It's probably not surprising that we always seem to feel the best about the Browns in the preseason.
Ten losing seasons in 12 seasons tend to create that.
There's also a reality check that needs to be developed in the preseason. The most important thing is not to get hurt. In 2002, when the Browns made a number of free agent signings in the offseason and expectations were enormous, the team opened with an exhibition in Minnesota. Keep in mind people thought Butch Davis was a good NFL coach at this point. I know that's hard to fathom now, but it was a different time.
I had to work that night, and missed the game, but asked someone how the Browns looked.
"They looked great," he said. "I'm really excited."
Then I got home and put the video cassette - do kids today even know what those are? - in.
Sure, the Browns looked OK, but I was distracted by Cleveland's best player - linebacker Jamir Miller - being carted off the field with a career-ending injury.
Kind of put a damper on a meaningless victory. It also was a lesson of what's important in exhibition games: staying healthy.
But even with all those qualifiers, it's hard to argue the Browns look different this year.
Mainly, it looks like they finally have a quarterback.
Forget the fact that the Browns lost Friday to the Lions. Colt McCoy is showing poise, confidence and toughness as the team's No. 1 QB. He threw two touchdown passes against the Lions, and you get the feeling that for the first time in several years, the Browns have enough confidence in their guy to let him win games. Under the previous coaching staff, the goal seemed to be to not let the quarterback lose them.
If Evan Moore stays healthy, he could be a Pro Bowl tight end, and rookie receiver Greg Little looks like he could be a keeper. He just has to avoid punting the ball into the stands after scores. Then again, judging from the punting Friday, maybe he needs to do more of it.
The defense is a question mark, but any defense will be OK if the offense holds the ball, gets first downs and controls the flow of the game. OK, maybe not any defense, but you get the point.
The bottom line is that while I don't think the Browns are playoff bound, it does seem like they're building something. Finally, there's reason for optimism.
Even in the preseason.
Zach Baker is the sports editor of The Advertiser-Tribune,
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