No Laughing Matter

March 13th, 2019

BY IRA KAUFMAN

The once-hapless Cleveland Browns are making a move on the Buccaneers.

A big move.

Tampa Bay’s 11-year playoff drought is the longest in the NFC, but at least the Bucs could say they were looking down on the Browns, who have endured 11 consecutive losing seasons and haven’t reached the postseason since 2002.

But unless you’ve been sleeping under a goalpost the past few days, you realize the Browns are going all in to end this 17-year playoff dry spell. They’re spending money like a drunken sailor on Lake Erie — and Las Vegas has noticed.

A 7-8-1 finish last season convinced management that the Browns are no longer the piñatas of the AFC North. The first signal came when GM John Dorsey signed Kareem Hunt, a talented but troubled running back from Kansas City who is facing a suspension this fall.

Then Dorsey turned his attention to the struggling Giants, who surrendered defensive end Olivier Vernon and Odell Beckham Jr., one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers. Add in defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and it’s clear these Browns aren’t afraid to shell out the green.

Suddenly, the odds on Cleveland winning the Super Bowl have shrunk to 14-1, behind only the Patriots, Chiefs, Rams and Saints.

How about the Bucs? Try 80-1, people.

Faceless In Tampa

Joe Thomas, the fortress at left tackle who made 10 Pro Bowls in 11 seasons with the Browns before retiring a year ago, can’t believe the extent of the makeover.

“I’m just blown away,” says Thomas, who saw the Browns go 10-6 in his rookie 2007 season before the streak of losing years commenced. “The moves that John Dorsey has been able to make in just a couple of years, just flipping that entire organization … it’s just jaw-dropping.”

2007 glory was a long time ago

As lousy as the Bucs have been in recent times, the Browns have been considerably worse, capped by the 0-16 mark in 2017 that led to the No. 1 overall pick and the selection of Baker Mayfield.

Since 2008, Cleveland is 45-130-1 under seven head coaches. The Bucs are 64-112 in the same span, under five head coaches.

Yet at the moment, the Bucs remain well under the league radar while the Browns are suddenly bursting with star power. Mayfield, Beckham and Myles Garrett move the national needle.

While the Bucs are still looking for a face of the franchise, the Browns are media darlings. Face it, folks.

“You know that river that was burning in Cleveland?” Thomas joked. “They’d better have the fire fighters on standby because that city is about to burn down. That is a Browns town and they can taste it right now.”

Reality Check

Added pressure

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. NFL history is brimming with teams that appeared to win the offseason, only to flop when the scoreboard counts in the fall.

I can see members of Buc Nation nodding their heads in agreement. It’s happened too many times, right here in Tampa.

But for now, the Bucs are in serious danger of going into 2020 weighed down with the NFL’s longest playoff drought. They might not have the Browns to kick around anymore — and that adds another layer to the pressure faced by Bruce Arians and his new staff.

Heck, it’s been 50 years since the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Let it go. Yet comedians still mention it as a way of trashing the good city of Cleveland.

News alert: the Browns are no longer a national joke. And battered Buc fans are hardly in a mood to laugh.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985, and the corporate leash finally was removed from his neck when he joined JoeBucsFan.com in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV. He’s also co-host of TAMPA TWO at The Identity Tampa Bay, which returns to its regular format in March.

26 Responses to “No Laughing Matter”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Best not to worry with the Browns potential success and instead focus on Atlanta, Carolina & New Orleans.
    All these years of trading their top draft picks for more picks is starting to pay off for Cleveland……finally, they have some great players and the cap space to get more.

  2. Doctor_berto Says:

    Lets sign Reuben Foster once he’s off the commissioners exempt list

  3. go for the face30 Says:

    The Browns are absolutely LOADED with Star power all over the place. And FUN. You can be sure that they will be on National TV every damn week too. Basically they’re everything we are not, and we will continue to live in Apathy. Cleveland South? Yeah, if only we were so lucky

  4. Lamarcus Says:

    Ira ain’t never lying. BUCS are garbage. Bucs has to be the worst franchise in team sports in the world. Glad we didn’t have money to spend maybe our only hope is to have no money.

    ” Just lose, baby”

  5. Doctor_berto Says:

    drop Gerald and sign Eric Berry!

  6. Loyaltotheend Says:

    Other teams turn it around quickly?

    Why not the Bucs?

    The answer a bad GM and ownership who doesn’t know what they are doing.

  7. Sam Says:

    Eric Berry just got cut. Need to be calling him asap.

    Very unimpressed so far with initial results of free agency from a Buc perspective. Most of our competitors in the division have gotten better or stayed the same. I cant say the same about the bucs with losing Humphries and Kwon.

  8. Justafan Says:

    Doctor berto… the skins signed him as soon as he got cut by the niners

  9. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Funny how a “malcontent” receiver for Bucs gets jettisoned, and Browns sign a woman abuser facing suspension and another Diva receiver, and now they’re leaving Bucs behind …

    The draft will tell story about improving Bucs roster-
    LB, Guard, DLineman

  10. pelbuc Says:

    I remember when the Eagles had a “dream team”. The reason the Eagles won later on and now the Browns turnaround is due to their competent GMs, something we Bucs fans are sorely lacking. Arians and staff can only do so much with this garbage overpaid roster. Glazers will soon realize regardless of the coach, there is no hope until they get a real GM.

  11. Doctor_berto Says:

    Justafan,

    Thats right! I thought they didn’t end up claiming him due to the forthcoming suspension but they did. DARN. Please no LB in first round

  12. D-Rome Says:

    The Browns, the Rams, the Eagles, and Chiefs (and a few others I’m probably forgetting) are going all-in building these super rosters while they have their QB on their rookie contract. Philly cashed in on a Super Bowl (even though it eventually was with Nick Foles), and the Rams made it to a Super Bowl. The Chiefs were almost there and the Browns are on their way. This is the new blueprint for winning in the NFL unless you truly end up with a Hall-of-Fame caliber, franchise QB.

    Therein lies the Bucs problem. Jameis Winston is not ever going to be a super star QB but a year or two down the road he’s going to expect to be paid. The Bucs missed their opportunity to build a contender when he was on his rookie deal. When it’s all said and done they really should move on from Jameis at the end of this year. He’s never going to be the next top-tier QB. You can’t give him the $100+ million dollar contract because he’s not top shelf. If the Bucs give him that money they’ll continue to be subpar like the Dolphins, Lions, Bengals, ect…the kind of teams that may not outright suck but ultimately never strong enough to contend for a Super Bowl. The reason that is, is because those teams invested heavily in middle-of-the-road QBs which is exactly what Jameis is.

  13. pick6 Says:

    reminds me of the 2017 bucs. who were crowned after landing some big name “final pieces”. We will see how it turns out. Plenty of big names but also plenty of landmines.

    Kareem Hunt had more than the one incident everyone is talking about, Baker Mayfield is as much a candidate to regress as to break out, OBJ will eventually realize he left NYC for CLEVELAND and make noise for a better contract\target share\roster\something, and Freddie Kitchens could just as easily be the next Dirk Koetter as the next Sean McVay or Matt Nagy.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Jealousy isn’t becoming Sage, especially when the Cleveland Browns are the target. Browns have suffered from the same turmoil the Bucs have faced … constant coaching turmoil. Since 2009 they’ve had SIX different HCs … Bucs have had FIVE. In comparison, teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Seahawks & Saints have had ONE. Even with good players, constant coaching staff turnover surely negatively impacts player development.

    John Dorsey has obviously made a huge difference since he was hired just over a year ago. But in all fairness, he did start with a very robust ‘treasure chest’ (LOTS of salary Cap & draft picks). And yet, I’ll still take our coaching staff over theirs. In the end, that’s what’ll make all the difference IMO.

  15. Not there yet Says:

    Sad bucs fans envious of the Brown’s, stop embarrassing yourselves. They’ve done nothing yet especially with a first year coach. They still have to prove they aren’t piñatas unless the off-season is all that counts to people.

  16. go for the face30 Says:

    Not there yet Says:
    March 13th, 2019 at 5:00 pm
    Sad bucs fans envious of the Brown’s, stop embarrassing yourselves. They’ve done nothing yet especially with a first year coach. They still have to prove they aren’t piñatas unless the off-season is all that counts to people.
    ______________________________________________________

    You go ahead and let me know when the Bucs have done anything as well chief. The Browns are in a far FARRR better position for tenable success, but you can go ahead and plow your head in to the sand if that makes you feel better

  17. D-Rome Says:

    Sad bucs fans envious of the Brown’s, stop embarrassing yourselves. They’ve done nothing yet especially with a first year coach.

    It’s not a matter of envy for me. I was simply illustrating that other teams, including the Browns, are smart to try and build a contender during the QB rookie contract.

  18. Loyaltotheend Says:

    D Rome

    Bucs tried while Jameis was on a rookie deal the problem was Licht was picking the roster. Dude sucks at building a team

  19. BucEmUp 7 Says:

    Sam its possible that both kwon and humohs replacements are uografes being two first round talents who have had bad breaks. These may prove to ve the mives that are not sexy at first but pay off in the end.

  20. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I’m very excited!!! I’m a Buc’s fan first and foremost but my former hometown Bengals are faves as are the Brownies!

    My son lives in Columbus…center of the state so he gets to pick. He has split allegiance…the Reds in baseball and the Browns in football. And he LOVES the Browns and drives to a couple of their games each year.

    I texted him congratulations and he texted back…folks up there are beyond pumped up…getting a little crazy..and then he said…
    “I’m not going to lie…I’m really excited”.

    If any fans deserve a winner it’s the Browns. Love to meet them in the Super Bowl! My son and I might have to spring for the fortune to get tickets!

  21. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Imagine what a moron Bill Belichik must be. He not only had Licht as his college scout he PROMOTED him to national director of scouting!

  22. Jason S. Mclaurin Says:

    As a proud and longtime Bucs fan since 1995 I’m so impressed with this free agency so far. I like the moves because they are not drastic changes like previous seasons. We haven’t been this quiet in free agency since Gruden arrived. I like it too and I’m going to $1000 on the 80-1 odd as well. Go Bucs

  23. Mike Johnson Says:

    Say what you want..But this is the year Jameis has to..Poop or get off the pot.
    Years of promise and development and its time to cash in. We will know what we truly have this season. And I’m sorry. No pity party from this end. Time to put up Mr. Winston. And after all of his talk, time for Arians too! I’ll repeat last years battle cry..mantra.. whatever you guys want to call it…NO EXCUSES!

  24. BigMacAttack Says:

    I’m not sold on the Browns and their new divas just yet. Injuries can plague any team, especially at QB. It remains to be seen but I’m happy Licht hasn’t jumped at every garbage player available as in the past. It’s still Cleveland and Id gladly bet against a Super Bowl for them. Coaching plays a huge role as we all know here. Hey

  25. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Just shut up Mike. This is a team game and the team around his hot garbage. Team is getting gutted in free agency and doing nothing, and I do mean nothing. WTF are you talking about Winston? This team lacks talent everywhere but QB is the least of our problems. They are going to be really bad in 2019 and probably will be in a fight for the first overall pick in 2020 and Winston can’t play well enough to overcome the lack of talent and so many holes.

  26. Blackmagic00 Says:

    pick6 Says:
    March 13th, 2019 at 4:56 pm
    reminds me of the 2017 bucs. who were crowned after landing some big name “final pieces”. We will see how it turns out. Plenty of big names but also plenty of landmines.

    Kareem Hunt had more than the one incident everyone is talking about, Baker Mayfield is as much a candidate to regress as to break out, OBJ will eventually realize he left NYC for CLEVELAND and make noise for a better contract\target share\roster\something, and Freddie Kitchens could just as easily be the next Dirk Koetter as the next Sean McVay or Matt Nagy.

    THIS!!!!!! THIS IS SPOT ON AND I COULDN’T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF. PICK 6 IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!!! Just like when we were crowned in 2014 and 2017. AMEN BROTHER!

 

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