Bad? Record-Setting Bad?

The Browns have a long way to go to match their worst start ever. But other records beckon...

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The 0-2 Browns have a long, long way to go before they threaten the team record for most losses to start a season.

The mark was set in 1975, when head coach Forrest Gregg's first club dropped its opening nine games.

But on the flip side, there are other negative records the current club is indeed approaching.

A loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium would mark the second straight 0-3 start for the Browns and the third in four years. The exception was in 2007, when the team opened almost as bad – at 1-2 -- and then quickly righted the ship en route to a 10-6 finish.

But the two 0-3 starts in that span have signaled doom in the end. In 2006, the Browns went 1-5 overall out of the gate and then lost their last four to go 4-12. Last year, the Browns recovered to a 3-4 mark before collapsing down the stretch en route to finishing 4-12 again.

Aside from 1975, there are two other Browns teams that have opened 0-3, and their seasons did not turn out well, either.

The 1999 expansion Browns were 0-7 –the second-worst start in team history – and ended a franchise-worst 2-14. And in 1984, a club that was picked to win the AFC Central lost its first three and eight of its first nine, causing head coach Sam Rutigliano to be fired and replaced by defensive coordinator Marty Schottenheimer. The result was a 5-11 finish.

Even starting 0-2, with a win in that third game, is a sign of bad things to come on the majority of occasions for the Browns. That was the case in 2003, when the Browns edged the San Francisco 49ers 13-12 in week 3 but still finished 5-11, 1992 (defeated the Los Angeles Raiders 28-16 but ended 7-9), and 1981 (beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17 but went 5-11).

Twice the Browns have started 0-2 and then turned it around, though. In 1967, the Browns broke through with a 42-7 win over a second-year New Orleans Saints team and went on to go 9-5 and capture the title in the first season of existence of the short-lived Century Division of the NFL. And the 1980 Kardiac Kids got jump-started with a 20-13 home win over the Kansas City Chiefs en route to an 11-5 finish and the AFC Central crown.

But those two clubs were supposed to be good, so how they ended was certainly not unexpected – just a little late in coming. But it's no secret for the current Browns, because they went into the year in full-blown rebuilding mode.

And when you look at these Browns, you also have to go back to what happened down the stretch last year to assess where they're at. The 2008 Browns lost their final six contests, which means they are now on an eight-game losing streak overall. That's tied for the third-longest in club history. In 1990, the Browns also lost eight games, in the middle of the year.

The second-longest string of losses is nine in 2004.

The longest? Like the one now, it covers two seasons. The 1974 Browns dropped their final two games. That, coupled with the aforementioned 0-9 start in 1975, amounted to an 11-game losing streak.

Could the 2009 Browns match that mark or even beat it? We'll see. Their road is not easy. The 2-0 Ravens may be the best team in the NFL right now. The Bengals, who come to Cleveland Browns Stadium the following Sunday, are 1-1 and seemingly much improved after coming from behind to win at Green Bay last Sunday.

Then come the 1-1 Buffalo Bills, who have a wide receiver you may have heard of by the name of Terrell Owens. and the 1-1 defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, both on the road.

Next, the 1-1 Packers visit Cleveland, and then the 1-1 Chicago Bears host the Browns on Nov. 1. The Bears and Packers are two of the strongest teams in the wide-open NFC.

After the Browns meet the Bears, they will go into their bye week with eight games under their belt. It will be interesting to see where the club is at that point.

The Browns hope they are still not at square one, or square none, as it were.


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