Greetings Ravens’ fans! I am very excited that football is just around the bend. My fantasy drafts are complete. Yes, I have Lamar Jackson in the majority of them! Church knows that I love them and plan to be an even better member come February. Lastly, the wife already has our sign posted in the living room that says, “We interrupt this marriage for football season.” I am pumped and can’t wait!
As we jump into full football stride, we need to look at the Ravens’ Week 1 opponent, the Cleveland Browns. They were self-proclaimed the 2019 Offseason champions, and things didn’t go as planned. Even though their fans hang on to the Week 4, 40-25 massacre in Baltimore, they tend to forget the pain Baltimore caused them in Week 16. The Browns’ trash-talking fanbase has to be the saltiest bunch of individuals I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. This season, instead of bragging about being the offseason champs again, they found pleasure in finding lame ways to call the Ravens QB a 0-2 playoff loser. Why are they so petty? Let’s take a deeper look.
Let’s gas up the 1974 DeLorean and venture back to 1995 when Art Modell announced that he was moving the team to Baltimore the following season.
— SI Vault (@si_vault) December 4, 2016
This was a massive gut-punch to Cleveland, as you can see. Why did he make such a decision? According to sbnation.com, it all boiled down to the Cleveland Indians getting a new stadium and the loss of revenue that it caused the Modell. He knew Baltimore could offer a first-class stadium if he moved the team. How did Browns fans react? How are they still reacting? You be the judge. This is from a fan in 2018.
— Bryan Campbell #D4L (@SYRbrownsfan) December 28, 2018
To top it all off, the City of Cleveland continues to block Modell from getting into the Hall of Fame, despite his massive influence regarding NFL television broadcasts. Modell did as much for football from a marketing perspective as any one man in the league’s history.
Here’s what former GM Ozzie Newsome had to say about Art according to BR.COM:
“Art was a giant in our industry,” Newsome said when Modell passed away. “He was my boss – but he wouldn’t let me call him that – my mentor, and most importantly, my friend. He was the most caring, compassionate person I’ve ever known. The opportunities he gave me are historic, and I will be forever humble and grateful.”
Seeing Art snubbed once again lets me know how biased the “Hall” is and further justifies T.O.’s reasoning that led to him not wanting to be a part of his own induction ceremony.
Anyway, back to the salt.
Are Browns’ fans mad because the team moved or because of the following reasons?
Here’s a fun fact: today’s current franchise, awarded in 1999, has never won a playoff game. EVER! If that isn’t enough, four years after they lost their franchise to Baltimore, the Ravens went on to win Super Bowl XXXV. They just missed out on having one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, as Bill Belichick had been at the helm from 1991-95, and they haven’t had more than seven wins in a season since 2007. Top that off with a career win-loss record against the Ravens of 11-31, and you could see why of all the flavors in the world, Browns’ fans decided to be salty.
Now that the past is behind us, Week 1 still has to be played, and while the Ravens look great on paper and hope to repeat their 14-2 season, they can’t overlook the current opponent.
These are not your father’s Browns. While the all-time losing record shines right in our faces, the possibility of Baltimore exiting week one as an 0-1 team is a real thing.
Here are three Browns the Ravens cannot lose sight of.
When looking at the top three TEs in football, we can spout Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews without batting an eye. However, Matt Ryan may have a different opinion considering that he and Hooper hooked up for 146 catches and 10 TD in Hooper’s last two seasons as a Falcon.
The newest Browns TE is a two-time Pro-Bowler and a force to be reckoned with. This guy missed three games last season and still had career highs and in catches (75), yards (787), and TD (6), according to ESPN.com. Combining him with the athletic David Njoku makes their 12 personnel packages quite formidable. Also, after watching the tape on this guy, he’s no slouch with blocking either. If you have a moment, please check on Quentin Demps. I haven’t heard from him since this play happened.
AUSTIN HOOPER JUST KILLED A MAN pic.twitter.com/xyHrT9G8zf
— NFL Outsiders (@nfloutsiders) September 10, 2017
Speaking of blocking, there is a Michigan State Spartan on these new Browns that could pose a problem. The former Tennessee Titan was part of the reason Derrick Henry gave the Ravens such a terrible time in the playoffs last season. Yes, it still hurts. Yes, I still cry at night. Anyway, Conklin’s strength is zone-run blocking. He’s good at getting to the second level of the defense. See below.
Nick Chubb was already a star RB in 2019 without the services of Conklin. Baltimore will need to be on the lookout when this 6-6, 308-pounder gets rolling.
Last but most certainly not least, the Browns have a DE that excels in pass coverage. He plays smart on passing downs and doesn’t give up the big play. But what pops off the tape with him is his pass-rushing sheer power. Check him out.
Oliver Vernon is so underrated. He’s going to feast opposite Myles Garrett this season.
— Bobby Football (@RobPaulNFL) August 23, 2019
Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. will have their hands full keeping Vernon and Myles Garrett from wrecking Greg Roman’s game plan before it even gets going.
Now, let me get something straight with you, lest you get it twisted: I am not turning on the Ravens. I’m simply bringing to light the fact that this Browns squad is not the same band of misfits Baltimore is used to smashing.
Bring on the football.