Cleveland is widely seen as the fourth-best team in a loaded AFC North, but don't tell that to Dwayne Bowe.
The veteran receiver, in his first season with the team, dropped an A-bomb of positivity on Friday, starting with signal-caller Josh McCown.
"He's showing all the potential of being a top-five quarterback in the NFL," Bowe said of the 36-year-old passer, per The Plain Dealer.
Teams without a quarterback are walking corpses in today's NFL. The Browns topped Dan Hanzus' epic Pain Rankings series because no team in football has gone longer without a serviceable arm.
Here's what McCown is: A journeyman, now with his seventh team, who has yet to start 16 games in a single season. McCown's statistically dominant five-start run with the Bears in 2013 helped land him on our Making the Leap list one summer ago, but his hyper-shaky run with the Bucs left him unemployed by March. On the plus side, McCown is an outstanding leader who quickly won over his Browns teammates and gives coaches a plugged-in presence. I'd call him an upgrade over Brian Hoyer, but McCown remains the dictionary definition of a stopgap.
Here's what McCown is not: A top-five player at his position. It's outrageous to sing that tune about a passer who already ranks miles behind Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco in his own division. Maybe Andy Dalton, too, but I've lost all trust in Cincy's Glowing Ginger Man. Cleveland's suspect cast of receivers and tight ends don't help. If everything went right for the Browns -- and when's the last time that happened? -- McCown could emerge as a reliable stand-in until the team finally hits on a prospect under center.
I'm chalking up Bowe's comments as part of the immense hope all 32 teams feel in July before the earth opens up and swallows the weak. McCown, today, must be seen for what he is: A marginal starter ranking in the bottom-five of the league -- not the top.
As for Bowe, let's bask in the swirl of sweet-nothings he delivered up on Friday. If nothing else, his beautiful mind sees proud tomorrows for a team long trapped in a dystopian hellscape:
Waitress, I'll have what he's having.