For the first time in a long time, there’s a significantly different buzz in the City of Cleveland during the month of December.
The Browns entered the last two Decembers winless, searching for their first win to avoid the unthinkable 0-16 season.
The last few Decembers, with the Browns winless, the Indians were coming off of devastating postseason appearances and the Cavaliers were getting ready to mediocrely coast into the month of January while somehow hovering around the top of the Eastern Conference.
During the last few years, Browns fans didn’t have much to cling on to during this time of the year. Some fans would wait for April’s draft. Others would hopelessly wait for the firing of general managers and head coaches.
Things are different now.
The Cleveland Browns are playing meaningful football in December just one year after enduring their most painful season in franchise history.
The Browns are 5-7-1 and remain “in the hunt” for the AFC playoff picture. Usually, the team is mathematically eliminated by this part of the season.
In the winning 2007 season with Romeo Crennel as head coach and the 7-win 2014 season with Brian Hoyer and Mike Pettine, the wins just felt like a mirage.
With John Dorsey as the general manager, these wins feel much different.
Baker Mayfield has emerged as the undoubted franchise quarterback for this team moving forward. When have fans ever used the words “Browns, rookie and quarterback” within the Rookie of the Year conversation? Never.
Not to mention, Nick Chubb appears to have the potential to emerge into an All-Pro running back in the near future. Breshad Perriman has been a fantastic find on the waiver-wire at receiver and the Jarvis Landry trade and contract extension has really paid off.
On the defensive side of the football, notable names have emerged as well. Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and Damarious Randall appear to have long, bright futures wearing brown and orange.
Yes, it’s a long shot, but the Browns certainly have the playoffs in sight.
The three remaining games, Denver, Cincinnati and Baltimore are all games that can be considered winnable. Of course, the Browns would need to be undefeated in those three games and would need teams in front of them to lose in order to crack a playoff spot at an alleged 8-7-1.
Playoffs aside, it’s astounding that the Browns are playing meaningful December football games.
The players care. The fans care. The culture is changing. Sunday’s win didn’t feel like a fluke, an outlier or a mirage. It felt normal.
Winning is an awesome feeling that fans can get used to for the years to come. This team is only going to get better. The sparks and flashes we’re witnessing every Sunday are just signs of what is to come for this football team.
“Every win is one more than what we had last year,” safety Damarious Randall said. “So we take every win with a grain of salt and just to show the whole, entire league that the Cleveland Browns (are) no joke.”
Nick Pedone can be reached on his Twitter, @NickPedone12 with questions or comments!