The factory of sadness has reached critical mass.
The 0-5 Cleveland Browns will face a divisional foe Sunday playing against the threat of an all-time franchise losing record of 12 in a row and falling to a 13th straight divisional loss.
In a season of seeming all-time parity in the modern era, the Browns have somehow managed to lock themselves in the cellar of the league.
They've displayed variety in finding ways to lose in 2012. They've lost when their offense fell apart. They've lost when their defense fell apart. They've lost when both fell apart.
They've lost by starting slow and being reckless. They've lost starting fast and tough and then getting reckless.
And just days after this comes to a head at home against Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 14, a new era of ownership is slated to dawn in Cleveland.
On Tuesday, Oct. 16, Jimmy Haslam the Thrice is expected to be approved at the fall ownership meeting.
Every game in the NFL is a "must-win." But when the Browns emerge onto that field on the shores of Lake Erie Sunday, close will not cut it. Watchable will not cut it. The Browns need to win.
This is a crossroads and as a smart man once said, "Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds."
These Browns have a choice which path they trod.
Browns head coach Pat Shurmur says each week that the team plays one game to the next. They make their corrections and move on, he says. They put all their energy and effort into defeating their next opponent.
But merely forgetting the wounds of the previous defeat appears not to be enough, though this young squad has shown resilience and is certainly not demoralized.
The lingering question remains, how do they get over the top?
This team needs to become obsessed with winning—clinical, compulsive obsession. Nothing less can be acceptable, to the point it should reverberate through the franchise as a predetermined certainty, not a question at all.
The expectation of inevitable victory fosters an attitude that lends itself inextricably to its own manifestation.
That attitude, combined with an assiduous work ethic, breeds compulsive attention to detail and foments a discipline in action and resolve to win. The possibility of defeat becomes a foreign notion.
Is this audacious? You bet.
Does this actually get a win every Sunday? Absolutely not.
But it does get wins on Sundays, more often than not.
Another smart man, and the team namesake, Paul Brown, once noted, "Football is a game of errors. The team that makes the fewest errors in a game usually wins."
The youth and inexperience rationalization carries no weight in Browns Town these days.
This team is often an error or two away from victory. The only way to spell that curse is old-fashioned attitude and donkeywork.
The Cleveland "Battlers" need to go on safari this weekend and bring home some Bengal pelts.
Getting over the top goes beyond the individual parts of the Browns' roster.
The return of CB Joe Haden marks the recovery of a crucial asset.
If middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson returns after suffering a concussion against the Giants, the Browns defense can again count on the acumen and skill of their field general, who was missed sorely in the second half against New York.
Whenever DT Phil Taylor gets back, the Browns might finally be playing with all three of their top draft picks the past three years.
But even with those doubtless boons, the balance of the Browns' 2012 season hinges on the tenacity of this team to turn talent into tangible victory.
There's a reason it's called "dogged determination," though I'd prefer to start spelling it, "dawgged."