CLEVELAND -- The Browns being blown out 31-7 on Sunday to the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium serves as a sobering reminder about how far the organization has fallen since it sat atop the AFC North nearly three years ago.
Remember when the Browns defeated the Bengals 24-3 on Nov. 6, 2014, at Paul Brown Stadium?
In Mike Pettine's first season as their coach, the Browns improved to 6-3 with the win in front of a national TV audience on Thursday Night Football and moved into a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers for first place in the division. Late in the game, Browns fans who made the trip to Cincinnati chanted the name of former Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer.
However, the Browns have gone 4-38 since then.
The list of reasons for the stunning collapse is incredibly long, but this is what's most relevant now: After coach Hue Jackson was hired as Pettine's successor last year, the Browns spearheaded an ultra-aggressive youth movement under the guidance of a revamped, analytics-driven front office led by head of football operations Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta.
The approach has yielded a rebuilding team incapable of consistently winning now.
It was painfully obvious as the Browns lost their sixth consecutive meeting with the Bengals and fell to 0-4 to begin a season for the fifth time since 1999.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went 10-of-33 passing for just 86 yards with a rating of 2.0 when Hoyer outperformed him in 2014.
He entered Sunday with the NFL's 30th-ranked passer rating this season but thoroughly dominated the Browns as the Bengals improved to 1-3.
Dalton finished 25-of-30 passing for 286 yards and four touchdowns without an interception for a rating of 146. He also ran four times for 29 yards and took three sacks.