Have We Still Not Learned Our Lesson About Optimism and the Cleveland Browns?

Myles Garrett
Myles Garrett / Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are 4-1. You may have heard. Cleveland has bounced back admirably from a terrible 30-6 loss to open their season against the Baltimore Ravens to win four straight. The team's investments into the offensive line have quickly paid dividends as the Browns boast one of the best run games in the league, and it has opened up their offense exactly how new head coach Kevin Stefanski planned. His team has scored at least 32 points in every win so far this season, including one ridiculous shootout against Dallas that culminated in 49 points for Cleveland in regulation.

It is admittedly a bit exciting to see all these pieces come together, because talent has not been the issue in Cleveland recently. However, that excitement seems to be giving some people short-term memory loss, because a 4-1 start has spawned tweets like the following:

Now, I'm not trying to pick on CBS. This tweet is just reflective of the general attitude around the Browns right now, which is that the rebuild is finally over and the organization's time has arrived. I know Cleveland fans don't need any reminder of this, but for everybody else: Let us proceed with caution, shall we?

It was only one year ago that the Browns were everybody's favorite sleeper pick. Expectations were preposterously high coming into the 2019 season. And Cleveland flopped. Huge. Freddie Kitchens got fired, studio shows questioned if Baker Mayfield could keep his starting job past the end of his rookie contract, if Odell Beckham Jr. was actually even that good, and they ended up with a top-10 pick yet again. But now, four wins into the 2020 season, we're ready to declare this team legit again? I don't know about that.

They have looked very good at times this season, don't get me wrong. But the strength of their schedule so far has not exactly been stunningly difficult. They beat Dallas, but Alabama could probably hang 30 on the Cowboys' defense right now (no, not really, but the defense is really bad). The other teams they beat were the 1-3-1 Bengals, the 1-4 Washington Football Team, and the 3-2 Colts with a quickly-fading Philip Rivers at the helm. It's reminiscent of the 2019 New England Patriots, who were declared Super Bowl champions at the quarter mark of the season because they kicked the crap out of really bad teams.

That's not an entirely fair comparison, but that's how it feels. Cleveland has had so little success in the realm of football over the last... forever... that any modicum of progress or improvement feels worthy of celebration. I get that. But I simply do not want Browns fans to get hurt again.

Two of Cleveland's next three games will come against teams with a winning record (Las Vegas and Pittsburgh). If the Browns look as good as they have over the last several weeks against those teams, then we can perhaps start the conversation about the Browns finally seeing dividends after years of high draft picks. Until then, though, let's pump the brakes.