5,000-1 odds. There are longshot odds, and then there are Leicester City-type longshot type of odds.
In 2015, Leceister City F.C. with a roster led by Italian manager Claudio Ranieri and a bevy of English Premier League and Bundesliga stars such as Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Riyhad Mahrez (Manchester City), Christian Fuchs and Andrej Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim), proverbially shocked the sports world—as well as English soccer—in winning their first-ever EPL crown.
There are many worst-to-first Cinderella-type turnarounds in sports, and with the Cleveland Browns coming off of a 0-16 winless season, can these Dawgs add their name to that storied list.
Aside from all of the countless jokes from the media, rival fans and trolls across social media, the Cleveland Browns have revamped their entire office with the hiring of former Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey as GM, former Green Bay player personal executives Eliot Wolf as assistant general manager and Alonzo Highsmith as vice president of player personnel. Cleveland would also land former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, Ken Zampese as quarterbacks coach, former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, Todd Haley as OC to handle all offensive play calls from head coach Hue Jackson.
Ironically, these hires in the front office may actually be the best off-season moves by Cleveland notwithstanding drafting future flag-planting franchise quarterback in 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma, former Nordonia High and Ohio State product in DB Denzel Ward, WR Antonio Callaway and trading for projected starting QB Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo and sure-handed WR Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins.
Cleveland then wisely address the porous secondary in free agency in signing former Ohio University standout in T.J. Carrie and sending QB DeShone Kizer to Green Bay for converted free safety Demarius Randall.
Will their moves on and off the field, will that inspire a Foxes-like turnaound for the Dawgs?
While Leicester City had to contend with the types of big-money clubs such as Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, the Browns have to contend with playing in perhaps the toughest division in the NFL in the form of the AFC North in dealing with the perennial Super Bowl contenders in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals twice a year.
Not to say it isn’t possible, but if No.16 University-Maryland Baltimore County can upset top-ranked Virginia, the Cleveland Cavaliers overcome a 3-1 deficit against a 73-win juggernaut super team in the Golden State Warriors and the fourth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes sneak into the College Football Playoff with a third-string quarterback and beat Alabama and Oregon, then why not the Browns?
If their hard-hitting practices on Hard Knocks and seemingly more chippy and attitude-infused play through three preseason games are any indication, then the Browns just might out-fox the NFL in 2018.