Sunday, the Browns accomplished back-to-back wins for the first time since October of 2015. It’s also their first road win since the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Is there reason to celebrate only four wins at this point in the season? You bet there is. Anyone worth their weight in football knowledge would understand that not only is any win this season a huge leap for the team, but it also knocks down some of those single moment stats the national media has been so handily throwing in the faces of Browns fans. “You haven’t won here since…,” or “It’s been three years since that happened!” There are a lot of monkeys on the backs of the team and the fans. We got rid of a few more of them today.
While the second half of today’s game against the Bengals certainly didn’t play out as the first did, it was still duct-taped together well enough that a collapse for Cleveland wasn’t going to happen. The first half saw the Browns block a couple field goal attempts which got visiting Cleveland fans charged. It also witnessed Baker sling some incredibly solid passes, one of which went toward David Njoku who attempted to defy gravity, then captured off the ground by a Bengal while J.C. Tretter led the push to get the Browns tight end in the end zone resembling a WWE touchdown if there ever was such a thing. The next aerial assault of amazement targeted running back Nick Chubb who caught the ball on the back of the defender’s helmet. Yes, it’s been done before, but there’s something a little extra special about it when the receiver is a power back known more for his straight-away speed than cat-like agility.
There’s something else of interest that has happened today, but before I get to that, can I just say how good it felt to defeat the Bengals with Hue Jackson on their sideline? I don’t hate the guy, I just think he thinks he’s a better NFL coach than he really is and that bothers me. How about that handshake he made with Baker at the end of the game? Hue smiled and appeared to say something complimentary. Baker’s response was a nod, nothing else. Maybe I’m reading into that too much, but curiosity has me wondering what that whole relationship was like when Hue was still here. Nevertheless, talk of head coaches leads me to my next topic.
By now we are all aware that Interim Head Coach Gregg Williams is going to get interviewed for the top spot. Who else gets a call could resemble the length of Santa’s well-behaved list. One prospective applicant is former Cardinals coach, Bruce Arians. According to NFL.com, Arians recently went on record as saying, “I would listen to the Browns, and only them.” Funny how much difference a good GM makes, doesn’t it? You know that if Arians is saying that, then you’ve most definitely got other people who will be lining up for the job, especially those who have never been a head coach at the NFL level before. The point being is it’s all a product of today’s victory and the turn-around the team has made thus far.
Enough about who wants to coach here, let’s look at those numbers! First, Baker finished the day 19 out of 26 with 258 yards passing and four eye-popping touchdown passes, including the one where Njoku looked like he was about to get body-slammed but scored anyway. Chubb finished with a touchdown in the air, one on the ground, 84 yards rushing and 44 yards receiving. I’m just going to call it right now. Baker wins Rookie of the Week again. It’ll happen. Thank me later. Still, Baker’s deeds would not have been possible without the impressive play of that offensive line today. There were moments where time appeared to stand still and Baker could do whatever he wanted. Read a book. Have some tea. Learn Latin. Throw a pass. I’m just saying, the guy had options.
There are obviously still areas of improvement for the orange and brown, such as Jamie Collins’ numb-skull shove right after the Browns intercepted Andy Dalton. The penalties haven’t been amassing in number as they did under Hue Jackson’s tenure, but there are still some actions that define stupidity. Thankfully, they’ve diminished a great deal. As life in the NFL goes, however, this game is already quickly disappearing in the Browns’ rear view as they’ll begin preparing for next week’s adversary, a division-leading Houston Texans squad. They’re not the Chiefs, but Houston has some potent offensive weapons of their own in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. For now, let’s just take this moment to inhale this victory, this second bookend of back-to-back wins, and this first road win since Pangea was still a thing.