"Confirmation Bias" is an interesting mental health concept. Someone who likes something or someone is more likely to see the good, fun and positive of that thing or person. The opposite is quite true. Because fans, at their core, "like" the team they are a fan of, it would make sense if they were always "homers" focused on the good, defending the bad and generally confirming whatever their bias is.
Cleveland Browns fans, as well as fans of other teams, are a little different. The State of the Fan today, going into the bye week, depends squarely on which bias they lean toward when it comes to "their" team: Optimist or Pessimist. (Some will say they are just a realist, which generally puts them in the pessimist category.) Much like someone who is into politics and sees the good in their party and the bad in the opposite, almost exclusively, so goes the Confirmation Bias of Browns fans.
So what is the State of the Fan for those two states of fans:
The optimistic Browns fan is tentatively excited after last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Browns got blown out, the optimist sees that the coaching staff has worked hard to get Johnny Manziel ready to play. That the coaching staff's plans worked, "proven" by the improvement of Manziel from his last start to this one, and gives the optimist fan hope that the staff knows what they are doing.
Manziel's play, and later being named the starter for the rest of the year, gives this fan a State of Hope moving forward. The optimist saw Manziel play from the pocket, make smart reads and throws and look competent in throwing for over 350 yards. Given more time to develop with the offensive coaching staff and mentorship of Josh McCown can only help him more, even if the wins don't pile up.
The optimist also sees a chance for the Browns to have the #1 pick for the first time back to back years in 1999 and 2000. The chance to take the overall best talent in the draft, especially if Manziel proves to be a starting level player, is exciting. Adding a Joey Bosa type talent has these fans salivating.
That the coaching staff has handled Manziel well, that Manziel played well and that the Browns could draft the best player in the upcoming NFL Draft has the optimist in a positive State of the Fan.
A lot of the opposite for the pessimistic fan. Their confirmation bias can't help but remember that HC Mike Pettine played McCown over Manziel, even as the team was losing. This fan has some of the words from our inside source burned into their memory about Pettine and how he decides on playing time and how "stubborn" he is. For this fan, Pettine, GM Ray Farmer and even owner Jimmy Haslam are in over their head and only, maybe, only a winning season could prove otherwise.
With Manziel, this fan can't shake the memory of Manziel's first "pass" where he fumbled it away due to "sweaty hands." Manziel's complaints about his height causing him issues helped them remember all the times the Browns had to roll Manziel out or he had to scramble to make plays instead of from the pocket. The bad (pathetic?) Steelers' defense, and the Browns playing catchup, also played a big role in Manziel piling up stats.
Not being able to beat out either Brian Hoyer or McCown until the season was almost down the drain is hard to shake as well.
Having the #1 overall pick also brings these fans back to all the "wasted" picks we have had in the first round. "Doesn't matter, they will just screw it up!" Not a great place when even the top pick in the draft isn't enough to bring any hope.
Finally, in this State, the pessimistic fan can't get too excited about anything because history tells them that the Browns are likely to make wholesale changes anyway, so why buy in to anything good?
There is no right answer. We all have our biases about important and non-important things. I lend more toward the Optimist about everything: Take the good, leave the rest. Others lean the other way: Be prepared for the worst at all times.
Either way it is important for the fans to understand what their "Confirmation Bias" is to better help them understand how the State of their Fandom is impacted by it.
Which State of the Fan do you find yourself in?