It seems the media has chosen a new darling this offseason, the Browns. No matter where I turn for my NFL news, the Browns are being hyped for the upcoming season. I understand that the Browns have a glimmer of hope in what has been the most dismal franchise in NFL history, but they still have a long way to go before they come close to competing with the Chiefs for AFC supremacy.
Baker Mayfield may have had a better year last year, and Odell Beckham Jr. may be returning this season, but neither has shown that they can consistently show up week in and week out.
Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum was on ESPN’s Get Up earlier this week and said something that piqued my interest and perked my ears. Tannenbaum claimed that the return of Odell Beckham Jr. would take the Browns to the level of the Chiefs. Until this point, I had heard a ton of hype for the Browns but had been able to ignore it, but after that, I felt I had to say something. Not only was this claim outrageous, but it also seems to be a common sentiment this offseason.
The Browns had a negative point differential last season, which means on the season as a whole they were outscored by their opponents. The only other playoff team that was even close to having a negative point differential last year was the Washington Football Team, who limped into the playoffs with a 7-9 record and were dispatched by the Buccaneers in their first playoff game. The Browns somehow managed to go 11-5 last year despite being outscored by opponents on the year.
I am aware the Browns won a playoff game last year. But since when are teams who win a wild card game (against a scuffling Steelers team, no less) so widely hyped like they are about to make the Super Bowl? I am also aware that the Browns almost came back against a Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs team in the next playoff game.
The Chiefs were hardly the team we know and love at that point, however, just as the Steelers had been the game before. We had lost the heart and soul of our team in Patrick Mahomes when he exited with a concussion and a starting corner in Bashaud Breeland when he exited with the same injury, causing the Chiefs to almost blow a 16 point lead they had built up to that point in the game.
As a fan of a team that had gone 50 years between Super Bowls, I feel the Browns plight. The years of rooting for a terrible team with no hope can leave even the most resilient fan bases grasping for any rays of hope that come along. And I will happily eat my words next year if the Browns do end up living up to the hype that ESPN and everyone else is setting them up for.
Until that happens however I have one thing to say to the Browns and the rest of the media hopping on their hype-train: prove it on the field on September 12.