These Browns are survivors…of their own past

The 2007 Cleveland Browns are survivors.

Yep, I said it. Survivors.

It took a while to come up with one word that could describe the seven games they’ve played so far this season, but after watching their latest win over the Rams on Sunday, it hit me. Survivors.

Think about it. There are so many examples in only seven games.

Let’s take it from the top. Week one against the Steelers was a classic “New Browns era” game. The team all Cleveland fans love and have suffered through for the last nine years came out and started the year on the same note they always have-losing big time to the team who used to be their biggest rival.

Charlie Frye’s performance was so incredibly awful he didn’t last the entire game. Then Derek Anderson came in and was equally bad. Collectively, they stunk so horribly that the few fans who weren’t screaming for Brady Quinn to get playing time actually may have been wondering if Tim Couch was available as a backup option.

The defense was gouged in every way possible, and the offense moved continually backwards. Same old, same old.

With fans bracing for another four-win season, something miraculous happened; something that hasn’t happened since the 2002 playoff year or the days of Bernie Kosar – The Browns came back the next week and notched a decisive win. Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, Jamal Lewis and Kellen Winslow all had coming out parties, and the offensive line held its own in the 51-45 win over the Bengals.

It’s not like the Browns never win games, but something about that win felt different from the rest. The feeling? That maybe this would be a year where the team would appear to learn from its mistakes and survive its schedule. So far, it has.

A disheartening setback against the Raiders showed the team that you have to take every game very seriously, even if you’re almost positive you can and will win. In the past, the Browns wouldn’t have learned this lesson. This doesn’t seem to be one of those years.

Against the Ravens in week four, the team played brilliantly in all facets and won. The Oakland loss was a distant memory, and the players were actually gaining confidence and not questioning the coaching. At 2-2, the team was on a roll.

A loss to the Patriots on the road a week later was nothing special. Everyone loses to the Patriots. But so far this year the Browns have played New England the toughest out of any other team. The players were growing up and buying into the idea that no game was un-winnable.

In the last two games, the Browns beat the Dolphins and the Rams back-to-back, the first time the team has accomplished the feat of two wins in a row since 2003. In both games, the offense was highly effective.

At 4-3 and over .500 by this point in the season for the first time since 2002, the Cleveland Browns are surviving.

Braylon Edwards has survived being unhappy with the coaches and the team and is now a leader who owns up to mistakes, such as his Dwayne Rudd-esque helmet toss on Sunday. His game has taken off, too.

Kellen Winslow has survived more injuries than can be counted on 10 hands, and has still managed to be one of the NFL’s most productive tight ends.

Derek Anderson has survived inconsistency and is now one of the top passers in the league.

As a team, the Browns have survived the pre-conceived Cleveland notion that the team was going to be bad again and that a shot a contention was too far out of reach. The last nine years, that seems to have been the feeling all the time.

This team is young, hungry and willing to do whatever it takes to win a game. And it looks like it finally believes it can win, unlike so many other rosters in the past.

The Cleveland Browns just look like a different team this year – a team of survivors.