CLEVELAND, OH — In what was billed as the most anticipated game since the franchise returned in 1999, the Cleveland Browns laid an egg a dinosaur would have been proud of in a 43-13 nationally-televised debacle of epic proportions.
All throughout the offseason, much was made about the Browns following their blockbuster trade for Rolex-watch wearing wideout Odell Beckham Jr. With so much media hype and raised expectations, many pegged the Browns as favorites to win the AFC North and advance to the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl.
Following a preseason where the starters barely played and formed any kind of chemistry and rhythm, those ugly warts–which I alluded to as a concern in writing about it down in Tampa, manifested themselves in the most embarrassing and humiliating display of football in a season opener since the Pittsburgh Steelers shut out the Browns 43-0.
18 penalties for over 150 yards, Baker Mayfield tossing three interceptions and looking like a shook rookie and a completely lacking sense of any kind of discipline bottlenecks into a proverbial egg on the face of a fan base with–cautiously raised–hopes and expectations, and for good reason.
Because it’s Cleveland, and it’s the Browns.
There is simply no excuse for the ferrago that was witnessed by a record sellout crowd down at First Energy Stadium and such uncontrolled and amateurish play that even a Pop Werner coach would never tolerate.
What was seen and witnessed was the most disgusting brand of Browns football in the history of the storied franchise’s proud history. Perhaps the players don’t quite know or appreciate the bond and lifelong connection that the Browns and fans have with each other, but they sure as hell didn’t play like they understood or cared Sunday afternoon.
Whether it was LT Greg Robinson going UFC on Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro or Mayfield getting sacked five times, the Browns looked and played like an out of control circus with a seemingly flustered Freddie Kitchens being the helpless ringmaster.
Give credit to the Titans for coming into The Dawg Pound and playing with a chip on their shoulder in humbling the intransigent flavor of the offseason in their house by 30-plus points. Titans tight end Delanie Walker–who paraphrased the late Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green–said it best in that the Browns were who we thought they were.
Sure enough, on Sunday, the Browns were just that…the Cleveland Browns of old yet again.