Win provides Kool-Aid taste test for Browns fans
I couldn’t help myself. As that first drive unfolded on Saturday night, it became harder and harder to hide the smile my face wanted to form.
As far as the regular season goes, of course the Browns 11-play 80-yard touchdown drive to start the game in Green Bay means nothing. One drive — a preseason one at that — does not a season make. But as the extra point sailed through the uprights after Jerome Harrison’s touchdown, I turned to my friend and said, “And they pull me back in.”
Some of those among us like to refer to the passion Browns fans have as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”
A preseason win doesn’t me I am ready to stand in line for playoffs tickets but as a Browns fan — the preseason opener was almost everything I wanted it to be.
Like most Browns fans I am easy to please. Give me a team I can identify with. Play hard, cut out the dumb mistakes and I am on board regardless of their record.
When Eric Mangini was first hired, I admit I was intrigued. When the national media started calling for his head after one game, I admit was drawn to his side. The national media are like piranhas. They just want someone to devour. As the season wore on, it became harder and harder to back Mangini, but maybe just maybe Mike Holmgren knows what he is doing.
Absolute power corrupts. You can’t give anyone complete control, especially someone raised in the Cold War Russia-like system of Bill Belichick.
Now that Mangini can just coach and not worry about espionage and all the other spy games, he can concentrate on coaching the team.
Last year was a miserable season. By the end of the season there wasn’t much talent left. But what Mangini did achieve was a team that played smarter than any since the team returned. They limited penalties and played fundamental football. That doesn’t provide wins but it is a strong foundation when the talent catches up.
All you have to do is look at the Browns’ schedule to have your enthusiasm altered. There are some very talented quarterbacks ready to carve up a Browns defense that seems to still have some holes.
But at the same time all you have to do is remember the embarrassing nature of the first quarter of the preseason opener against Green Bay in 2009 and compared that to what was on display Saturday night to feel better.
I expect the Browns to be competitive and be in every game this season, whether there is enough talent to translate that into wins, I am not sure.
But at the very least Jake Delhomme looked like a real NFL quarterback. He looked confident. He looked a leader and he moved the chains. Delhomme completed six of his seven passes including three to Mohamed Massaquoi, two to tight end Evan Moore and one to Brian Robiskie. Three young offensive weapons that need to develop.
Seneca Wallace also looked as good as advertised. A confident back up with real skills. His touchdown throw to Robiskie was a thing of beauty.
His second to Ben Watson reinforced that Watson could fill the role of a possession threat missing since Joe Jurevicius left.
Colt McCoy getting hurt may be the best thing for him. He is not a NFL-ready player. Those two interceptions should get the idiots to calm down and stop asking for him to play. An injury should allow McCoy to do what he needs to do — watch and study. Maybe now we can ignore the fact that he is on the team for the rest of the season. There is no need to even mention his name again in 2010.
At the end of the game, I was surprised Mangini allowed Phil Dawson to try that 58-yarder but that is why he is the coach. A kick like that gives confidence to an entire team. The Browns need to learn how to win. Sometimes the seed of that can be learned in the preseason.
Honestly, six wins seems to be the ceiling for this team but you have to like that Mangini isn’t settling for that.
In the end, a preseason means nothing but the warm feelings it produced is far better than the alternative.
Pass the Kool-Aid.