The (Somewhat Rise) and Fall of the Cleveland Browns

The Browns have been the let down of the league this NFL season.

Anthony Colavito, Sports Editor

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The rise of the Cleveland Browns was the story of the offseason as football fans eagerly approached the 2019-2020 NFL season. After acquiring top stars of the game and drafting very smartly, they were set up to do great things this season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield showed signs of greatness last year. But as the history of the Cleveland Browns has gone so far, something is going to go wrong, and that is exactly what has happened. Before addressing that, let’s go back and see what the Browns have done to try and improve, starting with last season. 

The 2018 season looked okay for the Browns. No were no big expectations, but fans expected them to be better than the season prior. The 2017 season was perhaps the worst in franchise history, finishing 0-16. They secured the number one draft pick and used that pick to select quarterback Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma. They also received the 4th overall pick in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts and used that pick to select cornerback Denzel Ward out of Ohio State. The first selection was not very popular amongst the Browns fans. They felt as if they should have taken running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State, who was one of the best draft prospects in recent memory. Going into the 2018 season, Tyrod Taylor was named the starting quarterback, despite taking Mayfield #1 overall, for the first game against the Steelers. The Browns would tie the game after many kicking miscues on both sides, and that would be the story of the first half of the season. They went into Week 2 with a record of 0-0-1. Cleveland would be going into the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints, which is one of the toughest stadiums to play in. The Browns’ kicking issues. Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed the game winning kick, and would help the Saints win 21-18. The Saints were a powerhouse, but the Browns made a statement. 

On one magical Thursday night, the Browns were hosting the New York Jets and were favorites in this game. At this point, the Browns haven’t won since December 24th, 2016, and there were a lot of free Bud Lights in Cleveland ready to be opened. Starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor would go down with an injury in this game. This lead to Baker Mayfield playing in his first NFL game. He was a fan favorite from the start. He helped the Browns win by throwing for 201 yards and would catch a touchdown. This 21-17 win for the Browns would send the city of Cleveland into a riot, they would give the Browns fans something to believe in. The Browns made a statement in 2018, finishing the season 7-8-1. This was a massive upgrade after going winless the season prior. The Browns had to go into the offseason with a different mindset than rebuild. They wanted to compete now that they have a franchise quarterback. 

The Browns had some stars on their lineup in 2018. Rookie running back Nick Chubb broke out and Jarvis Landry provided Baker Mayfield with a great target. Tight end David Njoku gave Mayfield a great safety blanket to throw to when nobody else was open. The defense was also come into their own. Defensive end Myles Garrett became a force to be reckoned with and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward proved to be one of the game’s elite. Baker Mayfield showed signs of a bright future ahead. But the 2019 offseason would give the Browns the biggest upgrades that she needed. The Browns going into the 2019 season were considered to the best team on paper. That was because on March 12th, the Browns made the trade of the offseason by trading for New York Giants superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Cleveland had to give up a first round draft pick, a third round draft pick and rising safety Jabrill Peppers. Odell would be paired up with his fellow LSU teammate and longtime friend Jarvis Landry. They acquired players like Kareem Hunt (who wouldn’t make his Browns debut until week 10), Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson. They also went ahead and selected LSU defensive back Greedy Williams in the 2019 NFL Draft. Cleveland was set to take the league by storm. 

The Browns were perhaps one of the most hyped up teams ever. They opened up the season at home against the Tennessee Titans. The Browns were big favorites going into this game. They would end up being embarrassed by “the kings of mediocrity,” otherwise known as the Tennessee Titans, by a score of 43-13. Since this loss, the Browns are currently 4-6 and have disappointed many. Baker Mayfield has thrown for 2,394 yards, 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Odell Beckham Jr. has expressed his frustration for the team, complaining that he isn’t getting enough catches. Odell has the right to be frustrated, as he has had Eli Manning and Baker Mayfield throwing to him his whole career. Cleveland’s biggest loss came in the Thursday Night Football game against the Steelers. The Browns won the game 21-7, but they would lose Myles Garrett for the season after he used a helmet to strike Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head. Overall, the Browns season has been disappointing. As a nation, we had our expectations high for the Browns. America was ready to finally watch the Browns not suck at football and they have been let down tremendously so far this season.