The Pittsburgh Steelers operate with aspirations to rise to a certain standard year in and year out, and that is to be worthy of competing for a national championship. While they routinely fall short, as every team does the vast majority of outings—that’s what happens when you have 32 competitors—they understand what the goal is every time they plan for the next season.
That can’t necessarily be said for every other organization out there in the NFL, especially the ‘perennial losers’ like the Cleveland Browns, who secured their first non-losing season since 2007 last year, and also won their first playoff game—by beating the Steelers—since 1994.
Now that they have gotten their first taste of achievement in some time, they are looking to raise their own standards, led by such player leaders as Jarvis Landry, whom they made it a point to bring in via trade in 2019, not just for his on-field talents, but for what he would bring to the locker room as well.
In speaking about what the Browns are building, he referred to the Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions and the AFC representatives for Sunday’s Super Bowl, as “the standard” around the league, which is a rather fair assessment.
“We’re looking at what we’ve done and also being critical of the mistakes and errors,” he said. “All the things we can fix to get better so that we can beat teams like Kansas City. Right now, they look like they’re the standard. They’ve been to the Super Bowl for the last two years. We want to obviously focus on us but we have to beat teams like that and we need all of us”.
Cleveland can start by winning the AFC North, which is something that they have literally never done. The AFC North, of course, came into existence in 2002. The last time that they won a division title was in 1989 in the old AFC Central, which no longer exists.
It’s been a long time, however, since the Browns have even flirted with success. Prior to the 2018 season, which was Baker Mayfield’s rookie year, they lost at least 11 games almost every year since their reactivation in 1999.
“The old times ain’t nothing like the new times. It’s real”, Landry said about the organization’s recent success and the possibility of its sustainability. “For us, we have to continue to grow, continue to know the things we did last year don’t count this year. We’ve got to go out and prove it again”.
It’s true that they do have a lot of young talent, but they certainly still have room to grow. The offense is in pretty good shape, but the defense is still missing some pieces. They will get some help with the return of injured players such as Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit, but this will be a key offseason to try to add some key players to round out their roster.