Welcome to the best NFL offseason series you'll ever read -- that is, if you're like me, and you want nothing more than the blissful lie that your team will be good in 2019. How Your Team Won Super Bowl 54 will take you through each NFL franchise with one goal in mind: convincing you that there's at least one universe in which Your Team wins it all. I'm Doctor Strange, you're Tony Stark, the Avengers are Your Team, Thanos is...Bill Belichick? I've lost the metaphor.
One thing's for sure:
You'll die in the end. Your Team is going to win Super Bowl 54.
I have an issue here, gang.
This is usually the spot where I introduce my joke. With the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was how Nick Foles was actually a measurable improvement on the offensive fortunes of the team. With Seattle and the Seahawks, it was how the team would be better if Twitter crowdsourced the coaching decisions. In New York, it was how Eli Manning invented human cloning to remain the quarterback of the Giants indefinitely.
Now, with the Cleveland Browns, that should be easy...right? That's what the Cleveland Browns do in the NFL. This organization has been so laughably bad at everything, from top to bottom, stem to stern, that there's a whole doggone movie about them falling bass ackwards into fictional players -- and they still drafted a running back in the top 10.
I want to get my jokes off about this team winning Super Bowl 54. But they've done...everything...right.
Once they knew they had the quarterback, they hired offensive designers and playcallers based exclusively off of maximizing him and his skills. Freddie Kitchens is a bold risk of a hire to everyone looking in from the outside, but if he and Mayfield have synergy, you can't fix what ain't broke. Adding Todd Monken -- the shiniest of diamonds in the thickest of roughs in Tampa Bay -- who fits in terms of offensive philosophy and disposition was a huge get on top of it.
Then you need the weapons, right? You have the quarterback to execute the scheme and the play designers who can maximize him, but once the ball is out of their minds and his hands, you need players who can regularly win one-on-one matchups and create with their own ability. Adding the best (?) young receiver in the game is more than the doctor ordered; throw him on the pile of offensive additions from last season in Nick Chubb, Chris Hubbard, and Jarvis Landry.
They lost Kevin Zeitler. That probably matters -- trench play always does -- but as the cost of Odell Beckham Jr., it was a no-brainer. At this time two years ago, Cody Kessler was getting ready to throw the ball to Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman after handing it off to Isaiah Crowell. that line had Zeitler, Bitonio, Thomas, and Tretter -- it was probably better than this one is. Trench play is a lot, but it isn't everything.
The Browns offense is good. It probably won't be top-tier good, but it could be top-tier good, and that's all I really care about on August 10th.
The Browns defense is good. It probably won't be top-tier good, but it could be top-tier good, and that's all I really care about on August 10th.
Sheldon Richardson, Greedy Williams, and Olivier Vernon are all on this football team now. On the same timeframe as before, Jamar Taylor, Danny Shelton, and Calvin Pryor were going to be starting for this team. The defensive line is both deep and good, and the defensive backfield is deep and young, which are the two primary ingredients in becoming good.
Hue Jackson is gone, John Dorsey is aggressive, Baker Mayfield is magnetic, and Cleveland is legit.
The biggest hesitation isn't even a real one -- it's more a subconscious bias than anything else. Cleveland is so well built for the future that it doesn't feel like they're a Super Bowl team this year. Mayfield is young, so he should get better, so they'll be a Super Bowl team later; Beckham was just added, so their chemistry will develop, so they'll be a Super Bowl team later; there has been so much turnover, that once we're sure they're actually good, they'll become a Super Bowl team. Just, you know, later.
But just because Cleveland will be good in two years doesn't mean they're not good now. Beyond an anecdotal sophomore slump, there's no reason to believe Mayfield's play will drop off in his first full year under Kitchens; Gregg Williams to Steve Wilks is at worst a lateral move; and this team ADDED ODELL BECKHAM JR.
- Kansas City
- New England
- Los Angeles
That's how it goes in the AFC.
How The Cleveland Browns Won Super Bowl 54
Baker Mayfield scores six total touchdowns (two rushing) in an absolute romp of the New Orleans Saints. He's crotch-grabbing by quarter 2 and doing young people dances by the top of quarter 4. New York beats write about Beckham potentially being a locker room cancer as he thanks the city of Cleveland for welcoming him with open arms. Joe Thomas comes out of retirement for the final kneeldown. Kitchens is absolutely hammered for the next calendar month.
How many universes does this happen in?
65 out of 1000. But also, like, 1 in a million, right?
How does it all go wrong?
Oh man, I can't answer that. I can't do that to Cleveland