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Mike Polk Jr.'s Take: OBJ leaving took the weight off the Cleveland Browns' shoulders

The Browns flattened the Bengals Sunday by the final of 41-16.

CLEVELAND — Have you ever been at a house party that has a really awkward vibe because the presence of one person is making everyone uncomfortable? It might be somebody’s ex or an obnoxious guy from work -- but regardless, there’s a palpable tension in the air until the very moment that person leaves...at which point the mood changes entirely -- everybody relaxes and starts having a good time?

Well, Odell Beckham Jr. has now left the party, and the atmosphere has improved considerably. It even livened up the dance floor.

The Browns looked completely rejuvenated in yesterday’s Battle Of Ohio, pummeling the North Kentucky Bengals 41-16.

Was Odell’s absence the primary reason for this impressive drubbing? Of course not, but it certainly didn’t seem to hurt.

I understand there are still some raw feelings about the OBJ situation and how the Browns have handled it. Some of Odell’s friends wore “Free Odell” shirts on Sunday which I suppose is a nice gesture but didn’t really make much sense given that the Browns had already publicly announced they were waiving him. So technically he already was “free."

I suggested on social media that perhaps they actually meant it in a different way, like when someone puts a sign in their driveway that says “Free Firewood." Like: “Free Odell! First come first serve! Come and get it, Detroit Lions!”

Some considered that tacky, but like most Browns fans, I don’t have anything against Odell and I truly hope that wherever he lands next he has great success -- as long as it’s exclusively in the NFC.

Credit is due to Stefanski and the Browns front office. It’s a tough call to part ways with a talent like OBJ while gaining nothing back in exchange other than a blessedly more boring locker room.

But it clearly was the right call. For whatever reason, the Browns are simply a better team without Beckham on the field.  As a broad overview they were 9-4 in games when OBJ didn’t play but only 14-15 when he WAS in the lineup. 

This is an example of an interesting phenomenon in which a team improves by removing one of their most talented components. It’s known as Addition By Subtraction. And it is not exclusive to football.

For example, what happens when you remove walnuts from chocolate chip cookies? Poof, they instantly become GOOD cookies. Addition by subtraction.

When Norman Fell left the hit show Three's Company to helm his own spinoff, “The Ropers,” he was replaced by the incomparable Don Knotts as Mr. Furley and the show reached new heights of hilarity. Addition by subtraction. Get it?

The fact that the Browns responded to all of last weeks drama with a huge win yesterday says a lot about Baker Mayfield and the vastly improved culture of this football team. That looked like the exciting, unified playoff team that we all remember from last season.

And people can debate how much or little that might have to do with OBJ or the lack thereof, but no one can argue with the results: A crucial victory, on the road, against a divisional rival.

Who Dey that made Bengals fans so sad? We did, thank you, and you’re welcome. So carry on young warriors!  And Go Browns!

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