The Cleveland Browns are making a statement with the 2020 season.
Not everyone has picked up the memo yet, but there are always slow learners.
The point is that the Browns have arrived, and it’s time for the NFL to take notice.
— lj (@CaddellLandon) January 12, 2021
Those disparaging (and often true) Browns jokes of the past 20 years need to be laid to rest.
It’s clear that very few expected the Browns to win 12 games, much less advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Way back on September 2, 2020, Team Rankings issued its AFC preseason predictions, selecting the 7 teams most likely to make the playoffs, the percentage likelihood of them getting there, and the percentage likelihood of them winning the Super Bowl.
- Kansas City Chiefs, 88.8%, 17.1%
- Baltimore Ravens, 88.3%, 16.1%
- New England Patriots, 62.0%, 3.4%
- Indianapolis Colts, 57.0%, 2.6%
- Tennessee Titans, 55.2%, 2.5%
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 54.3%, 2.6%
- Buffalo Bills, 53.8%, 2.4%
Hmm, I suppose 6 out of 7 isn’t bad.
But notice who is missing, the Browns!
In the same preseason predictions, the Browns were given a 48.5% chance of making the playoffs, and a 1.8% chance of winning the Super Bowl.
Cleveland Has Arrived
A year ago today we hired Kevin Stefanski as our head coach.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 12, 2021
Win or lose this weekend, it will be interesting to see how the Browns are viewed going into the 2021 season.
Coach Stefanski will be further established, and this young team will have a solid year of experience and maturity under their belts.
Naysayers A Plenty
Because it’s Cleveland, there will still be naysayers.
There are plenty of sports media professionals who haven’t joined Jim Rome’s train of thought that the Browns are “America’s Team”.
No head coach. No Bitonio. No Vernon. No doubt. America’s Team #Browns
— Jim Rome (@jimrome) January 11, 2021
For the record, Jim Rome said this long before this year.
Not a day goes by that Baker Mayfield‘s abilities are not questioned.
He wears the Scarlett Letter of 1st overall draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and 2017 Heisman Trophy Winner so the scrutiny on him will always be plentiful.
Colin Cowherd and Stephen A. Smith are reluctant to admit that Baker has grown this year.
Perhaps the stability of a competent coaching staff and the guidance of Alex Van Pelt have helped him.
One thing is for certain; he is definitely making better decisions on the field.
Plenty of Obstacles to Hurdle This Year
All NFL teams have obstacles, including injuries and this year’s COVID-19 added extra burdens.
And the Browns are no exception.
Perhaps the most telling part of the Browns’ arrival is how they’ve handled the obstacles.
They have dealt with and prepared for them as best as possible.
One of the best “Stefanskisms” is one he has repeated to his players over and over this year.
“You don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your preparation.”
Even without Stefanski on the field in Pittsburgh, it was evident which team was better prepared.
Hopefully, the rest of the NFL and the media catch on that the Browns are not a flash in the pan; they have arrived and are here to stay.