If you are the type of sports fan that only considers a championship a success, you may want to go ahead and click on this NFL mock draft or this set of NFL draft rumors and buzz.
For those who are still here, it is time to be positive and hopeful for a moment.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won over 50 games this season (an important mark in the NBA) and head into the playoffs with home-court advantage in the first round. The Cleveland Guardians are coming last year’s playoff run and got better.
The Cleveland Browns, of course, could be the deciding factor in whether Cleveland sports fans have a glorious 2023.
(Small detail: The NFL season actually ends in the calendar year of 2024 but the vast majority of the season is in 2023.)
The Cavaliers and Guardians were not supposed to get where each has gotten, making the playoffs as very young teams. Much like the Browns will this season, the Cavs conference makes their road to a conference championship game very difficult. If either team was in their respective western conference, the path would be much easier.
The Guardians are just starting up their very long season. The MLB season is a marathon, the NFL season is a spring while the NBA season is more like a 20K. (I don’t run but my wife does so I’m free to use these hackneyed references.) The “Guardos” are expected to compete for a playoff spot once again.
That means Cleveland’s hope for a glorious sports run in 2023 is likely to fall on the Browns. Based on the information I’ve seen (including page views when I ran sites covering the different teams), Cleveland is a Browns town. That doesn’t mean fans are passionate and faithful to the two other professional franchises but the sheer volume of fans is in football.
The Browns are a talented team and have added cost-controlled talent this offseason as well. As is true in the NFL, it all comes down to the coach and the quarterback. Kevin Stefanski was the Coach of the Year in the NFL after the 2020 season but has led back-to-back losing seasons.
There were understandable reasons for some of that with Baker Mayfield playing injured most of 2021 and playing both Jacoby Brissett and Deshaun Watson in 2022 due to Watson’s lengthy suspension.
For 2023, Stefanski and Watson have a full year to prepare together, Watson has had a chance to shake off the rust and Elijah Moore and Jordan Akins add to the offense’s weapons. No more excuses. No more “well, see if...”
If Cleveland is going to have a glorious sports 2023 with all three teams making the playoffs and, hopefully, at least one making it to a championship game, the Browns must hold up their end of the bargain. The Cavaliers have started the process well for the city. The Guardians are likely on their way back. Et tu, Browns?