Happy Friday WFNY faithful. Training camp is here, so I’m taking a break from the constant Kyrie Irving kerfuffles to talk about the Cleveland Browns. Most notably, I’m talking about my method for discussing the team this year. Call it a pre-emptive attacking plan for not perpetuating misery. Maybe the team will cooperate and just play well, but I’d rather be prepared.
2017 Cleveland Browns Resolutions
The Browns are one of the only teams in professional sports that requires its fans think about the upcoming season like an overweight person thinks about New Year’s resolutions. It seems like every year I need to re-assess my strategy for watching and talking about the Cleveland Browns. You have to get introspective, figure out who you are as a person and craft a strategy. As many of you have seen with some of my near unravelings over the years, I haven’t always been great about making a plan and sticking to it. Remember the year that I became apoplectic at halftime of the first game against the Steelers in 2014? In my defense, the Browns did go down 27-3 at the half before making it a game and losing 30-27. See? It’s not my fault that they make donuts taste so good! Just like a dude with a newly minted gym membership and a fistful of kale, I vow to not only craft a resolution for watching and critiquing the Browns but also vow to stick to it. Here’s my plan.
Keep criticism in perspective…
If you’re 300 pounds, you’re not going to wake up a week after starting diet and exercise with abs. At least not abs that we’ll be able to identify without advanced medical imaging technology. The Cleveland Browns aren’t going to be a playoff team this year. 2017 is another year of development with one of the youngest teams in the league. This is another season with a new coach, at least on one side of the ball – Gregg Williams on the defense. This sets the stage for the baseline for this team. They aren’t expected to win eight games and should be treated as such. Now, if they’re challenging to go winless again, all bets are off. Otherwise, taking a wait-and-see approach with a team that retooled the offensive line and tried to load defense in the draft is prudent.
Leave last year’s anger behind…
I don’t get mad at my kid this month all over again because he aimed poorly and peed all over the bathroom last month.1 The Browns get to turn the page too. Last year doesn’t matter anymore, except for perspective. Hopefully, it’s perspective on growth over last season. As a fan and tertiary member of the media, you have to forgive and forget and move on with a team’s previous season like you would any relationship in life. There might be cause for anger in this season, but it shouldn’t be a continuation of the baseline of anger that developed the season prior when the team almost went winless.
Find small victories…
Anytime you want to conquer a resolution, you need to set up little benchmarks along the way. You can’t lose 50 pounds without losing the first five. You can’t stop drinking for 30 days if you never get to your third booze-less day. I think we can help this with the Browns by using different language.
The Browns don’t stink; they’re just working on getting better every day. They aren’t losers; they’re slowly figuring out how to win. When the Browns beat the spread or make it a game when they have no business doing so, those can be promising signs. The Cleveland Browns have just four players over the age of 30. One of those players is Joe Thomas, and one is a punter. Not every young player “just needs more seasoning,” but young and bad is always preferable to old and bad. At least with youth, there’s a chance that there’s an upward trend. There’s almost never an upward trend for old in the NFL, except on the aging curve. Or should I call it the experience curve?
If the Browns still stink, watch some real football
I know I tend to live and die on a steady diet of just the Cleveland Browns, but it’s important to get more variety. Don’t just keep going to the same mediocre restaurant. It’s the new year! Get out to new restaurants. Try some new flavors. Maybe even cook a few new dishes at home. You can do it in football too. Get out of that rut! I’m not into big showcase games on national television all the time, but it would be good to change things up a bit.
While some fans find Monday Night Football miserable because it shows the gap between the Browns and a real football team, it’s important to see what the sport can be to see if the Browns have anyone who might help them get there. Check out that top-of-the-league pass rush to see if Myles Garrett might be trending in that direction. Watch the game’s best receivers to see if Corey Coleman can build on a somewhat underwhelming rookie season. Don’t get locked into the orange and brown bubble.
Stop drinking. (At least for a while?)
This is both a New Year’s resolution and a Browns resolution. When you’re miserable with your life, drinking is only going to make it worse. It’s really the same with the Browns. Nobody gets to be a “fun drunk” when they’re invested in the outcome of a Cleveland Browns football team. Well, except maybe away fans.
This tip is obviously more for the fan in me than the media member, but we know that this season will provide challenges and tests of patience. Like anything that is going to provide a headwind, you’re better off going into it clear-eyed. Maybe save those drinks for Game of Thrones or something that you actually expect to be enjoyable on Sunday.
Oh, forget this last one. I know better than to suggest Browns fans give up beer and booze. Just try and be safe and have a designated driver. Also, close up social media and forget your phone has a documentary film crew’s worth of features both in terms of recording and broadcasting.
Here’s to another season of Cleveland Browns football! I’ll do my best to try and be a little less miserable this season. I’ll try to have a healthier perspective. These are my resolutions. Will you join me?
- He does it every month so it’s kind of a bad example, but that’s how things go. [↩]