Cleveland Browns: Mike Pettine Deserves Credit For AFC North Resume

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Oct 11, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) passes to tight end Rob Housler (84) against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Down the Factory Lines with the Cleveland Browns…

McCown, Barnridge, and Coons Oh My!

Who saw this coming? Josh McCown with a Cleveland Browns franchise record 457 yards passing, Gary Barnridge with 138 yards receiving, and a clutch game winning Field Goal in Overtime from rookie Travis Coons? Or how about a win against Baltimore? For Cleveland Browns fans, this past Sunday’s game was a joy to watch. It had everything. It had big pass plays, it had a highlight play with Barnridge’s amazing butt-catch, and after a heart-breaking loss to San Diego a week prior, a clutch play from the defense and offense to win the game in Overtime. It felt good as a Browns fan to see the Ravens go down. It always seems like they find a way to come back and win it late, but this Sunday went to the Browns. Kudos to the players for coming out and not giving up after losing two other close games against Oakland and San Diego.

Browns fans shouldn’t blink, Josh McCown’s 3-game stretch since returning from his concussion is something not seen in this town since Derek Anderson was throwing the ball to Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. That’s right, our offense with all of our issues and lack of playmakers is ranked top-10 in the league. That’s a big kudos to not only McCown, but Offensive Coordinator John DiFilippo and his game-calling. He’s getting players like Barnidge into the open field, utilizing Duke Johnson on pass plays out the backfield, and getting just enough out of the run game to keep defenses honest. The true test will come on Sunday against the Denver Broncos and their #1 ranked defense.

Oct 11, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine celebrates after his team scores during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Cleveland Browns defeated Baltimore Ravens 33-30 in over time. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Pettine deserves more credit too.

Who was the last Browns coach that could claim that they had a near .500 record against the AFC North in their first two seasons? Honestly I can’t remember myself, and that makes the win Sunday stand out to me. For all of the criticism Mike Pettine receives, his teams have performed well against their division rivals.

Last year Pettine went 1-1 against the Bengals and Steelers, with an 0-2 record against Baltimore. Now, after Sunday, he has a win against Baltimore already this season. To make the playoffs football analysts always say you have to play well in your division. For the Browns under Mike Pettine, they’re on the right track at 1-0

Now I’m not saying the Browns are a playoff team, but the Browns were in contention last year because they were able to win games within their division. So call for him to be fired over poor play from his defense or his handling of the QB situation, but understand that Pettine’s doing something thats’ rare for the Browns since their return in 1999, and that’s winning in the AFC North.

Oct 11, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns kicker Travis Coons (6) kicks the game winning field goal in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Cleveland Browns defeated Baltimore Ravens 33-30 in over time. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Coons, Adrenaline Junkie

After reading Tom Reed’s article on Travis Coons being an adrenaline junkie  last week, I wondered how that would affect him. Would it cause Coons to get too amped up in the big moments? Would he try to put too much into an important kick and miss it? I always had a feeling that while Phil Dawson was a great kicker, he often struggled in big moments against AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore. So on Sunday I was nervous for Coons kick in overtime. I thought wouldn’t it be “So Cleveland” for him to miss it and have Baltimore take it back down the field for the win?

Then it hit me, maybe Coons addiction to adrenaline isn’t the kind that makes him overly nervous, maybe it’s the kind that calms him in the big moments. Perhaps his addiction to adrenaline helps him overcome his fears. Maybe he’s always going to be ready for the big moments and the big games? Well, after I re-processed my thinking on Sunday I had a sense of calm overcome me. Then Coons made the kick, and it hit me. Travis Coons might be the true successor to Phil Dawson. Sure he still has to hit a 50-yard field goal in January when the snow is flying, the wind is swirling, and the goal posts are barely visible, but that’s going to be a learning process. The kid isn’t even 25 yet, and Phil Dawson wasn’t Phil Dawson when he first got to Cleveland. It took a little time. If Coons continues to make kicks like he did Sunday, I’m looking forward to seeing how his career will progress going forward.

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