Now, let's get to football...the past few seasons have been hard. Arguably, none more difficult than the 2016 season. In terms of wins/losses it probably was the hardest to endure. However, throughout it all I did, and still believe, that Hue is the right coach to lead this team. I have come to believe in our Front Office. I now believe the Haslam's are committed to winning and committed to Hue. I have come to believe in Sashi Brown, Andrew Berry and Paul Depodesta. I love the core group of younger players we have drafted, especially in 2017. I was also encouraged when we spent a lot of money on our offensive line. We had the first pick in the draft and chose the right guy who looks to be a game changer on the field. Trading down when Malik Hooker was still on the board was controversial. However, choosing Jabrill Peppers has proven to be a great move. Buckeye homers, ignore the fact that he is a Wolverine. This kid is a baller and he is going to make an instant impact.
For the first time in 31 years we went 4-0 in preseason! I realize that preseason ball is very different than the regular season. I also realize that it means nothing. Many teams that have gone 0-4 have been great in the regular season and 4-0 teams have fizzled out. None more so than the 2008 Detroit Lions. It is, however, a start and something that we can hang our hats on and be proud. When you have fallen as low and as hard as the Browns there really is only one way to go and that is up. Winning all of our preseason games and showing our dominance at defense is a great achievement and I celebrate those little victories that will hopefully translate into the regular season.
Watching closely the QB competition unveil itself I think we made the right decision with DeShone Kizer getting the nod as starter. He has flashed and he has also shown some concern. However, he has also moved the ball better than any of the others and in his flashes he has shown great potential. Given the right support and "weaponry" I am hopeful he may be our franchise guy we have searched so long for. I realize it will come with some ups and downs but, the best way to help Kizer develop is to play the game.
Defense. Wow....what a brilliant show they put on during preseason! Twelve consecutive quarters without allowing a TD. Hue's greatest move may well have been getting Gregg Williams to sign as the Browns DC. He is a controversial character but, clearly he comes with fire, spit, attitude and spirit. That has translated to the players and they have responded brilliantly. There are some areas of concern on the Defense but, I think our front seven are going to be dominant. Garrett will be fun, I think as he gets double teamed it will open others, such as Ogbah, Nassib, Schobert, Collins and Peppers up to be disruptive on opposing QBs. Shelton has risen and showed great improvement last year, Coley and Ogunjobi are also exciting young players and I am keen to see more from them.
This season also offers a few interesting games. Our season opener against Pittsburgh could be our most important game since we returned to the league. Ok, I know we played the Steelers in the 2002 Wild Card game. However, with all of the above being put into place I can't see a better opponent to kick off the 2017 year than the Steelers. A hated rival who, with exception to a few times here and there, have thoroughly beaten us up and down since we returned to the league. A playoff caliber team coming into our home. A team and a fanbase who have little respect for us. If, and it is a big if, IF we win that game the confidence will go through the roof and pour into the rest of the season. We also play in London this year. A controversial game on the schedule. Many feel (and I agree) a regular season game shouldn't be played in a different country. Exhibition games/Preseason? Sure. But, not regular season games. As the Browns are officially listed as the "home" team in London it means there are only seven games in Cleveland this season. Next year we recoup that and will have nine home games in Cleveland. As we have no Thursday or Monday night game, the London game is also our only Nationally televised game of the season. Kick off is very early PST (6:30am). I have yet to confirm if the Blitz will open for us but, I will keep you all up-to-date. Anybody in the club who is planning to go to London, please get in touch with me. I'd love to share your photos with the club. We also play the Chargers in Los Angeles. I highlight this game as the Chargers are now playing in StubHub Center (home of the LA Galaxy) for two years. This stadium is intimate with a capacity of 27,000. It will be a unique opportunity for anybody wanting to see the Browns up close and personal. Last time I checked, tickets were not ridiculously priced and anybody interested in going I encourage you to start looking into it. Last time I went to San Diego the local Browns Backers held great parties and tailgates and it was a fun weekend. On that note, I did enquire about group sales but, unfortunately due to the size of the stadium it simply isn't going to happen. I apologize for that.
When I look at our schedule I see the potential to play competitively and win a handful of games. I am realistic and do not expect playoffs etc. However, I believe we will field an improved team that may be frustrating, disappointing yet, surprising, as well. I also firmly believe they will be fun to watch. When was the last time we all said that the Browns were fun? Probably 2014 when we won seven (before the wheels dramatically fell off the bus - hard!).
If you use Facebook, I encourage you to join the PDX Browns Backers FB page. It is significantly more active than this offical website. But, anything of serious importance I will always post in here. I also welcome you all to come to the Blitz to watch your Browns every week. We have a great set-up with multiple screens and tvs devoted to the Browns and kids are welcome. Every week we also hold a raffle for various Browns merchandise. But, most importantly we sit together united as one and loyally and passionately cheer for our mighty orange and brown.
Here We Go Brownies, Here We Go! WOOF WOOF!
Michael Fell, President
Portland Browns Backers