The Cleveland Browns hype train has officially left the station, and apparently there’s no brakes on this train.
In February, the Browns signed Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2018 season. He’s currently serving an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, after TMZ Sports released a video of Hunt shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel, in November of 2018.
Hunt will split carries with breakout second-year running back Nick Chubb, who ran for 996 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry in his rookie season.
In March the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in a move that left Giants fans dumbfounded. Beckham will join longtime high school friend Jarvis Landry as the 1-2 punch at receiver. Second-year receiver Antonio Callaway, who had 586 yards receiving last season, joins them as well.
Third-year defensive end Myles Garrett, who had 13.5 sacks last season, will lead a defense which allowed 24.5 points per game. To put that into context, the Browns offense averaged 22.4 points per game. The Browns finished 7-8-1 in the 2018 season.
Second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will play his first full season as a starter – Tyrod Taylor now finds himself as Philip Rivers back-up in Los Angeles, and the Browns are all in on Mayfield.
Walking disaster Hue Jackson is no longer a problem in Cleveland. The Browns new head coach is former offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens.
Experts and fans alike are already punching the Browns ticket to the Super Bowl. Even Vegas oddsmakers have picked the Browns as the third favorite to represent the AFC in the playoffs. The NFL scheduled the Browns for four primetime games.
As Browns fans look to the future, they’re reminded of the past.
Down by only two points in the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the Browns were on the Raiders 13-yard-line with 49 seconds left to play. All they needed was a field goal to win. Instead, they passed the ball into the end zone and it was intercepted, ending the game.
Ahead by 18 points in the 3rd quarter of the 1985 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the Browns allowed the Miami Dolphins to score three straight touchdowns and win the game.
Down by seven points in the 1987 AFC Championship Playoff Game, the Browns had the ball on the Denver Broncos 8-yard line with 1:12 left in the game. Browns running back Earnest Byner took the snap and appeared to be on his way into the endzone. Byner was stripped of the ball on the 2-yard line and the Broncos recovered the fumble and won the game.
Ahead by two points in the 1988 AFC Wildcard Playoff Game, the Browns threw an unnecessary pass with only a couple of minutes remaining. It was intercepted and the Oilers connected on a 49-yard field goal to win the game.
The Browns hired Bill Belichick, the greatest coach in NFL history to be their head coach, and subsequently fired him – which Patriots fans are forever grateful for.
In 70 seasons, the Browns have never won a Super Bowl. They have a losing record in the playoffs. They last made the playoffs in the 2002 season.
Football, like life, is built on hope. For Browns fans, that’s all they have. For 70 seasons, they’ve cheered for lovable losers, but losers, nonetheless.
They see a young, exciting team full of stars, and they finally believe. The only thing that punches harder than Mike Tyson, is reality.
When I look at the Browns, I don’t see a Super Bowl contender. I see an overhyped, unproven commodity that is likely to win a maximum of 9-10 games.
I see a team that went 7-8-1 last season with Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and Myles Garrett. I watched Baker Mayfield choke in the biggest moment, in the biggest game of his career, against the Baltimore Ravens in week 17.
I see a team loaded with noisemaking stars, who could easily become locker room distractions. I see a head coach who has no experience in the role, struggling to manage big personalities as they work through the challenges of a long season.
I see a schedule that includes games against the Rams, the 49’ers, the Seahawks, the Patriots, the Steelers and the Ravens.
For the Cleveland Browns, the hype train will be derailed when the regular season begins and reality sets in. And reality, is a bitch.