A View From The Cheap Seats The Story That Won’t Die
Once upon a time, there was a young man named Tim Couch. He did very well in a gimmicky college offense at the University of Kentucky, and found himself the #1 overall draft pick of the 1999 Cleveland Browns. Much responsibility was heaped upon his shoulders: The savior, the face of the franchise, the lynchpin of the offense for the next 10 years.
A heavy burden to bear for anyone, true, but if you’re going to be selected that high and get that much attention and that much money, then it comes with the territory. If you can’t handle it, apply to the CFL.
Well, this Tim Couch guy became the starter of an expansion team after the 1st game of the season, and was subsequently beaten to tar behind a leaky line. He kept his head up, and showed signs of improvement, and the Browns looked like a viable NFL team by his 3rd season.
But poor Tim – he never really had the ability and skill that one would assume from a 1st overall pick. His arm was sub-par, his decision making was questionable, his health was highly suspect, and his consistency was non-consistent. His lack of progress started to irk a sizeable contingent, he did not respond well to the criticism, and there were active calls for his demotion by the end of his 4th season (2002).
Tim lost his job during Training Camp of his 5th season, played a few games in relief of the equally ineffective new starter, Mr. Kelly Holcomb, and then rode off into the Cleveland Browns sunset.
League wide, he was no longer viewed as a viable starter, but Green Bay picked him up as an excellent, veteran backup. However, this was much to their dismay, for Tim put the T in Terrible in Wisconsin; the injuries had taken such a toll on him that he was barely able to lift his arm high enough to scratch his head in confusion as to why he threw the ball to the player on the other team.
He was cut by the Packers at the end of the 2004 Training Camp, destined to fade off into the oblivion of obscure trivia questions. He made several comeback attempts, but his injuries nagged him too egregiously, and it appeared that the poor kid would be forced to retire with nothing to show for his career other than millions of dollars and a Playmate wife.
But – Hark! What is this? Tim Couch is back! He’s worked himself into shape, hopefully conquered his injuries, and has signed a 2 year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars seem beside themselves at the fortune of this coup. Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio gushed, “We plan on throwing the ball in this camp and we're a little short at that position with Quinn (Jaguar 3rd string QB Quinn Gray) down, so we've added a fourth quarterback. At some point, Quinn will get healthy and we'll deal with the numbers. At this point, we've added an experienced quarterback to come in and give us an opportunity to throw the football like we need to in this camp."
Yes, the Jaguars are tickled pink.
In light of this development, I have this message for you Tim: The topic of You is the deadest horse in the City of Cleveland, and I get physically ill every time I hear someone waxing poetic about your time with the Browns, because, most of the time, you were about as much fun to watch as a hernia operation.
But I wish you luck nonetheless. Everyone deserves a 3rd chance.
Our Pro Bowl Threat
Kellen Winslow is off the PUP and practicing with the rest of the team. This is excellent news, as Winslow will no doubt be a major key to this year’s offense. Rob Chudzinski, the Browns’ new Offensive Coordinator, is a former Tight End himself, and coached Winslow at The U back in the day.
If Winslow can stay healthy, and if his offseason microfracture surgery indeed helps his mobility, look for KWII to have the best season a Tight End has ever had in the city of Cleveland.
And that includes a certain Hall of Fame player named Ozzie.
A Prelude To IR
LeCharles Bentley met with team bigwigs last week, and it appears that Mr. Bentley will refrain from attempting his physical for 4 weeks in order to have a better shot of actually passing it.
He will stay in Cleveland and rehab with his Arizona rehab guru, and attend some team meetings.
Translation – LeChuck is headed for IR, but due to the nature of his recovery and his emotions surrounding the aforementioned recovery, the Browns are doing everything they can to accommodate Mr. Bentley before apologetically – even tearfully – shutting him down for 2007.
Damn! His return would’ve been a helluva thing.
The Berea Tango
Have you been to Berea for Browns’ Training Camp yet? I have.
Yes, at about 5:10 pm on Friday evening, I drove right by it.
I’d meant to get there for the practice, but my girlfriend didn’t get off work until too late, and by the time we arrived in Berea, practice was ending, so we went straight to a drinking establishment to meet a number of our out-of-town friends who did attend.
Due to the events of that evening, Saturday morning’s practice was out of the question. And Saturday evening’s was cancelled by a previous engagement.
Sunday’s was quashed by parental responsibilities, and Monday’s practices were negated by the fact that my automobile is being serviced.
Even without actually being present, I can still tell you what happened:
A bunch of large athletic men in helmets and (sometimes) pads ran around a field. Sometimes they worked in smaller groups. Sometimes they ran team drills. The coaches watched them and clapped and instructed and yelled. The kickers stood off to the side, practicing twirling the ball on their finger or playing Tetris on their iPhone. A large crowd of people watched in the heat and humidity, straining to see around everyone else, cheering from time to time during what appeared to be a nice play, or perhaps a player returning to the field who had previously been injured. Kids lined the ropes, begging for autographs. Sportswriters and sportswriting wannabes (like yours truly) made random notes on their pads, which they would try desperately to turn into a whole column at a later time.
Don’t you feel like you were there? Remember, I’m always here for YOU.
The QB race is almost officially down to 2 men, as Brady Quinn still sits at home and fumes about the fact that he was supposed to go in the Top 10. Since he thoughtfully eliminated himself, we get to watch the epic struggle that is Charlie vs. Derek.
I’ve talked to several people, and read all I can read on the subject, and here is what I have gleaned: Derek had a bad day, but then he had a better day. Charlie had a good day, but then a not so good day. Some media sources feel that Derek has the upper hand. Some feel that perhaps it’s Charlie. The Browns coaching staff seems to favor Charlie, but only by a slight margin.
And, in the end of this vast and incalculable positional war, we wind up with either Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson as our starting QB.
Which is like going to war over a hunk of Antarctica.
If I Were Commissioner
Watching the NFL Network last night, I took in a game between the Vikings and Bears. The game ended in a tie, so the two teams went to Overtime.
I am not a big fan of the NFL Overtime system. Sudden Death can be so anti-climactic, especially if a team wins the toss, receives the kick, drives down the field, and kicks a field goal.
That was it? This great game was decided by that?
The college OT system is perhaps more fair, but seems to also be an uncomfortable end to what was originally a good game during regulation.
I think it has a lot to do with the clock being taken out of play. In close games, there is usually a sense of urgency in the 4th Quarter, as if every play were more important than the last. Not only are you fighting your opponent and the scoreboard, but you’re fighting the clock. The clock can be your biggest enemy, your greatest ally. Its inevitable tick-down to the end of regulation heightens the sense of tension invariably.
However, when you reach OT, well, the clock barely matters at all. All you need to do is score. 2 minutes, 10 minutes… relax – you’ve got plenty of time.
Plus, I just hate the Sudden Death aspect. You play an hour of regulation and a couple minutes of OT and maybe you don’t even give one of the teams a chance to respond offensively?
Hear is Commissioner Hiko’s new proposal: At the end of regulation, if the game is still tied, then 5 minutes will be put back on the clock. The teams will flip a coin to see who receives, and then the two teams will play that 5 minute segment to fruition.
If the game is still tied at the end of 5 minutes, they go another 5.
If it’s still tied at the end of the 3rd 5 minute OT period, then it’s a draw.
Why do it this way? Each team gets a chance. Or perhaps multiple chances. There is the possibility that a team might receive the kickoff, march down the field, run 5 minutes off the clock, and kick a field goal as time expires. But that is HIGHLY unlikely.
What is most likely is that we would have a situation where all the action and excitement of the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter would be duplicated. If we’re lucky, it gets duplicated a couple times. Can you imagine the last 5 minutes of a really good game… 4 times in a row?
I can – and I like it. So when you get your next NFL Owner’s ballot, please be sure to pencil in “Hiko” as your write-in Commissioner choice. Thank you for your support.
RIP Bill Walsh. You were a helluva coach.