Can the Browns capitalize on the championship vibe?
The Cleveland Browns enter the 2016 NFL season with a new sort of motivation after the Cleveland Cavaliers brought a title to the city.
“Cleveland! This is for you!” exclaimed the King, LeBron James.
As Cleveland ended its 52-year championship drought on June 19, 2016, the city felt an uprising in confidence throughout the entire sports landscape.
Out with the woe-is-me, only-in-Cleveland mentality, and in comes the confidence and swagger of the first title in Cleveland since the Cleveland Browns won it all in 1964.
So now, fans’ confidence in their teams has soared. The Indians are in the midst of their longest winning streak since 1982 (they’ve won 11 in a row as of Tuesday night) and the team is playing with extreme confidence while riding stellar starting pitching to first place in the AL Central.
So the question is will all this winning and confidence spill over to Berea? The change of culture across the teams in the city has been felt on many levels, but will the beloved Browns be able to feed off of the energy and captivate the fan base come September?
Hue Jackson believes so.
Through OTA’s and minicamp’s Jackson has made it a point to change the culture, constantly preaching to his players that they must get better each day and protect their home field.
In a three-minute video posted on the Browns Twitter page, Jackson is seen preaching work ethic, telling players he will push them like they’ve never been pushed and applauding players efforts on the field.
Jackson probably has the most difficult job in town. He’s tasked with turning around a franchise which has been the doormat of the NFL since its return in 1999. The other coaches and managers have been blessed with superstars and talent on their rosters, which has made the other teams’ turnarounds easier and quicker. Jackson doesn’t have that luxury.
Jackson had to come in here and do a complete makeover to the losing culture that has infested Berea and FirstEnergy Stadium.
To put it in perspective, imagine you bought a house that was built on a shoddy foundation. Sure, you could try to do small things to try to repair that foundation and hold out that it will last over a longer period of time, but eventually that foundation will crumble and so will the house.
Jackson, with the help of Sashi Brown, Paul DePodesta and Jimmy Haslam, realized they could no longer keep patching up the foundation of this depleted house and tore it down to the base. The only way to build a solid house is to build a solid foundation. The Browns feel like they have the right people in place to form the solid foundation it desperately needed to change the losing culture into a winning one.
The Browns feel like they can ride the wave of the Cavaliers and Indians and catapult themselves from the depths of the NFlL, back to relevance in a league they once dominated many years ago.
In order to do so Jackson has the tall task of rectifying the QB position that has hindered the team since its return in 1999. But Jackson has the mindset and coaching experience to do just that.
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Jackson’s track record with quarterbacks has been an impressive one. The most recent is the work he did transforming Andy Dalton into a reputable QB in Cincinnati. If anyone can get the most out of Robert Griffin III it would be Jackson, as he has a history of bringing the best out of each of his players.
For the first time since the Butch Davis era, the feeling around Berea is that the Browns have the right guy to deliver them from the doldrums and return them to prominence.
In a town that has had more than its fair share of heartbreak, the energy in the city has propelled a level of optimism for its sports teams that the town hasn’t seen since the 1960s. The hope is that the championship play and attitude has energized Jackson and the Browns and will help propel them back to prominence once again.
The Cavs have shown them it’s possible. The Indians are feeding off the energy flying high in first place. It’s now up to the Browns to continue the trend and ride the championship vibe.
If not, they risk becoming the third wheel in a town in which they’ve dominated the headlines for years.