The Cleveland Browns are 4-1. It is remarkable for me to be able to say that as someone who has not seen a winning season since I was 6 years old and dressed up as then-quarterback Charlie Frye for Halloween.
I have a lot of positive emotions about this Browns team. I’m relieved that the Browns finally seem to have a competent front office. I’m happy that watching the Browns every Sunday is no longer something I dread. I’m excited for the future of a team with a host of young talent. I’m surprised that Cleveland seems to finally have hired the right coach.
But most of all, I am confused. The Browns have done plenty of things that have confused me this year. It started in week two, when they defeated a team they were predicted to. In my time as a football fan, the Browns have not been known to do that often.
They did it again in week three. I didn’t know what I was watching. It seemed to be a team with an identity that it stuck to, even when trailing in the fourth quarter.
The surprises and confusion intensified the next week when the Browns overcame an injury to a key player and still put up 49 points on the Cowboys, a team that was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. Putting up 49 points on playoff contenders is against Cleveland’s nature.
After a week five win against another good team, the Indianapolis Colts, I took some time to reflect on how strange this season has been.
It has been chock full of things the Browns are not known for — things like good clock management, discipline on both sides of the ball and a “next man up” mentality that has allowed them to work through injuries.
These things are hallmarks of good teams. Reflecting on this led me to ask just one question: are the Browns actually good this season?
My tentative answer is yes. Whenever the Browns looked promising in the past, there were always signs that the other shoe was going to drop. This year seems different, however.
Kevin Stefanski looks better that any coach the Browns have had in decades. The roster has a great mix of high-end talent and depth, and the Browns look like they are positioned for sustained success.
The Browns’ next game will be a huge test for how good this team actually is. They play the undefeated Steelers, and the game will serve as both a rivalry game and will decide who will sit on top of the AFC North. A good performance, whether they win or lose, will cement the Browns as a legitimate contender. A disappointing game like they played in week one against the Ravens will leave room for doubt if the Browns are as good as they’ve been hyped up to be.
Whatever the result is this Sunday, the bottom line is that the Browns seem to have achieved some level of competence. Cleveland fans deserve a good football team. While they may not have it yet, they may at least have a team that does not disappoint them on a weekly basis.
Will Cunningham is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Will? Tweet him @willocunningham.