It's a little joke intended to lighten a bad turn of events.
"This is why we can't have nice things."
It's what one might say to a Browns-fan friend after Baker Mayfield, his radar seemingly back on, zips the offense down the field at Baltimore, has a wide-open receiver to get close to a touchdown, hits him in the hands, but the ball doesn't stick.
"This is why we can't have nice things."
The right tackle the Browns sorely missed finally gets activated in time to face Baltimore. A season-ending injury bites him almost before he breaks a sweat.
"This is why we can't have nice things."
The Cleveland kicker misses an early field goal. Baltimore's guy soon makes a longer field goal.
Browns business has gone along in this manner for years and years.
Something goes right. Everyone's hopes get raised. The next thing that happens is disturbingly wrong.
It is a rut that makes no sense. The Browns inexplicably never escape it, not even now, when there was supposed to be a window, but the team hit the bye week flying into a wall.
A little joke doesn't begin to cover it.
If you want to comfort a Browns fan, start with a little song.
"I say a little prayer for you."
The 2021 Browns rest, if rest there be in such a place, amid the most vicious cycle in sports.
Something goes right. Expectations reasonably get raised. A meteor appears out of the mist and faster than Anthony Schwartz runs the 40 smokes the middle of the field.
Let's make a little deal. Let's make a quick nod to 16 examples of the vicious cycle, some from now, some from the uncanny wrap of time, load them in a dumpster at the end of the column. Supposing them biodegradable, let's deposit them in the spot where Hue Jackson jumped in Lake Erie.
Then we'll towel off and see if anything nice can be made of the rest of the year.
1, Beautiful day: Moments after a bank-shot field goal cut a Baltimore lead to 6-3 Sunday night, safety Grant Delpit tricked Lamar Jackson into an interception. The Browns were in instant field goal range with 1:02 left in the half. The defense was playing well
Gut punch: At 0:53, Mayfield fumbled without getting touched.
2, Beautiful day: The Bengals have been beasts in blowouts of Baltimore (41-17) and Pittsburgh (41-10), but the Browns twisted the the striped kitties into knots. On Nov. 7, Denzel Ward opened with a 99-yard pick six, Nick Chubb ran 137 yards in just 14 carries, and Mayfield finished with a 132.6 passer rating in a 41-16 Browns win in Cincinnati.
Gut punch: A week after the masterpiece, D'Ernest Johnson ran for 54 yards on three straight carries as the Browns broke to a 7-0 lead at New England. The Patriots scored the next 45 points.
3, Beautiful day: Browns fans took over Los Angeles. Hollywood Higgins scored a touchdown amid a huge roar. Nick Chubb ran 52 yards for a touchdown. David Njoku got theatrical at the end of a 71-yard TD.
Gut punch: Not getting stopped by the Chargers, the Browns stopped themselves. The defense made a stop to open the fourth quarter, but on the offense's first play, J.C. Tretter was flagged for holding.
The Chargers went for it on a fourth-and-4 and got bailed out by pass interference. They went for it on a fourth-and-8 and stayed alive on a defensive holding flag.
Cornerback Denzel Ward played just nine downs before leaving with an injury. Los Angeles took advantage in a 47-42 win.
4, Beautiful day: Mayfield came out smokin' in the 2021 home opener against Houston. He was 4-of-4 on a TD drive to start the game. Then he was 3-of-3 to start the second series.
Gut punch: Jarvis Landry left early with an injury. The second series ended with Donovan Peoples-Jones fumbling. Mayfield opened the third series with sizeable strikes to Higgins and Austin Hooper.
Schwartz cut short a route, resulting in an interception and Mayfield having to chase the man running it back. The QB lowered his left shoulder into Justin Reid. In a sense 2021 is still lying on the field at the end of that play.
5, Beautiful day: Could the Browns stay in an opening-day shootout at Kansas City? Wrong question. Could the Chiefs hang with the Browns? Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, 75 yards, 75 yards, 81 yards. The orange helmets were on fire.
Gut punch: The Chiefs got torched by every receiver Baker Mayfield eyeballed. Now it was time for a big fat dose of Nick Chubb. And there he went, looking quite himself on three carries to open the second half. He fumbled away the third, changing everything.
6, Beautiful day: In the summer of 2019, John Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens strolled into Fat Head's at Belden Village on their way back to Berea from the Hall of Fame. They were rock stars, the face of the Browns who finished 2018 on a 5-3 roll after enduring Coach Jackson's 3-36-1. The buzz took over the building. Wow. That's really them.
Gut punch: Amid a 2-6 start in 2020, Uncle John got badgered with questions about what he was drinking when he hired Cousin Freddie.
7, Beautiful day: Joe Thomas, among others, seemed reasonably convinced Johnny Manziel had woken up and smelled the adulthood in his second Browns season. In the 2015 home opener, Manziel posted a 133.9 passer rating in a duel against rookie No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota. The Browns trounced the Titans 28-14.
Gut punch: Johnny Football's off-field appetites boiled over, and the season went absolute zero, with a 2-12 record the rest of the way.
8, Beautiful day: A 5-1 hot streak capped by a prime-time blowout at Cincinnati, which made the playoffs that year, pushed Mike Pettine's 2014 Browns to 6-3.
Gut punch: In the next game, coming off the bye, a nondescript Texans team quarterbacked by Ryan Mallett beat the Browns 23-7 in Cleveland, triggering a 1-6 finish to the season.
9, Beautiful day: New head coach Rob Chudzinski, a lifelong Browns fan, had to go to injury-replacement and lifelong Browns fan Brian Hoyer at quarterback, after an 0-2 start. Hoyer won his first two starts and began well in his third.
Gut punch: Moments after Josh Gordon dropped what should have been a perfectly drawn 80-yard touchdown pass, Hoyer had to scramble on third down. He blew out a knee and missed the rest of the season.
10, Beautiful day: The 2013 Patriots were making their usual December drive for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs when they got a surprise from Cleveland. Using worn-out Willis McGahee and someone named Fozzy (Whittaker) at running attack, the Browns looked like the playoff team en route to scoring with 2:39 left to take a 26-14 lead.
Gut punch: Even after Tom Brady speed-drove the Pats to a touchdown, New England's only hope was to recover an onside kick with a minute left. The Patriots did, and won. Jimmy Haslam more or less took it out on Chudzinski, firing him after one season on the grounds the team wasn't improving.
11, Beautiful day: Midway through a woeful 2009 season, owner Randy Lerner fired General Manager George Kokinis and said he wouldn't rest until he found a "credible football authority" to oversee an ascent. By December, Mike Holmgren was hanging out in Berea as the new team president. Almost everyone was thrilled Lerner landed a "name" who had been a head coach in three Super Bowls.
Gut punch: Holmgren erred in retaining head coach Eric Mangini and erred a year later in replacing Mangini with Pat Shurmur. It was three strikes for Holmgren when Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns in 2012, phasing Holmgren out and Joe Banner in.
12, Beautiful day: Losing Game 15 at Cincinnati of the 2007 season was a major bummer. A win would have clinched a playoff berth. Mulligan! The Browns beat the 49ers to close the regular season at 10-6. They would get that playoff spot if the Colts beat the Titans later in the day.
Gut punch: The Colts rested Peyton Manning in the second half and lost 16-10 behind backup Jim Sorgi. No playoffs.
13, Beautiful day: Joe Jurevicius was home, and everybody was loving it. The Clevelander became the glue of a 2007 offense that that scored more than any of the Bernie Kosar teams from two decades earlier. Having been to Super Bowls with three other teams, Joe J was fired up about getting to one with the home team in 2008.
Gut punch: Jurevicius encountered complications with staph infections in 2008 and never played again.
14, Beautiful day: Coach Butch Davis couldn't wait to trade up in 2004 so he could draft tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., said to be a better prospect than his Hall of Fame father. Davis' new quarterback, Pro Bowl veteran Jeff Garcia, was the right guy to put Winslow to good use. The season opened with a win over the Ravens.
Gut punch: Winslow broke a leg in his second game and lost his entire second season after stunt riding his motorcycle into a crash. The quarterback Davis bypassed because of wanted Winslow was snapped up by Pittsburgh and went to three Super Bowls across the next seven seasons.
15, Beautiful day: The 2002 Browns punched their way off the ropes with a 3-1 hot streak featuring a Hail Mary to Quincy Morgan at Jacksonville, a late 90-yard drive at Baltimore, and the "Run William Run" touchdown against Atlanta. In a playoff game at Pittsburgh, Kelly Holcomb threw for 429 yards and had the Browns in command for almost the entire game.
Gut punch: The Browns led 33-28 and Pittsburgh was down to its last timeout when Holcomb floated what looked to be a 20-yard gain to wide-open Northcutt with 2:42 left. Pittsburgh wouldn't have won if Northcutt had caught the pass.
16, Beautiful day: After two years of expansion ball yielded a 5-27 record, the Browns were about to improve to 5-2 to start the 2001 campaign. They led the Bears 21-7 with 30 seconds left at Soldier Field.
Gut punch: Two touchdown passes from Shane Matthews sandwiched around on onside kick created an impossible overtime, in which the Browns lost, en route to a 7-9 season.
Flash forward to the Stefanski era. The 2020 Browns fashioned a beautiful year. Going 11-5 and winning a playoff game at Pittsburgh was as good as it has gotten.
Expectations reached a new high. The 2021 season has been one big gut punch.
But then, 6-6, by expansion-era standards, is no utter collapse. Lest we forget, the season records after 12 games were 5-7 in 2019, 4-7-1 in 2018, 0-12 in 2017, 0-12 in 2016 and 2-10 in 2015.
Still, 2021 feels like another lap in the vicious cycle.
Nothing is more important during the bye week and beyond than figuring out a way to break out of that.
Can someone roll the dumpster over here, please?
Reach Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Browns bye week project: 16 circumstances to heave in the dumpster