The Cleveland Browns see themselves as a young, up and coming team, a view that I suppose any team would take upon themselves after they draft a quarterback with the first-overall pick and surround him with a roster that is gutted on a perennial basis, no aging veterans in sight.
While Cleveland has lost or tied in five of its first seven games of the 2018 season, that represents a remarkable improvement from the past two years, and Baker Mayfield has played a role in that, as has Jarvis Landry, the wide receiver they traded for under the franchise tag this offseason before signing him to a long-term deal. The former LSU standout quickly became one of the team’s leaders.
He spoke to the Browns’ website yesterday ahead of today’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a rematch of the season opener in Cleveland, in which the two teams tied. It was the first game that they didn’t lose since 2016, but they see it as unfinished business after they had a field goal blocked in overtime. They want this win.
“It’s no secret we want to win the division and we understand that being in the position to win the division gives you a good chance of making the playoffs”, Landry said to the team’s website. “This is one of those games that for us, we need. There’s no secret about it”.
While the AFC North is not necessarily running away with the conference—the Steelers’ 3-2-1 record is the best of the group, followed by that Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, both of whom are currently 4-3—it’s clear that the Browns can’t afford to lose much more ground right now if they hope to be legitimately competitive for the division title this season.
They feel they know Pittsburgh well, however, and Landry sees the same team that they faced a month and a half ago. “They play great on defense, they’re going to score points, they play good on special teams. They’re a great team”, he said.
“We’re definitely going to have a challenge going up against those guys again, just as we were the first time we played them. We’ve just got to find a way to create energy early for us being on the road”.
The Browns have been a bad team on the road as compared to their 2-1-1 record in their home stadium this year. They have lost each of their first three games away from Cleveland, the last two in overtime, with today’s game being the fourth.
The good news for them, I suppose, is that each of those games were close, a three-point loss in all three cases. That includes a loss to the New Orleans Saints back in Week Two in which the Saints scored a field goal with 21 seconds to play. Former kicker Zane Gonzalez missed both of his extra point attempts and two of four field goal attempts during the game, robbing them of eight points.