This is not your grandfathers Cleveland Browns. Or even your father’s. Or uncles, or even older brothers.
You get the point.
The 2010 Cleveland Browns do not quite have the talent or play makers yet to give teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens a run for the AFC North for the division title, but one thing is clear after Sunday’s stunning win against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
They will not go down without a fight.
They showed that at the SuperDome Sunday by being the most creative team of any in the National Football League with more trick plays than the Harlem Globetrotters run when they take on the Washington Generals.
From the fake punt where Reggie Hodges looked like he was waiting to be tackled by a Saints player in going 68 yards, to the punt return where Josh Cribbs threw across the field to Eric Wright for a big play early, to even Colt McCoy catching a pass, the Browns looked like a team not afraid to make chances.
“That was how the play was called, so that was how it was supposed to be run,” Hodges said of the fake punt. “Guys were supposed to go to the outside and the middle was supposed to be open, so it was just my job to get a first down.
Overall, the Browns knew they had to play special in order to upend the defending Super Bowl champions, and they played like it.
“We had an opportunity to run some things that we felt might work and I think we were successful on every, single play that we ran that was kind of a trick play,” said Wright. “It helped us. You’ve got to be prepared and ready when they do call it and luckily, we were able to convert every time that we tried something like that.”
It may not work week in and week out, and in the end, the Browns still need players on both sides of the ball to be a true contender, but Sunday sure was fun. It also shows that maybe the Browns are not as far away as people may think.
The next two games after the bye will be against two more of the AFC’s best – the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
They, like the Saints yesterday, appear to have the horses enough to beat the Browns nine out of 10 times, but that is where Sunday’s ability to run tricks and take advantage of other teams mistakes on defense come into play.
If the Browns can continue to do that, they may not be playing much past New Year’s, but teams will have to respect and be plenty aware when the Browns take the field each and every Sunday.