The View From Pluto: Browns' Tie is Progress, Now Winning is a Must
The Browns and their fans are still trying to make sense of the team’s season-opening tie with the Steelers. It's the first time a Browns game ended in an overtime tie since 1989. Still, Sunday’s stalemate ended the team’s 17-game losing streak and showed the team is making progress.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says he's never had to write a Plain Dealer column about a tie in the roughly 400 NFL games he's covered. So, he was speechless on Sunday.
"The season has opened; they're undefeated, and they're winless. Both teams basically felt like they lost because they could look back at points in the game when they should have won it."
Ending the losing conversation
Pluto said the tie did accomplish one thing.
"Instead of dwelling on losing all their games last year, it did stop that conversation. Because you can't say that losing streak is alive. You just haven't won. They need any bit of hope."
From the mud to the turf
Pluto says this Sunday's game will be in much different setting. Instead of in the rain and mud in Cleveland, it will be at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on artificial turf in New Orleans.
The Saints have been floated as Super Bowl contenders, but they lost to Tampa Bay in Week 1. "It will be interesting to see how the Browns react to that," Pluto said.
Positives and negatives
Meanwhile, Pluto said Sunday's game had its positives and negatives on the field.
The big negative was the offensive line. "They had never taken a single snap together and it looked like it," Pluto said.
"You don't wait until the week before the first game to name your starting left tackle, who had never worked with the other four guys -- even in a preseason game. And then it impacts your quarterback, who also is new."
"The offensive line is more like symphony. These guys have to know their parts and know when they come in and out. The defensive line is more like jazz because they're rushing the quarterback and running around. You sort of make it up as you go along."
Pluto said the defense showed some real talent and ability to change games around.
Pluto also quashed an idea by some fans to put in the team's No. 1 draft pick, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield.
"Throwing Mayfield in the rain against the Steelers with that offensive line would have been a classic 'same old Browns' thing, he said.
As far as what's next, Pluto thought back to something former Browns' coach Sam Rutigliano once said.
"Sometimes you get so caught up in the noise and you realize you can't answer your critics. You can't debate the media. Sometimes even with your players, it only changes when you win a game."