Dear Browns fans,
First, let me apologize for totally rooting against your city whenever the Indians or Cavs made it to a championship series. I honestly couldn’t stomach yet another city winning a title before my beloved Buffalo. Especially a city we feel so close to, like a sibling rivalry. Blue-collar, on Lake Erie, and both long-suffering sports fans.
But then LeBron and the Cavaliers happened. They did it. And I have to be honest, I was super happy for you. I saw the raw, real emotion from so many Cleveland sports fans. It just made me feel good to see so many people just like us over here on the other side of the lake finally get what they deserve. And I’ll admit, I’m jealous. I want that for us. Maybe some day.
You don’t know me and probably don’t even care about that, but I just wanted to be honest with you right off the bat.
So now, I’m here to help you and hopefully save all of you from the in-fighting you’re about to endure with one another. Trust me, it’s going to happen, and it will all be because of Tyrod Taylor.
First, make no mistake. You’re getting a great human being. A super hard-worker and class act on the field and off of it. He’ll never embarrass the organization or city. He’ll fit in great in your community just like he did here. You’re getting a guy who will immediately earn the respect of teammates in his own locker room. They’ll love him and believe in him. And because of all of that, most of you will, too.
But here’s what’s going to happen and why I want you to remember how much you love each other and are all on the same team: Tyrod Taylor will make you think, re-think, overthink, talk in circles and fight over just how good he is, and isn’t.
He’s going to dazzle you with some of he most athletic plays you’ve ever seen from not only a quarterback, but any football player. He’s going to keep a play alive when no other human would have been able to, then throw a strike 20 yards downfield to a receiver who stuck with him. You’ll be amazed.
You’ll love the national attention it brings Cleveland when he shows up on highlight reels on every ESPN, CBS, NBC, and FOX postgame show. And the way the announcers on those shows will talk about him will make you wonder what the hell the Bills were ever thinking letting him go for a measly third round pick.
Then you’ll look at the box score and be reminded that the Browns had the ball late, down four, but couldn’t move it past midfield, lost the game 16-12 and had only 150 yards passing.
Then, when the All-22 crowd gets ahold of the tape and starts showing all of the missed opportunities Taylor didn’t make good on, that’s when it will become a problem. Trust me, we’ve been there. Too many times.
Your conversations with your friends will go something like this:
YOU: “I can’t believe how many wide-open receivers Tyrod Taylor didn’t see or just refused to throw to. That cost us the game.”
FRIEND: “Dude, what are you talking about? He’s the only reason we were even in this game in the first place. He should have been sacked 10 times.”
YOU: “Umm, they had 150 yards passing. How do you expect to win like that in 2018? It’s a passing league.”
FRIEND: “Whatever, man. Guy didn’t turn the ball over at all. Maybe someone else on the offense could make a play once in a while?!”
YOU: “Do you even watch football, bro? How are they supposed to make a play if the damn QB won’t even get the ball to them? The wideouts had three total catches! Ridiculous.”
FRIEND: “Haha, ok, ‘Coach’ (in a totally snarky voice). You’re so smart maybe you should design an offense around his skill set, since Todd Haley clearly isn’t doing that.”
YOU: “So it’s everyone’s fault except the QB! Got it.”
FRIEND: “What do you want, man? Taylor is the best QB this organization has had since we came back in the league in 1999.”
YOU: “Right, because Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb are such high bars to attain. I seriously can’t believe how dumb you are. By the way, I’m done. Not going to the game with you next week. I can’t stand to watch this 1970s passing attack anymore.”
FRIEND: “Cool. Sit home with your miserable self and play Madden. It’s so much easier that way.”
YOU: “Shut up, dude.”
FRIEND: “Screw you. Don’t tell me to shut up.”
You and your friend stop speaking to each other for the rest of the season, and of course unfollow each other on Twitter.
And for what? No one is right and no one is wrong. All of that is exactly who Taylor is — and isn’t.
So, at the very least, please let this be the cautionary tale of “The Tyrod Effect.” Many relationships and friendships have been ruined in Buffalo over it. I don’t want to see the same thing happen to you fine folks in Cleveland.
Sal in Buffalo
Follow me on Twitter @SalSports