In most of our lifetimes, the Browns have had only two winning seasons. This season, the team looks promising, particularly with young quarterback Johnny “Johnny Football” Manziel’s improvements.
One thing the Browns have going for them that isn’t commonly found around the league right now is health. Each main player on Cleveland’s team is either healthy now or should be healthy by the first game of the season.
The preseason has also looked promising. Despite the first two games coming in losses, each was competitive and had moments of hope.
In the first preseason game against the Washington Redskins, quarterback Josh McCown was in a collapsing pocket. Defenders came at him from just about every angle. With his veteran experience and undeniable talent, the quarterback avoided each attack and got off a touchdown pass into the corner of the end zone to wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
Later in the same game, Manziel got his time to shine. Just about a dozen yards away from the end zone, Manziel got a hold of the ball. The offensive lineman expertly parted the defenders, leaving him with a wide-open path to run through. He darted along a diagonal towards the end zone, and with two Redskins chasing him down, scored a touchdown to go up 14-3.
To Cleveland’s dismay, the game would end as a three-point loss, 20-17. But the loss did not come without its bright spots. The game showed the world that McCown still has some stunning moves and that Manziel has grown up and improved drastically. The offense shined in this game in ways that it hasn’t in years.
The next game was played in Cleveland against the Buffalo Bills. The game was light on highlights, leading into the fourth quarter with a tie at 3-3. The Browns were the first to score off of a 21-yard score led by Manziel, giving the Browns a late 10-3 lead. However, not much later, the Buffalo Bills scored a touchdown as well as completing a successful two-point conversion to take the W. It wasn’t the offense that was big in this game, but the defense.
Last season, the Cleveland Browns defense was in the top 10 in the league. Over the off-season, the front office has strengthened the defense even more. It showed against the Bills. Throughout the first three quarters, the Browns held the strong Buffalo offense to just a single field goal—a feat few envisioned before the game.
The greatest news for Cleveland fans is the improvement of Manziel. After last season’s disappointing results and arguably worse news coverage of the young partygoing football star, good news about Manziel is the best news around.
The 22-year-old quarterback has matured significantly after his many slip-ups off the field last year. He has also been learning from veteran quarterback McCown, increasing his knowledge of the game.
Manziel has scored two touchdowns already this postseason, which is more than he did in his entire rookie season. His growing knowledge of the playbook is showing. These promising results could potentially mean we could see Manziel starting by the end of the season—something most Browns fans would be excited to watch happen.
This year, the Browns could actually break into one of those coveted wildcard playoff seeds and maybe even compete their way into the divisional round of the playoffs. Don’t count the Browns as down and out just yet—they may very well surprise us all and surpass everyone’s expectations this season.