This week’s Moving the Chains column is different. There were no positive storylines and I am getting sick of ragging on the Browns after every loss. Instead, I’m going to take a much-needed step back, add some perspective. Let’s breathe. Put this game behind us and understand who the 2019 Browns really are.
So many expectations, such high hopes, and lots of optimism. The fans, the local media, the national media — EVERYONE — built the Browns up to be a Super Bowl contender, something they’re not. At least not yet.
The last time the Browns were on Sunday Night Football? 2008. The last time they’ve played on Monday Night Football twice in one season? 2008.
The Browns aren’t ready to compete for this stage, to be considered among the league’s elite. They’re not ready for the bright lights of prime time, and Baker Mayfield isn’t ready to have his name in the MVP conversation. This is what the outlook was heading into this year.
Looking back, it was all too premature. And how could have not been?
As a rookie, Mayfield set records. Myles Garrett is one of the best players in the NFL. The team acquired Odell Beckham Jr.
It all came too fast. Two years ago, Deshone Kizer took the 2017 plane and nose-dived it into an 0-16 season.
Where was the development? Where are the growing pains? Where did the sense of reality go? It went all out the window, and boy did it blow back into our faces real fast.
Let’s take a step back. The season is not over yet. The Browns caught offensive wizard Kyle Shanahan off a bye week. It was ugly but they all count the same. It wouldn’t have mattered if Cleveland took it down to the wire. Maybe, we’d feel better about this season, but at the end of the day, a loss is a loss.
We have three weeks to go, and then it gets better. And over these next three weeks, we are going to find out a lot about this team. Through five games, it’s evident that the Browns aren’t there yet. The good news is there are 11 games left and plenty of time to right the wrongs.
Now, the Browns get the Seahawks coming off an extended break. Then, a chance to upset the Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, when the Browns coming off a bye week of their own.
It gets better. It really does.
The AFC North is wide open. The Browns’ schedule gets easier. Following their trip to New England, the Browns have the Dolphins, Bengals (twice), Steelers (twice), Broncos, and Cardinals. Those teams have a combined three wins.
Monday Night was ugly. Every loss this season has been ugly. Even one of their two wins was quite ugly too. But was it ever supposed to be perfect?
Mayfield is still in his second season, building chemistry on an offense with one of the most talented receivers in the NFL. Meanwhile, the offensive line has been up-and-down as much as the Millenium Force. Even when it seems like Mayfield has a millennium to throw, something isn’t clicking.
Freddie Kitchens is just five games into being a head coach for the first time ever. Thirteen times into calling plays. There are going to be growing pains, matter of fact, there have been plenty of them.
There are positives. In the last two weeks there has been creativity on offense — yes, maybe too much of it. Now, we wait on the consistently and it will come. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
I am not ready to give up on the season and you shouldn’t be either. You may not want to hear it but the Browns weren’t supposed to go undefeated and hoist their first-ever Super Bowl trophy. There was always going to be bumps in the road. Maybe not bumps the size of mountains but it was always going to be rocky.
Let’s call it a minor setback for a major comeback. We knew the Browns needed a couple of punches to the face, but perhaps they’ve had one too many.
As the bandwagoners hop off, stay on for the ride and hold on tight. This train hasn’t hit its last stop quite yet and it won’t for 11 more games. I’m willing to see where this thing goes and you should be too. It can get better. It will get better. Somehow, someway, it has to.