The Year of the Under Dawgs

The Cleveland Browns enter the season with hype, a lot of expectations and even more to prove.

When you look at the Cleveland Browns current roster, there is no denying the football talent. It starts at the quarterback position, led by Baker Mayfield, who is entering into his second year fresh off a record-setting rookie season. Added to his offensive arsenal is wideout weapon Odell Beckham Jr. Flip to the defensive side of the ball and you have a 10 lb. lighter Myles Garrett whose get-off accelerated over the last year. With the addition of Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson, Myles is expected to have a monster season. Then you have the young rookies — Mack Wilson and Greedy Williams — who made a big splash in their first preseason game with a combined three interceptions. 

These are the player tangibles. The intangibles are the drive and motivation that lies within them that you won’t find on the stat sheet. Each player set out to prove something to themselves, or perhaps, to someone else (the haters, the naysayers, and the doubters). When you look up and down the roster, there appears to be one common theme, a chip — the kind you feed off of but not the kind you eat. These players are hungry for victory, and here’s why:

Baker Mayfield has his own version of a burn book dating all the way back to high school. That list has substantially grown since his NFL debut, with Colin Cowherd leading the charge. 

OBJ felt slighted by the Giants. They attacked his character all the while devaluing his worth. Odell opened up in his GQ article last month and has been an open book since arriving in Cleveland.

Mack Wilson was projected to go in the early round of the draft but slid to the fifth round, not for his play, but for slander about his attitude. The rookie recorded 2 interceptions during his preseason debut.

Myles Garret was held back by his former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who wanted him to focus on just two moves. TWO. He spoke in detail about this to Bleacher Report this year.

Greedy Williams was the seventh cornerback selected in the draft after his physicality was questioned. He recorded an interception during his preseason debut.

Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi just might be the ultimate underdog story. He is fighting his way to a roster spot after being rejected by major universities, the CFL, and the AFL. He had an 86 yard punt return during his preseason debut.

So what happens when you have a collective group of players that have talent AND massive chips on their shoulders? This is one factor that no one seems to talk about and it’s clear the Cleveland Browns have both. The combination could be dangerous, as evident during the first preseason game of the year, where the team scored on all three phases (offense, defense, and special teams). Perhaps Baker was on to something when he famously quoted “feeling dangerous” during a post-game presser last year. 

Talented and slighted but humble over hype (look closely, Baker actually wears this slogan on his wrist). Put that on a t-shirt because it just might happen to be the theme of the 2019 Cleveland Browns. As the regular season quickly approaches, we will soon find out if all these harbored feelings can manifest into a winning record – and more importantly an AFC Championship. Either way, it’s going to be a fun year to watch this team prove the haters wrong.

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