CLEVELAND — It's been 119 days since Browns fans were riding the high of their first Week 1 win since 1994. It was a Monday that had fans dreaming big and ordering Cade York jerseys after his 58 yard field goal won the game. "Cade York is my hero," said one man we spoke with that day. "Cade York is going to be a legend in Cleveland and he started that yesterday."
It was a high that was followed the next week when the hopes of going 2-0 were dashed as the Browns pulled off the seemingly impossible, blowing a 13 point lead with less than 2 minutes to go against the Jets. A game, that for Nick Willingham of Aurora, sounded the "only in Cleveland" alarm.
"I think that was almost like the oh man we're probably not going to be very good this year," he said.
Looking back on the season, fans in Downtown Cleveland acknowledged the heavy lifting that was ahead of them. "They got a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do," said John.
And not much extra capital, you'll remember, to do it with.
In the past, Browns fans on these days would be celebrating the annual consolation prize of a losing season, the high draft pick they'd end up with and a 7 and 10 record would have been good enough or bad enough for pick number 12 in April. Unfortunately like last year's number one pick it goes to Houston as part of the Deshaun Watson trade and so too does next year's 2024 pick.
Earl Doyle of Cleveland says don't sweat it.
"I don't think that will be an issue because I think we got a decent offense, like I said with Deshaun and Chubb and still Cooper and the tight end," he said.
His concern and the concern among most everyone we spoke with? The defense.
"Too many pro-bowlers not enough stops," he said.
Keith Krese of North Ridgeville agreed.
"Too many blown coverages, too many guys running free downfield and easy touchdowns," he said.
As a result, almost all were in agreement with the decision to fire Defensive Coordinator Joe Wood. And they're pinning their hopes for '23 on Deshaun being the player he was two years ago.
"I think we have to have Deshaun Watson come in and do what we really expected out of him," Krese said. "So having the offseason to get a full season with everybody healthy hopefully, get Myles Garrett back healthy but I think getting the defense to perform up to what their talent level is is the big thing."