At first, the future is bright, unwritten. The sky's the limit as you have all the potential in the world. Wherever you go from here will be a great place.
Then you marry the wrong girl, take the wrong job, live in the wrong city, make the wrong decisions with your kids. Before you know it, your dreams are crushed and gone, and you're just going through the motions.
When you reach the end, you're bitter, broken, alone, and diseased with Smallpox.
We're now to the Smallpox stage of the Browns season.
I'm well past anger at this point. I've now delved into sadness. The hopes and dreams the players had, that we all had... they've now devolved into an emotional gash so raw that fans are cheering their own players' injuries. It's like watching a particularly ugly divorce between two people that once truly loved each other. It's just a shame that it all had to come to this. And it will never be the same again.
Oh, the fans will love again. Sure, just as soon as someone comes in and turns this poor franchise around and produces a winner, the fans will begin composing ballads and sonnets all over again. But the relationship, that love affair that we all had with the 2007 Browns is gone and dead forever. Done before we were ready for it to end. All too brief.
We will never see the principle characters of the 2007 success together ever again.
All likely gone in 2009: Romeo Crennel, Derek Anderson, Andra Davis, Sean Jones, Kellen Winslow, Willie McGinest.
You might even throw Phil Savage into that mix.
It finally struck me as reality as Derek Anderson was helped off the field - that was probably the last play DA will ever participate in as a Brown. He went from nobody to superstar to Public Enemy #1 in what now seems like a heartbeat. It's probably for the best that he is leaving, but now that his eminent departure is nigh, I nostalgically remember the good times, the triumphs, the joy of the playoff run. Same with Romeo. Same with Winslow.
Sorry it didn't work out. Wish it could have. Everyone does. Even the angry drunken fans cheering DA's fall deep down wish it could've worked out. In the end, the thing that we ALL want is to win. It would've been a lot easier had we been able to build off of last year, but that doesn't appear to be possible at this juncture. Too many fundamental problems. Too much deep-seeded resentment.
To quote the immortal Roxette: It must have been love, but it's over now.
Have a good life, gentlemen. Except when you play us, of course.
Joseph Addai's fumble on the 1st play was recovered by Eric Wright, and the Browns managed to eke a FG out of the turnover. But the Colts immediately came back with a long FG drive of their own.
End of 1st: Browns 3, Colts 3.
The Browns countered with their own long, time-consuming drive, a 9 ½ minute 66 yarder that ended at the Indy 8 with another FG.
Indy went down the field again, getting to 3rd and Goal at the Browns 1. Addai got stoned on 3rd Down, and Peyton Manning's 4th Down sneak was stopped short as well. Bravo Defense.
The Browns, backed up with only about a minute left in the Half, basically just killed the clock.
Halftime: Browns 6, Colts 3.
The Browns started the 2nd Half with a 3 and Out, but Brandon McDonald picked Manning on the Colts' 1st play, so Cleveland got the ball back at about midfield. They drove to the Indy 17, stalled, and then watched as Phil Dawson missed a chippy for the 2nd week in a row.
The Colts responded by driving into Browns territory, but the D held again, and Adam Vinatieri's FG attempt snap-hooked into oblivion.
Cleveland drove to about 17 yards to midfield before punting.
End of 3rd: Browns 6, Colts 3.
Pinned deep, the Colts moved the ball a little before being forced to punt. The Browns also moved the ball a little, but Dwight Freeney bull-rushed Joe Thomas on 3rd and 8, sacked and stripped Derek Anderson, and Robert Mathis returned the fumble 37 yards for a TD. Here we go again.
Cleveland got the ball back, moved to their 40, and punted again, but the D once again rose to the occasion, stoning Addai on 3rd and 1 (man, the Colts can't run the ball for a damn), and the Browns got the ball at their own 30 with 1:50 and 2 Time Outs left.
After a 1st Down to the 45, Mathis beat Kevin Shaffer and sacked Anderson, who immediately grabbed his knee in pain. He was helped off the field, and in came the immortal Ken Dorsey, a likely 1st ballot Hall of Fame candidate. Strangely, his 4th and 20 pass was somehow intercepted (no thanks to Braylon Edwards' effort to pull the ball from the Defender) and the game was over.
Final: Colts 10, Browns 6.
Offensive MVP: Jamal Lewis. Only because the rest of the options were even less spectacular.
Defensive MVP: Brandon McDonald. Cuz you been getting' slow roasted in the media and you played a helluva a game.
~~~How ‘bout them Cavs?
~~~When I go to Hell, undoubtedly there will be nothing but Jewelry Store commercials playing there.
I understand why we are being inundated with jewelry ads during football games - obviously, the jewelry industry is trying to convince stupid men to buy shiny rocks for their shallow broads. But the way they're doing it... oy vey! "He went to Jared!", as if it mattered which of those hack stores some dude went to buy his gal overpriced frippery.
Or, worse than those would be the hellish "Every kiss begins with Kay!" horrors. I especially loathe the one where the guy brings his girl to every place that was special to them in their burgeoning relationship, then takes her to a park bench where she says air-headedly "I don't remember this place" and he bends down and reveals his engagement ring and says "You will now."
Every time I watch that, I vomit in my mouth a little. Hey, foolish ad mavens, you have just assured that I will NEVER go to Kay.
Really, people. You're spending tons of money to put these commercials on during sporting events to court the male revenue, but you're taking absolutely no account of your audience. You can't just make some sappy garbage commercial that caters towards the Oprah crowd and expect it to fly during Monday Night Football.
If you really want men to do anything but reach for the remote when your commercials come on, you need to make your ads more like beer commercials.
You take your jewelry spots and add some big-breasted blondes, lazy unshaven men watching sports, and some gratuitous fart jokes, and you'll be crawling with new business by Thursday.
~~~Watching the game again, it is undeniable that a certain percentage of fans cheered when it became apparent that Derek Anderson was hurt.
I understand how this sometimes happens. I'm not at all saying I condone cheering when your own player is hurt. Ever. Now if it were Ben Roethlisberger or Rasheed Wallace or some other odious scumbag from an opposing team, then have it if it floats your canoe. But not your own player.
However, sometimes the powers that be set players up to get this kind of reaction. If a player has been struggling and struggling and hurting the team and the coaches still refuse to pull him, then this is what happens. The crowd feels angry and powerless, and seemingly the only way to get what they want is for the decision to be taken out of the coaches' hands.
That's why you got what you got when Tim Couch was hurt and Kelly Holcomb came in (Ravens game, 2002). Most people felt Tim Couch had had ample opportunity to prove himself, and had only proved that he was not the answer. Holcomb had had a couple appearances, and a few of those had been exhilarating. Naturally, the fans wanted to see more, especially in the middle of a playoff hunt.
But Butch Davis kept throwing Couch out there game after game, and we all got to watch him struggle. Davis set Couch up for the inevitable reaction when Tim got hurt.
I don't know if the crowd was cheering that Tim was going out or that Holcomb was coming in - they were cheering that they were getting what they wanted. I can understand that. Once again, don't condone it, but it makes a morbid sense.
Honestly, what are you cheering for? Ken Dorsey coming in?
Or just that a player that tried his best and didn't do as good as he or anyone else would have liked got hurt?
‘Cause that's f***ed up.
It's not DA versus Quinn anymore. DA got benched. The only reason he was playing is because Quinn is out for the season. Dorsey is not a viable option at QB. What the hell good does it do to have Anderson get hurt? Someone, anyone, please answer that for me.
Honestly, if you have the Browns' best interests at heart, you want DA to play those last 5 games well enough to merit a higher trade value, at the very least. Maybe win some games in the process.
I'm usually on the side of the fans when it comes to fans vs. spoiled sheltered millionaires, but not on this one. To say that was stupid shit is an insult to stupid shit.
~~~Dear Derek Anderson,
If this note should somehow find you, then I would like to personally relay my appreciation for what you did for the Browns last year, and also convey my heartfelt apologies for the treatment you received after your injury on Sunday. Rest assured, there are far more Browns fans that feel the way that I do than do not.
I will admit that I have felt - since midway through last season - that you have been too inconsistent, too inaccurate on short passes, that you over-trust your arm and make poor decisions, that you are too streaky, that you are too prone to confidence lapses, and, in the end, just not good enough at this point to be the starting QB of the Cleveland Browns. When you're hot, you're dazzling. But your lows are dizzying. And your average rests way too far on the low side.
Perhaps you can go elsewhere and improve. Perhaps you will flourish under a different system. But I think we both have known for quite some time that your days were numbered here in Cleveland.
I wish you luck.
I do understand that you are probably embittered by the callous treatment you have received from the Cleveland fans. Let me offer you this bit of wisdom - get used to it. It doesn't matter who you are or where you play, you are an NFL Quarterback and the fans will never be satisfied with you. This behavior is not unique to Northeast Ohio. I met a woman last weekend from Philly, and she cursed Donovan McNabb's existence with such vehemence that I was taken aback. She blamed him for the Super Bowl loss and called him a coward, telling me that she hoped he'd get hurt if it got him off the field.
And look at what he's done in his career.
Since you have most likely thrown your last pass as a Brown, I just want to wish you thanks for the memories. You seem like a good guy - maybe a bit too bitter about Quinn, but we all have our faults - and I know that you didn't purposely suck. It's not like you went into a game thinking How can I blow this one? Sadly, though, that was the end result too many times.
I will admit that there is an unhealthy amount of Quinn Worship out there. I don't think that is the norm, however. No offense, but I think the issue was you. Personally, I don't even like Quinn. But I was calling for him to get in because, well, we'd already seen what we had in you, and we had to see if Quinn were better. (Which, of course, we won't get to see now, so this season is a total waste, but that's neither here nor there.)
When I saw you writhing in pain on the field, my first inclination (which turned out to be accurate) was that you were done. I realized that was your last hurrah in brown and orange, and I hoped that the crowd would give you a standing O as you left the field, to let you know how much we appreciate the '07 campaign and your efforts. It's best that you go, but you gave us some great moments in your time here, and we need to applaud that.
It is impossible to deny that those that cheered as you lay on the turf were cheering your exit. But don't forget those that cheered as you were helped off the field. Those were cheering your contribution as a Brown.
Remember those fans, those that represent the majority of us, when you hop in your car and drive away from Berea for the last time. To quote the immortal Oasis: Don't look back in anger.
~~~I'm saving my note to you for after the last game, Romeo.
~~~Here's something I will just throw out there, fully aware of my possible crucifixion.
Let's say for a moment that the Browns decide to hire Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator of the New England Patriots, as their next coach.
And Matt Cassell, backup QB of the Pats who has come alive as of late, is a Free Agent.
Wouldn't it make sense if McDaniels brought in a young QB with potential that he knows well?
How would you feel with both DA and Quinn traded away, and Cassell as your 2009 starting QB?
~~~ Peyton Manning played like crap. Derek Anderson threw a deep ball in the 3rd Quarter that landed like 7 yards out of bounds, which is unlike him (his deep balls are usually pretty on - it's just his short passes that land 7 yards out of bounds).
I'm thinking it was windy.
You know when both Phil Dawson and Adam Vinatieri - two of the best Kickers in the game and two of the best bad-weather Kickers ever - miss FG's as badly as they did that the wind might be a factor.
Usually, I discount the wind as an excuse. Lots of people used the wind as a justification on why DA played so badly in the 2nd Cincy game last year. I don't buy it. The wind didn't make him throw into triple coverage. His brain did.
But, in this game, with these Defenses, I'd have to admit that it had a huge effect.
~~~That's not to take away anything from the D. They still couldn't get any pressure on the QB, but they covered well, and they stopped the run very effectively - a factor that cannot be Gone With The Wind.
There have been a few games this year - mostly in the middle of the season - where the Defense got exposed as the fraud it is. But there have also been a number of performances where the D has what can only be described as over-achieved, and have kept the team in most games, no matter how the Offense struggled.
So I give my grudging props to Mel Tucker for squeezing a few drops of whiskey out of a stone. We'll just have to wait and see where he stands with the new regime, but I'd have to say it looks like he has a future in this league.
~~~Kellen Winslow is hurt again, a twisted ankle this time.
My gut tells me he's gone after this season (of course, my gut also told me it was OK to eat that habanera pepper, and it was clearly wrong).
If Savage remains, which I think he will, then it's almost a foregone conclusion. Winslow has a rash of injuries, wants a new contract, can be a thorn in the fanny, and is still a somewhat valuable commodity. Plus, Phil took Martin Rucker in this year's draft as his eventual successor. The writing is on the wall.
Winslow is a very talented Receiver, and he never quits, but with his injury history, I doubt the Browns could get anything more than a low 2nd Rounder for him, if that.
Still, a first day pick is still a first day pick, and could very well translate into a starter at some position of greater need. I like what KW2 brings to the team, but if moving him is best for the Browns, then Sayonara, O Warrior.
~~~Should Phil be back?
Obviously, he's not so good with the press. Just awful, actually. He comes off as arrogant, defensive, self-congratulatory, and eager to throw everyone else under the bus.
And he's definitely not so good with the players. Half the team has spent time on the ol' Cleveland Clinic Staph Ward, and yet Phil will not call to say a simple "Hi", almost as if he's afraid of contracting an infection over the phone.
So what is he good at? What is his specialty as GM that should allow him to keep his job?
Well, it would have to be argued that his strengths are scouting and personnel.
There is no doubt that this is a more talented team now than it was when he came on board in 2005. But let's look at the "Core" players that this team currently has on the roster:
Eric Wright, Sean Jones, Brodney Pool, Shaun Rogers, Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Josh Cribbs. Maybe you could make a case for Jamal Lewis (losing it), D'Qwell Jackson (not convinced yet), Brandon McDonald (too inexperienced to judge), and Brady Quinn (ditto).
Sean Jones and Kellen Winslow are most likely gone at the end of the year, and they were both Butch Davis/Pete Garcia picks.
That means, in 4 Drafts, Savage has picked only 4 "Core" players (Wright, Pool, Thomas, Edwards), with possibly 3 others still undecided (Jackson, McDonald, and Quinn). Sure, he traded a 2008 pick for Shaun Rogers, so that could be seen as a Draft Pick, and Cribbs was an Unsigned Free Agent, so that could count too, but that, at best, leaves us with a total of 9 "Core" players acquired through the draft in 4 years.
That's about 2 a year. Is that enough? I ask, because I don't know the answer. Maybe it is. It doesn't seem like a lot, but if you're hitting on 2 out of 7 picks each year, maybe that's a good percentage. Maybe it's not good enough for a bad team.
The other 2 "Core" players (well, one, really, because Jamal is washed up - although he was a "Core" player last year for sure) come from Free Agency.
I think Phil has done fine in Free Agency as a whole. McGinest is OK, Peek is OK (when healthy), Shaffer is OK, Robaire Smith is OK, Shaun Smith is OK, Dave Zastudil is good, Steinbach is good, Jamal was good for a year. Ted Washington stunk. Stallworth has been a disaster, but Phil's got a loophole to get out of that one.
He traded for Rogers, Corey Williams, Hank Fraley - all solid contributors. His only real draft bust so far is Kam Wimbley, although he's had his share of disappointments (Travis Wilson, Antonio Perkins). But he's also had his share of surprises (Brandon McDonald, Jerome Harrison, Alex Hall, Lawrence Vickers). And he was smart enough to get Cribbs as an Undrafted Free Agent and to pick Derek Anderson up off waivers.
Really, he has only 2 major personnel blunders, both of which he should be accountable for: 1 - Allowing Baltimore to trade up and take Haloti Ngata, then selecting Wimbley, and 2 - Not allowing teams to try and sign Derek Anderson to a Restricted Free Agent contract (thus reaping a 1st and 3rd Rounder in return), or at least looking to trade him. Both of these are huge errors, errors that a GM gets paid dineros grande not to make.
So, what do you think? I've gotta admit, I'm on the fence on this one. I look at this team on paper, and I think he's done a pretty decent job assembling talent. Then I look at them on the field, and they suck. Is it them? Is it the scheme? Is it the coaching?
I guess I don't care either way if he returns or not. Personally, I'm not overly fond of the dude. He seems to me to be a massive - what's the technical term?... oh, yes - prick. And were he to lose his job after this season, I would have to agree with the immortal Alanis Morissette: I'm here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away.
If Savage continues on with Cleveland, I adamantly present to you my continued belief that he, at the very least, needs a President to work with him, someone else to be "the voice of the franchise", someone to take care of the media and player relations, the stuff that Phil sucks at and shouldn't be worrying about. Because Phil's talent evaluation... his team construction? I suppose I could give it one more year.
However, should it come down to a situation where, say, Bill Cowher won't come here without total control, and that means it's a choice between either Phil or The Chin... that decision is about as difficult as whether or not to dip my testicles in lava.
~~~How ‘bout them Cavs?
The Browns persistent efforts at mediocrity, nay, ineptitude, are finally paying off. Yes, they've broken into the Top 10, sliding in safely at # 9 overall.
And here are the predictions for the Top 8 of the 2009 NFL Draft, as prophesized by My NFL Draft:
1. Detroit - Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
2. Cincinnati - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
3. Seattle - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
4. St. Louis - Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss
5. Kansas City - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
6. Oakland - Brian Orapko, DE, Texas
7. Jacksonville - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
8. San Francisco - Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
And then, with the 9th Overall pick in the 1st Round, the Cleveland Browns select:
Cleveland - Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Ht/Wt: 6-3/247 lbs
We featured Curry last week, and, believe me, we could use him. But Curry is an OLB, and ILB is - I believe - a more pressing need, so I would prefer the selection of Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC at this spot (this site has him going in the next pick to the Chargers).
In case you didn't haven't been keeping up with this section (and judging by attendance, you haven't), here's what Consensus Draft Services has to say about Mr. Curry:
Aaron is a 2004 graduate of E.E. Smith High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina where he was named the conference defensive player of the year his senior season, and also earned all-conference and all-region honors. He notched a total of 123 tackles during his senior year, and also saw some action as a tight end. Aaron was selected to the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl as a tight end.
At Wake Forest, Curry redshirted in 2004. In 2005, he was named a freshman All-American and tallied 45 tackles and 7.5 TFLs. In 2006, he put up 83-8.5 and 3 sacks. In 2007, he was named 2nd-team all-ACC for an excellent season in which he totaled 99-14.5-3.
Ideal measurables for the OLB position. Fast enough. Attacks straight ahead. Strong at the point of attack. Gets into the backfield and makes a lot of TFLs on wide running plays. Closes nicely to the QB when blitzing. Productive and stout. Has gotten bigger, stronger and better every season. Will remind some of the Patriot's former Pro-Bowl OLB, Andre Tippett in his style of play.
Can be deked. Guesses wrong in certain situations, and can leave an opening for the offense. Has improved in pass coverage, but that is still not his forte. Will not excel if asked to cover a move TE in space on a consistent basis.
Has steadily seen his stock rise since the beginning of his junior season. He is now widely-considered to be a very likely first-round selection, and may actually end up in the top half of the first round.
With the multitude of holes that the Browns be sportin', I'm not complaining about an upgrade at any of the positions of need.
~~~The Tennessee Titans
Offense: PTS - 25.3 (7th), YDS - 325.0 (18th), PASS YDS - 186.3 (24th), RUSH YDS - 138.7 (6th)
Defense: PTS - 14.6 (2nd), YDS - 281.8 (5th), PASS YDS - 184.6 (4th), RUSH YDS - 97.2 (12th)
The Tennessee Titans have probably the best Defense in the NFL, and we're throwing Ken Dorsey at them.
If someone wants to bet you on Browns total Offensive yards, take the under on 150.
Remember what happened to the Lions on Thanksgiving? Maybe, if the weather is terrible, it will be less brutal.
Titans 27, Browns 6.