Say this for Joe Thomas: More than a decade as a Cleveland Brown has not robbed him of the ability to look on the bright side.
The veteran offensive tackle wrote detailed defense of his head coach, Hue Jackson, published at SI.com on Tuesday.
While Jackson seems to have lost the faith of many fans and media after going 1-31 in his two years in Cleveland, Thomas backs Jackson’s claim that he actually did an admirable job holding the team together despite the roster being pretty short on experience or talent.
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Thomas notes, correctly, the team was set up to fail the past two seasons by management but expresses a belief the suffering in the short term will be worth it in the end.
Welcome to Year 3. The Browns added three first-round picks in the NFL draft last April and have 12 picks in this year’s draft, including four picks in the first 35 and the No. 1 and No. 4 overall selections. And more importantly, in spite of playing with half a deck of cards, Hue kept the team together, kept the players focused, kept the coaches motivated and continued to develop players through two of the worst seasons ever. I don’t think many coaches could do that.
He gets a little loopy at the end, though…
And now we get to the fun part. We got rid of everybody we had that was really good for two years because we knew that we would be ahead of all the other teams in year three or four. We have more than $100 million in cap space; we could sign three Kirk Cousins if we wanted to. We could legitimately add three Hall of Fame players in free agency if they're out there. We have an upcoming No. 1 pick who could transform the roster by himself. You throw an experienced quarterback in the mix and there’s nothing that says the Browns can't make the playoffs next year.
After going 0-16, the Browns are probably going to be better next year.
They literally could not be worse, at least in terms of record.
Playoffs? I guess stranger things have happened, but that seems like a stretch.
(Also: Do not expect them to sign three Kirk Cousinses.)
Nonetheless, Thomas makes a lot of good points. The ones about the roster are no secret, but they seem to have been forgotten by a great many people.
I’m not sure if this PR maneuver will make much of a difference in the long run, but there is something to be said about a player sticking his neck out for a coach.
That speaks to the respect Cleveland’s franchise player has for the team’s embattled leader, and it has to count for something.
At least until they have to start trying to win games again.