Browns Newcomers Sound Off on Super Bowl Expectations

Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns.

Getty Head coach Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns.

Za’Darius Smith and Juan Thornhill have wasted no time setting Super Bowl-level expectations for the Cleveland Browns.

The two newcomers haven’t been in Cleveland long but are setting the tone for the Browns.

“It’s a new start. Whatever happened last year is last year,” Thornhill said while speaking to reporters at OTAs. “This is a new year and this is what we’re working for — to get to the Super Bowl this season.”

The Browns have entered the last two seasons with high hopes but ultimately fell flat, missing the postseason. Cleveland made the playoffs in 2020 and won a Wild Card matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Beyond that, it’s been a rough three decades or so for the Browns but Thornhill — who has two Super Bowl rings from his time with the Kansas City Chiefs — doesn’t want to hear about the past.

“They say if you speak negative, negative things will happen. That’s what I truly believe. So if you sit there and speak positive, those positive things will happen,” Thornhill said. “If you say you’re going to win and you step on that field believing you’re going to win, more than likely you’re going to win. I mean, you’re going to play your hardest to get there. So I’m definitely that type of guy that wants to be positive and bring everyone to the room and just enjoy everything together.”

Juan Thornhill Signed 3-Year Deal With Browns

Personally, Thornhill will fill a key role in the secondary. He signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Browns this offseason with $14 million fully guaranteed.

Thornhill has started 52 games in his career, collecting eight interceptions. He’s coming off his best season as a pro, notching 71 total tackles and posting a grade of 71.5 on Pro Football Focus.

“They brought me here to win, so they brought in a great guy to help go get the football, get turnovers, get the ball back to Deshaun and the offense,” Thornhill said. “So that’s what they brought me here for, just to lock up any receiver that I’m going against.”

Thornhill joins a talented secondary in Cleveland that also includes Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Grant Delpit.

Za’Darius Smith: Winning a Ring is the Priority for Browns

The Browns added Smith via trade, snagging him from the Minnesota Vikings for a pair of fifth-round picks. He’s a threat to get double-digit sacks and has three Pro Bowls to his name. Smith would love to rack up some personal accolades ahead of free agency next season but he’s focused on getting a Super Bowl ring with the Browns this season.

“My main goal right now is getting a (Super Bowl) ring,” Smith said “That’s something that I never have experienced. So that’s the No. 1 goal is help this team win a Super Bowl. Well, first of all, win the [AFC] North, well, win the division, sorry, and then go on and play in the Super Bowl.”

The Browns are +360 to win the AFC North, per FanDuel Sportsbook, which is third behind the favorite Cincinnati Bengals (+125) and Baltimore Ravens (+240). The Steelers come in at +600 to capture the division title.

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