I am not a Cleveland Browns fan, or that much of a fan of the NFL anymore for that matter; but I confess, since the season kicked off four weeks ago I have been more than a little intrigued with the plight of the Cleveland Browns.
I am clearly not alone. The fascination with the team has become a trendy “thing” among NFL fans and media. From the teams unprecedented failures to the public circus known as Johnny Football and Josh Gordon and most recently the rise of Baker Mayfield, the Browns are a compelling storyline.
After fighting to salvage a tie in Week One against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers to technically break the franchise losing streak that stretched back to December 2016, the Browns finally won a game, beating the New York Jets in come-from-behind fashion in Week Three.
Just like that the story changed.
Now, Mayfield — the Browns 30th quarterback in less than two decades — has been given a list of new titles, including mayor of Cleveland.
One game, one win, that’s all it took to turn the Browns from a hapless, hopeless sorry excuse of a NFL franchise to potential playoff contender? Yes, the comparisons to better days are beginning to surface. The Athletic published a story this week hinting about the similarities between the 2018 Browns and the mid-80s Browns teams.
“I think Mayfield, if you draw a line under that name, he is the man. He is the story that I think right now is going to become bigger and bigger in Cleveland this year.” – Jon Gruden
Whoa, let’s tap the brakes here and take a moment to appreciate Mayfield’s potential and his limited experience.
There is no question that Mayfield and the Browns have a wealth of talent. Expectations are high and the franchise and its fans are desperate for a winner. But one win and one tie in three weeks does not make a former 0-16 team a playoff contender — not yet anyway.
Baker Mayfield has a great opportunity to play and lead a team back from a long, disappointing string of losing seasons. He also has the talent and potential to make the Browns relevant again, but I wouldn’t push all the chips to the middle of the table just yet.
What’s important right now are the Oakland Raiders in Week Four. Win that game and we will talk again in a week.