Bucs fans vs. Browns fans: Who has had it worse?

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates a 1-yard touchdown by running back Carlos Hyde during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in Cleveland. The Browns won 21-17. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates a 1-yard touchdown by running back Carlos Hyde during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in Cleveland. The Browns won 21-17. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Published October 20 2018
Updated October 22 2018

TAMPA — If the Bucs had an NFL brother from another mother, it would be the Browns.

They've shared a lot more than Vinny Testaverde.

Fan bases scarred by historic losing streaks, threats and effects of franchise relocation and decades of sad Sundays have been afforded the audacity of hope by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks drafted No. 1 overall.

It took hitting rock bottom —assuming there is such a thing in Cleveland and Tampa Bay — to get here.

Call Sunday's 1 p.m. game at Raymond James Stadium the Misery Loves Company Bowl and start right here:

When it comes to playoff droughts, these forlorn franchises are as parched  desert sand. The Browns' streak of no postseason appearance is 16 years, the longest in the league. The Bucs are second at 11 years and counting.

And oh the quarterbacks … A disarming parade of failed passer-byes.

"Poor Tim Couch," said Mary Kay Cabot, who has covered the Browns for the Cleveland Plain Dealer since 1990. "Tim Couch could've been a good, serviceable, winning quarterback in my mind if he wasn't on such a horrible team.''

Couch was the first pick in the 1999 draft, when Cleveland fielded an expansion team after Art Modell moved his club to Baltimore three years earlier and renamed it the Ravens. Since that year, the Browns have used 30 quarterbacks.

And to that Bucs fans say, "So what?" They feel worse knowing all their quarterbacks that bombed became Super Bowl champions when they left Tampa Bay.

Doug Williams won a Super Bowl with the Redskins. Hall of Fame QB Steve Young won the MVP and a Lombardi Trophy with the 49ers. Testaverde played 20 seasons. Even Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, a game played in Tampa, no less.

Yeah, but the Browns went 0-16 in 2017?

Pffft. The Bucs went 0-26 to begin the franchise. When they finally won a game over the Saints and Cardinals, they fired their head coaches the next day.

Speaking of coaches, the Browns had Bill Belichick for four seasons and let him get away.  Oops. He'll be fitted for a gold jacket. The Bucs fired Tony Dungy, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Browns have a much richer history as one of the founding NFL teams. Paul Brown. Jim Brown. The Dawg Pound. They have the Drive by John Elway and the Fumble by Earnest Byner.

They also have the logo-less, traffic cone orange helmet. But isn't that better than a winking pirate?

What really makes the Browns eyes blue is knowing the Bucs at least have Super Bowl XXXVII.

Both teams did the relocation dance. Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer considered Baltimore his leverage to coerce the community into building a new stadium. That all changed when Modell took the Baltimore deal first.

Mercy, both franchises even had a MRSA outbreak.

Receiver Joe Jurevicius, who played for both teams but caught the infection in Cleveland, thinks it contributed to the end of his career. The Bucs watched guard Carl Nicks and kicker Lawrence Tynes struggle until it forced them to quit playing.

Both ownerships have engaged in a pattern of changing the coach, changing the quarterback. It's a rabbit hole that also has swallowed a few general managers.

In Tampa Bay, it's also been a trail of tears and a saloon door on the head coach's office: Dungy, Gruden, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and now Koetter.

"If you get to your third year as a head coach here, that's wildly successful that you've been able to do that,'' Cabot said of the Browns.

Browns coach Hue Jackson was so wildly successful after going 1-15 and 0-16 , they gave him another year.

But at least the Bucs and Browns have hope behind center. And that's what makes Sunday's game between the Bucs and Browns so interesting.

The Bucs have Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 and Heisman winner from Florida State who is in his fourth season.

The Browns have rookie Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick from Oklahoma who won the Heisman last season.

"I think having that franchise quarterback that everyone in the building believes in is important,'' Koetter said. "… There are some good veteran guys in the league and experience counts. But everyone still wants to be building towards that guy they think can make all the plays.''

Baker began the season on the bench. But he replaced injured starter Tyrod Taylor in Week 2 against the Jets and completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards, turning a 14-point deficit into a 21-17 win — Cleveland's first victory in 635 days.

He doesn't have many good players around him, outside of Jarvis Landry, who is always doubled.

Last week, in a 38-14 loss to the Chargers, Mayfield completed 22 of 46 passes for 238 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked five times for the second straight game.

Winston's first start of the season at Atlanta last week was one of his best games. He passed for 395 yards and four touchdowns. But two interceptions, including one off a ricochet in the end zone, cost the Bucs in a 34-29 loss to the Falcons.

The Bucs (2-3) have lost three in a row. For a tortured fan base, losing to the Browns may be viewed as rock meeting bottom.

"We have not held up to our end of the bargain for a couple years,'' Jackson said. "We're still not where we want to be but we're working at it and I think they appreciate that…I think each and every day we can see that the organization is finally turning to the positive.''

They've both been positively awful. The only question for their fans is who had it worse?

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud.