The Perfect Season Parade: A Necessary Step Back to Move Forward

The Perfect Season Parade 2.0, organized by social media personality and Browns fan Chris McNeil, was met with mixed reception Saturday, with some praising it for raising almost $15,000 for the Cleveland Food Bank and others characterizing it as a pathetic and insulting attempt to cope with a 0-16 season.

There were several Browns players who expressed their displeasure of the parade on Twitter, some of which included defensive linemen Emanuel Ogbah and Danny Shelton, both of whom sent out tweets critical of the parade and its attendees., pub-2319592412860037, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

These negative comments seem to be borne out of spite, due to the perception that the players themselves were the main targets of the parade. Given this assumption, Ogbah and Shelton completely missed the point of the parade.

The parade was not intended to criticize or demean the players themselves. Yes, there were fans present who poked fun at the revolving door that is the Browns’ QB situation, but the vast majority of the criticism seemed to be directed towards the management and coaching staff, whose incompetence, dysfunction and stupidity allowed a 0-16 season to happen in the first place. 

Even if there was some animosity directed towards players (which there almost certainly was), Ogbah and Shelton should not let it get to them as they played their hearts out this season.

Ogbah had 4.0 sacks this year and was ranked the #67 DE this season by PFF (Pro Football Focus). This places him as an average NFL DE in PFF’s eyes, which is certainly better than the abject failure that a 0-16 record often implies.

Ogbah’s future is also very bright, given that it is only his second season and it can be argued that he can grow into even more of a key contributor on this Browns’ defense going forward.

Shelton had an even better season, serving as a key cog of a stout Browns run defense and received a score of 81.5 for his play this year from PFF.

This makes him an above average interior lineman in this grading system, which, again, is miles above what the Browns accomplished as a whole this season.

At first glance, any blame that is directed towards the players should go towards the Browns offense. However, this simply is not fair.

Clearly, quarterback DeShone Kizer was not ready to start in his first season. He led the league in interceptions, had a penchant for drive and momentum-killing turnovers and looked every bit like a rookie quarterback during his time on the field.

However, it is not his fault that he was forced into action. The Browns refusal to consider starting offseason acquisition Brock Osweiler, who they released on September 1, and their apparent refusal to sign a stopgap veteran option, doomed them from the start.

Going into the regular season with the inexperienced trio of Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan at quarterback assured the team of subpar play for the whole year.

Former general manager Sashi Brown probably realized this during the season, and had seemingly acquired Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron for a hefty price of a second and third-round pick in the 2018 Draft at the trade deadline.

However, like many of the Browns’ victories over the years, this success was fleeting, with the front office reportedly failing to get the paperwork in time due to excessive premature celebration.

Yes, none of the veteran options mentioned seem exciting and would not have guaranteed a victory for the team. However, these options might have faired better than Kizer did during the year.

However, considering the weapons around him, Kizer actually played pretty well. The failure of this offense, again, seems to fall on the front office.

Kizer did not ask for the Browns to let Terrelle Pryor, who looked every bit like a legitimate #1 receiver during the 2016 season, leave in free agency.

Kizer did not ask to replace Pryor with Kenny Britt, a receiver that was known to have a penchant for motivation issues and drops, and was released when current GM John Dorsey came to power on December 8th

Kizer did not ask for the team to surround him with an offensive line that was manned by inexperienced players such as Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman, who, while certainly will have the opportunity to improve in the future, played more like turnstiles than offensive lineman at certain points in the year.

Kizer, perhaps most damning of all, didn’t even ask to be put into this situation and was willing to be patient as evidenced by his June comments that exuded humility and patience and established that he understood that his path to a starting job was one that wouldn’t come easy.

Indeed, there is a feeling among many Browns fans, including myself, that Kizer was given substantial responsibilities way too early and he should be given ample time and patience to develop into a NFL-quality QB, whether it is with the Browns or another franchise.

Yet again, I am not bashing the players themselves with these thoughts. Merely, I am expressing the fact that many of these players simply were not ready to start and were prematurely given immense responsibility by the front office, which was so blinded by its own ambition that it, for the most part, avoided signing veteran players.

Instead, the team relied too much on young talent, which proved to be the primary cause of its 0-16 season.

Ogbah and Shelton’s shared mindset that the fans that attended this parade are not real fans and shouldn’t have the right to cheer for the team is also flawed.

Many of the attendees of the parade have spent their hard-earned money watching a product that has failed to deliver both on and off the field over the past several seasons.

They have every right to demand a better team and more accountability from a front office and administration that has been sorely lacking in both qualities for most of this iteration’s existence.

If these fans weren’t ”real” fans, they wouldn’t be spending their Saturday afternoon braving subzero temperatures to demand change and accountability from the team.

If these fans weren’t real fans, there wouldn’t have been more than 2,000 of them at the parade, basking in the sardonic glory of a 0-16 season.

If these fans weren’t real fans, they wouldn’t let something that is, in reality, as inconsequential as a winless season affect them as much as it has.

Make no mistake: this parade was a low point for a franchise whom many thought could never sink deeper into the abyss of the sports world.

However, in order to dig out, you need to start somewhere, which makes this parade a very necessary step in making the Browns the class of the NFL again and makes assertions to the contrary totally invalid in my eyes.

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