Since it's early November, it's fitting to remember the time a presidential hopeful said: "Ask yourself if you're better off today than you were four years ago."
Since the bye week approaches and the time off allows us a moment to pause, I ask, if you think the Browns are better off today than they were a year ago?
Good question, huh?
Record-wise, it's pretty close.
A year ago though, the Browns won five of their last eight games, actually seven of their last 10 and made the playoffs. Looking at just the numbers, it would be easy to say the team surged into the playoffs with a great run.
Well, they did beat the Jets in New York with a memorable comeback in a week that weighed heavy because of Mr. Lerner's death.
The Browns did beat the Jaquars and the Ravens on the road by a total of two points. But they also lost at home to a bad Carolina team and looked lethargic in a loss at home to the Steelers. The score was close but the game really wasn't.
Funny thing. The unpredictable scenario sounds an awful lot like this year.
What's the same?
The fact that you can't really get a clear picture of this football team, that's the same.
Can this team make a playoff run? In the AFC North, the answer is yes.
Will it be hard to watch? Yes.
The Browns have twice played the gracious host to virgin victories for Cincinnati and San Diego. But they looked like Super Bowl contenders in front of a Sunday night national television audience in Pittsburgh.
Jamal Lewis set an NFL rushing record against our young defense. But Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward and Jerry Rice were all reduced to mere mortals by our defensive backs.
It took Kelly Holcomb 11 quarters to lead the team to its first touchdown of the season. But he then led them to a thrilling comeback win along the way in San Francisco on a broken ankle and then almost did it again at home against the Chargers.
Holcomb was pressed back into duty because Tim Couch struggled reading the San Diego coverage. Plus, in the week leading up to the San Diego game, Couch made the fatal mistake of telling the media, and thus the Chargers, that because of the injuries on the Browns' offensive line, he would take the quicker three-step drops and throw quickly to help out his banged up buddies. That tipped off the Chargers. NFL Players should know better.
The offensive line deserves a declaration. I know the Marines are always looking for a few good men. They should check the Browns' front five or six or seven or eight.
The wide receivers were supposed to carry the offense. They may still do it.
The young linebackers were supposed to be a liability but today they stand as the defensive foundation. Courtney Brown kept telling us he wasn't ready to play. Everybody thought he just didn't want to play.
You know what? The guy can play.
This team has more wins on the road than they do at home. I guess that's one area where they've been consistent in their play from a year ago.
Remember my analogy for this football team. They're just like the first girl you fell for sometimes you laughed, sometimes you cried and sometimes you just wondered why.
You know why. You root and you stay loyal because you're a Browns fan.
Is the team better off now than it was a year ago?
Notwithstanding some inconsistency, I think they are better. Butch says they are, but remember, he's looking at the team with long-term prescription lenses.
Who needs a sure thing?
That wouldn't be any fun.
Well, maybe it would.