The Cleveland Browns being 4-1 almost seems surreal after all the pain and suffering since the team returned to the shores of Lake Erie in 1999.
Even winning four games was not a given at times.
Hue Jackson couldn’t even win four in his entire tenure, but let’s not go there.
An exciting 32-23 victory over the Indianapolis Colts gave the Browns the rare record and fans were likely thinking how long it has been since they saw 4-1 in the standings.
The answer to that is 1994 when one Bill Belichick was the head coach.
The @Browns are 4-1 for the first time since 1994!
Some guy named Bill Belichick was their HC that year. pic.twitter.com/CJnfycZqK9
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 11, 2020
The Last 4-1 Start with Bill Belichick
Yes, it really has been that long.
The 1994 Browns got off to a 4-1 start thanks to a commanding 27-7 victory over the New York Jets at home.
A bye week followed and the Browns proceeded to rattle off two more wins to get to 6-1 before finishing the season at 11-5.
Belichick’s 1994 squad also made the playoffs and took down the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round.
Time really is a flat circle when it comes to all these connections.
The divisional round was not as great as the Pittsburgh Steelers eliminated the Browns with a 29-9 win.
Hopes were high in 1995 until Art Modell decided to move the team and fans witnessed a 5-11 record as the Browns quickly became the Baltimore Ravens.
Belichick seemed to be building something in Cleveland, only for the team to start over in Baltimore.
The former Browns head coach did just fine once he left, so there are likely no complaints from him.
Need more positive nostalgia?
Vinny Testaverde and Mark Rypien combined to finish with the 11-5 record as the latter got three starts.
The duo also combined to throw 20 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Would that mark lead a team to the playoffs in modern times?
Leroy Hoard ran for 890 yards that season and Derrick Alexander led the team with 828 yards.
Belichick worked his magic and now Kevin Stefanski is trying to follow the same path.
Kevin Stefanski as Browns HC: 3-1
Hue Jackson as Browns HC: 3-36-1
Good start for Stefanski to say the least. pic.twitter.com/R0jatvYHJZ
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) October 4, 2020
This Current 4-1 Browns Start
The Browns looked like a total disaster in the Week 1 loss to the Ravens.
But unlike past coaches, Stefanski righted the ship and the team has responded to score at least 32 points in each of the past four games.
That mark is just about as surreal as the 4-1 record.
This most recent victory came without arguably the team’s best player in Nick Chubb and also saw the offense not collapse after two Baker Mayfield interceptions.
There is a professional feel with Stefanski in charge and while it is early, this is the first time there is not even a small sense of chaos from a head coach since maybe the early days of Butch Davis.
Kevin Stefanski is the first Browns head coach to start his first year at 4-1 since Forrest Gregg in 1975.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) October 12, 2020
Fans don’t want to jinx anything at this point.
However, it is fair to be excited and to notice that this is a different Browns team.
Getting a proper head coach has eluded the franchise since Belichick left when the team moved.
Stefanski was a great hire and for once, Browns fans can actually think about the postseason without being laughed at by others.
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