Well, look what we have here: A Cleveland Browns football game that counts.
Good riddance, NFL Preseason. Ahead of us are 16 games over the span of four months.
We know the drill in Cleveland. New season. New coach. New schemes. Blah, blah, blah. After months of endless analysis about what these new changes mean to the on-field product, we will finally get our answer in the coming weeks and months.
One of the few things that have remained the same is the quarterback. Wait, we’re talking about the BROWNS right?
Yup. Weeden is back as the starting quarterback for a second consecutive season. That’s just weird around these parts.
We can debate here in the forums at TheOBR, on the airwaves or blog posts about the talent of this cornerback, that right guard or this wide receiver. None of it matters as much as the quarterback.
For most of you who truly love this game, it is a tough pill to swallow. We don’t want to admit the guys who get the largest paychecks and prettiest girls really mean that much to a team’s winning fortunes.
Sadly, they do.
OK, so the Browns’ got Brandon Weeden. We saw some impressive moments from him this preseason although his third-and-final appearance in Indianapolis left something to be desired.
The hope is Weeden’s strengths and tendencies meshed with offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s ability to design plays will be a winning combination.
Forgive us Browns fans if we’re a little skeptical.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “I think he’s come a long way and really improving as a player. He’s grabbed a hold of the offense.
“I think he’s on the right track.”
If this is true, the Browns can’t help but be an enjoyable product this season. Weeden’s first test is the Miami Dolphins.
This offseason, the Dolphins opened up their checkbook and brought in talent. We’ve seen this before, no? Team spends exorbitant amount of money on free agents in the offseason only for it to blow up in their faces when the season starts.
The Washington Redskins made this their modus operandi for years and years only to see their divisional opponents make the playoffs, not them. Speaking of the NFC East, the most recent example of free agent spending gone wrong was the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles “dream team.” They finished 8-8.
In short, that isn’t always the best way to build a winner.
Still, the Dolphins added some big names in Dannell Ellerbe (LB), Brett Grimes (DB), Dustin Keller (TE) and Mike Wallace (WR) to infuse their roster of talent.
Like the Browns, the Dolphins’ hopes in 2013 will rely less on offseason additions and more on a second-year quarterback. Ryan Tannehill completed 58.3 percent of his passes last season for 3,294 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Don’t laugh, but cringe. Weeden completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 3,385 yards with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Whereas Tannehill will have his top receiver in Wallace on Sunday, Weeden will be without Josh Gordon, who is suspended the first two games.
This is no automatic win for the Browns. But, man, do they need a win Sunday.
Must win? Perhaps it is too early to say that with 15 games remaining. Yet with a team as young as the Browns, getting off to a 1-0 start could do wonders for their confidence and mental health.
In the past 10 years, the Browns have the most season openers in the NFL at home with nine. They are 1-8 in those games, most of which have been either heartbreaking or demoralizing. Only in 2007 did the season opening loss at home lead to a winning season.
Chudzinski is spewing the coach speak that “every game is important” and that “this week is the most important we’re playing.”
That’s fine. But as fans we don’t need to rely on coach speak. We know the importance of starting 1-0.
Just go out and win, baby.