After trading Trent Richardson and benching Brandon Weeden for Brian Hoyer, conventional wisdom was quick to suggest that the Cleveland Browns were throwing in the towel on the 2013 season. The narrative started taking shape: The first-round pick Cleveland received from Indianapolis could be used to help bring in a real franchise quarterback, and Hoyer would kick-start the tanking process. They could circle their Week 13 game against the Jaguars as the "Toilet Bowl" and spend the time until then idling listlessly, as the Browns have tended to do over the past decade or so.
But that narrative is already history.
The Browns just went out and won their next two games and, in the process, have looked as good as any AFC North team has so far this season.
And thus we're forced to ask the question: Is this team suddenly a real threat in the AFC?
The answer lies somewhere between the extremes, and it touches on an issue that writers were reluctant to consider just after an immensely controversial trade: The Cleveland front office has executed its plan masterfully.