Cleveland Browns: Are Expectations Too High for the Browns?

Hayden GroveContributor IIISeptember 11, 2011

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Colt McCoy #82 of the Cleveland Browns runs from Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the season opener at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

As the Browns lost to Cincinnati this afternoon, fans had many different views. 

Some were bitterly disappointed, blaming Colt McCoy and the receivers for their lack of second half production. Some were frustrated with coaching that was simply "time management" and not nearly aggressive enough. The rest were not so disappointed. 

How could you not be disappointed by this game? 

This is how—they get it. 

They understand the circumstances the Browns are under this season, and their expectations are at a lower level, for the first few games at least. 

They realize that the Browns have an entirely new coaching staff, an entirely new offensive and defensive system, and a full crop of developing players who need time to prove that they are NFL material. 

They realize that things could have been much worse in Week 1.

The Steelers have a true problem. They were lambasted by a good Baltimore team, but their circumstances are much different than the Browns'. 

They were AFC Champions last season. They've had the same head coach for the last few years, and that coach has proven himself a winner. They've had the same core group of players for the last few seasons and they should be more than comfortable with their systems and players. If things don't shape up for them soon, they will truly have a problem. 

But as for the Browns, a bad loss today, to those with reasonable expectations, was not even a bad loss, but instead a result of a Browns team who was getting all the kinks out and was a victim of a shortened NFL offseason thanks to the lockout. 

So to Browns fans such as myself, whose expectations may be a bit too high, at least for the first few games of the season, we have to relax. 

We have to realize that although we played poorly today, we have time to shape up. We're still making many adjustments on both sides of the ball, and adjustments to the NFL. Our Head Coach was coaching his first game, and is still getting the hang of it (although I don't know how many Head Coaches run over the referee in their debut). 

Give it time. 

Next week the Browns take on a vulnerable Colts team. I wouldn't say we should expect to win, but hopefully we can play better and make strides. That's what it's going to be about right now: making strides. 

As bad as today was, we need to take it with a grain of salt. If we continue to struggle next week, and lose to the Kerry Collins' Colts, the panic level may begin to rise. 

But for now, Browns fans need to lower the expectations and realize that this team has to have time to adjust and to grow.