Browns look to shed ‘kid brother’ label

Posted Oct 30, 2013

Senior Editor Vic Carucci says a victory against Baltimore Sunday would do plenty to cause the Browns to no longer be viewed as the “kid brother” of the AFC North.

The “kid-brother” analogy that coach Rob Chudzinski used on Wednesday to describe the place the Browns have long occupied in the AFC North was perfect.

As any kid brother knows, you tend to take your fair share of grief from an older brother (or brothers) until the day comes that you’ve grown large enough and strong enough and brave enough to give it back.

It is during that moment of truth that you begin to feel you’ve earned some respect – that you’ve established more of an equal footing.

The Browns are preparing for an opportunity to have such a moment.

An argument could be made that a victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium would effectively say the Browns have caught up with the “big brothers” of their division. At the very least, it would be considered a major step in that direction.

“This is a tough division,” Chudzinski said. “The AFC North, multiple Super Bowl winners, multiple playoff teams, everybody has been in the playoffs. We’ve been the kid brother for a while, and we need to stand up in this division and do the things that we need to do.”

The Browns already have done it once this season, beating Cincinnati at home in Week 4. And, despite their three-game losing streak, it can be done again.

The Browns are, as their coach said, a better team than they were when they suffered a 14-6 loss at Baltimore in Week 2. Not just because Jason Campbell is their quarterback, but that’s a big reason. In his first start for the Browns, Campbell played well enough in last Sunday’s 23-17 loss at Kansas City to offer encouragement that the Browns should be able to make the plays their offense failed to make in the previous game against the Ravens. He showed instant chemistry with the Browns’ two best play-makers, wide receiver Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, and displayed excellent game management on the way to nearly knocking off the NFL’s lone unbeaten team.

Campbell’s brief appearance in the earlier Baltimore game didn’t go well, but that was more a function of the circumstances than anything else. He was backed up to the goal line after Brandon Weeden exited late with a thumb injury, and the drive went nowhere. Things should be far different with Campbell preparing to be the starter rather than the backup.

The rest of the team is equally upbeat about its chances, as it should be. The Browns’ offensive line did an amazing job of keeping Campbell well protected against the NFL’s sack leaders last week. The Browns’ defense dominated the second half.

On the whole, the Browns have a far better understanding of their offensive and defensive schemes than they did in Week 2. Players have a far better feel for each other and for their coaches, and vice versa. Oh, and they also have Gordon, who was serving the second of his two-game suspension in Week 2.

All signs seem to point to this being the right time for the “kid brother” to stand tall.

“There’s always that point where the kid brother becomes the same size, if not bigger, than the big brother,” safety T.J. Ward said. “I think that’s what we want to happen here. I think we have all the pieces to do it. We’re playing well right now. We’re 1-1 in the division, and looking forward to beating the Ravens this week. We haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here (2010), and just to get a win at home in front of the fans and be over .500 in the division would be great.

“We want to be atop this division, and you have to go into the game with that mindset. It all starts with that. And then the action comes after.”

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