Browns GM: Anything but ’18 North title unacceptable

By Nick Shook
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Expectations might not be any lower in an NFL city than they currently are in Cleveland.

A city accustomed to 4-12 and 5-11 finishes — since 1999, Cleveland has posted a 4-12 or 5-11 record nine times — is now just clamoring for one win. It’s the second season in which the best hope that remains is 1-15. As we all know, there’s only one mark worse than that, one of infamy.

Don’t tell new general manager John Dorsey this, though. He isn’t taking this slowly. What’s being realistic when you can instead be optimistic?

“I’m the eternal optimistic,” Dorsey said Thursday during an appearance on WKNR 850-AM, via’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I believe we have to be competitive in the AFC North and my total objective going into the ’18 season is to win the AFC North. Anything else to me is unacceptable.”

The old saying about athletes having supreme confidence in themselves can apply to general managers in this instance as well, we suppose. Dorsey, just a week into his new position, has the unenviable task of turning around one of the league’s most moribund franchises since the original incarnation announced it was moving to Baltimore after the 1995 season. Since the late Art Modell made that fateful decision, the team (including the 1995 squad after Nov. 6) has gone 89-219. There’s nowhere to go but up (and with a treasure trove of draft capital to do so).

Dorsey has done it before. In his first season as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Andy Reid-led squad finished 11-5 and made an AFC wild-card appearance. These Browns aren’t quite those Chiefs, though.

In the same interview, Dorsey wasn’t shy about revealing his opinion of former personnel man Sashi Brown. He essentially gave current coach Hue Jackson, owner of a 1-28 record, a pass due to the bare cupboard with which the coach has worked. But to suddenly raise the bar for a franchise that has never in its history been further from contention — at least record-wise — seems a tad extreme.

Then again, we go back to that supreme confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, why would anyone else? Every executive should have a division crown as the goal, even if it isn’t immediately realistic. For Cleveland, it would be an absolute stunner, but equally as welcome to a fan base that has given nearly unconditional support to a franchise that has tripped over its own feet far too often over the last two decades. We’ll see how long it takes Dorsey to make good on his expectation — or if it happens at all.

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