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How to properly assess the Browns’ victory over the Saints

These are tumultuous times. After you’ve been scorned so many times, the conditioning takes its toll and even the most hopeful turn callous. Such is life as a Cleveland sports fan.

This is Ivan Pavlov. This is Cleveland. We are the dumbass dogs that keep responding to his bell.

So when the Browns led 20-3 at halftime in ‘Nawlins this past Sunday, home of the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints, it was the usual hope for the best, expect the worst mindset. Then, the best happened. Cleveland 30, New Orleans 17.

No championships were won on Sunday, and the sobering reality of a 2-5 record is still pretty harsh, but for 60 full minutes the Browns led, and defeated, Drew Brees and the mighty defending champions. It may be that the Saints had double the yards and first downs of the Browns. It may be that the Browns offense was more or less anemic, converting only 2 out of 11 third down attempts. It may be that Colt McCoy threw for just 74 yards on 16 passes, but none were to the other team.

They played with heart and vigor, which is more than I can say for a significant amount of Browns teams in recent years. The thing is, it’s not that they played with that kind of passion and determination in one game against a quality opponent, it’s that they have been playing that way consistently. When the 2010 Cleveland Browns show up to play you on Sunday, you better be ready to play, or you will lose.

Rob Ryan, Browns Defensive Coordinator, makes the team 34% more gargoyle. Fact.

At 2-5 and with a rookie quarterback, contention for the postseason is at least a year away and the Browns will most likely finish no higher than third in the AFC North, but if they keep growing and playing tough, they have an opportunity to be a high-quality NFL team. If they continue to evolve, a 3rd or 4th place schedule in 2011 could result in a serious opportunity at a playoff spot.

There’s always next year, right?

...unless you're John Fox. Then you're screwed. It could be worse, Jimmy Clausen could be our QB of the future.