Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Year End Goals

Here are my goals for the rest of the season:

> Don't lose any more guys for the 07 season. We already have two starters gone for next year (Baxter & Bentley). Lets not add to the list.

> If Frye's hand is OK, I say let him play. With a little fire under him, he may pull something new out. And if/when he starts to dance like Jeff Garcia, pull the plug and put Derek Anderson back in.

> Win out. Not for pride, but for the draft. I hate drafting in the top 5. You overpay, and you "have" to pick players despite your needs. Nobody is gonna pretend that WR was our number one need in 2005, but we were practically forced to pick Braylon Edwards because he was (or seemed) the best talent on the board. Lower down, not only do you pay less, but you also have the luxury of picking more for need than for "talent". If we win out, we would be drafting somewhere between 5 and 13.

> Audition DBs for next year. Yeah, Holly made some bad plays last week. Kind of gives you an idea why he was a free agent this past spring. But, rather than continue to drop guys to help Holly, I say challenge him. Give him man coverage, blitz the QB, and see what our DBs can handle. Will he give up a big play or two? Maybe. But it will help us decide if we're desperate for another corner for next year.

But it must be the coach

I have nothing to say about the Browns.

But I did want to make a quick observation. Pro Bowl rosters came out today (they call it the 2007 Pro Bowl, but that confuses me since the players are earning their spots based on the 2006 season). As expected, the list is devoid of Browns.

Now, far be it from me to give the Pro Bowl any undue creedence. But, here is an interesting chart of the number of Pro Bowl picks by team over the last 4 years (my apologies if this doesn't post legibly). I will allow the chart to speak for itself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scapegoat of the week

Sorry for the lack of posting. But what is there to say about a crap game like the one the Browns played against Pittsburgh? Not much, apparently, because the lull has been apparent around Browns-bloggerdom.

Just to get some quick hit thoughts out before we move on to the Ravens:
- Yeah, I gave Crennel a pass on not showing up against the Bengals. But its starting to wear on my patience. As Peter King pointed out (yeah, I know, but this time his sound-bite agrees with me), the Browns have more talent than they showed against Pittsburgh.
- On the other hand, do we really have the talent? A lotta that loss rests on the shoulders of players not doing well. Yeah, you want the coach to be able to get them ready, but some guys are, though gifted athletes, bums who just can't hack it. How many of those guys are holding us down?
- On that note, I nominate my scapegoat: Dennis effin Northcutt. Tell me, why does this sad excuse for a receiver still get downs? Why do we have a 3rd round draft pick, Travis Wilson, "The Best Receiver in the Draft", sitting inactive?
- I know, Romeo is a player's coach, as opposed to Butch Davis who loved nothing better than picking one player as a scapegoat when his whole team stunk. So if Dennis is gettin' it, its behind closed doors. But then, why does he still take the field?
- I'll wait till next year to call Edwards a bust.
- I have no opinion on Derek Anderson vs. Charlie Frye. Who cares who's tossin it? A Peyton Manning ball can bounce off of Northcutt's hands just as easily as a Charlie Frye pass.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cowher's last stand?

This could be our last time facing Bill Cowher.

Not much to say about this game, as it was just 18 days ago that we last played Pittsburgh. The big difference is that the Steelers are down Hines Ward, and we're up Leigh Bodden, so Pittsburgh won't be nearly as effective if they go into the spread formation. Of course, we also have Derek Anderson starting for us, so thats a HUGE unknown.

So, to prepare for the game, I would like to invite you all to intone a prayer with me:

Oh ye football gods on high, and little baby Jesus,
Thou most loyal and suffering fans,
Those who doth bleed Brown and Orange, verily beseech ye:

Shine thy graces upon the army of Crennel,
and smote with great anger the cursed Steelers!

Might our offerings of spilt beer and burnt Couch Jerseys
suplicate thy spirits' thirsts,
so that thou might take pleasure in the Browns.

Let the balls bounce our way.
Let the tipped passes end up in our hands.
Let the injuries be draped in black and yellow.

Great gods, and little baby Jesus, lead thy Browns to victory!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Michael Vick of the AFC North?

I don't have much to say about Sunday's win that hasn't already been said.

Before the game started, one of my buddies asked who the Browns' back-up QB was, and I couldn't think of Derek Anderson's name. I think that I'll probably remember it for at least the rest of this season.

Its impressive that he led us to a comeback and a win. But, he benefitted from some very impressive offensive line play. Frye was benefitting from the same offensive line play before he went down. I'm glad that we'll get to see a little more of Mr. Anderson, but, just like everyone else that I've read, I wouldn't be ready to say he's earned anything more than a stronger hold on the back-up job.

Its hard to single out any hurculean efforts from this game. Pretty much everyone on offense contributed. I think that the first screen to Jason Wright was the perfect representative play for this game: Well executed play, with some very big contributions by key players (Anderson, Jason Wright, Cosey Coleman, and Joe Jurivicis).

I liked the play calling. I hope we see some more of those screens during the Pittsburgh game.

As has also been said by others: This game should be a VERY clear sign that Romeo Crennel has not "Lost" the team.


With the game winding down to the last seconds, I had some scary flash backs to the game, and even the play, that gave this blog its name. On the Chief's last throw down field before going to OT, we were only one Dwayne Rudd away from giving the game away.

Looking ahead for this short week, I see that the Steelers are already down Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu. Geez, thats a real shame. I was looking forward to a now healthy Leigh Bodden shutting down Ward. I guess he'll just have to shut someone else down, instead.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Also surprised Jason Wright was starting over Kevin Mack

I don't have time to do a full post about the Browns' great win over the Chiefs, but I wanted to get this up before ESPN realizes its mistake.

As of 9:30 this morning, ESPN.com's "Last Call" has this thoughtful blurb from John Clayton:

• The loss of Charlie Frye with a possible broken right wrist is a big blow. He had made progress this season and he certainly had established a good throwing relationship with tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. It's interesting that the Browns went to Derek Anderson instead of veteran Kelly Holcomb, and it's pretty wise. At 4-8, it's better to test young players. Even if they find no break in the right wrist of Frye, Anderson will probably get the start against the Steelers because there will be little practice time before the Thursday game.

John, its not really that interesting. In fact, it would have been downright shocking if it had been Holcomb instead of Derek Anderson, seeing as Kelly Holcomb hasn't been in a Browns uniform since 2004.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Savage: Quit yer Whining

Phil Savage held a press conference to back up Crennel:
General Manager Phil Savage said with emphasis, “Romeo has the total support of Randy (Lerner, the owner) and I. He’s earned his way here. He’s left a positive impression on hundreds of coaches. He was going to create a team-first philsophy, with discipline, hard work and unity. He brought an experience level to us. “The bottom line is we felt we needed someone to come in and provide a steady hand. We needed to regain the trust and respect of the players from the head coach position. He has done that on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. “He has the respect of the team. They believe in him. Randy and I are 100 percent behind him. We’re going to do everything in our power to help him rest of five games and next year.“
I'm glad to see that the people in charge aren't going hysterical, just because some vocal fans/Cleveland sports press have concluded that Crennel is gone.

Tony Grossi has been pushing the "Crennel is gone" story as much as anyone. He started the rumors that they're looking into Jim Tressel. He has also claimed that WTAM's calls from Crennel's head were instigated by Browns management. It looks like, with Roger Browns' departure creating a void in the Plain Dealer's Making-Things-Up department, Tony Grossi is pushing to be the new Man-with-an-ear-to-his-own-mouth.

To be fair, I'm sure Grossi does have some inside source who feeds him rumors. But just because he hears from Joe in accounting that "Marty in accounting has checked out OSU's web page to see when Tressel's contract is up", that doesn't make the rumor anything like true. And the fact that Profootball.com, who is never afraid to pass along any unsubstantiated rumor, especially anti-Browns rumors, hasn't mentioned anything about Crennel being on the hot seat really drives home how bad a source Grossi is working with.

I wonder how much Grossi was the story behind the "inside information" that Todd Grantham was going to be the next MSU coach (for those out-of-the-loop, MSU hired someone else to be their coach, with Grantham not even making the final cut). I know that it was a teevee station that first reported the "it will be announced after the Steelers game" story, but I doubt that Grossi wasn't at least part of alot of the "chatter". In one of his recent podcasts, he was blaming the Browns for the rumors getting out because "they didn't go out of their way to stifle the rumors" (I'm paraphrasing). So let me see if I got this right:
Grossi: Coach, is it true that Todd Grantham is going to be hired by MSU on Monday.
RAC: I don't know, and even if I did, I wouldn't comment on it.
Grossi: Aha, so it must be true!

Maybe I need to re-examine my trusting of the PD Browns news. I read them because they always seem to have stories that Akron Beacon Journal, Dayton Daily News, and Steve Doerschuck don't have, but maybe thats because those are just made up stories. . .

My feelings were hurt too

From today's PD (their news is still OK, even if their commentary is crap):
Ryan Tucker is out for the season with what's believed to be an emotional illness, but he told Crennel he wants to return.

Ummmm. . .

What, exactly, is an emotional injury?

And how is it the kind of thing that can strike in the middle of a football game, making the player incapable of finishing the game?

Only the Browns. We can't have things as simple as a broken bone. No, we have to have torn patellar tendons and emotional injuries.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Off with all the heads

With the weather growing colder, the sounds of salvation army bells as you enter stores, and the constant commercials reminding you which giftcards are the best way to show you care, its definitely that time of year again. With the Browns season winding down, with another unacceptable number in the W column, we need to find our new scapegoat.

Actually, we'll kind of be double-dipping this season, since we've already tossed Mo Carthon. Although, to be fair, he did just as much as the fans and the media to secure his role as "the goat". His playcalling simply wasn't getting things done.

People want Crennel gone. People want Savage gone. People want Charlie Frye gone. The usual suspect, the offensive line, is sure to be gutted. I've even heard someone calling for the head of Todd Grantham.

Its funny, each time we go through this, we do such a great job of finding the top personell man (Savage, or Carmen Policy) and the top coaching candidate (Crennel, or Butch Davis). We bring these guys in, and they are the solution to what ails the Browns. And then they're here for a couple seasons, and they transform into the problem. Its amazing. We had a problem before they were here, we still have that problem, but now these new guys are cause of the problem.

So we toss them. We get rid of the problem, and bring in new solutions. The faces keep changing, but somehow nothing gets better.

I don't claim to have all the answers. But I do know one thing for sure: Firing Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage and gutting the team isn't going to improve the Browns.

Patently Offensive

Not too much to say about yesterday. The team fell apart. Hopefully they'll get put back together.

I'm not about to worry about the sky falling because of the defense's collapses (both yesterday and in the 4th quarter against Pittsburgh). With our injured secondary, was there ever any question that we were vulnerable against the pass? I mean, we've got Ralph Brown starting for us. They need to be fixed, but we know they have the potential to be good.

My worry is the offense. Its just plain broke. I mean, they were shut out by the worst defense in the league. I kind of wish we still had Mo Carthon around calling fullback options, because then we could still point a finger at his play calling and say "thats why we're so bad". But instead, I have to conclude that the whole thing is broke. The o-line is the start of the problems, but Frye hasn't been able to pull off any excitement since week 3 against Baltimore.

Next up is Kansas City. That game could end up just as bad. Hopefully Davidson will get some suggestions from Mo Carthon before the game.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Maybe this is "That Game"

The Browns season has followed a pattern since 2003, and that pattern seems to be continuing this year.

They start off looking really bad over the first game or two. Then they seem to turn it around and win one or two, giving signs of hope, and get near to .500 after 5-6 games. Then, through October and November the Browns keep losing, but they play alot of close games where they give hope that we might finally turn the coroner. Then as we hope that they can finally turn it around going down the stretch, they turn truly pathetic and get totally embarassed at home. Only after they hit rock bottom, do they rebound with a win or two to close the season on a good note.

In 2003, the rock bottom came in a December game against Baltimore, where Jamal Lewis embarassed us with 205 yards rushing, and we layed a goose egg, with the final score showing 0-35. I was at that game, and I stayed most of the game in the bitter cold.

In 2004 Butch Davis was already gone, and we were giving Luke McCown his shot at losing for us. On Dec. 19 we lost to San Diego 0-21, as we gained 13 yards rushing. I was also at that game, and not only was it bitterly cold, but there was a blizzard. I left sometime in the second half as I was sick of my beers freezing before I could finish them.

I wisened up last year, and didn't bother going to any games live. We all remember the 0-41 shellacking by the Steelers on Christmas eve.

With us down 0-17 at halftime, looking absolutely pathetic, its looking like today could be rock-bottom.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We already had the turkey

I was going to post with a list of things to be thankful for. But, A) thats trite, and B) it would end up being a kind of short list. After all, even if we've shown improved play nearly accross the board, the number in the W column still puts us on track for a top 5 draft pick.

> There has been alot of hot air swirling about Simon Fraser's hit(s) on Roethlisberger during the Daven Holly interception return. First Romeo comes out and defends Fraser, then TMQ, invoking yours truly, says that Fraser should be suspended, and then the NFL gives Fraser a $5,000 fine. I searched the various video sites, but I couldn't find a clip of the play (I did, however, find this awesome clip of Winslow PWNING Joey Porter).

Without reviewing the video, I have to go off how I remember the play. Holly gets a (very lucky) interception and makes a wild, criss-crossing return to the 3 yard line. While Holly is running through the area of Roethlisberger, Simon Fraser blocks Ben to the ground. Ben gets back up, and this time with Holly beyond the vicinity of Roethlisberger, Fraser knocks Ben down once more. (TMQ claims there were three hits, but I don't remember a third one).

A) The first hit, when Holly was in the vicinity, was perfectly fine. After all, if a Colt had given Rothlisberger a block like that during last year's playoffs, Nick Harper would've scored a TD off the Bettis fumble and we'd all have been spared the Steeler's Super Bowl. While Ben wasn't making any overt moves towards the ball carrier, he also wasn't making any overt moves away from the play. Now, I understand that the NFL will give the benefit of the doubt to the QB, but I disagree with that. I would give Fraser the benefit of the doubt, and would only call a penalty if Roethlisberger was clearly removing himself from the play.

B) The second hit, once the play had moved beyond Roethlisberger, was undoubtedly a foul according to the rules of the game. However, I think that Crennel makes a great point: If Roethlisberger was "removing himself from the play", then why was he getting back up? So that he could get a better view of Holly scoring?

The NFL should prescribe QBs some sort of fair-catch-signal-like manuever that will clearly define when they are taking themselves out of the play. After they make this signal, no one is allowed to hit the QB, but the QB isn't allowed to do anything that will involve him in the play. Until something like that is put in, its always going to be a judgement call and QBs will always have the advantage. Of course, if the NFL were to create such a signal they would be explicitly acknowledging what they now only leave to implication: QBs get special treatment, and they're more interested in having super-star pretty-boys ala Peyton Manning than blue-collar tough guys ala Simon Fraser.

> It sounds like Chad Johnson has a little bit of a mancrush on Leigh Bodden. Johnson always seems to have nice things to say about Bodden, except for sometime earlier this year (Bodden must have forgetten to invite Chad to his birthday party, or something).

"He's one of the best cover corners I've been able to go against," Johnson said. "He ranks right up there with Champ, D'Angelo, Nate Clements and those guys. Because of his ability to cover small areas of the field with no help."

In three meetings against Johnson, Bodden has two interceptions and one forced fumble. Johnson has 17 catches in the three games, but only one touchdown.

"He has a technique that he plays with that I've never seen before that he used the first game," Johnson said. "He was able to throw myself and Carson's timing off, our rhythm. It was something new that I never saw before and he's been very successful with."

Unfortunately, it looks like Bodden won't be able to play because of a sprained ankle. So Johnson is going to have to see how he likes Daven Holly.

Which reminds me of one of the comments one of the Steelers fans left (this is all sic): "The difference between a championship caliber team and a perenial basemnet dweller is depth, and the Browns have none, as eveidenced by the poor play of the corners in the fourth quarter." Buddy, NO team has enough depth to be able to field 2 to 4 shut-down corners after their top three cornerbacks go down with injuries. The Browns have one of the deepest secondaries in the league, and they are plumbing the depths of it this season because of injuries.

> Braylon Edwards' big mouth is developing alot faster than his playing ability. He's already apologized for calling out his own teammate for a dirty hit, but that doesn't really clear things up in my book. It should be a wake-up call to Braylon: No matter how innocuous your intentions, when you make comments to the media things can get portrayed differently than how you mean.

I have no problems with Edwards complaining about the play-calling, because it needs to be complained about. But don't ever throw your teammate under the bus.

> It looks like all the Grantham to MSU talk was premature, at best. I haven't heard peep about it since someone claimed that Grantham would be named MSU head coach this past monday (which, obviously, never happened). Since they were so wrong about that, maybe they were wrong about Grantham being the favorite, too.

> Game against the Bengals. If our offense can't get SOMETHING moving this Sunday, then they're officially done. The run defense has another chance to prove themselves. We've never been able to stop Rudy Johnson, so if we can pull it off this week we might be ableto say that the run defense is fixed. The pass defense will probably get embarassed, but I guess thats just because we "have no depth".

Monday, November 20, 2006

The trolls are on the loose

I've figured out where all the Trolling Steelers fans' comments have been coming from (I've been promptly deleting the comments. I already have a bad football team to deal with, I don't need idiot Steelers fans coming round to rub it in). Apparently the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn't have the talent to write their own material, so they like to borrow it from Bloggers: http://www.post-gazette.com/steelers/blogngold/

Its funny: Even though I've always put on the "I hate the Steelers" front, I had always figured that Steelers fans were probably decent, hardworking people like Clevelanders. But after seeing the Post-Gazette blog, and the comments that Steelers fans' have left over here and on some other Browns blogs, I guess may have to rethink that. I gotta admit, its really lowering my estimation of the people of the city. The Rooney family may be kinda classy, but the Steelers fans that have been making themselves heard seem to be trash-talking clowns.

Hey Steelers fans: You aren't Joey Porter, and I'm not Kellen Winslow. I'm just an average guy, posting about the Browns because the crap organization that we have doesn't give us a product worth watching. If your only contribution to the debate is to point out the obvious that the Browns stink, kindly just move on your way. On the other hand, if you really are looking for one Browns fans' opinions, feel free to stop by. Even once the Steelers start to suck, and all the Steelers "loyal" move onto new teams with fairer weather, I'll still be here, bitching about how bad the Browns are.

It could've been worse. . .

. . . but it should have been a whole lot better. One the one hand, at least it wasn't an embarassing defeat. The Browns continue their streak of being in every game. But on the other hand, man, we should've had this one. This loss is the worst of the season, because this is the first time we lost to an inferior team.

The offense is still broken. Plain and simple. The fumbles don't get me down as much as the inability to run off the clock. How many times this season have we gotten the ball back with a lead, and have gone three and out?
  • On a positive note, the run defense may be fixed. Now if we just had some healthy cornerbacks, we might have one of the best defenses in the league.
  • On that last TD by Pittsburgh, there was a really bad block by the left tackle that the refs just missed. But, we already know who the refs play for. It wasn't really a surprise to see that at least one member of this officiating staff helped "call" the Super Bowl.
  • There is no doubt in my mind that we would've won this game if any of our top three corners had been able to play. But when you're on your 4th-7th stringers and the other team goes into spread, yeah, they're gonna move the ball.
  • I'm not blaming the D for this loss, because they shouldn't have been put in that kind of position in the first place. But still, part of me can't help but wonder, maybe if we hadn't played so soft on those last two drives, things might've gone differently. At least when Grantham is named head coach at MSU later today, it won't be as big a dissappointment as it would've been if our defense had just won this game.
  • What was the deal with Holly's second INT return? I understand the Browns player's infraction (although I'm REALLY sick of the refs babying the QBs, especially when it seems like its always the other teams QB). But how does that put the ball way back on the 30-something yard line? I'd figure it should be marked off from the end of the play, meaning about the 15th yard line.
  • Another note of ref's babying QBs: a personal foul on Wimbley's QB sack with incidental facemask contact? Gimme a break. Watching the OSU-Michigan game really made me realize how bad the NFL has gotten. There were a couple QB hits that would've been flagged in the NFL where the NCAA refs just let the game play.
  • Kind of disappointing that Braylon Edwards couldn't beat Polamalu down the sideline. It was a great play, but it should've been even better. I he's still not 100% on his knee.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pittsburgh week

Big Pittsburgh game this week. Kind of ironic that Steelers/Browns is happening the same weekend as OSU/Michigan, but where as OSU and Michigan are the two best teams in college football, the Browns and Steelers are fighting for the basement of the AFC North.

There are alot of quotes from the Browns locker room about this game, and the lasting embarassment from last year. Heck, Savage was pretty blunt that he was building our team with Pittsburgh in mind. Of course, part of that building was bringing in LeCharles Bentley to make Casey Hampton his bitch, and we know how that has turned out to date.

But, I don't think anyone is fooled that the 2005 Pittsburgh team was REALLY that good. They're more a testament to their idiot-coach, who inspired them to play beyond their level of talent. In the playoffs, they squeaked by with alot of luck (or, from Carson Palmer's POV, dirty tactics). In the Super Bowl, even luck wasn't enough and they were dependent on the refs.

Pittsburgh probably isn't as bad as their record suggests, as they've had alot of decent performances that were derailed but some very costly mistakes. But then, the same goes for the Browns. We're a handful of plays away from being 6-3 instead of 3-6. Lets just hope this isn't the week that Pittsburgh decides to wake up and try to go on another end of season run.

Our pass defense should again be respectable. Holly won't be able to shut down Hines Ward as he has other WRs, but he'll still be able to keep him from being too big a piece. I like Pool against Heath Miller. With Rothlisberger's problems this season, we should see some more blitzing on obvious passing downs.

I'm more worried about our run defense. I think that Fast Willie is more comparable to Warrick Dunn, so our success against Dunn last week gives me some hope. But I'm not yet sold on our D's ability to defend the run, particularly up the middle. With Pittsburgh's center likely not playing, that might keep them from using Davenport to be the bruiser. But Cowher is smrt (I mean, smart) enough to realize where our weakness lies.

Our offense has its own issues to worry about first, before we even think about what the Steelers bring to the table. If we can't run against Atlanta, we won't be able to run against Pittsburgh. And, while Pittsburgh's secondary has proven to be a weakness, the problem will be holding the Blitz off long enough for Charlie to be able to make a pass.

I see us winning if:
- Our special teams continues playing great. Richardson can help us win the battle for field position, our return guys will help him, and hopefully Borg Phil Dawson will be around to score when the offense fails.
- Our defense doesn't give up the big plays, holds them to field goals, and creates some turnovers. I think Pittsburgh will have plenty of 5-6 yard runs and 6-7 yard pass completions, enough for them to keep the chains moving. But if we can limit them to that, we'll have more opportunities to put some pressure on them and maybe cause a turnover.
- Our offense is able to establish SOME consistency. I see alot of three and outs, with our successful drives coming on long passes. If we can score quickly and force Pittsburgh to turn to their passing game, I think that our defense will look alot better than if our offense struggles early.
I heard alot of grumbles about Davidson lately. While I haven't fallen in love with our offense now that he's in charge, I just want to remind everyone that he has now been in charge for 3 games (4 weeks), and he is still using Carthon's playbook and Carthon's offense. There is only so much change he can do right now. BUT, because he's getting his time in now, he should be in a MUCH better position come next season to make the changes that he sees fit. So hopefully come July we won't be reading all those questions about "Can the Browns young offense adjust to their new coordinator?"

I've also seen alot of speculation about our next head coach (I think alot of it has come from Grossi, but I'm not sure). Particularly, about Cowher or Jim Tressell being our coach in 07 or 08.
A) Romeo isn't going anywhere. Even if we lose the next 7 games (provided they aren't blow-outs), he should be back.
B) Cowher and his chin may have lucked into/bought a Super Bowl ring for Pittsburgh, but I can guarantee you that he would not be the "missing key" to turn this franchise around.
C) Let Tressel stay at OSU. Even if he could get the Browns to mediocrity, it still wouldn't be worth it if it meant we would lose our DOMINANCE in the Michigan rivalry.

And with that note, I would like to close with a video that my good man Nick shared with me:

Link is SFAnywhereAnytime, but its loading slowly, must be alot of OSU fans getting refreshers. . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Its like Rush Limbaugh getting into sports (oh, wait. . .)

I usually don't comment on Peter King's MMQB because the guy is an idiot. I really don't even read it too closely, just scan for the rare nugget of information.

But something in yesterday's article caught my eye:
b. Last Tuesday sure was a good day, wasn't it?
King's reference was obviously to the recent mid-term elections. I assume that his comment is w/r/t the Democratic takeover of Congress. Now, I'm not saying that I disagree with his politics (not to say that I necessarily agree, either), but I just think its pretty classless for someone whose business has nothing to do with politics to go bringing up a decisive issues.
I guess its been apparent for a long time that King's articles are full of worthless drivel. I just thought that this was a new low.
But, it does make me thankful for the truly good, profession newsources. Like OBR.

Monday, November 13, 2006

This win was brought to you by the letter D

I'm not about to start gushing and call this win the defining moment in Romeo Crennel's head-coaching career, but I was pretty happy about it.

This is how our games against San Diego and Baltimore SHOULD have ended. And the main reasons this game ended with the Browns winning is because the defense was able to keep its play going through the end of the game, and the offense was less incompetent than normal.

I'm not going to say much about the offense. Winslow just pulls off the same old stuff again. Running game again is not the savior. Offensive line still getting shredded. Frye doesn't throw a pick (although his "streak" was kept alive by too many receiver-caused-interceptions for me to have been too down on him).

What I'm more impressed with is our defense. And even more specifically, our run defense. Amazing. They didn't shut Atlanta down, but the fact that we were able to eliminate the huge gains for TDs was key.

Brodney Pool is really doing a great job filling the roles that he asked to do. Forget Nickel-back, he's our official Big-guy-back. I wouldn't mind seeing him get more playing time, but with Russell and Jones there just isn't any need to fill in a young guy. He's going to make it hard in deciding how much to offer Russell for next year.

Man, how about Sean Jones? He making me hate Butch Davis just a little bit less. Great interception, great tackling. He probably won't be in the running for the Pro Bowl, but he deserves a spot.

Andra Davis looked alot more like his old self. Before yesterday, I was starting to wonder if he had gone soft since getting his new contract. Its good to see that he has realized there is a problem, and has taken steps to fix it. I don't want to give inordinate blame to him, but the loss to San Diego was partly because of his getting taken out of those running plays.

And Kamerion Wimbley again impresses. With his sack yesterday, he surpassed last year's team sack leader. In fact, his 5.5 sacks is nearly 25% of total sacks the team had ALL of last year. And beyond the pass rushing, he's really looking like a complete LB. And the way he was able to catch Warrick Dunn from behind. Man, this guy's speed is unbelievable some times.

Most importantly though, I'm just really impressed with the coachs' abilities to plug their guys into roles, and to keep the D's holes hidden. Simon Fraser, Leon Williams, Brodney Pool, all are able to contribute in specific situations, and are played in exactly the right situations.

One last downer note: I was on the road for the first half of the game, and was listening to the radio as the last seconds of the first half came to a close. So, I didn't see the 1-second-left-Supposed-to-Hail-Mary-but-Frye-Fumbles-and-Altanta-nearly-laterals-their-way-to-the-endzone play. So I'm not sure how much blame lies on Frye's shoulders. But, dammit, what is this kid thinking? There are so many acceptable outcomes to that play. You can throw the pass. You can throw an incompletion. You can throw it away, even if you're going to take a grounding call. You can kneel it. You can take the sack. But the one, single, unacceptable outcome, is to give up the fumble.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Maybe Shaun Alexander has been praying for us

As told in that mecca of Browns news, OBR, we have some good news that our injury list will be getting a little shorter and our active list will be getting a little longer.

-Ryan Tucker: Still no word on why he was out. It sounded mighty suspicious, and they still aren't talking, but at least he's back.

-Daven Holly: He was making some VERY promising (almost Leigh Bodden like) strides before his mysterious illness. I was impressed with his open-field tackling against Carolina, so I'm glad that he'll be around to help corral Michael Vick.

-Demario Minter: I guess he's not technically back since he was never with the team to begin with. But still, he was another of our promising rookies. While he might need plenty of work, we need plenty of warm bodies at DB, so this is the perfect situation to try to get him to get a little exposure.

Between Bodden, McCutcheon, Holly, and the youngins who still need to show a bit more (Minter, Jereme Perry, Mike Hawkins), we might be OK at CB next year even with Baxter out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Frying Frye

After reading some opinions that are questioning whether or not Frye is our QB of the future, I thought it is necessary to clarify my opinions on him.

I'm certainly not ready to give up on Frye yet. He still looks better than alot of other young QBs that are playing around the league. And he has alot of extenuating circumstances that help to explain away alot of his mistakes (I mean, really, how many dropped balls for interceptions can a guy really have?).

My point was that we (and by "we" I mean the coaches) can't just rely on time to correct Frye's ills. The coaches need to be working with him to correct these things now. At this point in the season, playing to win should be secondary to playing to improve. And to see improvement, I think the coaches should make it clear to Frye that his job, even before winning the game, is to get better at protecting the ball and himself. That means taking sacks or throwing the ball away when he needs to.

If Frye can't fix that by season's end, I think that questioning his long-term prospects will be a valid point. But, its hard to say at what point we could say that he has "fixed" this. So, I'm not expecting any definitive answers by the end of this season.
Hearing these complaints about Frye makes me that much happier that we don't have a "qualified backup" on the roster. What point would there be in seeing Trent Dilfer out there right now, and Charlie on the bench? Unless we have another long-term starting prospect to take Frye's place (which we don't) I want to leave him in there so we can get a better idea of what he can offer us.
Its time for me to confess my ignorance: From watching a game, I could never tell one offensive blocking scheme from another. I've read about Denver's "zone blocking" plenty, but I couldn't tell that from Sunday.

That being said, this CBS article says that the Browns have gone to a zone blocking scheme under Davidson. Is that true? That sounds like a pretty fundamental change to try to be making midseason. And it definitely sounds like something that I would of heard of from someone else.

I'll keep an eye open, but this sounds like questionable reporting.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Second Verse, same as the first

Geez. San Diego (and the refs) do their best to hand the game to us, and we can't pull it off. 6 trips to the red or maroon zone, and we fail to score a TD, settling for field goals instead. Despite LaDainian Tomlinson's opinion, I don't see signs that we're "almost there". The gap between "hanging in games" and "winning games" is alot bigger than it appears.

The rushing game looked pretty bad. I don't want to get too down on them, because they were playing a good defense. But that just serves to underscore an important point: With the speed and size of defensive players who are playing in the game today, a good defense is going to be able to shut down (or at least slow down) even the BEST running game. So, while working out a strong running game is admirable, no matter how much better it gets its never going to get you all the way.

And that brings us to the passing game. Charlie did not look good. Passes in the wrong position. Holding on too long. And, of course, staring down his receivers. And some of his decisions. If you're gonna stare down a guy and make the pass, at least do it to a guy who isn't double covered. On the play in the third or fourth where Frye was running around, only to be sacked and fumble the ball away (reversed by a hold against Jurivicis), I was pulling my hair out as Frye had three or four opportunities to get rid of the ball and just didn't take them. I think that Crennel and Davidson need to make this their number one priority: Get Charlie to understand when to throw it away. Because if he can't improve on that by the end of the season, I'll be ready to call for a new QB.

What can I say about the O-line? Its not there yet. But when I glance at the lists of top prospects for the 07 draft, I see alot of Offensive tackles in the top thirty. So help me, Phil Savage, if you ignore the line in this year's draft, too, I'll be calling for your head.

The rush defense is still looking pretty inconsistent. They looked alot like our '03 defense against Jamal Lewis: They stopped the run cold most of the time, but when they didn't stop them, the back was able to get huge chunks of yards.

But, to not dwell on the negative: Romeo Crennel and Todd Grantham are officially geniuses in their ability to stop a passing game. They make Ralph Brown and Jereme Perry look like, well, Leigh Bodden and Gary Baxter. Kind of makes you wonder if Baxter and Bodden (and Holly) are really that good, or if its just the system.

Sean Jones is the real deal.

Kellen Winslow is the real deal.

Wimbley is looking decent. How did you like him almost catching Tomlinson from behind on that 40 yard TD run? His tackle attempt looked awkard, but the fact that he got close enough to make an attempt at all is pretty impressive.
Looking ahead, Atlanta is a team that we can beat. I think we can do enough to confuse Vick to stop the passing game. The big question will be whether or not we can slow down their running game. Also, on offense we should be able to run it at them. But we've gotta be smart about it. These runs up the middle are getting pretty old pretty fast. I understand that is Droughn's strength, but when it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Friday, October 27, 2006

". . .my kneecaps were up in my thighs"

PD got a good interview with Wendell Davis, the first guy in the history of the universe* to tear both patellar tendons at the same time. The only other guy to do so? Our very own Gary Baxter.

It sounds terrible. I think it'd be worthwhile to say a little prayer for Gary Baxter. The smart money is on him never playing in football again. Even if he does, he might have to move to saftey.

How the heck do the oddsmakers give this upcoming game to the Browns? I mean, sure, I think that we can win, but I'm nothing but a blindly-loyal homer looking through rose-colored glasses.

The media love fest that has centered around Jeff Davidson is funny to see. I like his look. That is one sharp shirt.

I found that image by doing an image search for Jeff Davidson. But check out this website that I got it from:
Its some crazy Italian NFL site doing a recap of the Browns 06 draft. It describes Kamerion Wimbley as "scelto al primo giro, tredicesima scelta assoluta". I don't know what that means, but it sure sounds impressive. And of Babatune (!) it says "Un potenziale 'steal' per i Browns". You got that right, buddy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No Mo

So they finally pulled the trigger on Carthon.

I don't like the constant changes. Not that continuity is the end-all-be-all, but you can only go through so many guys before you have to ask "is it them, or us?" But, it looked like the Carthon move was necessary.

And at least by doing it now, they can let this be Davidson's "rookie" season, so that next year we won't be reading all these stories about our "new" offensive coordinator.

I wonder how things went down. The PD portrayed it as Savage and Lerner as the ax men, but I have to believe that Crennel could've saved Carthon if he really wanted to.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Here I was thinking that the Baxter injury was a nice, simple torn ACL* that'll take 9 months to heal from. Oh, no, nothing so easy.

The guy tore his patellar tendon. You know, that injury that fell LeCharles Bentley and will take 1 year+ to heal from (meaning Bentley might not be back for the start of next season).

But wait, there's more. If you call right now, we'll throw in a second knee injury for the free. Thats right, he tore BOTH patellar tendons.

This could be a career ending injury. Sorry, Gary. Sorry you had to get stuck in the middle of our curse.

*Only in Cleveland is a torn ACL a nice, simple injury

Predictably Unpredictable

In this Patrick McManamon article, I read two interested statements:
Take a fourth-down pass in the first quarter that led to quarterback Charlie Frye trying to scramble for a first down and getting hit in the noggin.
Winslow seemed to be the intended receiver, but Winslow said he wasn't open.
``I think they knew the play,'' Winslow said
He took a deep breath.
``They knew it,'' he said.
In Carolina, defensive lineman Mike Rucker said the Panthers knew the plays that were coming. Now it appears the Broncos knew at least one, which does not sound good.
``Obviously not,'' Winslow said.
He then correctly pointed that, at times, every defense recognizes a play that is coming based on a formation and that the offense has to execute.
Well, the offense isn't doing much of anything, and if the play-calls are so obvious that the defense knows them, said offense will never succeed.

They do things that make you scratch your head. Like on third-and-10 when Steve Heiden was sent into the huddle and Kellen Winslow was dragged out. What play was called?
A tight end screen to Heiden.
Now, Heiden is a fine player, a good player. And he'll catch the ball when thrown to him, but you have to ask: If you're going to run a tight end screen, why not throw it to a guy who can avoid people and break a tackle, a guy like... WINSLOW?!?!?
One can imagine the thought process. Well, Heiden usually blocks. Let's trick 'em and have him fake a block, then catch a screen.
If that happened, that's just too much thinking. Heiden blocks because he's a good blocker. Winslow catches and runs because he's good at it.
You just want to shake somebody and say: Stop overthinking and trying to be tricky. Run a stinking play that's fundamentally sound.

Why did they call the play to Heiden? Maybe the result of the first play to Winslow is the answer to that question. Now, I'm not defending the play calls, I just wanted to point out that they ARE obviously trying. Its a shame they can't succeed.
Hats off to Kenard Lang. I appreciate his refusual to gloat or trash talk after the game. Of all the former Browns on the Denver roster, he's the only one who might have a legitimate gripe against the current guys in charge. Its a shame his class didn't rub off on Quincy Morgan.
Is there any question that Baxter is done for the season? Whats with this? I mean, I expected that he might re-hurt his strained pec, but no, it was his knee. I feel bad for him. We should just cut him, and let him get on with his career somewhere else. Its obvious that he's jinxed in Cleveland.
So, 2007 Draft anyone?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rude awakening

When I got up this morning, I was surprised (and not pleasantly so) to see Roger Brown's girlish mugshot over a new article. Isn't he supposed to be gone?

Then I remembered: My mom is retiring from the PD after 35 years, and she's leaving under the same buyout program as Roger Brown. She said the leave dates were staggered throughout the end of the year (I think it was 10/31, 11/30, and 12/31 as last days). So, we may have a couple more months of Brown.
So, I'm going to be a bad fan today. I'm not going to watch the game. Here in Virginia its a hassle, because I have to find a bar showing the game, and so it ends up being an all afternoon commitment. And frankly, I just don't have the time to waste.

Don't get me wrong, I really want to see how they're gonna do. I always have hope that they could pull something off, and open alot of eyes. And there would be nothing more satisfying than to see them do it against the Broncos. But, I've had my hopes dashed too many times lately. And even if they do manage to win, it will most likely be an ugly game that we'll win because Denver made more mistakes than us.

I'll probably follows CBS Sportsline's gamecast, just to see how its going. But any "analysis" I have is just gonna be based on what I read in tomorrow's papers.

I hope I'll regret this.

Friday, October 20, 2006

So I guess somebody else is going to have to make stuff up

The Plain Dealer is hurting, and as part of its recent cuts, they have lost that Jayson Blair of Cleveland journalism, Roger Brown.

Brown's articles, when they said anything at all, were chock full of unnamed sources and implied criticism that even he knew he couldn't get away with making explicitly. And the guy was the ultimate Monday Morning QB, telling everyone after the fact that he knew all along that this guy or that guy wouldn't work out.

I think the defining moment of his career was just this season when he predicted the Oakland Raiders would make it to the Super Bowl, and then a few weeks into the season had the gall to trash talk those who said the Browns might get 7 or 8 wins this season.

I have issues with some other PD guys, but they are what they are. At least the try to stick to the facts, and they have a little class.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On the lookout

I just saw a car commercial (I think it was GM) that had a collage of football clips. There were a couple Browns helmets that caught my attention. I'm pretty sure that one of the clips was of a Brown throwing a pass. But this Browns' number was #4. Why would a national avertising campaign use a shot of Phil Dawson throwing a pass?

Please let me know if you've seen this commercial, to confirm if I'm crazy or not.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Schadenfreude: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

Courtney Brown, after a stellar 06 campaign of exactly zero appearances on the field, has been placed on the IR. Nice pick-up, Denver. How are Kenard, Gerard, Ebenezer, and Michael going to get by, now?

Glad we let that one get away. Our IR is too full as it is.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Going into the bye stinking. . .

I was all set to write a post complaining about our playcalling, and particularly an over-reliance on running, and particularly running up the middle. Then I decided to do a little analysis, and the preliminary results surprised me: we were actually relatively effective running up the middle.

Since those results are not what I expected, I need to go back and look closer at my numbers, but expect some hard-core number crunching later this week.
In short: Carolina gave us the chance to win the game, and we just couldn't take advantage.
My first instict is to praise the defense in keeping it close enough to possibly win, and blame the offense for not pulling it off. But it wasn't really our defense that kept it close, it was some really bad play by Carolina, and particularly drops by Steve Smith. Don't get me wrong, the defense did some good things in their own right, but it wouldn't have been enough if not for Carolina helping us out.

The offense, on the other hand, didn't have any help from the Carolina defense. Peppers had a great game, but we had some terrible play calling and some poor execution. Maybe someone greased up the balls before the game, because our guys were dropping them left and right, too. I got REALLY sick of seeing that Northcutt-bobble-turns-interception-turns touchdown getting replayed. The announcers kept going on about how great of a job Marshall did of being in the right place. Huh? The guy's coverage was off, and he just got lucky that Northcutt couldn't catch it, and that it fell into his hands. Why don't the Browns ever get gift plays like that?
That roughing the passer call on Wimbley was a sad reflection on how bad NFL refs are. It doesn't make up for it that they called a borderline roughing penalty on Carolina later on to make up for it. The fact is that the refs make too many bad calls, or even worse, no calls.
And that punt-returner's fumble that we recovered, only to be overturn? Sure, his knee might've been down at the second he was touched, but I sure didn't see enough "indisputable evidence" to overturn it. I can guarantee you that if the Browns had had a fumble like that, the refs would let the fumble stand.

I was disappointed that we couldn't generate any sort of pass rush. I guess that was to protect out hurting secondary, but if we could've gotten some more pressure we could've stifled Carolina's already-meager passing game.

Holly was playing too soft to make any judgements about his coverage, but I gotta give him applause for his tackling. He made a couple great wrap-up tackles of Steve Smith. Smith could've easily taken a couple balls for a LONG ways, but Holly managed to keep the damage to a minimum. He's starting to remind me of a young Daylon McCutcheon.

Brodney Pool on Keyshawn Johnson? So, does this say good things about Pool, or bad things about Ralph Brown? A little bit of both, I think. He did OK, considering.

Run defense still has issues, but that dead horse has already been beaten.

Josh Cribbs continues to impress. I'm glad to hear that he's still trying to improve himself. The first quotes I heard from him after Oakland and Carolina was that he's disappointed in himself that he didn't get the TDs. Thats the attitude thats going to keep him improving himself.

Ryan Tucker got schooled by Julius Peppers. Why didn't we have a tight end or full-back there to lend a hand? Cause having that 4th receiver on the field sure opened things up. Note to Carthon: A QB on his back can't make a pass, no matter how open he is.

I'm starting to get downright sick of Crennel using his line that "Its a bad play because it didn't work". Now, I'm cool if Crennel doesn't want to publicly call out his coordinator for a bad play call, or his players for bad execution, but just decline to comment. The trite responses repeated ad nauseum make him sound dumb, and we know that isn't the case.

That being said, I'm glad that Romeo has left "coaching adjustments" during the bye week on the table. 1-4 is unacceptable. We've got too many talented guys to be pulling off stuff like this.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Vs. Carolina

We have another big test this upcoming Sunday. Carolina has Super-Bowl quality players, but so far they've lost two, and just squeaked by in their two wins.

I don't have alot of hope for this game. I don't think our defense will be much more than a speedbump against Carolina's passing game. We've shown that we still have some holes defending the rushing game, too. I think that our best hope is that the pass rush kicks it up another gear, and we don't allow any break-away runs. Bend but don't break is the best we can hope for, with some sacks to give us a little extra bending room. We're going to need to force some interceptions in this game, because Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson have the potential to embarass our hurting secondary.

What I'm more interested in seeing is how the offense fares. We've had two straight weeks where we've shown some great play in spurts. If our offense can play at the higher level the entire game, we could stay in the game. I'd like to see us come out passing early. The Panthers have a banged up secondary, and we should be able to make some plays. If we can muster some success passing it, we should be able to get the ground game moving as well. I think that the key is that we don't get into a "run it up the middle" rut, because Carolina's front seven will be able to stop us if thats our game plan.

If we can win this, or at least make it a close game, I think we can classify it as a success. I just don't want to see another embarassing loss.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some respect at last

Josh Cribbs wins AFC special teams player of the week. Yeah, baby!

We may not have any Super Bowl rings.

We may not have any Pro Bowl players since 2001.

We might not have any post season victories since I was in high school (or was it middle school?).

But we got us the AFC special teams player of the week.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some fresh legs at CB, but at what price?

The Browns added an undrafted rookie from Michigan State to the roster. While I agree that we needed a fresh body in there, I question how it was done.

To free up the roster spot, they cut Babatunde (!) and put him back on the practice squad. As Mistake by the Lake correctly pointed out, Babatunde was the whole reason we won this past Sunday. So when we lose against Carolina this Sunday, we already know why: Because Babatunde wasn't there to will the victory.

I am glad that we have some fresh blood in there. While I'm still ready to see a bit more of Daven Holly, I have already written off Ralph Brown (whether or not he appeared competent last Sunday). And Antonio Perkins looks to me like a Ray Mickens in the making. Its really a shame that Demario Minter is out this season, as he would've had his opportunities cut out for him.

I wonder if Travis Wilson could play CB?

Monday, October 02, 2006

What's better, a hope-inspiring loss or a demoralizing win?

Its hard to come up with something to say about this game. For a while the defense looked like the 03 team (". . .except for those 5 runs. . ."). Charlie reminded us that he's still learning (I mean that interception . . . . . . maybe Carthon shouldn't have trusted him at the end of the Ravens game).

The Browns really controlled that game. When the Raiders were up, it was because the Browns GAVE them the lead. Based on how in control we were, that game should've been a blow out. But it wasn't a blow out, and against a decent team (or heck, even an-only-modestly bad team) you won't be able to survive the kinds of mistakes we made.
The passing game is really starting to come around ('cepting for Charlie's brain cramps). It was good to see Jurivicis out there catching some balls.

Sean Jones still looks pretty decent, although, again, that interception had more to do with the incompetence of the Raiders and less to do with Jones' skills.

Wimbley with two sacks, including one where he embarassed Robert Gallery. Wimbley has three sacks YTD, thats only 2 off from last season's team leading 5 sacks.

I'll admit, I was one of the "go get Gallery" guys back in 04. Even with Winslow missing two years, he still looks like the better pick.

Simon Fraser with another sack.

Gotta love these local guys making their marks. Heck even if they don't do well, I'd rather do our sucking with local kids than with the likes of Jeff Garcia and Quincy Morgan.

If we can pull off an upset against the Panthers (a HUGE if considering that Ralph Brown and Daven Holly will be trying to cover Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson) it could really turn this season around. As it is now, with a couple seconds changed in the Ravens game, we'd be sitting at 2-2.

I'm starting to look forward to the Steelers games (why do we gotta wait until the end of the season?). Not because I think that we'll win, just as a kind of gauge in our progress.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


It wasn't even close to pretty, and seeing Leigh Bodden get carted off the field hurts. But a win is a win.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Holly and Oak

Word is that Baxter is going to miss the game in Oakland, too. So it goes. But I hope he gets back soon, because we could REALLY start to miss him against Carolina.

I can't remember where, but somebody made the good point that, although Daven Holly had a poor game against the Ravens, he wasn't getting burned by his guys (ala Ralph Brown). Holly was staying with his guy, but he just unable to defense the ball when it was thrown in his direction. Now, this is frustratingly bad play none the less, but it still shows hope. As the un-remembered source points out, making that closing deal (defending the ball when it is thrown your way) is something that can be coached.

My thinking is that, its also an effective scheme against a younger QB. See, McNair is old enough and smart enough to realize that, even though Holly has his guy covered, he can throw it there knowing his guy can beat Holly to the ball. But on Sunday, Holly will be defending (or not defending) passes from Andrew Walter. My hope is that, when Walter sees Holly blanketing Alvis Whitted*, he won't have the instincts to put the ball up so that Whitted can beat Holly to the ball. So, while Holly wasn't an effective defender last week, maybe he'll be more effective this week.

*Who the heck is Alvis Whitted?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What if

Charlie Frye is currently the 26th best QB, based on passer rating of 68.1. A lowly number, but anyone who knows anything knows that Charlie's numbers are being hurt by some poor play around him.

In particular, of his 5 interceptions, 3 were caused by receivers dropping balls that they should have caught, and one was caused by a blinside hit as he released the ball.

If you were to assume that those 4 bogus interceptions had instead clanged to the ground, his rating would be 86.0, good enough to be tied for 18th in the league.

Alternatively, if you were to assume that those 4 bogus interceptions had instead been caught for 4 more completions, 40 more yards (10 per extra completion), and one more touchdown, his rating would be 95.0, good enough for 8th in the league, one spot higher than Carson Palmer.

Is Frye the real deal? The signs point to "yes".

Tough Schedule?

Well, National media type are coming around to the same conclusion that I had inklings of during our week-1 loss to the Saints: The Saints are an OK team. It makes sense, really. They were a regular 9 win team before last year (even with Aaron Brooks at QB), who through alot of bad luck and bad coaching went down the toilet. They then signed the best free agent QB (and one of the best overall QBs over the past couple seasons) in Drew Brees and got handed the toast of the draft in Reggie Bush. So seeing them take off isn't too big a surprise (just like Miami winning 8 games last year was no big shocker).

So we've had three losses to three undefeated teams. Its not an excuse that I want to hear the coach or players using, but I don't mind mentioning it.

We won't have any such excuse to use against the Raiders. Everyone but Roger Brown (who picked the Raiders to win the AFC) knows that the Raiders stink.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Not too bad

Ahhh, I was back home in Cleveland yesterday, and it was a great fall day to be able to turn off the TV sound, turn up Jim Donovan, and watch the Browns game.

Going into this game, I was as pessimistic as everyone else. And through the first couple drives, I hadn't seen much reason to change my mind. But then, it happened. Charlie Frye stepped it up. Passes were caught. In short, I believe that the Browns showed up the Ravens, even if the final score did not reflect that.

I was VERY impressed by Frye. He had a penchant for hanging onto the ball a little too long when getting sacked, but otherwise he showed a great poise in dealing with the Ravens' relentless passrush. Whereas in week one he was doing alot more running in those situations, today he was looking for and sometimes finding those inevitably open receivers. That 58 yard pass to Edwards was a thing of beauty.

I liked the play calling. I'm glad they didn't waste their time seeing if Jason Wright could run against the Ravens wall of linemen. Like clockwork, Grossi blames the Carthon playcalling for the loss (particularly, that endzone pass interception that inevitably lost the game for us). But he will never give credit to the fact that we would've never been in the game in the first place without those shots down field.

The thing is, Frye has been incredibly consistent in making safe passes this season. Most of the picks that he's had so far have been dropped/deflected balls that are all on the receivers, and not Frye's fault. And he's done a great job of pulling the ball down and running with it when he couldn't make something happen. So in that situation, in the end zone, I think that giving the ball to Frye to pass was nearly as safe an option as running it, with a higher probability of success. And if Frye got hit a second earlier, he wouldn't have even got the pass off and would've just taken the sack. And if Frye got hit a second later, the pass would've been a perfect touchdown. But, by freak luck, he was hit the second he was throwing it, making it a bad pass. I don't mind playing those odds.
Edwards redeemed himself.

Winslow nearly backed up his talk, but that taunting call got my blood boiling. I guess that there's still hope that he'll learn, but I'm not going to count on it. He's still a good weapon to have, but you've gotta take the good with the bad.

Wimbley looked decent. He didn't get any sacks, but he was close enough. I think that he might be the real deal.

I liked that we were bringing alot of pressure on D. Sean Jones and DiQwell Jackson both looked capable, and Chaun Thompson showed a little something.

Simon Fraser played a good game. I wonder how long Jimmy Donovan was hoping to use that "Simon says .. ." line.

Oline was, well, what can you say about 7 sacks? They were outnumbered so many times that it wasn't really their fault. The running game had glimses, but not enough to justify running more than you need keep-them-honest. I believe that by the end of the season, they will be able to run more convincingly (at which point Grossi will point and say "Why haven't they been doing that all along, Carthon has been wasting Droughns, the best RB since Jim Brown"), but right now the run game just isn't there.

Daven Holly was a joke. CB is really ugly. At least he's young and has hope of getting better. But he could be a real liability against the Raiders next week.

Is the season officially a failure? Probably. I will be happy with another 6-10 record. I think that we can reasonably hope to win against:
- Jets
- Tampa Bay (in Cleveland on Christmas Eve)
- Houston
- One from Atlanta, Kansas City, or Baltimore
- One from Cincinnati or Pittsburgh (yeah, I know, tall order)
But at least we're seeing things to get excited about. Frye might really be the answer. We might really have offensive weapons in Edwards and Winslow. We might have a real pass rusher in Wimbley. And we might have one last present from the Butch Davis era in Sean Jones.

It doesn't change the fact that we are a losing team. But what else do we have, but hope for the future?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Maybe we should have held on to Michael Lehan

Not too big of a surprise, but word is that Daylon McCutcheon is lost for the seaon. Combined with Gary Baxter's continuing problems with his pectoral strain, what started as a position of strength is starting to look like a major area of concern (I know, everyone and their brother was already concerned about this, but I was remaining irrationally optimistic that we would see Bodden, Baxter, and McCutcheon all at the same time).

I was just thinking this morning that Ray Mickens was a better slot than Ralph Brown is. Unfortunately, now the question is who is the better starter. And I think the answer is, lets put Babatunde back on the team!

Its times like this that I really wish we had a developmental player that we could plug in. If we're gonna see a bad player in there, it might as well be someone who might learn from the experience. Unfortunately, Demario Minter is already on the IR. I still want to see something from Antonio Perkins, but all reports that I've heard of him are that he's a little TOO developmental. Even Michael Lehan (who, I believe, is now starting for the Dolphins) would've been a good option at this point.

Monday, September 18, 2006

But when I said run the ball more, I meant run it FORWARD

In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I was driving through Eastern West Virginia and Western Maryland from 12 to 4 Sunday afternoon, so I didn't actually see any of the game, other than what NFL.com gives away for free.
So, Grossi's big thing last week was that we need to blame Carthon for the loss because he didn't establish the run immediately. So Carthon comes out pounding the run, with nothing to show for it. So how does Grossi explain this twist of events? He says that we need to do more swing passes, and we need to call DIFFERENT run plays, and we need to establish an offensive personality (whatever that means). I don't want to defend Carthon, but at least Grossi isn't calling the plays.

Personally, I suscribe to the Football Outsiders POV (as explained by that oasis for the thinking Browns fan, Mistake by the Lake): While there is a demonstrably strong correllation between successful teams and teams that run the ball alot, it is not because running the ball causes the teams to be successful.

I like Winslow's idea: Open it up. The line was able to hold up, so Frye should be able to do SOMETHING with it.
Yesterday Wimbley got his first sack, and Edwards got his first 100 yeard game. But, while Wimbley looks like he might live up to his billing, I'm still not convinced about Edwards. He dropped passes again yesterday, and that is simply not acceptable. The thing is, big physical receivers aren't really that hard to find. Quincy Morgan was a big, physical receiver, and we know what a bust he was. A number one receiver has to first and foremost be consistent. And yesterday, even though Braylon was plenty impressive with his 75 yard completion, he dropped enough passes that we cannot really count on him to be one of our playmakers.

So, until Edwards DOES prove himself, he should get no more balls than Travis Wilson, Jerome Harrison, Lawrence Vickers, or Josh Cribbs. And until he proves himself, I'd rather see more 1 WR/2 (or 3) TE sets. Darnell Dinkins deserves the chance to drop some balls. We already know that Edwards can do that much.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Maybe I need a tin foil hat to keep my thoughts from getting stolen

I was going to write this, but then BitterFans beat me to it. In any case, I agree whole heartedly, point for point. Especially that Roger Brown is a hack (a hack who says the Raiders will win the Superbowl).

Why Steve Doerschuk is the best beat reporter.

Where other beat guys just wave their arms and say "The line is terrible, the season is doomed, fire Mo Carthon", Steve Doershuk just goes and talks to Kevin Shaffer and Romeo Crennel about what went wrong.

Nothing can sugarcoat what we saw on Sunday. But based on the way Shaffer and Crennel talked about it, it sounds like its more a problem of the line not gelling, and them just not being prepared. So, hopefully a couple games into the season, it'll start looking more respectable. Then we can start worrying about all our other holes.
Yesterday's TMQ said:

"Braylon Edwards -- the Next Charles Rogers? Nothing makes a quarterback wince more than the well-thrown pass that caroms off a careless receiver for an interception; the pick is the receiver's fault but is charged against the quarterback. The Saints leading Cleveland 19-14, the Browns had first down on the New Orleans 45 at the two-minute mark. Charlie Frye threw it perfectly to Edwards, third overall choice of the 2005 draft. Edwards carelessly allowed the ball to carom off his hands; the deflection was intercepted by New Orleans, ending the game."

While I'm not ready to give up on him, I also don't want to defend Edwards. His non-catch cost us the game.
I know that I give the coaches the benefit of the doubt, perhaps longer than is justified. Last year I didn't complain about Carthon too much, because I thought that it was worth trying alot of his "trick plays".

That being said, even I was disgusted by the fullback pitch out on 3rd and one.

But listening to Grossi's chat on Monday, you'd think that Carthon was the guy out there who couldn't hold his blocks. Grossi wants him fired right now. But then again, Grossi's idea of a game plan is run up the middle, run up the middle, run up the middle. So I'd rather see Carthon fail with his trick plays than to try Grossi's idea of banging his head against a wall for four quarters.
I still think that alot of the problems we saw on Sunday should be fixed by the end of the season. The problem is that, with a 16 game schedule, you don't have time to learn on the job. In Marvin Lewis' first two seasons with Cincinnati (going 8-8 both seasons) they started off slowly, and then came on towards the end of the season. At the beginning of last year, Lewis' whole training camp was focused on winning game 1, so that they could get off to a fast start.

Thats what we're going to need next year. Crennel's going to have to start running his real offense during the preseason, because it doesn't matter if the opponents don't know what to expect if you can't execute for lack of practice.

Another big contributor to the Bengal's success is that they have had the same 11 starters on offense in 2004, 2005, and now in 2006. That kind of continuity can't be overlooked. As it stands now, four of our offensive starters never took a snap with the Browns last year, and two more didn't start the season and only had limited playing time when they were in there. If we can have more consistency next year (maybe a guard will be replaced, and of course center will be replaced when Bentley is back), we will be on much better footing to start the season on a strong note.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Insight into one "Predictor's" rationale

Reading through another season prediction (this one put the Browns at 5-11) I gleaned some interesting insight:
Pittsburgh, with everything in place, runs away with the AFC North. I had Cincinnati as a wild-card team and a dark horse Super Bowl entry. Then all that police-blotter stuff hit the fan. So, operating on a high moral plane, I recomputed and got them to 8-8. This might strike you as the worst kind of blue-nosed sanctimoniousness, but I don't care. I must face my neighbors, all of whom have many small children they're raising, and we mustn't lose sight of the real things in life. Steve McNair plays just enough games to get the Ravens into the postseason, but I have to admit that they stepped forward and filled Cincinnati's spot when I did the morality number on the Bengals.
OK, now for all you e-mailers who are rolling up your sleeves and getting ready to fire off cannons of rhetoric at your faithful narrator, the real adjustment I did on Cincy was very slight. Originally, I had them beating Cleveland twice. I changed it to a split. I wouldn't be surprised if they pull themselves together and make the playoffs and do well there. I just feel that the offseason turmoil could presage something inherently wrong with this team, and I don't want to get caught sleeping.

So, apparently the guy had Cleveland at 4-12, and decided that he wanted the Bengals' win total to be lower, so he gave the Browns a win over Cincinnati. This confirms my suspiscions on how these big national media guys think: They don't give a single thought to which team is better, or which team might win the match-ups. They decide where they want the teams to end up, and then come up with justifications after the fact. Furthermore, they aren't even looking at all the teams. Instead, they focus on their Golden boys (Seahawks, Steelers, Giants, Cowboys, Bengals, Dolphins. . .) and decide where they want THEM to end up, and then the rest of the teams are just a "fudge" factor to get the right number of league-wide wins and losses.

I know, I know, horse, dead, stop beating. Predictions are meaningless exercises, and the guys doing them also know they're crud, but they make a nice profit off publishing this stuff, so they have to go through it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wimbley's fate is sealed: IR by week 4

Now, I'm not about to give any creedence to season predictions just because they may favor the Browns in one way or another. They're all bull, and they tell more about the individual predictor's biases than of anything that might happen during the season.

That being said, I've noticed more than a couple guys guessing that Kamerion Wimbley will win Defensive Rookie of the year. 1, 2, 3&4

Of course, we should be used to these Rookie praises. Braylon Edwards got alot of votes for Offensive Rookie of the year last year, and the year before Kellen Winslow Jr. got alot of talk. So what do these praises of Kamerion Wimbley tell us?

Thats right, the predictors have guaranteed that Wimbley will be hurt by Week 4, most likely with a case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. If we're lucky, he won't pass it to the rest of the team.
On a positive note:
4 days, 1 hour, 7 minutes, and 52 seconds until kickoff. And if there's any justice in the universe, we might get our appetite wet by seeing The Benless Steelers* lose to the Dolphins tomorrow night.

*Although, to be fair, you've gotta admit that Charlie Batch is still an upgrade from Super-Bowl-Ben.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Butch's guys

After yesterdays cuts, only a handful of Butch Davis Draft picks remain on the roster:
-Kellen Winslow
-Andra Davis
-Chaun Thompson
-Sean Jones
-Leigh Bodden (undrafted)
Edited to add: And don't forget Ryan Pontbriand, LSE

And its not like alot of Butch superstars (or even starters) are floating out there with other teams. The only other guys who are still starting (as far as I know) are:
-Gerard Warren
-Anthony Henry
-Chris Crocker

Thanks, Butch!
This Rothlisberger stuff is interesting. The guy goes around recklessly on a crotch rocket with no helmet, does a face plant into a car's windshield, and recovers only to be kept out by an appondectomy. Oh,the irony.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

He's Back

In an anticipated move, the Browns have signed living legend Babatunde Oshinowo to the practice squad. Now, if I remember my rules correctly, another team can sign Baba away if they want to give him a roster spot, but short of that he's still ours.

Another interesting note: J'Vonne Parker was cut, and another Defensive End was signed. On the Browns depth chart, Parker had been listed as third NT behind Ted Washington and Ethan Kelly. That had confused me, because I thought he was an end, and it looks like I have some confirmation on that.

Finally, I noticed that Nick Speegle wasn't even on the practice squad. I guess that LB just isn't a position that they need depth at.

The price was right

I was all worried that we were going to be without our 5-7 rounders (or worse) for all our center movement. But according to Crennel, the Browns surrendered a conditional draft pick in 2008, either a sixth- or seventh-rounder. Alright, we can live with that. If I remember correctly, the Ross Tucker trade was conditional, so it probably didn't cost us anything. So, in the end of the day we gave up a 07 6 or 7 rounder (I don't remember which) for Lennie Friedman) and an 08 6 or 7 rounder for Fraley.

Among yesterday's cuts was Andrew Hoffman, Nick Speegle, and Jon Dunn, all 05 draft picks of Savage. Is it a sign that Savage's first draft was sub-par, or that the level of talent on the team is getting higher, so we just don't have the room to keep bench warming projects around? I think its a little of both.

Don't get me wrong, I still have full faith in Savage. I still see the quality of players on this team getting better. I'm willing to give Savage a pass on the '05 draft because he was only a couple months into the job at the time. Two reasons:
  1. The scouting almost all happens during the months of September to December, and the fact that he didn't get his system into place until January means that the scouting leading up to the 05 draft wasn't under his tenure as Browns GM.
  2. I assume that alot of the scouting analysis that he did while working for the Ravens was intellectual property of the Ravens organization. Sure, he was able to bring with him everything that he remembered about the players, but (hopefully) NFL scouting is a more rigorous process than just watching guys and judging based on a "gut feeling". I'm sure he had tons of notebooks full of notes on players, and I assume that alot of that material belonged to the Ravens.
While I'll give him a pass for 05, 06 is on the table, and so are rounds 1-3 from 05.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


New list of cuts, and a new center.

If the powers that be thought that we were deficient at center, I'm glad they took that step. Although it came pretty late, don't you think? And the price hopefully wasn't too steep. Nothing higher than a 5.

The cuts aren't overly surprising. Suggs was expected. I was pulling for Speegle, but I'm not surprised.

What does surprise (and sadden) me is to see that Babatunde was cut. I understand that you can't keep too many NTs on the roster, and I can't really say I know much about him other than his awesome name and cool biography. Hopefully he'll be resigned to the practice squad.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The calm before the storm

As Hurricaine (err, I guess its just Tropical Storm) Ernesto rolls into town, I've noticed that a couple more predictions are up. I say hah to all of them. Lots of people expecting the Colts to win it all. Don't we remember anything about Peyton Manning's well-earned role as choke extraordinaire?

But, predictions don't matter. Training camp doesn't matter. Preseason games don't matter.

The only thing that matters is that 8 days, 21 hours, 42 minutes, and 48 seconds from now, I will have a beer in my hand, and the Browns season will begin.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Another day, another idiot

I found another Browns preview (this time focusing on the Defense) thanks to Dawgwire (handy little site, that is).

The general gist: The front 7 are poised to be great, but the secondary (and CBs in particular) are a glaring weakness. Again, an idiot who has no idea what he's talking about.

LB is not a position of strength. It has alot of potential, but we have a hole at MLB being filled by either a rookie (Diqwell Jackson) or a converted (and unimpressive) OLB (Chaun Thompson). We have another OLB spot being filled by a steady (but unimpressive) Matt Stewart, or a converted DE rookie (Kam Wimbley). I'm not down on our LB corp, but I wouldn't call them a position of strength.

Meanwhile, CBs are a position of strength. Now, there are some injury concerns, but Baxter is coming back, and McCutcheon should be back soon. With Baxter, Bodden, and McCutcheon playing, I feel we have one of the best CB corps in the league. Especially considering Crennel's style of using the big, physical CBs.

What really tipped me off to the fact that this guy is clueless was this line:
Currently, thanks to Baxter's and second man Daylon McCutcheon's lack of health, Leigh Bodden and Ralph Brown are the two starting corners, which could very well end up spelling trouble.
Ummm, does anybody really think of Bodden as a step down from McCutcheon? I mean, I like McCutcheon, and I'm glad he's on our team, but Bodden has played phenomonally well (that ESPN preview yesterday called Bodden one of the best corners in the league, and I agree). True, our 4th string CB is a concern (I'm really sick of hearing about some no name CB getting burned for a long pass), but in all likelihood, those guys aren't going to be on the field.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

For my next trick, I will write a paper on Tsarist Russia by reading yesterday's newspaper

ESPN.com's season preview is out. Super Bowl bound? NO!

Previews are dumb. If we previews were even remotely accurate, why would they even need to play the seasons? So, any guy who is asked to write a season preview is put in a bad situation to begin with. But, I still don't mind ripping on them.

The first two previews (from Len Pasquirellli and Matt Williamson) don't even mention the fact that the Browns have a defense. They aren't even previewing the Browns. "Offensive line troubles, young quarterback, thats my story and I'm sticking to it".

The last blub includes this quote:
. . . budding star WRs (Andra Davis and Braylon Edwards) . . .
Ummm. Andra Davis isn't a WR, he's a Line Backer. Unless you're thinking of Andre Davis, who is currently with the Bills, and was cut by the Browns before the 05 season. Either way, it fuels my suspiscion that the vast majority of national sports guys are hacks who don't know nothin about nothin. In this case, the guy couldn't even pull out the right names, but even when they do use the right names, they're usually just passing on whatever conventional wisdom they heard, and its not cause they really know anything about them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And his momma is fat

In the PD Blurb about Chaun Thompson, something caught my eye:

Chaun Thompson (calf) started his first game at inside linebacker and is giving rookie D'Qwell Jackson a push. Jackson still is slightly ahead, but Thompson has the edge in experience. Against the Bills, he had three tackles and a near-interception.

"He made it a competition," said Crennel. "He should've had an interception, and he didn't give up plays. He made a specials teams tackle and made a tackle on a cutback that would've gone for a long way. He played pretty decently."

Thompson said, "I'm bigger, faster and most of all, I'm smarter."

Is it just me, or is that outside the realm of normal trash talk? Either that, or the PD failed to note dry humor when they saw it.


In real news, Gary Baxter is back and should be ready for the openener. He will help close one of the few gaping holes this defense still has.

During his time out and Daylon McCutcheon's time out, I was really disappointed not to see 05 4th round draft pick Antonio Perkins show up as a guy competing for the starting spot. He's going into his second season, he should really be able to show SOMETHING by now. I mean, if he's not returning punts, either, he's pretty close to being labelled a bust.

Monday, August 28, 2006

First cuts

The Browns made their first cuts today. I don't really know much about the names other than Brandon Rideau. I'm not surprised that he was cut, but I guess that I am a little surprised that he was part of the first round of cuts. With Edwards, Jurevicis, Northcutt, Wilson, and Cribbs all practically gauranteed spots (Cribbs because of his return role, although his receiving role has looked OK), it was really coming down to either Rideau or Frisman Jackson getting cut eventually. But this was the first round of cuts, and Kendrick Mosley (who dat?) is still on the roster. Oh well, I'm sure he'll be gone soon enough, too.


For those keeping track, we are down to:
12 days
21 hours
24 minutes
26 seconds
until game day. Thats less than two weeks, for those fellow math majors out there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More changes at center

But this time, its a good thing.

Nothing exciting, but at least when Ross Tucker goes down with Ebola (Knock on wood), we'll have his backup immediately available.

On Monday's Tony Grossi chat, Grossi mentioned that he thinks the Browns should offer the Eagles a 3rd or 4th round pick for their backup center. My jaw literally dropped. Talk about over paying. If the guy was a legitimate starter, you could start the conversation, but he's still just a glorified back up. Is he better than what we currently have? Maybe. But think of it this way: He comes in, does an adequate job, we win 8 or 9 games (still a best case scenario in my book). Then next year, Eagles get our 16th pick in the 3rd round, and we are sitting ontop of the most expensive back-up center in the league, because Bentley WILL be back, and he WILL be the starter. So you just burned a 3rd rounder for a one year fix. That is not value, in my book.

The fact of the matter is, the football gods have burned us again, and there's no way to fix it short of overpaying for it. I'd rather suffer this year than gamble with the future for a one year fix.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Time movin like molasses

Per my handy-dandy Browns spreadsheet:

18 days
22 hours
11 minutes
42 seconds

until we turn the Saints into the Aints.

A Mountain of a Man

Peter King's MMQB has a recap of the Browns' trials and tribulations at the center position. Nothing we didn't already know, and I think it even glosses over how big the blow was in losing Bentley -- I mean, the guy was our number one reason why we might improve against the Steelers. But I don't read King for news. I read him as a gauge on where NFL convential wisdom lies. Since I don't have the standard national media outlets (namely, ESPN), I gotta get the conventional wisdom where I can. Not that I give it much creedence, but its interesting to me.

Last week I was out of town for work. At home I don't have cable (yeah, I'm cheap, so what?), so I was watching my hotel's cable a little bit just to see what I'm missing. And after watching ESPN's non-stop coverage of the T.O. injury drama, I am SOOOOO glad that I don't have cable. The coverage worked something like this:
> Headline: TO missing day XX of training camp. Will he be ready for Preseason game 2?
> Clip: Parcell's saying "We're unsure of his status"
> Clip: TO on stationary bike
> Announcer: Where is TO?
> Clip: TO saying he's working hard to get back.
> Announcer: But even if he gets back soon, will he have enough practice to have an impact in this week's [preseason!?!] game? And is he trying as hard as he should to get back?
> Clip: Parcell's saying "This is old. I don't have any news? Why don't you guys give it a rest?"
> Announcer laughs off Parcell's comment
> Talking Heads: Start spouting about how TOs lack of professionalism from not working to make it to this game is sending the Cowboy's season into a death spiral.

Now, I don't have much of an opinion on TO. And I just don't care. Its absurd that these talking heads put so much effort into such a non-story. Its even more annoying than all the celebrity baby talk. In fact, it was very telling that when I flipped from ESPN to CNN and there Jonbenet Ramsey coverage, I was relieved to see how much more responsible the journalism was.

So, Droughns got his court case delayed. I assume that nothing will really come of it. But its still disappointing that he has proven to be such a creep. I was willing to look past the DWI, but I can't look past this.

But, on better news, I enjoyed the PD's write up of Ted Washington. He's exactly what the Brown's need: a Professional. He's the anti-Gerard Warren: Where Warren talked, Washington is humble. Where Warren was just talk, Washington produces.