The Cleveland Browns went 4-0 back in the 2017 preseason.
Things appeared to be turning around after a 1-15 finish in 2016 and the preseason slate was capped off with a 25-0 victory over the Chicago Bears.
So what happened next?
The Browns finished 0-16 in one of the saddest seasons in NFL history.
Jump ahead to the present and the Browns are currently 1-0 in the preseason and picked up a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars without any actual projected playmakers on the field.
The trend of seeing backups is going to continue throughout the preseason in what is a weird new normal for fans in Cleveland.
The Best Approach
The list goes on well beyond those four too.
The Browns have spent years and years being awful, acquiring picks and cash, waiting to get to this level.
That means Kevin Stefanski is not going to take some old-school, hard-nosed approach and put his star players on the field in meaningless games.
Doing such a thing would only reflect negatively on his abilities to lead this franchise.
Instead, he is using the preseason for its best purpose, which is to evaluate the bottom half of the roster and find contributors who could end up forming the strongest possible team.
— Marcus Harvey (@MarcusHarvey_) August 15, 2021
Seeing Garrett destroy Trevor Lawrence would make no difference on the team’s outlook.
But seeing a reserve player shoot into the backfield stands out to the coaching staff in a big way.
Patience Is A Good Thing
Browns fans should be embracing this new reality where the preseason games aren’t must-see television.
Gone are the days of analyzing the quarterback competition on a throw-by-throw basis.
Mayfield is the man now and the only discussion is when he will get his next contract and how much he will make.
Baker Mayfield on whether he cares if extension negotiations linger into the season: “I’m not doing the negotiations so quite frankly I don’t give a damn. I’m worried about winning…” pic.twitter.com/OynrmhzCcz
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) August 8, 2021
This is what contending teams do in August and fans in Cleveland are finally getting a taste.
We brought up the 4-0 preseason record in 2017 to begin this article because fans must also remember all these good vibes can quickly be wiped away.
Preseason results are meaningless and things can go south in a hurry like they did with the 2017 and even the 2019 Browns.
So the best thing fans can do is just enjoy the process and wait until September 12 to begin making and sweeping generalizations about the season.
The Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs will allow everyone around the NFL to see how good the Browns actually are in 2021.