Jimmy Haslam

Browns Fallout: Jackson, Staff, Mayfield

In firing Hue Jackson and Todd Haley, the Browns axed the top two voices behind their offense on Monday. This came after reports of friction between the two, accounts that turned out to be very real and ones that could’ve been envisioned for anyone who saw Hard Knocks.

The message today is we’re not going to put up with internal discord,” owner Jimmy Haslam said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “… We had some concerns going into the game, obviously (Sunday’s) performance was disappointing. We had several of our key people involved in this conversations last night and this morning and did what we think’s best for the organization.”

Haslam said he met with John Dorsey on Sunday night, and actions came down Monday morning. Although Jackson went 1-31 in his first two seasons with the team, Haslam opted to give him a third year because the aggressive rebuild — put forth by former GM Sashi Brown — put Jackson in a “difficult spot” (Twitter link via Cabot). Gregg Williams was the only person the Browns considered to be the interim HC, Haslam said (per Nate Ulrich of ohio.com, on Twitter).

Some Browns began to question Jackson’s credibility, as a result of the third-year HC following through on his intent to give Haley autonomy to run the offense, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. After running the offense in 2016 and ’17, Jackson wasn’t nearly as involved this season. Jackson, in turn, was frustrated Haley would “do his own thing,” Breer adds. Jackson’s message grew stale as the losses mounted, per Yahoo’s Terez Paylor. This is obviously not uncommon for teams in losing situations, and that descriptor might not be strong enough to describe the state of the Browns under Haslam. The seventh-year owner’s now fired four head coaches, and the Browns have won more than five games just once under his watch.

Baker Mayfield‘s development shifts to front and center, and Breer notes the Jackson firing probably won’t bother the rookie quarterback much. They didn’t exactly see eye to eye, per Breer. Though, the No. 1 overall pick now has to finish a season without a proven offensive voice in the building and will have to learn a new offense in 2019.

Williams is technically still defensive coordinator, in addition to becoming a first-time head coach at age 60. But some around the league believe he will promote his son, Blake Williams, to that post, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Blake Williams has been Cleveland’s linebackers coach for two seasons.

As far as a possible Jackson/Williams successor, Breer points out Dorsey has “the highest respect” for what Iowa State coach Matt Campbell‘s done. Campbell, 38, is from the Cleveland area (Massillon, Ohio) as well. While Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley may well get a look, since he’d be a natural fit given his mentoring of Mayfield with the Sooners, he doesn’t envision leaving Oklahoma (video link). Gregg Williams will also be a candidate for the full-time job, Haslam said (via Cabot, on Twitter). But such a scenario would be hard to envision.

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AFC Notes: Foster, Joseph, Mack

Good news for Steelers fans. Left guard Ramon Foster, who was carted off the practice field yesterday, hyperextended his knee but did not suffer any ligament damage and will not require surgery, as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Kinkhabwala adds that Foster will miss four to five weeks but is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Now let’s get to more notes from around the AFC:

  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam expressed unwavering support of head coach Hue Jackson during Haslam’s traditional training camp address yesterday. Per Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, Haslam said, “I think we will see the real Hue Jackson (this year). He has good quarterbacks, he has some skill players, he has veteran offensive line – now, we have to figure out left tackle – and three really good backs and a good defense. I think this will be the first opportunity Hue will have to do what we know he can do as head coach and as a leader. We are excited to see it.” That certainly sounds to some, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Jackson is getting a clean slate, which is quite surprising for a head coach who has compiled a 1-31 record over his two seasons with the club. But Grossi suggests that the Haslams could also be subtly putting Jackson on notice that he is out of excuses.
  • Johnathan Joseph, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal to remain with the Texans this offseason, does not plan on calling it quits anytime soon, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old Joseph is entering the 13th year of his career, but he remains a starting cornerback and stills loves the game and the camaraderie it engenders. Joseph said, “as long as I’m healthy and I’m fine, I’m going to go out there and compete and contribute to the team. I’ll never play this game just to be playing and out there taking checks and stuff like that. So, if I’m able to be out there playing winning football, I’ll always play.”
  • We learned several days ago that Raiders star defensive end Khalil Mack, who is staying away from the team in an effort to land a new contract, has not spoken with head coach Jon Gruden since Gruden was hired in January. That report sent some of Raiders Nation into panic mode, but as Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News opines, there is no cause for alarm. He says Gruden is right to stay out of the negotiations, which is the domain of GM Reggie McKenzie and ownership, and that there should be no issues between Mack and Gruden when the contract situation does get resolved. McKenzie, meanwhile had no updates to offer on the negotiations.
  • In other Raiders news, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reports that rookie Kolton Miller will be given every chance to win the starting LT job from Donald Penn, who is currently on the PUP list.
  • Embattled Bills DE Shaq Lawson could be on his way out of Buffalo, but DC Leslie Frazier isn’t casting him aside just yet. Frazier said Lawson’s best football is ahead of him, and that he is much too young to say that 2018 is a make-or-break year (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW on Twitter). However, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets, Frazier also refers to Trent Murphy as the team’s starting left end, which is further evidence that Lawson has ground to make up if he wants to remain a Bill.

Hue Jackson To Coach Browns in 2018

After the Browns fell to the Steelers, 28-24, to become the second 0-16 team in NFL history, team owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters, including Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), that head coach Hue Jackson will return as head coach in 2018. Hue Jackson (featured)

Haslam also said he doesn’t believe “Jackson hasn’t lost his magic,” and that he is working well with new general manager John Dorsey.

Since taking over at the beginning of the 2016 season, Jackson has managed just a 1-31 record as head coach. Following the loss in the season finale, Jackson told reporters the team wasn’t as far away from competing as many people think they are and that the difference will be the addition of Dorsey. The former Chiefs GM took over after the team parted ways with Sashi Brown earlier in the season.

Shortly after the hiring of Dorsey, questions began to swirl about Jackson’s future in Cleveland, with many thinking the new GM wanted to hire his own coach. Haslam, however, has stated all along he planned to bring back Jackson, and Dorsey later dispelled the rumors. There were even rumors of the Browns trading Jackson to the Bengals, the team in which he served as offensive coordinator before moving to Cleveland.

Jackson has stood firm in his commitment to Cleveland. He was reportedly not interested in the Bengals job after Marvin Lewis announced he was leaving. He told reporters on Sunday, “I don’t think anyone else could’ve done this job for the past two years.” He also added, “We’re going to get this organization to winning as soon as possible.”

With the loss on Sunday, the Browns will hold the No. 1 pick, which they will presumably use to take one of UCLA’s Josh Rosen or USC’s Sam Darnold, should they declare for the draft. Thanks to a draft-day deal in 2016, the team will also holds Houston’s first-round selection, the No. 4 overall pick. Also loaded with tons of caps space, the Browns are set up to make strides in Jackson’s third season.

 

 

 

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AFC Notes: Browns, Jackson, Broncos WR’s

The Browns are in serious danger of joining the 2008 Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a single season. Cleveland will take on the Bears and Steelers before the dust is settled, but will be moving forward with a new head football man in John Dorsey.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com answers a variety of questions in a video addressing many different questions swirling around the franchise. One question she touches on is how quickly of an impact Dorsey will have on the field? While Cabot did say that it will take some time to turn around the franchise, one thing Dorsey will emphasize is finding that franchise quarterback that the team has been craving for a long time. Cabot states that just like with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo, if the Browns can find their guy this offseason, there could be a dramatic shift in the long-term outlook of the organization.

The Browns will likely hold the first overall pick so they could be faced with a choice regarding Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen should both draft eligible QB’s turn pro this offseason.

Here are more stories coming from the AFC:

  • While the Browns do have a new decision maker in Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson remains a bit in-flux. While the team’s owner has expressed his desire to keep the veteran coach, there could be an added twist in this story because of the division rival Bengals, states Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Pluto opines that should Jackson replace the embattled Marvin Lewis, that would allow Dorsey to put his own coach in place, leaving his relationship with owner Jimmy Haslam in-tact. Bengals owner Mike Brown seems to like guys he’s worked with in the past, so Jackson seems like a reasonable possibility, even given his 1-29 record in Cleveland.
  • The Broncos are very much playing out the string of this season with a number of different QB’s given injuries and poor play. However, the wide receiver position has taken a hit over the past week, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com. Klis notes that Denver could only have four wideouts active against the Redskins in Week 16. Demaryius Thomas, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor and Isaiah McKenzie are the only healthy receivers available and could lead the team to serious depth problems should one of them go down this weekend. Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer are both listed as questionable and really have no reason to be pushed given that the Broncos are not in the playoff race. Expect the team to rely on the running game in order to keep their receiving corps healthy on Sunday.
  • Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper has not been 100% since he suffered a concussion and an ankle injury vs. the Broncos a few weeks ago. The third-year wideout has been inconsistent while on the field this season, but said after practice on Friday that he “felt all right” and is “still working through” the injuries, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link). He remains questionable to play for Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Gehlken also passed along that four Raiders missed practice today, including: CB David Amerson (foot), C Rodney Hudson (ankle/illness), DL Treyvon Hester (ankle) and TE Clive Walford (concussion/neck) (Twitter link).

John Dorsey Not Sold On Hue Jackson As 2018 Coach?

The top two Browns decision-makers have endorsed Hue Jackson, despite the coach’s historically futile start in Cleveland. Jimmy Haslam did prior to John Dorsey‘s official hiring, and the new Browns GM followed suit hours later.

But Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the “persistent sense” around the league is Dorsey will attempt to make the case to the owner to make his own HC hire. If Dorsey is allowed to select his own coach from the start, Florio hears the first-weekend GM knows who he would hire.

This would be a remarkable reversal, but it’s not like the Browns can be counted on for much reliability given what’s transpired in Cleveland over the past two years. Jackson’s team blew a 21-7 lead Sunday to drop to 0-13, and Florio notes an 0-16 season would make a potential Dorsey case against retaining Jackson stronger.

However, Haslam said Friday he wanted Jackson to be his coach for “a long, long time.” Dorsey said in a statement he looked forward to working with Jackson, who has now dropped to 1-28 as the Browns’ head coach.

But Jackson would obviously be on a scorching seat next season if he were given a third year. Jackson did not see eye to eye with Sashi Brown‘s approach, leading to numerous disagreements, and was kept in the loop as the team searched for a new football-based exec.

So, it would be interesting if the Browns bail on both Brown and Jackson after this unique rebuild attempt, while giving Dorsey prime resources (five first- or second-round draft picks in 2018 and more than $100MM in cap space). Regardless of how long-term a plan is, a team clearing the 1976-77 Buccaneers’ futility bar wouldn’t stand to make anyone involved completely assured of a job.

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Latest On Browns, John Dorsey

The Browns dominated the news cycle on Thursday by canning top decision maker Sashi Brown and, hours later, replacing him with ex-Chiefs GM John Dorsey. On Friday morning, owner Jimmy Haslam formally announced Dorsey as the team’s new GM and shed some light on the team’s power structure going forward. Here’s a look at the highlights from Haslam plus more news on the Browns’ future plans:

  • Haslam says the current plan is for head coach Hue Jackson, Dorsey, and executive Paul DePodesta to report to ownership (Twitter link via Andrew Gribble of ClevelandBrowns.com). “[Hue] and John will be working closely together for a long time,” Haslam said.
  • Because DePodesta reports directly to Haslam, Dorsey will not have the authority to fire him, Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer hears. The Browns also want to keep Andrew Berry as the Vice President of Player Personnel. Dorsey, will have the opportunity to hire and fire others in the personnel department, but it sounds like he has been asked to work with both DePodesta and Berry.
  • Haslam reiterated that Jackson will be the coach in 2018. He then went a step further, adding: “I think it would be a mistake to just zero in on ’18. We’re planning on Hue Jackson being our football coach for a long time,” Haslam said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon).
  • Dorsey has control over the 53-man roster in his contract, sources tell Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). That means he’ll run the draft, free agency, and all other facets of constructing the team. In Kansas City, coach Andy Reid had control over the 53-man roster.
  • The failed A.J. McCarron trade on the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline had nothing to do with the team beginning to pursue Dorsey five or six weeks ago, Haslam insists (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal).
  • Things reached a boiling point between Jackson and Brown in August when the team cut cornerback Joe Haden, despite already having plenty of cap space, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears. Jackson’s frustration was later compounded when Haden signed with the rival Steelers. Jackson was also riddled with anxiety on draft day since the front office was undecided about the No. 1 overall pick until the morning of the draft. The latest source of tension came from the McCarron deal. Robinson hears that some senior members of the coaching staff felt that Brown had either gotten cold feet or purposely sabotaged the trade.

Browns Hire John Dorsey As GM

That didn’t take long. The Browns have reached an agreement to make John Dorsey their next general manager, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com report (on Twitter).

This move comes hours after the team fired executive VP and de facto GM Sashi Brown. The Browns announced the move.

Jimmy Haslam had already spoken with several executives to get a read on this search, and it’s clear that was done while Brown was in his final weeks as the team’s top decision-maker. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets this process unfolded over the past “several weeks.” He adds Hue Jackson was consulted.

Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com reports (on Twitter) Dorsey will receive a four-year contract. The Akron-based Browns insider reports the team interviewed two candidates formally and spoke with “two or three more.” Interestingly, Ulrich adds Dorsey will report to ownership along with Jackson and Paul DePodesta — the team’s chief strategy officer who was a key part of the Brown-era front office. So, a blending of philosophies will occur in Cleveland in an interesting arrangement.

Dorsey, though, will have final say over the 53-man roster, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports (on Twitter).

Morsensen tweets a handful of candidates were considered for the job; they just weren’t affiliated with teams presently. This made for an interesting search, all while Brown was still working as their top executive. Haslam will speak at a press conference Friday.

We are thrilled to have John Dorsey lead our football operations,” Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. “John has been immersed in the NFL for 26 years, won two Super Bowls, built sustainable winning football teams and is highly respected for his football acumen. We know we have a critical and very positive opportunity ahead of us to profoundly impact the foundation of this football team.”

The Browns did not have to adhere to the usual waiting period to conduct interviews with GM candidates. Since the Chiefs fired Dorsey in June, he was free to interview with any team. Dorsey served as Kansas City’s GM before being abruptly canned. Prior to that, the former linebacker spent many years working with the Packers. He was once thought to be a possible Ted Thompson successor, but he will instead work on one of the most unique rebuilding projects in NFL history.

Football is what I know, it is what I love, it is what I have worked my whole career at, and I thrive on every element that goes into building a winning football team,” Dorsey said. “I have spent a majority of my football life with two franchises that also have storied history, and I think I have a feel for the mentality of the fans in Cleveland and what it would mean to recreate the success this franchise once hadI also have quickly realized how passionate Jimmy and Dee are about bringing a winning team to the city and would have not taken the job if I didn’t think the right ownership was in place.

“I am eager to work with Hue, his staff, and our personnel department and help bring us the success these fans so deserve.”

Dorsey will take on a much bigger challenge than he did in coming to the Chiefs in 2013. Although the Chiefs were 2-14 in 2012, they had a not-that-distant history of being a competitive franchise. The Browns are an incredible 1-27 since their new regime took over in 2016 and have not made the playoffs since 2002. They have not had a winning season since 2007.

Jackson said earlier today he did not want full personnel control, believing it was too much for a head coach to handle. He’ll now work with Dorsey, who has experience working alongside — and not necessarily above — a head coach. Dorsey and Andy Reid worked in tandem to rapidly rebuild the Chiefs, who rebounded from that 2-14 2012 campaign to make the 2013 playoffs at 11-5 and qualify for three AFC brackets in four years.

The Browns’ new leadership structure will have a bounty of draft picks to work with thanks to Brown’s unorthodox methods. Cleveland has five first- or second-round picks in the upcoming draft. The Texans’ second-half struggles could have the Browns armed with two top-10 choices.

Cleveland’s scorched-earth rebuilding effort also has the team equipped with a staggering $108MM in cap space, so it will be interesting to see how Dorsey and Co. proceed.

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Browns Rumors: Jackson, Haslam, Haden

Hue Jackson did not want to confirm a report that he and ousted executive VP Sashi Brown weren’t on speaking terms, but Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the two had clashed on numerous occasions — and certain players were at the root of this friction. Carson Wentz, Marvin Jones, A.J. McCarron and Jimmy Garoppolo induced disagreements between the Browns’ power structure, as previously reported, but Cabot adds Jackson and Brown were at odds about the likes of Joe Haden, Demario Davis and Jeremy Maclin.

Jackson wanted the Browns to sign Maclin, Cabot reports. They were loosely connected to the UFA wideout, but the Ravens, Bills and Eagles were well ahead of them. Jackson presumably wanted Haden to remain in Cleveland, but the Browns released him. Davis was also shipped back to the Jets and has enjoyed a productive season. Cabot also notes Jackson and Gregg Williams received pushback from some members of the front office in the Myles Garrett-vs.-Mitch Trubisky argument that transpired in April, with the coaches’ side winning out and Garrett being the pick.

Here’s the latest on a busy day in Cleveland.

  • Jimmy Haslam made this move Thursday in order to not fall behind on the GM carousel, Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com reports, adding the owner saw the Giants taking an early lead by landing their former GM Ernie Accorsi to lead a search to replace Jerry Reese. Ownership was “adamant” not to fall behind in this pursuit, per Grossi. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report said during a radio appearance on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland the early Brown firing was to get an early start on a John Dorsey push (Twitter link). The Browns do not have to wait until season’s end to interview Dorsey like they would an active exec, and Miller reports many believe he will be Cleveland’s next GM. Dorsey steered the Chiefs to three playoff berths in four seasons after taking over following a 2-14 season.
  • Haslam was tinkering with the idea to make in-season changes for the past couple of weeks, Albert Breer of SI.com reports, noting the owner was considering bringing in a football voice to complement Brown rather than replace him. But after research, the owner decided to fire Brown and begin a search for his replacement.
  • Both Breer and Grossi confirm the Thursday-afternoon report the Browns are going after Dorsey. Grossi reports Dorsey has been “endorsed heartily” by at least one of the football execs with whom Haslam’s already consulted. Breer notes a Dorsey/Jackson arrangement makes more sense than Brown/Jackson, with the ex-Chiefs GM’s scouting background aligning more with Jackson’s admitted old-school approach to football development. That, and not necessarily his impressive work in Kansas City, made him a key name to watch in Cleveland, Breer notes.
  • A Dorsey hire could well mean a more prominent role for ex-Colts GM Ryan Grigson, Grossi writes. Grigson’s currently working as a senior personnel exec, with an emphasis on scouting. Dorsey and Grigson’s friendship and mutual respect would stand to lead to a better title for the since-fired Indianapolis decision-maker.
  • The Browns’ decision to part with Brown and not Jackson could lead to an increased interest in Josh Rosen. Miller notes. Jackson likes the UCLA quarterback as a prospect, with a source informing the draft-based reporter Rosen is “Jackson’s guy.” Rosen seems more certain to declare for the 2018 draft than Sam Darnold at this juncture.

Fallout From Browns’ Firing Of Sashi Brown

Hue Jackson‘s play calling has often been criticized, but so far he has held off on hiring an offensive coordinator. Why’s that? Jackson told reporters on Thursday that he didn’t want to hire an OC with a bad offense and make him take the fall (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). However, he says it’s possible that he will hire one for 2018.

Here’s the latest out of Cleveland following the firing of top exec Sashi Brown:

  • Brown was not on speaking terms with Jackson over the past month or so, sources tell Cabot.
  • The Browns say that Jackson will return in 2018, but some in league circles believe that might not be the case if the Browns finish 0-16, Mike Florio of PFT writes. Owner Jimmy Haslam going back on his promise might not be ideal, but Florio argues that the team will be open to ridicule regardless with a 1-31 record over the last two years.
  • Brown knew his job was in jeopardy and met with Haslam recently to discuss it, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. At the time, Brown was told that no decisions had been made.
  • When asked if he’ll want to have personnel control going forward, Jackson said that he wants to be in concert with those making the decisions (Twitter link via Rapoport).
  • Jackson hopes that the team’s next regime can tighten up some of its loose lips. “This has been a leaky place for years. Hopefully some of that stuff will go away in time,” Jackson said (Twitter link via Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan).
  • Fun fact: The Browns’ last win on a Sunday was Dec. 13, 2015, when Johnny Manziel led them to a 24-10 win over the Niners, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes.

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Haslams Meet With Browns Players About Team Direction

After the Browns dropped to 0-10 and 1-25 in the new regime’s run, a unique meeting took place between two parties that don’t commonly associate in the manner they recently did.

Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam met with roughly 12 Browns players after the team’s loss to the Jaguars, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports, adding one of the components of this summit was for ownership to ask the players what needs to change going forward.

Players asked questions of the owners in a free-flowing setup, Cabot reports. Emmanuel Ogbah, a member of the leadership council that was summoned for this meeting, said he hadn’t previously seen the Haslams meet with a select group of players before.

Hue Jackson was present at the meeting. Browns executive VP of football ops Sashi Brown was not, Cabot reports. Jackson said (via Cabot) following his team’s latest loss he did not want to get into whether or not he thinks the Browns’ current long-game plan is working.

Yeah, because we never really just sit down and talk to the owner,” Ogbah said, via Cabot, of being a bit surprised at the owners-players meeting. “But yeah it was really helpful for us. They understand what we’re going through. If there are changes needed, we talk to them about it. So it’s good to have an owner close to us.”

The Browns’ owners have been involved with the front office recently. Dee Haslam taking the personnel department to task after the A.J. McCarron trade didn’t go through, and Jimmy Haslam took part in a conference call that was believed to have raised tensions in the Browns’ front office earlier this season. The Browns have sought football-based personnel help and have also been connected to Peyton Manning as a possible top front office candidate. So, it’s notable Brown wasn’t at this meeting given that representatives of the other main groups within the franchise were.

Cabot notes the long-reported rift between the coaching staff and the front office will have to be addressed to some degree in the offseason, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Sunday that Jackson will want more decision-making power if he returns for the 2018 season. Jackson said players don’t press him about where this long-term plan is going, but presumably this was discussed in the meeting with ownership.

I’m very appreciative that Dee and Jimmy would talk to the players about what they feel, what they see and what they want,” Jackson said, via Cabot. “I will say this to all involved, that there is a plan in place and they want to win and they expect this organization to win and for it to be better. And they’re going to get it that way. I truly believe that with all my being.”

Jackson is off to the second-worst start by a head coach in NFL history, with only John McKay‘s 1976-77 Buccaneers opening a run worse than these Browns.

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