It’s here. Kickoff week. The Cleveland Browns finally take the field this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs
The contest offers a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional match-up, which saw the Chiefs sneak by the Browns en route to a berth in their second straight Super Bowl.
Now, expectations are bigger, as the Browns blaze into a new season with a re-vamped roster and continuity on its coaching staff at its quarterback position.
It’s a strange position to be in for fans of the team, who haven’t had real Super Bowl aspirations since Bernie Kosar was quarterbacking the team back in the late 1980s.
The 1995 team had high expectations which were submarined by the owner’s decision to move to Baltimore.
The 2003 club was coming off a season in which they eeked into the playoffs and never really had the star power to convince anyone they could serious damage in January.
Expectations skyrocketed out of control in 2019, but it turns out that team, led by Freddie Kitchens, was nothing more than a paper tiger.
This is different, though. The wholec cliche about having a coach and quarterback in order to have a chance? The Browns finally have that with reigning Coach of the Year, Kevin Stefanski, and fourth-year vet Baker Mayfield.
Skill positions? They’ve got that covered, too. But Browns fans know well enough a bunch of one-handed OBJ catches don’t equate to wins on Sunday.
To win in the NFL, you’ve got to win in the trenches and the Browns are poised to be spectacular on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is loaded with talent, from young veterans to experienced brawlers.
The defensive line has been severely upgraded as well, with Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley joining Myles Garrett. The inside will see two new starters with Malik Jackson and Andrew Billings. Reserve Malik McDowell could play a lot as well and be the league’s Comeback player of the year.
The defense really is the reason to dream about Super Bowls. They’re not going to be the ’85 Bears or ’00 Ravens, but they don’t have to be. Stefanski’s offense is going to score, if Joe Woods’ unit can be somewhere near the top five, that should be good enough.
As we look toward kickoff, we can set aside the predictions and roster debates because we finally start to get answers to what this Browns’ squad is made of. It’s not all going to be perfect, but unless your the ’72 Dolphins, it doesn’t happen.
So enjoy this one, Browns fans. If you thought last year was fun, this seasons should show us that we’re just getting warmed up.