Go ahead, Cleveland. Be giddy.
For another day or two, smile all you want.
Saturday night in Green Bay, a huge step—make that a giant leap—was taken by your Browns in their 27-24 exhibition win over the Packers, and it was all at one position.
Yes, the receivers ran some nice routes and made some nice catches.
Yes, the offensive line threw some great blocks.
Yes, the defense turned in more than a handful of promising plays.
Yes, their special teams did some special things, and Phil Dawson did his usual things.
But you know, and I know, that all eyes were on one position as the game got underway—and the guys who played there did not disappoint.
Their starting quarterback played like a starting quarterback.
Then their backup quarterback played—well, like a starting quarterback.
As if that wasn’t enough, their promising young rookie came in and played like a young rookie is supposed to play.
I had to pinch myself. When was the last time that happened for the Browns?
Forget the numbers, which were good. Go with what you saw.
You saw Jake Delhomme take charge from the first play. His passes were crisp and accurate.
You went from holding your breath and hoping Delhomme would deliver, to holding your head in disbelief, play after play, as he did just that.
Eleven plays later, the Browns scored their first touchdown of the Mike Holmgren era, and it looked easy. It had the Browns, the Packers, the TV crew, and everybody watching back in Ohio asking, “Did that just happen?”
You saw Seneca Wallace enter the game, misfire on a couple of passes from the pocket, and then improvise, as only he and a handful of guys in the NFL can do.
Another touchdown. More of that disbelief stuff.
For good measure, he later settled down, stood calmly behind his offensive line, and threw a touchdown strike in conventional fashion.
It was all so startling that hardly anyone noticed that Aaron Rodgers, one of the league’s premier signal callers, was having a sensational game of his own.
You saw Colt McCoy come in, complete some short passes, and make some dumb rookie mistakes—and you didn’t mind at all.
It’s what rookie quarterbacks are supposed to do, but have not been allowed to do in Cleveland—at least, not since the team’s return to the NFL in 1999.
Tim Couch and Brady Quinn, McCoy’s prodigal predecessors, were asked to be heroes. Both paid the price.
How much better does it feel to know that the Browns have one of the most prolific passers in college football history on their roster, and don’t even appear to need him?
How great is that?
Saturday night was just one game—an exhibition game at that. It’s a long season, and there will be days when we won’t feel so good about what we witnessed the previous weekend.
But we saw something Saturday that we haven’t seen in close to two decades. We saw the normal order of things at quarterback.
For Browns fans, it was truly a sight for sore eyes.
It was also about time.
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