What a difference a year makes.
At this time last December, the Browns had just lost to the Chargers 30-23 – in what was considered as one of the team's better performances of the season. After playing six games in which the offense failed to score a touchdown – including three in which the passing game didn't generate more than 100 yards – putting up 23 against a playoff contender was nothing short of a small miracle.
Or, perhaps the game could have been better characterized as the small steps of progress that Eric Mangini often refers to when evaluating his still rebuilding team.
It's worth remembering this perspective from a year ago – especially when we consider that the Browns have now won two games in a row – both of which could be considered "ugly" wins.
While the sensational wins over New Orleans and New England will no doubt prove to be the highlights of the Browns' 2010 season, perhaps we shouldn't ignore what has transpired over the last two weeks.
After all, if you follow Eric Mangini's mantra of baby steps, these Browns are right on track.
"I know that I use this a lot, but I think we just have been going through the steps that it takes, organizationally and as a team, to build. Guys work; I don't question their work ethic at all. They compete every single game. We've been able to win some games and now winning consistently is our next step."
Although it's been ugly at times, these 2010 Browns are light years removed from last year's offering.
Deep in the cold wilderness of 2009, the prospect of "winning consistently" could not have even been considered. However, now Mangini's words may have a bit of substance to them.
Or, for another comparison, just chew on the following numbers….
245 Points Scored, 375 Points Given Up, Differential of –130 (over 16 Games)
229 Points Scored, 239 Points Given Up, Differential of –10 (through 12 Games)
1850 Yards Rushing Allowed, 14 Rushing TDs Allowed (through 12 Games)
1429 Yards Rushing Allowed, 4 Rushing TDs Allowed (through 12 Games)
40 Total Sacks, 10 Interceptions, 73 Passes Defensed (over 16 Games)
24 Total Sacks, 18 Interceptions, 70 Passes Defensed (through 12 Games)
10 Rushing TDs, 11 Passing TDs (over 16 Games)
13 Rushing TDs, 9 Passing TDs (through 12 Games)
Leading Receiver – Jerome Harrison and Mohammed Massaquoi – 34 Catches
4th Leading Receiver – Chanci Stuckey – 27 Catches
1-11 Record (through 12 Games)
5-7 Record (through 12 Games)
Don't look now, but we may be onto something here.
While it's obvious that these Browns are still far from a finished product, the numbers don't lie. This 2010 version of the Browns is a dramatically improved improved unit – one that features a growing core of solid, young talent. While there are still numerous holes to be filled, at least we can see that progress has manifested itself beyond mere words.