Wherever you fall on the Bitter/No Bitter scale regarding the Baltimore Ravens, it is a safe bet many in northeast Ohio and those around the country wearing orange and brown did not watch much of the Super Bowl postgame show.
Here’s hoping Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski didn’t drink too much at their respective Super Bowl parties and were in Berea by 8 a.m. Monday.
The pressure is on, boys. The name on the door is: Win Now.
For the last few years, patience was preached as general manager Tom Heckert purged the Browns’ roster of age and lack of talent and infused the team with young, contributing players. There was no doubt someone needed to do it, but the process was painful and, on the heels of many losing seasons, tough to accept. Still, any Browns fan could see the team’s talent level was moving in the right direction, but it was moving at glacial speed.
Meanwhile during Heckert’s demolition and rebuilding, the Pittsburgh Steelers reached the Super Bowl and, in his final season, the Ravens won that game.
A year after the Browns returned to the NFL, the Steelers and Ravens are a combined 261-156 in the regular season with eight playoff appearances apiece. Pittsburgh has played in three Super Bowls, winning two and Baltimore has played in two Super Bowls, winning both.
The challenge before Banner, Lombardi and Chudzinski is to beat the Steelers and Ravens. If you can beat those teams with regularity, bigger things will await the Browns.
Regime after regime struggled to do just that. The list of the Browns’ ex-coaches is a mile long and each coach has featured the same characteristic - they couldn’t beat the Ravens and Steelers on a consistent basis.
All this losing, especially to Baltimore and Pittsburgh, has resulted in a short-tempered and frustrated fan base. Yes, it began in the 80s with three AFC Championship losses, but it only has grown after the move in 1995, the success past coaches, players and front office personnel elsewhere other, and, finally, the amount of losing coupled with the amount of winning by the closest rivals.
It all culminates in a chip that rests firmly on Browns fans shoulders.
Funny, there is a similar chip on the shoulders of Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski. There is no doubt Banner, Lombardi, Chudzinski and Jimmy Haslam will be working hard to try to make this team a winner. Unlike the Big Show that sashayed thought the Berea hallways with a large championship ring already planted on his finger, the fingers of these new Browns owners, front office personnel and coaches are bare.
Wanting to win and actually winning has been a disconnect around here. Mangini got two years. Shurmur two more. Not enough? Need more time for continuity?
Save us the spiel that this is a process or that there needs to be time to build this thing the right way.
It is time to win. Too many Super Bowl Sundays in recent seasons have seen either the Ravens or Steelers play in — and win — the game.
Pressure can be good. You want your leaders to perform under pressure. The previous regimens couldn’t do it. Next up, please.
Feel that pressure, fellas? Good. Now go and perform.