That sound you hear emanating from the “Rock and Roll Capital Of The World” isn’t of another dejected crowd walking home from another senseless loss for their beloved Cleveland Browns, but the quiet hiss of something special brewing in The Land.
Thanks to another stellular performance from rookie phenom Baker Mayfield, the clutch play of WR Jarvis Landry and a tough hard-nosed defense that held 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton and scatback Christian McCaffrey in check in the second half, the once-sorry Browns outlasted the visiting Carolina Panthers 26-20 to improve to 5-7-1.
Hard to believe that a simple coaching change can turn a team’s season around, but through five games since the firings of former head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Mayfield has completed 73.2 percent of his passes, averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt, thrown 11 touchdown passes, four interceptions and has only been sacked three times, while posting QB passer rating of 114.5 under interim head coach Gregg Williams and first-time offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens.
For the sake of comparison, Mayfield only completed 58.3 percent of his passes, averaged a paltry 6.6 yards per pass, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, was sacked 20 times and posted a QB passer rating of 73.2.
They say that numbers never lie, but here’s one for you: Under Jackson, the Browns won three times in 40 games, since Williams has come in, Cleveland has gone 3-2 in five games.
If there is an example of stats telling the story of a team turning their season around, it’s what Mayfield and Browns are doing right now.
For the first time in a long time, Browns fans don’t have to worry about avoiding ESPN, CBS or any form of social media and worry about getting trolled or being the butt of jokes. For once, the Browns are on the lips of national pundits for what their doing one the field in terms of winning and having a bonafide marquee-type of quarterback who is channeling Bernie Kosar, Brett Favre and a touch of Drew Brees.
For once, Browns fans don’t have to worry about any talk of a quarterback controversy or go to draft sites, such as the one owned by my good buddy, Walter Cherpinsky’s Walter Football.com and debate, critique and nitpick over which QB Cleveland might/should or would draft in Facebook pages and rooms or even guess or wager which QB might be the franchise’s ever-elusive unicorn of a savior.
It’s a good time to be a Browns fan, again!
Trust me, as a life-long fan of this franchise, I’ve seen the endless parade of QB’s coaches, general managers and ownership changes. I’ve walked the walk of shame to work every Monday. I’ve worn my brown and orange while living in Pittsburgh, as a member of the Pittsburgh Browns Backers, where our club motto was, “The Toughest Place To Wear Your colors’
For once, Browns fans don’t have to live vicariously though the Ohio State Buckeyes and use their Sunday’s to do household chores or something besides watch their team lose another game in the most Cleveland fashion.
The Helmet Toss. Zane Gonzalez. The Comeback.
Need I say more.
For once, Browns fans can feel good about being fans of their team again and saying that No.6 is their quarterback. For once, a Browns fan can turn on NFL Network, CBS Sports or even Fox Sports 1 and hear praise heaped upon their team without them being the punchline of a cheesy job or petty troll job.
For once, Browns fans can look at the AFC playoff picture graphic and not only see their team on on, but actually be mentioned! What in the name of Paul Brown is going on. There is that “p” word again..you know the one that all other teams have had the pleasure of going to, while those in the Dawg Pound could only watch from their food-stained couches on their overprice 4k UHD tv.
There I said it.
To even mention it, is akin to bringing to life the old and ancient demons of pain, frustration, anger and disappointment that have haunted out snack-bitten, jilted and jaded fanbase that is SO used to waiting for the other shoe to drop. And maybe it does in these final three games at Denver—which has long been a Browns house of horrors. F^%k you, Elway!—Cincinnati at home, and a suddenly reborn Baltimore thanks to wunderkid Lamar Jackson.
To burrow from then-senator–and future President Barack Obama, do we Browns fans have the audacity to hope?
With three games left, anything is possible with Mayfield and this young and hungry team, and maybe—just maybe—some long-awaited change will be coming to Believeland.