Addition of Odell Beckham Jr. raises expectations to the highest level for Browns

Hype builds for America’s new favorite team but now the real work begins

Daryl Ruiter
March 14, 2019 - 12:14 am
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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The victory laps are still being run.

Jerseys have begun flying off the shelves in the team shop.

The Browns are now the hottest ticket in town.

But now the real work begins.

It seems somewhat disingenuous considering the three-stooges level of mismanagement of the franchise prior to John Dorsey’s arrival to suggest that the easy work of roster building is nearly complete but compared to where the bar has now been set – pssst: division title and dum, dum, dum, the Super Bowl – that yes, the easy work is done.

The acquisition of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Pro Bowl defensive end Olivier Vernon from the New York (used to play) football Giants for essentially peanuts has Browns fans as well as the NFL and sports world for that matter, still abuzz.

In mere moments, the Browns went from being on the cusp of contention coming off a 7-8-1 season to Super Bowl contenders.

The leap from the NFL’s outhouse to the penthouse won’t be easy.

The fact of the matter is that the Browns haven’t won their division in 30 years or made the playoffs in the last 16.

Both streaks appear to – at long last – be in serious jeopardy this year following a flurry of moves that also include an agreement on a three-year, $39 million deal with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

But you don’t win games in March.

Dorsey, head coach Freddie Kitchens, the players and anyone else that works in Berea will tell you that.

This isn’t to throw a wet blanket on the current wave of excitement that has everyone wishing it were September, quite the contrary, but reality is reality, and the Browns have real challenges that they will have to deal with as they prepare for the 2019 season.

This is unchartered yet exciting territory for everyone – the team, ownership, fans, even the media.

The days of being buried on the schedule at 1 p.m. every Sunday afternoon are about to become a distant memory.

Every network is going to want a bite of the Browns this season – NBC’s Sunday night football, ESPN’s Monday night football and of course the Thursday night football package too. League rules limit a team to 5 national TV appearances and the Browns will probably max that out this year and in the years to follow.

How do they handle a discombobulated schedule that will feature short and long weeks playing against the league’s elite?

The Browns, who are the favorites for the first time since the AFC North was created in 2002 to win the division, are now the hunted, not the hunters.

They won’t be able to sneak up on anyone in 2019, so how will they handle the target that is now on their backs?

The amount of artillery that Kitchens and offensive coordinator Todd Monken will be able to deploy around quarterback Baker Mayfield this fall could fill a Madden roster.

Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Antonio Callaway, Nick Chubb, eventually Kareem Hunt and David Njoku. Will there be enough footballs to go around to keep everyone happy?

How does Kitchens manage the big personalities and the expectations that come with national attention? Or will the players be able to manage themselves within the locker room?

Happy teams succeed together. Disgruntled, selfish ones, self-destruct from within.

The Browns’ offense – on paper – is video-game good but talent only gives you the ability to win.

There are no guarantees, just look southeast to Pittsburgh where the Steelers, who had one of the top quarterbacks in the game paired with arguably the best receiver and running back, won exactly zero Super Bowls in the ‘Killer Bs’ era.

Dorsey has done his part, and he’s not done yet – roster construction never is truly complete, now its time for the new look Browns to do theirs.

There are going to be challenges and plenty of questions to answer along the journey to the mountain top in the coming months and years, but enjoy the ride.

It’s been a long time coming, Cleveland.

To quote one of the greatest movies set in Cleveland of all time – not Draft Day either – there’s only one thing for the Browns left to do, which just 15 months ago seemed preposterous to even dream about.

Win the whole ****ing thing.