The Browns’ season is dying, if not yet clinically dead.
Three weeks ago, most of us were still in the Denial Phase. We were writing off the losses to Dallas and Pittsburgh as unfortunate, but not tragic. Excuses were made about injuries, bad luck, and the fact that we were playing two very good teams while being shorthanded. Losing to the hated Squealers hurt, but there was always the false hope gained by the game at least being close. Surely things would get much better playing the doormats of the division, Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Things did not get better, and don’t call me Shirley.
The anger has had weeks to bubble up to full roil. The Baltimore game was an embarrassment, and the win against the Ryan Fitzpatrick led Bengals wasn’t much better, due to the incompetence of the players and coaches. Never have I seen the fan base more upset after a win.
In the two weeks since then, things have not gotten any more calm.
When your embattled mess of a quarterback brags about “getting our swagger back” after posting numbers that kept his QB rating below 50…you reach for the antacid.
When your clueless head coach prattles on about giving said worthless QB “more chances” after continued interceptions and missed passes to wide open receivers…you reach for a dog to kick.
And when your over-his-head General Manager then holds a “State of the Team” press conference to announce that all is well, and that the Browns intend to “stay the course”…you reach deep inside and you access your inner Howard Beale:
“I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depressing season. Everybody expected a Super Bowl, but instead we have this crap…and there's no end to it. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy. We sit in the house, and slowly the season we all dreamed about is slipping away, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our hope for a playoff appearance! Just leave us alone.'
Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write Randy Lerner because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the injuries and the Chin and the problems with our linebackers. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.
You've got to say, 'I'm a BROWNS FAN, Damnit! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,
I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the injuries and the quarterback and the head coach. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:
"I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"***
***(actual dialog from “Network”, parsed and modified slightly to fit my mood).
Great concept, right? Sounds good to me.
Except for one little problem. This mood I’m describing is not one I am really advocating…just reporting about. It is REAL and it is out there. And as we head out of this Anger phase towards the bargaining phase (see also; numerous “Bring Cowher To Cleveland” topics)…we are probably going to have a little Good-bye party for the Anger.
Right on national TV…Monday Night Football. Browns and Giants, in what could go down as one of the most shameful exhibitions in Cleveland Sports history.
The first part of the humiliation would be supplied by the Browns. It is very obvious now that every defensive coordinator in the league knows how to handle Derek Anderson. Pressure him, give him multiple looks, and hit him in the mouth, and he folds like origami. When the Giants played the Browns in preseason, that is exactly what they did, and DA was horrific…up until the time he got hurt.
The Giants are the class of the NFL right now…so do you really think they are going to let off the gas in any way, shape or form?
So that will be the start of the inevitable chain of events. The Giants will stuff the Browns, and then they’ll pound Brandon Jacobs up the middle time and time again, knowing that once they get past Shaun Rogers, NyQuill Jackson and Andra Davis have no chance of stopping him.
DA will perform like he always does under the glaring spotlight of high visibility; he’ll choke like Mama Cass on a ham sandwich.
Then the boos will begin.
Romeo will stand on the sidelines with that same blank expression we’ve all grown to hate over the past four years (and especially over the past five weeks). He will not pull DA. Nope. Not a chance. His ego in that regard is as great as his mentors Belichick or Parcells. He will not admit that he’s wrong about DA, and will keep trotting him back out there.
So at one point, DA hangs onto the ball for too long, and he goes down. Hard.
Injury time out.
Brady Quinn straps on his helmet and trots onto the field as the medical staff looks over DA, writhing in pain.
The crowd erupts into the loudest ovation heard in years. You think they cheered when Tim Couch got hurt? To paraphrase my good friend Sheriff Buford T. Justice, “Tim Couch? Tim Couch injury cheering is babyshit compared to this!!!”
The MNF announcing crew will be aghast. Images will be shown of the Bottle-gate episode with the Jaguars…of 10 cent beer night…of snowballs and dog biscuits being thrown at old Municipal Stadium.
Idiot extraordinaire Tony Kornheiser will rail about the classlessness of the fans. Pundits will be outraged in their columns the next day. Cleveland will have another Black-eye that will be replayed for the next 30 years.
E$PN, the NFL Network, and NBC will be double checking the small print in the contracts to see if they can legally find a way to switch to another game rather than put the Browns on national TV again. And trust me, the Browns won’t be seen on Monday Night again until the season AFTER they win the Super Bowl.
However, the angst of the networks will be unfounded. After the debacle; Lerner will impose such draconian rules at Cleveland Browns Stadium that you’ll think you are at the Masters. Not that it would matter…as this will be the final week for the Anger Phase. Once this is out of our systems, we’ll quickly go full bore into the Bargaining Phase (COWHER!!!), and will be fully entrenched into the Depression Phase after three more weeks of suckitude against Washington, Jacksonville, and Baltimore.
Do I hope this will happen? Of course not. I am fricking tired of living outside of the state of Ohio, and then getting crap from locals when I wear my OSU or Cleveland gear…so I sure as hell don’t want to see this happen.
I’m just not sure that there is any way to avoid it. Head Coach Jabba, Opie the GM, and the worthless HillJack QB have all set this in motion by being satisfied with the horrific play seen so far this year, and are content to stick to it despite going up against the best team in the NFL under the league’s brightest spotlight.
The Cleveland fans will bear the brunt of the criticism if it turns ugly, but it NEVER would get to that point had it not been for a front office and coaching staff that have squandered away mega-tons of good will, money, and talent in creating the mess we now see on the field each week.
I hope that the Browns have surprises waiting for the Giants…that the Giants are complacent after burying the Seahawks last week…and that each player mans-up and gives the performance if his year this week, and the Browns shock the world.
I also hope my 401(k) returns to 2005 levels in the next few years.
I hope…but I’m not holding my breath.
However, I may be like that little mouse in the classic picture of “The Last Great Act of Defiance”…holding something else up for that oncoming disaster.