Odell Beckham Jr.
Preseason tilt is tip of iceberg
The giddy Cleveland Browns fans can’t contain themselves. They have waited for decades to feel good again about the hometown football team and for good reason there is no greater optimism than right now.
Sure the Browns will began their trek towards ultimate redemption on Thursday at FirstEnergy Stadium in a meaningless preseason game against the Washington Redskins at 8:30 p.m., but it will be the first glimpse of the colorful Picasso that will be framed three months from now.
So, they hope? For the first time during the modern era of National Football League, the Cleveland Browns have national relevance with the world champions Patriots, Rams, Saints and Dallas Cowboys.
Mind you that this is a team that won 7 games last season, fired its head coach and will begin anew with Freddie Kitchens who took over for Hue Jackson and infused the team with blushing promise.
The Browns drafted their face of the franchise last year with the No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, a brash under sized cocky quarterback who has become the new mold for the position for perhaps years to come.
Last year he completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,725, with 27 touchdowns
against only 14 interceptions.
He lost out in the Rookie of the Year honors to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, but league wide notice had been served.
Kitchens embraced Mayfield’s in your face confidence and the Browns faithful absolutely adores him. He’s a star among the stars now and relishes the opportunity to ‘Make Cleveland Great Again.’
He will have his shot in his sophomore campaign because the Browns are not just a team with potential anymore; they are a team with expectations. SKY HIGH EXPECTATIONS!
All that changed the minute they swung the deal with the Giants to bring in mega star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
In an offseason deal that sent shockwaves throughout the NFL, the Browns got Beckham Jr. and his monster five-year, $90 million contract, after another standout season with 77 catches, 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in just 12 games with the Giants.
It cost the Browns safety Jabrill Peppers, and the No. 17 overall pick in return, but it could be more than worth it.
With Mayfield throwing darts to Landry and Beckham Jr., the emergence of the talented tight end David Njoku, the running back tandem of Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson you get the feeling that scoring points will not be an issue with this football team.
Chubb was impressive as a rookie with 996 yards and eight TDs on 5.2 yards per carry. That included an average of 7.1 yards per carry in the fourth quarter.
The wild card to the offense is Kareem Hunt, the former Toledo star who was on the cusp of becoming a budding star in Kansas City before his career was derailed by offseason domestic violence for which he will start the season serving an 8 game suspension.
In 2017, Hunt had 53 receptions for 455 yards and led the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards as part of his breakout season. He is on a one-year deal, so the second half of the season must come with zero distraction, if he is still on the team.
“We know that Kareem has work to do, and he is in counseling working really hard,” owner Dee Haslam said regarding Hunt, who recently was questioned by police after an incident outside of a bar in Cleveland. “It is up to him. It truly is up to him. We have high expectations for our players.”
Defensively the Browns will have to improve from a year ago, allowing 22.4 points per game (20th), giving up 368.8 yards a game (13th), allowing 250.4 passing yards (14th) and surrendering 118.3 yards on the ground (14th).
Edge rusher Myles Garrett returns off a tremendous year when he was 6th in the NFL with sacks with 13 and he will anchor a defense capable of wrecking havoc on opposing offenses.
So, yeah this could be a big year in Cleveland and if all goes according to plan it will be Dawg Pound town again, woofing and barking all the way to the Super Bowl. Shall we get ahead of ourselves? Too late we already have!