And let’s be serious here for a minute. This wasn’t a freak we-beat-the-reigning-Super-Bowl-champs-with-trick-plays type of win (although we seem to have a knack for that). This was a real, legit, bona fide (insert more synonyms here) win! We simply were better than the Bengals today. And here’s why:
1. Joe Haden is a rock star.
Haden held A.J. Green to 7 receptions for 51 yards and NO touchdowns. While Haden is arguably the best corner in the league, he has struggled to shut down Green. In their last three matchups, Green has totaled 18 passes for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 19.1 yards per catch. But today, the 5’11 corner dominated the 6’4 wide receiver. Green’s longest reception was for 16 yards. And while my husband was quietly trying to hide his fury–Green is his star fantasy receiver–I couldn’t have been more impressed.
2. Barkevious Mingo is a rock star.
I have been saying for two weeks that I am totally sold on our rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo. He has officially had a sack in every NFL game he has played. And today he stepped it up a notch, looking like a potential pro-bowler. He started for injured Jabaal Sheard and had a fantastic game, topping his sack of Dalton with five tackles, two of them for losses. I’m not sure who said it first, but I am in total agreement–It is the dawning of the age of Barkevious.
3. Screw it. The entire Browns defense could form a pretty awesome rock band of rock stars because they rock.
That’s right. The Browns defense is ranked third overall in the league. They are stopping the run, rushing the passer, and providing amazing secondary coverage. Ray Horton, welcome home. It is so much fun to watch your defense play.
4. Brandon Weeden lost his job today.
I don’t think there’s any question about it. And I’m not a Weeden hater. In the first two games, he had horrible pass protection, no Josh Gordon, and a receiving corps that needed super glue to hang onto a football. I’m not sure if we’ll ever find out what kind of quarterback Weeden could’ve been in better circumstances. But the argument is, and at this point I’m buying it, that you don’t always get to play in the best of circumstances. And a true quarterback, a true leader, succeeds despite obstacles. And that leader seems to be Brian Hoyer. He has thrown five touchdown passes in two games. He had no interceptions today. He just seems calm and confident under pressure. And he can put together a fourth quarter win. As a Browns fan, that is more than I can say about a lot of our starting quarterbacks, including Brandon Weeden. So I’m sold. This Browns fan is rooting for the Browns fan who grew up to be the Browns quarterback.
5. I’m still in love with Jordan Cameron. So no, crazy person in my fantasy league who tried to get me to trade him this week, you can’t have him. He’s mine.
In addition to my observations from the game, I have a request. I would really like to see the Browns turn Travis Benjamin into an awesome slot receiver. The potential is all there; we saw it today. His teeny self was almost invisible to the Bengals defensive line, and then he caught a nice little pass from Hoyer and did what he does best–run–fast. With Bess and Benjamin as double threats in the slot, and Gordan and Cameron making the big plays down field, I think the Browns offense could become very, very interesting as the season progresses. And that is a sentence I didn’t expect to write this season.
And so, with that small suggestion, this Browns fan will sign off and go to bed very happy tonight, for the second Sunday in a row, because the Brownies won. They better be careful. I could get used to this.
PS–Also, the Steelers lost and are now 0-4 and losing the division. And that is also awesome.