Lakewood OH

Browns regain a city’s heart

Today’s Take: Browns have a new opportunity

By Jim Horvath

With what’s his name heading off to the big party down south and the Tribe in rebuild mode, the city’s longtime favorite team has been given the opportunity of a lifetime.

That’s right: the Cleveland Browns are back in the front seat with sports fans here on the Northcoast.

It’s an opportunity they can’t afford to waste.

I was at Joe Thomas’ fishing derby recently in Westlake. Punter Dave Zastudil was there and took a moment to address the fans before he left the grounds of the Westlake Recreation Center. His message was short and sweet. To paraphrase, it went something like this:

“Thank God the Cavs season is now over. Now we can all look forward to the Browns and the upcoming football season.”

Amen Dave. Amen.

Football fans throughout the Westshore and beyond are anxiously awaiting what many think will be the dawning of a new era of Browns football. You can include your friendly neighborhood sports writer among those who are more than curious about how our Browns are going to fare this fall.

With the rookies (well, at least most of them…) slated to show up in Berea this weekend, that curiosity is starting to build. Can the team improve on it’s 5-11 cord of last season? Was the four-game winning streak a fluke or a sign of things to come?

Do we finally have a semblance of a quarterback on the roster?

Inquiring minds want to know. Not only that, they all want it to be true. Face it, we’re more than each to see the Browns return to at least mediocrity. Greatness? We may have to wait awhile for that one but in the world of the NFL, a better-than-.500 season may not be that far away.

I look at it this way: 8-8 is only three more wins away from 5-11. And once you get to even, you’re a botched snap, a kickoff return from a touchdown or a big interception return away from 9-7.

That, my friends, is approaching the land of the playoffs. And that is not a pipe dream. That’s a four-game improvement. If you take into consideration a renewed optimism by he players themselves, that’s worth a game or two right there. Improved talent? That’s another two games.

Am I a homer? Absolutely.

I’ve been a fan long enough to know the difference between real and fake optimism.

Well, at least I think so.



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