It's been a week and a half since the Cleveland Browns played football. In the first four games of the season, the Browns played three good quarters. Since one of those quarters was the last one they played, there is a tendency for everyone in Berea to tell us that the fourth quarter in Cincinnati is a springboard to fixing all the problems we've seen from the Browns thus far.
I've listened to what Phil Savage has said. I've listened to Romeo Crennel. I've heard from many of the players. What I hear is how injured players will return and that a corner has been turned and that they've fixed their problems.
If you ever watched the X Files, you might recall that Agent Fox Mulder had a poster on his wall that said "I Want to Believe". He wanted to believe that there was more to the world than what he could see or easily explain. He wanted to believe that it was a government conspiracy keeping the truth of extraterrestrial life from the masses.
Likewise, I want to believe the things that members of the Browns organization have been saying for the last week and a half.
I want to believe that this organization really does know what is wrong with this team and how to fix it.
I want to believe that this coaching staff is getting the most out of its players.
I want to believe that our team goes into games with the best strategy to win against that week's opponent.
I want to believe that if a player makes enough plays, he'll earn his way onto the field.
I want to believe that if a player doesn't make enough plays, or makes enough negative plays, he'll earn his way off the field.
I want to believe that at any given moment, coach Crennel will make the best decision to enhance the team's chance to win the game.
I want to believe that Derek Anderson is the player we saw in the first half of 2007, not the one we've seen since.
I want to believe Jamal Lewis has plenty left in his tank.
I want to believe that Braylon Edwards is a top-flight receiver, not a me-first problem child.
I want to believe that the Browns will consistently make use of a player with the skills of a Kellen Winslow.
I want to believe that the offensive line is one of the best units in the NFL.
I want to believe that a talent like Joshua Cribbs will be used in ways that catch the other team by surprise.
I want to believe that Donte Stallworth will actually play in a game rather than hide behind mysterious injuries.
I want to believe that the defense can truly stop the run when it matters.
I want to believe that Kamerion Wimbley is everything we hoped he would be, but he just hasn't put it all together yet.
I want to believe Alex Hall is the steal of the 2008 NFL draft.
I want to believe that Andra Davis and D'Qwell Jackson are NFL-caliber inside linebackers.
I want to believe that Eric Wright is just in a bit of a slump and will return to his 2007 form.
I want to believe Brandon McDonald is everything we thought he might be and more.
I want to believe that the safeties can be healthy and play with the kind of impact this team desperately needs.
I want to believe that a healthy Josh Cribbs will return the special teams to the form we saw in 2007.
I want to believe that the 2008 Cleveland Browns are a decent football team. Maybe even better than that.
Just like with Agent Mulder, though, there comes a time when belief must be backed up by tangible experience. It must be backed up by facts. By evidence. By results.
That time is now. Or soon, there won't be anything left to believe in.
The season is short. Bark hard!