From somewhere, John Dorsey was watching the new team he's running. He probably saw some silver linings. But his job is to look for the clouds. There were plenty of both.
The conclusion most would make from the Browns’ descent to 0-13: They’re close. To winning a game. One game. A game like Sunday's in Cleveland, which they lost to the Packers 27-21 in overtime. After the Browns led 21-7 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Dorsey became the Browns' new general manager last week in one of the clumsiest transfers of power we've seen in a while — which is saying a lot since Dorsey was available only because the Chiefs fired him last June, in the middle of the offseason. The Browns topped that, because they're the Browns, and under Jimmy Haslam's watch, that's what they do best — being worse than the others.
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About 30 seconds after news broke Thursday that Sashi Brown had been fired a month before his second season was to end, speculation began that the Browns were likely chasing a candidate and wanted to keep him away from the Giants, who also were in the GM hunt. To the surprise of no one, ESPN reported Sunday morning that, yes, Dorsey was scheduled to interview with the Giants this week.
The showings by both in-transition teams indicate that Dorsey made the right choice. The Giants, for example, got beaten senseless in the fourth quarter by the Cowboys on Sunday and looked like a team in need of a total overhaul, with nothing to build on and a lot of mistakes to undo.
Meanwhile, as Jackson said of his team after the Packers loss, “That was the best version of us as a football team, offense, defense, special teams — up until the fourth quarter, when we needed it the most."
They're somewhat empty words, since they’re still winless and still 1-for-Jackson’s-Browns-career. But not totally empty.
There are still tons of players in Cleveland who Brown brought in during his brief stint, who can contribute to winning with time and patience. They also have 12 picks in what will now be Dorsey’s first draft, courtesy of Brown's deals.
Clearly, quarterback was the sore point. The Browns notoriously passed on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, so there was DeShone Kizer Sunday … playing very well, the best he has all season. Until, of course, he wasn't. The wild alley-oop heave for the overtime interception that cost the Browns the game was his season in a nutshell.
Still, one of Kizer’s season-best three touchdown passes was to Josh Gordon, who is teasing Cleveland and the NFL again. He was wondrous for the second straight week; his first-quarter touchdown catch was as beautiful as any the Browns have scored this season. He’s as good a best-case scenario as the franchise has.
Kizer, Brown, Hue Jackson and everybody else might all be viewed in a different light had Gordon been around all year, or the last two years. Of course, he wasn't … and, sad to say, he might not be in the future. But like those picks, he can make Dorsey look great.
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Which picks in the previous two years should have been made differently so that the Browns, for example, would have beaten the Packers? Or the other four teams that won by exactly three points? Wentz or Watson, it seems obvious. But realistically, that might make Jackson (and Brown) maybe 5-24, or 6-23.
They were high-risk, high-reward deals, for a boatload of picks. If the picks pan out under Dorsey … well, good for him, and good choice of jobs.
The Browns have players, and they have a few chances to win. They’ll get more. Dorsey’s time to show how good he is at getting more is coming fast.
But considering he’s taking over a winless team, he still has a decent head start.