Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 9/8/13
New Browns head coach Rod Chudzinski has a chance to do something that no Browns coach has done since 1999: begin his tenure with a win. Since their return, I knew the Browns were bad on opening day but wasn’t quite aware that they were 1-13. One and thirteen. What’s even more remarkable, since 1999, the Browns have opened all but one season (2010) in the friendly confines for Cleveland Browns Stadium. What’s nice for Chud is that the bar is fairly low. The man is following Pat Shurmur fergawdsakes, not Paul Brown. The Browns have lost their past eight season openers. So if the Browns can get a solid victory today versus the Dolphins, it’ll just about the best start the Browns’ season since they’ve been back. We’re not looking for a blowout (although the fanbase might lose their collective sh*t if the Browns come out strong and look good), but simple adequacy or non-embarrassment would be a great start. The opener seems to set the tone for the season. Whether it’s Dwayne Rudd’s helmet or Braylon Edwards dropping wide open touchdowns, the early ineptitude casts a dark cloud on the rest of the year. Competence. That’s all we’re asking for. But moments of competence on opening day have been few and far between for the Browns. Let’s take a look, shall we? 1999: Steelers 43, Browns 0. Notes: Chris Palmer put Tim Couch in the game down 36-0 and Timmy promptly threw an INT with his first throw. And we’re off! Depressing quotes from the recap: “It was the worst shutout loss in Cleveland history and the worst season-opening loss. The Browns gained just 9 rushing yards on nine carries. The 43-point margin was the second worst loss in Browns history, surpassed only by a 51-3 defeat to Minnesota in 1969.” and  “Mike Tomczak, the Steelers’ second-string quarterback, went 8-for-8 with two TD passes.” - 2000: Jaguars 27, Browns 7 Notes: The Browns got their first points opening day and also wore their white jerseys at home for the first time since returning. Depressing quotes from the recap: “One of the few bright spots was punter Chris Gardocki tying an NFL record. He has punted 623 times without having one blocked, matching Dave Jennings’ mark.” and  “Browns end Courtney Brown, the overall No. 1 draft pick this year, was left off the official stats sheet, but he did show blazing speed by chasing down Brunell on an incomplete pass.” - 2001: Seahawks 9, Browns 6. Notes: The debut of Butch Davis, the only Browns head coach to see the playoffs! This is the first of two times the Browns have lost 9-6 at home for the season opener. Also, Mike Holmgren’s 100th career victory. Depressing quotes from the recap: “The teams were outscored by a combined 17-15 by the Indians and Chicago White Sox, who played at the same time a mile away at Jacobs Field.” and  “”We never win the close ones,” Browns wide receiver Kevin Johnson said. “A guy kicks a 52-yarder into the wind, and he nails it? Come on. When you get that close, it’s tough.”" - 2002: Chiefs 40, Browns 39. Notes: The Dwayne Rudd game. Kelly Holcomb begins the most maddeningly Browns QB controversy of the new-era, going 27-39 for 326 yards and 3 TDs. Depressing quotes from the recap: “And unbelievable for the Browns, who had their second straight bizarre finish at home. Cleveland’s home finale last season ended with angry fans throwing thousands of plastic beer bottles on the field to protest a call overturned by instant replay. Bottles are now banned in Browns Stadium. Rudd’s lone projectile cost Cleveland this time.” and “However, Cleveland holder Chris Gardocki was called for taunting on the kick, forcing Dawson to kick off from his own 15 and the Chiefs returned it to the 35. TV replays appeared to show that it was Dawson who had yelled at one of the Chiefs.” - 2003: Colts 9, Browns 6. Notes: First game that the Browns wore orange pants since December of 1983. Peyton Manning had a game winning drive. Depressing quotes from the recap: “Phil Dawson kicked two field goals for the Browns, who dropped to 0-5 in season openers since 1999. They’ve lost three straight home openers on last-second field goals.” and “”All the mistakes we made, jumping offsides, holding, throwing interceptions in the red zone, that was the deciding factor,” Holcomb said.” - 2004: Browns 20, Ravens 3. Notes: THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE ONE. BROWNS GOT A VICTORY ON OPENING DAY. THANK YOU, JEFF GARCIA YOU BEAUTIFUL SKITTISH BASTARD Inspiring quotes from the recap: “Jeff Garcia threw a 46-yard touchdown pass and ran for another TD in his Cleveland debut, and the defense held Jamal Lewis to just 57 yards after he ran for 500 yards in two games against the Browns last season.” and  “Just as they did 40 years ago when the Browns won the last world title for any major Cleveland sports team. These Browns swarmed on defense, made big plays on offense, had no turnovers and won field position with special teams. And for the first time since their NFL rebirth in 1999, the Browns are 1-0.” - 2005: Bengals 27, Browns 13. Notes: Romeo Crennel’s coaching debut. Trent Dilfer started for the Browns. Depressing quotes from the recap: “”We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Crennel said. “I’m disappointed in the way everyone played. I’m not happy about anything.”" and “Dilfer threw a pass in the first quarter that hit umpire Jim Quirk in the head and was caught by Browns center Jeff Faine, who was penalized for “illegal touching.”" - 2006:  Saints 19, Browns 13. Notes: We begin the Braylon Edwards era! Edwards had a pass go off his hands and get intercepted while in New Orleans’ territory during the final two minutes. Depressing quotes from the recap: “On their first offensive play, Edwards got behind the Saints defense for a 74-yard TD reception that got called back by a penalty.” and “Frye led the Browns with 44 rushing yards.” - 2007: Steelers 34, Browns 7. Notes: Four touchdowns for Big Ben in coach Mike Tomlin’s debut. Romeo benched Charlie Frye for Derek Anderson. This was the only home loss of the entire season! Depressing quotes from the recap: “And it began the way other seasons have, with a romp over the Browns, whose complete breakdown on an early punt set the tone for another embarrassing day of turnovers, sacks and ineptitude.” and “And while their team was being dismantled, Browns fans periodically broke into chants for rookie Brady Quinn, who was designated the team’s No. 3 quarterback but could soon be elevated to No. 1.” - 2008: Cowboys 28, Browns 10. Notes: Edwards dropped a sure TD in the first quarter. Romeo went for a FG while trailing 28-7. Dallas ran out final 10:13 of the fourth quarter. Depressing quotes from the recap: “Edwards missed three exhibition games with a cut foot and said the time off hurt his timing.” and  “Before the game, LeBron James, Cleveland’s NBA superstar and a longtime Dallas fan, hugged both Joneses and Owens.” - 2009: Vikings 34, Browns 10. Notes: Brett Favre’s Minnesota debut, Eric Mangini’s Browns debut (plus a Favre vs Mangini rematch from previous year with the Jets). Depressing quotes from the recap: “They fell to 1-10 in season openers since 1999, but did score their first offensive touchdown in seven games when Brady Quinn hit tight end Robert Royal with 28 seconds left.” and “[Brady Quinn] had one interception and the game’s most comical moment when he had the ball pop out of his hand and fall behind him following a scramble.” - 2010: Bucs 17 Browns 14. Notes: First season opener on the road in new era. The Mike Holmgren and Jake Delhomme era begins. Kellen Winslow taunted the Browns sideline with Tampa’s giant pirate flag. Depressing quotes from the recap:  “Seemingly in control and hoping to build onto a 14-3 lead before halftime, an off-balance Delhomme threw an ill-advised, sidearm pass that Ronde Barber intercepted and returned 65 yards before running out of gas and being pushed out at the Browns 3.” and “We just played Browns vs. Browns, and the Browns lost,” Cleveland receiver/kick return specialist Joshua Cribbs said.” - 2011: Bengals 27, Browns 17. Notes: And the Shumur-era begins with the Browns falling asleep on defense. You can’t make this crap up. Depressing quotes from the recap: ”Shurmur’s first quarter as a head coach couldn’t have gone much worse as the Browns were called for six penalties, gained 3 yards rushing and were badly outplayed.” and “Shurmur isn’t convinced what the Bengals did was legal.” - 2012: Eagles 17, Browns 16. Notes: Both Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden threw four interceptions. Browns forced five turnovers but dropped the potential game saving interception. Depressing quotes from the recap: “But even on that final drive there were flaws. Vick recovered his own fumble on a third-down scramble, and one play before his TD pass to Harbor, Browns rookie linebacker L.J. Fort let what could have been a game-clinching interception slip out of his hands.” and “He finished 12 of 35 for 118 yards, had the four picks and forced several throws. According to STATS LLC, Weeden’s 5.1 rating is the sixth lowest in a season opener by any quarterback attempting at least 15 passes since the merger in 1970.” - Chud has the chance to be the first Browns coach since 1999 to start his Cleveland career 1-0.  A solid Browns’ victory could make this the best home opener since 1999. Granted, as you can tell, this isn’t exactly a high bar to cross. Competence. Please. Nothing crazy, just a good, solid NFL victory.
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