With quarterback Baker Mayfield and defensive end Myles Garrett leading the charge, Cleveland went 10-6 in the 2020 regular season. Three years after going 0-16, the Browns will participate in their first postseason game since January 2003.
Cleveland used to make the playoffs on a regular basis. When did the Browns last win a postseason game?
The Cleveland Browns are postseason-bound
The Cleveland Browns have hit on nearly every major decision they made since going 0-16 in 2017.
After some bumps along the way, Baker Mayfield has emerged as the Browns’ quarterback of the future. Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb have formed arguably the NFL’s top running back duo over the last two years.
Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, is among the NFL’s best pass-rushers. Garrett has 35.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles in the last three seasons across 40 of a possible 48 games.
The Browns have even quickly moved on from their mistakes. Cleveland fired head coach Freddie Kitchens after a disastrous 2019 season — his only year at the helm — and hired Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
That the Browns are a postseason team despite various injuries and COVID-19 issues is a testament to Stefanski’s leadership.
The Cleveland Browns have waited a long time
When the Cleveland Browns last even made the postseason, Tom Brady had completed his first full season as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback.
From 2004-20, the Cleveland Browns didn’t play any postseason games. Cleveland only played January football when Week 17 took place on or after New Year’s Day.
The Browns fanbase has been waiting a long time. They survived winning one combined game between the 2016-17 seasons, and numerous quarterbacks — looking at you, Johnny Manziel — not panning out.
Stefanski is the Browns’ 11th head coach, either full-time or interim, since that January 2003 loss to Tommy Maddox and the Steelers. In a cruel twist of fate, Stefanski won’t even coach in the wild-card round.
Special teams coach Mike Priefer is filling in for Stefanski, who is out in compliance with the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
The NFL was very different when the Browns last won a playoff game
The NFL, and the world as a whole, were a much different time in January 1995.
Consider an era where only three Star Wars movies existed. The most recent Marvel film released in U.S. theatres was Howard the Duck, all the way back in 1986.
The NFL only had 28 active teams during the 1994-95 season, with the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars beginning play in the fall of 1995. Steve Young won the NFL MVP Award, Deion Sanders captured Defensive Player of the Year, and the NFL introduced the two-point conversion.
Back to the Cleveland Browns, who went 11-5 and defeated Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots in the wild-card round in January 1995. Pittsburgh then took down Cleveland in the AFC divisional round.