Things change fast, don’t they? The Cleveland Browns have (somewhat) reshaped everyone’s perception after doing the unthinkable and winning two consecutive games against teams that looked bad.
As you recall, the Pittsburgh Steelers were without a lot of players, and the Oakland Raiders were semi-healthy, but missing 35,000 fans in their stadium. While those similarly-crippled Steelers went on to beat the Baltimore Ravens, seemingly increasing the relative worth of the Browns’ victory, I’d like us to take a moment and try not to get ahead of ourselves.
I don’t want to devalue what the Browns have done. I’m very much a fan and I feel lucky to get to write about a team that I – whether justifiably or not – really do love watching. I do want to take a step back and wonder why our opinions are changing so much, though.
Suddenly, Pat Shurmur, Public Enemy No. 1, is not under half as much fire as he was just ten days ago. Winning heals all wounds, but have fans forgotten that even the most steadfast “don’t change coaches all the time” believers (me) have finally swung to the “please fire him when you have a moment” side of the argument? This is a coach who has effectively mishandled 95% of his 4th-and-short calls this year, wasting approximately 97 timeouts on those botched calls in the process. This is a guy who fans were clamoring to fire by the fourth week of the season. This is a coach who gave the most vanilla, predictable, 8th-grade-coach answers to presser questions that you’ve ever heard. Yet, after two straight wins, there is a notably different vibe around the fan base.
Don’t believe me? I had written an article late last week about how the continual failure of players can either breed competitiveness or complacency. Now? Can’t run it, because there have been a couple of wins. Believe me, it’s not going anywhere, because it’s likely that the team will falter again at some point and make fans believe that they’re roughly the Bad News Bears of professional football, but the fact that it has entered our minds that the Browns are no longer the laughingstock that they were a mere three weeks ago is…well, it’s shocking.
Winning makes a difference, I will not argue that at all. It’s a matter of one play here and one play there, and suddenly your team is in the win column. I can’t shake the feeling that the Browns have played better games than the ones of the last two weeks and lost them, yet these last two wins have rejuvenated people who have been watching. If you can honestly say you didn’t turn to a friend during one of these wins and say, “Man…we stink,” then you’re clearly watching the game alone, because those moments happened.
But most important is this: I spent months defending the “keep Shurmur around” side of the coin, and I finally bailed about a month ago. I don’t want to look stupid for doing that (although I’ll be two months less stupid than a lot of people). I am not letting the sudden “success” sway me.
Unless, you know, more wins happen. Duh.