Excitement Fills the Air
I know it’s only the preseason, but I have never been this excited for the Cleveland Browns to start their season. I watched a pair of national networks (NFL Network, ESPN) and orange and brown were predominantly featured on both. Granted, both centered their coverage around the pair of quarterbacks – specifically Johnny Manziel, but I cannot tell you how good it makes me feel that the Browns are finally relevant. Of course none of this will mean anything if the team struggles in the fall, but it is certainly exciting.
Mike Pettine has been one of the biggest beneficiaries (at least, at this point) of this added attention. None of his predecessors have warranted the spotlight though – whether it has been due to lack of personality or multiple mistakes on the sidelines. I love the passion, desire, and knowledge Pettine brings to Cleveland Browns franchise. He will either be the toast of the town or the next scapegoat in northeast Ohio, but for now he is on good terms with fans and media (national included). Both are getting a tremendous opportunity to learn about the former defensive coordinator.
At this point in time, quarterbacks are being evaluated in shorts. The quick crossing routes and the deep posts are both analyzed to decipher how Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer are performing. It’s a little silly to listen to talking heads dissect a slip route to Isaiah Crowell in late July, but that’s what they are paid to do. Despite my personal feelings on this, I’d rather they talk about Browns’ quarterbacks than any of the other thirty-one franchises.
I actually heard a commentators state that Berea is the center of the NFL world. While that may be a bit hyperbolic, it’s hard to argue against that. Besides the pair of guys under center, the analysts have been breaking down Terrance West and Ben Tate carrying the ball and a few defenders like Joe Haden and Barkevious Mingo. What is especially refreshing, and somewhat foreign, is hearing national outlets talk positively about the franchise and what it will take to clinch the division crown and a postseason birth. Many Browns’ fans are accustomed to “same ol’ Browns” talk and commentators being dismissive (and usually rightly so) of the team and its chances of success.
Owner Jimmy Haslam spoke, and even garnered some headlines from the media. His interview focused primarily on turning things around and consistently winning games. Not surprisingly, he was asked about the antics of rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel, and the owner assured everyone that internal talks occurred and quelled any worries that fans should have of the signal caller.
September, heck even August ninth, cannot come fast enough. I have gotten really excited about this season; and thinking positively, the national pundits would not just jump on the bandwagon of a historically losing team for one guy. They truly believe (in my opinion) that the Browns will be better in 2014 – will that mean 6-10 or 12-4, I look forward to finding out.