Welcome one and all to my first edition of an article I've been thinking about piecing together for a while now, the Underdawg.
After all, aren't we all an Underdawg.
Allow me to provide some background to my fandom, if you will. I am a third generation Browns fan, dating back to my Grandfather who yelled at my mother one year at Christmas when I was a toddler to never even think about buying me a Cincinnati Bengals shirt ever again or he would burn the item in question. This also goes back to my father, going to Municipal Stadium in the 80s and witnessing a Dolphins fan chased down the snowy streets of Cleveland, followed by a gaggle of Browns fans with rocks.
Ah, the good old days. When the Dawg Pound was still allowed to throw heavy objects. Good times, good times.
I now carry on the tradition since 1999, and as many of you have felt year after year, that feeling gets heavier with each losing season. But, that's what it means to be a true fan and have a real love for your team, isn't it? This team is in my blood, and there is nothing more than can be said.
Allow me to impart my fellow Browns fans with my own thoughts, stories, and speculations about our team by the lake.
OPTIMISM AND THE THIRD WHEEL
I really have to say that the last few games have been a full breeze in the sails of Browns fans everywhere. I happen to have the misfortune of living in the very southern tip of Ohio, which means one thing: I'm the third wheel. You see, the largest contingent of NFL fans down here belong to the Bengals and Steelers, which grates me to no end. What does this mean? When the Browns lose, I have to hear it from two sets of assholes, my local CBS affiliate doesn't show a single Browns game, and I get weird looks from people for wearing the brown and orange. The second one is the most painful, as I have had to resort to other means to see or hear every game this season.
However, with our change of luck in the last two games I have felt a change in many things. For one, I am trilled that Cleveland is getting some positive exposure in the media that goes past how awful our franchise is thought of. Secondly, listening to the Browns React broadcasts on WKNR 850 has shown me that the spirit of the fans and maybe of the city of Cleveland has finally gone in the direction it deserves. After all, I feel the Browns have the best town and fans in the league. We have deserved better for a long time, and on the back of Payton Hillis we are getting there.
A large component of the Browns current turn-around boils down to smart playing. The stats will show that Cleveland has been at it's worst football when making bad mistakes, whether it's penalties or turnovers. These two words had a lot of use in the Anderson and Frye eras of the Browns, and as of late has been one of our strengths. I chalk this up to the smart play of Colt McCoy, who has an intellect and eye for football that hardly any other current quarterback in the league has. The scary thing is, though, that he is only a rookie. Given time to mature, McCoy could become a threat on leading and play-calling, let alone his already accurate arm.
The weeks ahead hold much potential for the team. I'm not one that likes to look ahead in the schedule, but in the case of the Browns, and especially if they defeat the Jets this weekend, you REALLY might have to. A win over New York would put the Browns at 4-5, with an upcoming schedule of Jacksonville, Carolina, Miami, Buffalo, and Cincinnati. These teams right now have a combined record of 11 and 25. Compared to the earlier part of the schedule, this section coming could prove to be the momentum builder needed for Cleveland to go into the snows of Cleveland to close the season out on two back to back home games against the Steelers and Ravens.
I should know from past experience to not get my hopes up just yet, but with all of those games being VERY winnable, we could be looking at a 9 and 5 Cleveland Browns knocking on the door to the playoffs. Is this team ready? I would say yes and no. The lack of a backup for Peyton Hillis worries me, as Cleveland backs have a tendency to fall to shambles quick. The right side of the offensive line also scares me a bit.
But, what do we have to lose? If we win, we're the darlings of the league. If we don't, we're just "Oh, the Browns."
I'll take those chances, will you?