As expected, the Cleveland Browns are off to a nice 3-1 start in 2021.
So why are fans concerned?
The Browns have a long history of never making things easy and that continued in Week 4 in a close, ugly, 14-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Baker Mayfield looked awful and nothing was flowing in the passing game.
But the fact the team still won says a lot about why they remain Super Bowl contenders.
Here are three positives from the ugly win fans must remember.
#Browns Baker Mayfield: “That piss-poor performance by me isn’t going to cut it. I’ve got to be better. It’s just that simple”
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 3, 2021
3. The Defense Was Elite
The Vikings are not some awful team with a rookie quarterback.
Kirk Cousins‘ unit put up 30 points against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3.
And then the Browns held them to one touchdown that came on the first drive of the game.
The Vikings had success, the Browns adjusted, and that was the game.
20 points allowed in the last 10 quarters for the Browns defense.
— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) October 3, 2021
Cousins finished 20/38 for only 203 yards and Dalvin Cook was ineffective all day.
The Vikings quarterback only took two sacks as well, showing how great the defense played all over the field.
Holding any NFL team to single-digit points is impressive.
The Browns have now done it in back-to-back weeks.
2. The Running Back Duo Led The Way
The former finished with 100 yards and the latter added 69 more and a touchdown.
This is the formula fans have been begging to see and Stefanski finally let it happen.
The offensive line is elite and so are the two runners.
Even if Mayfield is playing great, Chubb and Hunt need to get their touches to wear down opposing defenses.
Each one of them is unstoppable on their own.
Together, they are easily the best running back duo in the NFL.
1. The Team Is 3-1
Browns fans have gone from 0-16 to Super Bowl or bust in no time.
A 3-1 record is great, no matter how the wins look on the field.
They are competing in the AFC North division and are a few mistakes away from being 4-0.
Week 5 provides a great test for this team.
They are heading on the road to take on a Los Angeles Chargers team that is looking like a true AFC contender with Justin Herbert leading the way.
If the defense can limit him like they did Cousins, then it would be clear the Browns don’t even need to score much to win.
However, let’s say he has a normal day and the team needs 24 points or more to bring home a victory.
All eyes will be on Mayfield as he looks to bounce back.
Yet even if they do lose, a 3-2 record is nothing to panic about.
Real panic should only set in if Mayfield continues to regress week by week.
Then there is a real problem to discuss not just in 2021, but beyond as well.