Another Sunday, another Browns loss. Nothing new here, but what if I told you not to assume another hopeless season? That the Browns would in fact be at the top of the AFC North towards the end of the season? I know, I sound like a broken record player as a Browns fan but hear me out. I still believe in the Browns because I still believe in Tom Brady and the Browns and Buccaneers had very similar starts to the NFL season.
Like Baker and the Browns, Tom and the Buccaneers struggled in their Week 1 game with a 34 – 23 loss against the Saints. Tom, to fans’ and Bruce Arians’ surprise, did not look like the TB12 we’ve all come to admire. Even Brady and Mayfield’s numbers nearly resembled each other, Tom going 23/36 with two TD’s and two INT’s while Baker went 21/39 with one TD and one INT. Neither player looked comfortable in each respective offensive system, but why should they have? Each team underwent significant changes, whether it be front office or roster and barely had time to acclimate.
Due to COVID-19, no NFL preseason took place this year. Though each team in the league was affected, it was particularly most unfortunate for newly reconstructed teams such as the Browns and Bucs. Before the start of the new year, the Browns parted ways from general manager John Dorsey and brought on former Eagles’ Vice President of Football Operations, Andrew Berry. On top of the change in management, Baker has had little time to adjust and become situated with a consistent offense since he is now on his fourth head coach in just the past three years. The Browns have also revamped their offense with the addition of offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, formerly the Bengals’ quarterback coach.
The Bucs went through significant changes during the offseason as well, focusing on the roster rather than the front office. The most notable difference in the Bucs roster and offense is the signing of Tom Brady. Until now, Brady has spent all 20 years of his career within a very different organization and offensive system, masterminded by Bill Belichik and designed specifically for Brady’s style of play. Like Baker, Brady has had very little time to adjust to his new home and become familiar with the play-calling of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
The redeeming quality to the disappointing starts of both the Browns and Bucs is the fact that they have had barely any time of significant preparation for this year’s season. History would suggest that Tom will be more than capable of turning the season around given the talented roster of the Bucs, the offensive mind of Bruce Arians and Tom’s own pedigree of winning. The Browns have an equally talented roster and strong leader in Baker Mayfield; the only difference being the dismal seasons of the Browns’ recent past. Like the Bucs, all the pieces are in place for the Browns to succeed this season. All that is left to do is for the organization to get out of its own way and defeat the “curse” that has presumably been placed on the team.