As the Cleveland Browns worked through the opening weekend of training camp, it became clear that Jarvis Landry is everything advertised as a wide receiver.
Landry works as hard as anyone on the field, runs a precise route and, most importantly, catches everything thrown his way. Which, candidly (to borrow one of owner Jimmy Haslam’s favorite words), is a refreshing sight to behold.
While Landry has been going through the opening days of camp, he also made some headlines thanks to a few predictions that he shared with Sports Illustrated’s Ben Baskin.
The fifth-year veteran is fired up enough about the wave of change running through the Browns that he proclaimed that opposing defenses will be lucky of the Browns don’t score 40 or more points in a game. If that is not enough, he also stated that, “if we get everyone playing to their potential, we can win the Super Bowl this year.”
It is refreshing to see a player in orange and brown have the moxie to say things like that with a straight face, and even better to know they have the on-field production to match those statements.
Practice is over but @TyrodTaylor and @God_Son80 are still working#BrownsCamp pic.twitter.com/EaeIuebGk4— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) July 27, 2018
But Browns fans need to take a deep breath and not buy too deeply into what Landry is selling.
The idea of the Browns putting up 40 points on a regular basis, or even occasionally, is probably nothing more than a pleasant fantasy.
The Browns have not had a top 10 scoring offense since 2007, and have ranked at No. 30 or worst six times since then. The team may also not have been as bad over the past two seasons as the 1-31 record suggests, but there are simply too many questions to realistically entertain the idea of a Super Bowl run, let alone a fight for a playoff spot.
That is not to dismiss Landry’s optimism, however.
Jarvis Landry’s impact on Corey Coleman starts with what’s for dinner— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) July 26, 2018
» https://t.co/jYrHssSNjB#BrownsCamp pic.twitter.com/JK3s9gqyfo
The offense should be better, thanks to Landry and the continued presence of running back Duke Johnson, along with the expected progress of wide receiver Cory Coleman and tight end David Njoku.
The biggest change, of course, comes at the quarterback position, where Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield protect the ball in ways that 2017 starter DeShone Kizer can only dream of.
The new faces at quarterback, along with the simple fact that teams can’t be unlucky every year, works in the Browns favor. As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out in a column this week:
It would be a near-impossibility for the Browns to be as bad with turnovers as they were a year ago, both inside and outside the 20. Cleveland posted a turnover margin of minus-28, comfortably the worst in the league. You might not want to hear this if you think that smart teams win the turnover margin year after year, but it’s an inconsistent stat from season to season.
Since the league went to 32 teams in 2002, the teams that finished dead last in turnover margin in a given year posted an average margin of minus-20. The following year, those same teams posted a positive turnover margin, averaging a mark of just under plus-three. The teams improved by an average of 3.6 wins. If you’re this bad at turning the ball over, a combination of luck and offseason investment tends to flip your margin the following season. The Browns had the league’s fifth-worst fumble recovery rate (totally random) and replaced a historically sloppy quarterback with the league’s safest pair of hands.
It is yet another new era in Cleveland, one that brings with it the accompanying optimism from players and fans.
Things should be better this year - we shudder to think how they could get worse - but the more optimistic statements from Landry may still be a year or so off.