Rough Opener For America's Team

Tennessee Titans: 43 Cleveland Browns: 13

Jim Rome
September 09, 2019 - 10:44 am
Baker Mayfield

USA Today


As long as we’re talking about just one game, let’s do this.

Tennessee Titans: 43
Cleveland Browns: 13

That was brutal. That was the ugliest season opener for a team with Super Bowl hype in a long, long time. A 30 point loss. At home. That wasn’t a loss. That was a two-by-four to the face. Tennessee just went into Cleveland and absolute smashed the Browns in every possible way.

Then again, the Browns did a good job of smashing the Browns as well.

Baker Mayfield throwing 3 interceptions, getting sacked 5 times, and leaving the stadium with a wrap on his hand. The Titans scoring 28 unanswered points. The Browns committing an incredible 18 penalties for 182 yards. That’s the most penalties a Browns team has committed since 1951. That’s amazing.

Almost as amazing as Greg Robinson getting ejected for kicking Kenny Vaccaro in the head. You have to tip your cap, it really was a legendary implosion.

There was Baker getting drilled for a safety.

There was Baker throwing a pick six.

There was Derrick Henry going 75 yards for a touchdown on a screen pass without a Brown anywhere near him

That game could not have gone any worse for Cleveland.

At a certain point, maybe around the billionth holding penalty, it was actually kind of impressive. Like, I didn’t think one team could commit this many penalties in sixty minutes.

The offensive line was a disaster and the much-hyped defense was giving Tennessee pretty much whatever they wanted. The Titans showed up with a ton of confidence and they dominated. That wasn’t just about what Cleveland didn’t do, it was also about what Tennessee did do.

And I know what a lot of you are thinking. Cleveland got too much hype. They got too much love. They aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. They weren’t ready for prime time. The media built them up and then they started reading their own clippings and thinking they were great. They thought they’d just show up yesterday mess around and win easily. 

You’re thinking what Titans tight end Delanie Walker said after the game:

There’s some old school Denny Green for you. And I know all you people are out there saying, same old Browns. The Browns are who we thought they were.

They’re still chokers. Cleveland is still the Mistake By the Lake. This group is overrated and overhyped. Paper champs. 

And you’re going to come in here and point to Odell Beckham Jr rocking a Richard Mille on his wrist as proof that he’s a diva and they’re not ready. You’re going to say that most of last year’s wins came against teams with losing records. You’re going to say Freddie Kitchens wasn’t ready to be a head coach. You’re going to say the league figured out Baker Mayfield. Or that he was overrated in the first place.

And then you’re going to make it personal.

You’re going to say, hey Rome, you’ve been calling them America’s Team for almost a year now, don’t you feel like an idiot? 

Don’t you want to take that back? Don’t you want to stop hyping them? Don't you want to apologize for that?

And you're right. That was a brutal loss. And in the aftermath, I'm here to apologize...

For absolutely nothing. 

Not only do I not want to stop hyping them, I’m doubling down. 

All you cowards, all you Johnny Come Lately, all you summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, all you bandwagon hoppers, you can jump off.

I built this bandwagon in the darkness. I was building this thing when everyone else was clowning the Browns last year. I'm not giving up on America's Team because of one loss. 

Not only am I not getting off now, I’m doubling down. I’m going on record as saying that not only was yesterday’s 30-point loss at home in the season opener not bad, it was good. No, it was great.

Because all you fair weather fans are gone. Now it’s just the guys in that locker room and the true believers.

As Mayfield said after the game: “Because everybody is going to throw us in the trash, and I think that’s good. I know what type of men we have in this locker room and quite frankly, I really don’t give a damn what happens on the outside. I know how we’re gonna react, I know what we’re gonna do, how we’re gonna bounce back.”

That is the damn truth. I know how tough their schedule is during the next stretch. I know that Baker is banged up at the moment. And I don’t hate that Beckham was wearing a third of a mill on his wrist during a game. Not only do I not hate it, I love it.

And I know that Monday’s game against the Jets could almost be a must-win, but I know this too – that crew was forged in fire. They are tough as hell. And they are going to bounce back.

Yesterday was not the end for the Cleveland Browns. It was the beginning.