The Coming-Of-Age Of The Cleveland Browns

The Coming-Of-Age Of The Cleveland Browns

By Shawn Johnson

It has been 16 seasons since the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs. The 2002 AFC Wildcard game was the last time the franchise experienced post season play. Kelly Holcomb lead the 9-7 Browns into Pittsburgh and came up short, losing 36-33 at Heinz Stadium.

Since 2002, the Browns have been the laughing stock of the NFL. The dog pound faithful have not been given a reason to cheer for their beloved Browns, but there they are, year after year. Although they have paper bags on their heads or wearing dog masks, they are braving the cold Ohio weather to support their team.

The 2018 NFL draft generated some hype in Cleveland when they drafted Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma number 1 overall. In college, Mayfield was a playmaker. He could throw the long ball, drive the field and pick apart a defense. He had vision downfield and could escape the pocket and move. Tyrod Taylor was a similar player, but eventually, Mayfield won the starting job after Taylor had a less than mediocre game against the New York Jets.

Taylor completed 4/14 passing for 19 yards and trailed the jets 14-3 at halftime. The then Browns Head Coach, Hue Jackson decided to give Baker Mayfield a chance in the second half. The game took place in Cleveland, so cheers of excitement could be heard roaring throughout the stadium. Baker went off and completed 17/23 for a total of 201 yards. Mayfield led the Browns in the second half to steal the game from the New York Jets by a score of 21-17

The past three seasons under Hue Jackson's leadership has been torture for the Browns faithful. In 2016, Jackson had a record of 1-15. In 2017, Jackson and the Browns went winless (0-16) and in 2018, had a 2-5-1 record until he was relieved of his duties. Jackson’s coaching tenure in Cleveland did not end well with a total coaching record of 3-36-1. Cleveland appointed defensive coordinator Gregg Williams as Interim Head Coach until the end of the season and allowed Freddie Kitchens, Offensive Coordinator, to call the plays. Under the new coaching staff, the Browns were one win away from having a winning season.

During the offseason, Interim Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams took his talents to the New York Jets to join Adam Gase. The front office in Cleveland decided to hire within and appoint Offensive Coordinator Freddie Kitchens as head coach. This is a great move by Cleveland.

Baker Mayfield had the following to say to SiriusXM Radio about the promotion of Kitchens:

“Seeing how he was, how he didn’t change when he made the jump from running backs coach to offensive coordinator. Then just taking over and the difference that we had while he was calling plays. You know what, he had guys believing in him. When you have guys that believe in you as a head coach and respect you, there’s going to be great things that happen.”

So will history repeat itself for the Cleveland or is this the turning of the tide for the Browns? I believe that after 16 seasons, Cleveland is finally moving in the right direction. They have Mayfield, a decent offensive line, a few receivers in Landry, Higgins and Perriman as well as two solid running backs: Chubb and Johnson. Once Cleveland beefs up their defense, not to mention whoever they take in the upcoming draft. The Browns will be a threat in the AFC North and in a few years, a solid playoff contender if all the pieces fall into place.

PHOTOS: Jason Miller/Getty Images