team, but I can’t applaud this move. Thomas is a fantastic player and his ideals are admirable. But just like I’d recommend a player on the Bengals leave Cincinnati as soon as possible, a Browns player who wants to win a championship has his best chance elsewhere. Again, he’s saying all the right things that will endear him to the Browns fans, I just disagree with his belief.

Helmet knock to Cleveland Frowns for the story

Sorry Cleveland Browns Apply Franchise Tag to Kicker Phil Dawson

Since returning to Cleveland in 1999 after a three-year absence, the Browns have only enjoyed two winning seasons. As if having two winning seasons and ten losing seasons in 12 years isn’t bad enough, nine of the 10 losing years were double-digit defeat seasons. Simply put, other than a miracle 10-6 year in 2007, the Browns have been pathetic.

Perhaps nothing indicates the hopelessness of the sad franchise than their front office move on Tuesday afternoon: the team announced it was applying its franchise tag to kicker Phil Dawson, as LBS contributor Aaron pointed out.

It’s not that paying a kicker decent money is a bad idea. It’s not that having a really good, consistent kicker is a bad thing either. It’s that using your franchise tag on a kicker means that you don’t have enough talent at the other more valuable positions to warrant protecting them from the free agent market. And that’s a problem.

This reminds me of a fantasy baseball team I took over several years ago. It was a keeper league and the team had just finished last, so there was very little to choose from. I ended up franchising K-Rod even if closers only account for one fantasy category just because the other choices were uninspiring. Having good closers help you win fantasy baseball, but if those are your only keeper options you know you’re in trouble.

Nothing could have the poor state of the Browns more than their decision Tuesday. Good luck Pat Shurmur, you sure have your work cut out for you.

Audio: Greg Kozarik Goes Off on Browns on Cleveland.com Radio Show

Greg Kozarik is the host of Locked and Loaded, a radio show on the Cleveland.com Digital Sports Network.  Like so many other Cleveland Browns fans, Kozarik is tired of losing and wants some answers.  In fact, that’s a major understatement.  He thinks the Lerner Family — which owns the Browns — descends from the Devil himself.  If you skip ahead to the 6:45 mark, you’ll hear Kozarik insisting that Al Lerner is in hell right now hanging out with Satan and laughing because he stole so much money from fans and never brought his team to a Super Bowl.  Check out the Greg Kozarik Cleveland Browns rant, courtesy of Midwest Sports Fans:

Eric Mangini Out in Cleveland, Browns’ Problems Extend Beyond Head Coach

The Cleveland Browns have fired head coach Eric Mangini after two-straight 5-11 seasons. Mangini was hired by the Browns in 2009 after being fired by the New York Jets. Mangini was 23-25 during his time in New York. He may not be a great coach, but when are the people in Cleveland going to realize there might be a bigger problem than the coach. Mangini has had his issues in Cleveland and certainly was not the most likelable guy, but he’s not the first coach to struggle there.

Since they were re-established in Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have had five coaches, including interim coaches. They’ve had more than four times as many seasons of at least 10 losses (9) than they have had winning seasons (2). In that time they’ve made the playoffs once. In that same span, only seven teams have employed more coaches than the Browns; the Falcons (6), Bills (6), Lions (7), Dolphins (6), Raiders (6), Rams (6) and Redskins (7). Every team on that list, aside from maybe the Falcons, has been generally horrible since ’99.

Those two winning seasons ties the Browns with the Cardinals, Bills and Bengals, and puts them just ahead of the Lions (1). That one playoff appearance ties them with the Bills and Lions for the least in that span. Are you noticing the common names on these lists? He’s another one. Cleveland’s nine seasons with at least 10 losses is matched only by the Lions.

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Colt McCoy Leads 4th Quarter Comeback Against Jets, Falls Short in OT

When the Cleveland Browns dominated the Patriots last Sunday, a modest stat line and an outstanding performance by Peyton Hillis overshadowed what was a very good game from Colt McCoy.  After leading the Browns to a 4th quarter comeback that the Browns should have won on Sunday, McCoy should get plenty of credit this week.

I think we can officially say McCoy became a man today.  His first four NFL starts have been against the Steelers, Saints, Patriots, and Jets.  He’s won two of them and should have won a third.  Peyton Manning would be pleased with that result.  The Browns have played excellent team football over that stretch and Eric Mangini has out-coached the opposition for the most part.  On Sunday, it was McCoy’s composure down the stretch that put Cleveland in a position to win.

With his team trailing 20-13 and staring one of the toughest defenses in the NFL in his face, McCoy ran the two-minute drill to perfection and capped a terrific drive off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi to send the game to overtime.

Cleveland’s defense came out and forced a punt right away in OT and McCoy was again able to lead an impressive drive that should have given the Browns a shot at a game-winning field goal.  After making a big play on third down to get past the sticks and just about into field goal range, Chansi Stuckey coughed the ball up fighting for extra yardage near the sideline.  The Jets recovered the fumble and drove down the field, but Nick Folk missed a 47-yard field goal to keep the Browns alive.

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Browns Dominate the Patriots

The Cleveland Browns seem to be headed in the right direction under Eric Mangini.  Not long ago, Mangini was on the hot seat.  The competitive nature of the NFL makes it so coaches have a very limited amount of time to turn a struggling franchise around.  With consecutive victories over the Saints and Patriots, the Browns look to be improving dramatically.

Sunday’s match-up between Cleveland and New England had trap game written all over it for the Patriots.  Arguably the hottest team in football, the Pats traveled to Cleveland with the league’s best record (6-1).  Four minutes into the game, they found themselves trailing Colt McCoy and company 10-0 and the Browns never looked back, winning the game with ease by a score of 34-14.

The big story of the day was Peyton Hillis, who rushed for a career high 184 yards and two touchdowns.  New England couldn’t find a way to bring the big running back down and he was able to keep Tom Brady off the field, especially in the fourth quarter.  The Patriots had no answer for his north-south running style and as a result weren’t able to string together any type of comeback.

Hillis will likely steal the spotlight, but Colt McCoy deserves an equal amount of credit.  Statistically the rookie’s day was nothing special, but he protected the football and threw the ball well on the run, keeping a few plays alive with his legs and converting crucial first downs.

The Browns are now 2-1 since McCoy took over as the starter.  They’ve played the Steelers, Saints, and Patriots during that span.  You won’t find a more difficult three-game stretch than that, and at the moment it looks like Cleveland got their guy on draft day.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Duncan

The Most Unpredicatable Year in NFL History Continues

The earth must be off its axis or something.  I assume those of you who have been keeping track of the Sunday early games are as dumbfounded as I am.  As we already told you when we posted our NFL picks here at LBS, there’s just no easy way to pick against the spread so far this year.  Come to think of it, picking straight up is no picnic at the moment either.

If you took the Browns +13 against the Saints and the Bills +13 against the Ravens, good for you.  At the half of both games it looks like you made better picks than I did.  But if you try to tell me you expected New Orleans to be trailing Cleveland, 20-3, at the half and Baltimore to be behind Buffalo, 24-20 — both at home — then I know you’re just lying through your teeth.

Yet somehow that’s what’s going on at the moment.  I just spoke to a wise 89-year-old football expert (who I refer to as my grandfather during the work week), and even he said he can’t remember a year where there was less of a clear-cut favorite in both the AFC and NFC.  Yes, he’s still all there.  Who are the powerhouses?  Who are the Super Bowl favorites?  Right now the answer to those questions looks like a simple “nobody.”  If these games continue the way they’re going, wish us luck putting together the power rankings on Tuesday.