A wave of emotions washed over the Cleveland Browns and their fans this week after the team introduced star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the New York Giants last month. The press conference Monday electrified the kick off of the Browns offseason workouts. But WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the hype may be premature.
A strong team asset, when he's healthy
Pluto says Beckham Jr. is a steal for the team, but only if he can stay healthy.
"Odell Beckham, when healthy, is probably one of the top receivers in the NFL ... but in the last two years, he's missed 16 of 32 games. He had a broken ankle in 2017 and missed the last four games of the season with a major quad injury. He also had some minor injuries earlier in his career, but if he's healthy, he's really good," Pluto says.
The Browns are climbing back from an 0-16 season in 2017. They finished last season winning five of their last eight games. Part of the turnaround has been rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. Now, he has a new target in Beckham.
But Pluto cautions that all of this hype could be putting more pressure on the team that it doesn't need right now.
"I mean here we are, April 1, and it's all Browns all the time. And it's playoffs and Super Bowl," Pluto says.
According to SuperBook USA, the Browns' chances to win the Super Bowl moved from 30/1 to 14/1. The team's odds to win the AFC Championship also went up from 10/1 to 7/1.
A new coach with a lot to learn
The Browns have started workouts this month. While they are "voluntary" according to new coach Freddie Kitchens, Pluto says there's a lot of expectation on the players to show up and start working on their chemistry.
"It started with the Browns finishing last year by winning five of their last eight games. They were five and three under interim coach Greg Williams," Pluto says.
But Pluto says right now is a good time for fans to enjoy the recent addition to the team and to not assume a Super Bowl spot is in the cards, especially with a coach who hasn't ever coached before for a full season.
"You just have to think about how many NFL games Freddie Kitchens has coached... zero. And this is going to be a place for a lot of expectations and a lot of strong-willed, talented players," Pluto says.
Kitchens stepped in as offensive coordinator last season when head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired.