If you're anything like me - and let's hope for your sake you're not - you've been reading Training Camp updates religiously since the sucker opened up last Saturday. You can't get enough information about who did what and who looked good and who got dinged and who sucked.
In the end, the Training Camp updates from the fans and various media sources are useless. Opinions are like kidneys - everybody's got one (or two). One update will talk glowingly of the stellar performance by Player X, whilst another concurrent update will pronounce Player X the biggest waste of money since Tim Couch and insist that he be shot immediately to save us all the torture of watching him epically fail.
That being said, I've gleaned this information from Week One:
***James Davis (rookie RB), Paul Hubbard (2nd year WR), Mo Massaquoi (rookie WR), Abram Elam (new Safety), Robaire Smith (coming off ACL), Alex Hall (2nd year LB), Braylon Edwards (prima donna), Corey Williams (transitioning to 3-4), and Titus Brown (2nd year LB) have all looked good at one time or another and are making bids for more First Team reps.
***Brian Robiskie has been inconsistent and has fallen behind Massaquoi.
***Alex Mack has been awful and spends most of practice running laps for his screw-ups.
***The QB's have been unpredictable and somewhat inefficient. Neither has been all that great, and neither has separated himself from the other. If anything, Derek Anderson is actually winning the QB competition to this point, which should alarm the hell out of anyone hoping for a decent season in '09.
And seeing as my confidence in Quinn's abilities - somewhat shaky to begin with - is eroding slightly, I want to hear more Brett Ratliff updates. Get on that, media types.
Regarding Family Day
Me ‘n' the chitlins hopped into the family truckster on Sunday and headed north to take in another thrilling edition of Family Day at Cleveland Browns Stadium. We've gone the last 3 years prior, but this one I was more excited about since there was going to be a real game-type scrimmage rather than the dull practices of the Romeo era. The kids? Well, they were less excited, because the now-daytime event robbed them of their precious fireworks.
It was hot. Florida hot. Checking around to make sure I'm not in Hell hot. (So I did. Nope - not Hell. If it were Hell, I'd be surrounded by Steelers fans.)
The heat beat the life right out of the crowd, so it was a somewhat subdued atmosphere as the Brown and White teams took the field. Derek Anderson and Brett Ratliff were the Brown QB's, while Brady Quinn and Richard Bartel helmed the White.
The 2 teams played 4 ten minute quarters, complete with TV timeouts and Halftime. Everything was simulated to be as close to game day as possible, with the exception of no tackling. Two hand tap or "I would've had you there" was good enough for this session.
The tackling ban meant a lot less runs than usual. Very few RB's get through the line untouched - big runs happen when a tackle or two are broken. The RB's had no chance to do that, and were largely nullified (except for an anomaly 39 yard TD by Noah Herron). Because of the dearth of running plays, the Offensive Line and QB's were put at a huge disadvantage.
Here are my impressions of the practice:
***Brady Quinn looked pretty good most of the time. His opening TD pass was a thing of beauty - a 50+ yarder on a rope to Lance Leggett between defenders. But when he went for the quick check down, he often slung it out too quickly, not setting his feet, stepping into the throw, and consequentially throwing the ball too hard and behind receivers. One such pass was butchered by Leggett in the 3rd Quarter, bouncing off his hands and getting picked.
Quinn was also the victim of several dropped passes, plus a nice long gain to Robiskie that was wiped out because the Rook forgot that you need to get both feet down in the Pros.
However, Quinn did an AWFUL job with clock management at the end. I believe the White team got the ball back down 3 with about 3 minutes left. That got nursed and run down in a damn hurry, and yet - with 1:20 left - Quinn still managed to blow over 30 seconds (I was actually yelling) between plays when he Time Outs to burn (or at least spike the ball). It was atrocious. What was he doing - trying to burn down the clock so he could give Phil Dawson a nice challenging 48 yarder... to tie?
He did, and Phil missed it, and Brady's team lost.
***Derek Anderson didn't really do anything. He didn't suck - he was just there. His Offense went nowhere most of the game, and he went for a lot of short passes and screens. To be fair, he didn't have a lot to work with. His Center was Alex Mack, who spent the first few Quarters getting blown up by Shaun Rogers and Robaire Smith.
***The best of the QB's was probably Brett Ratliff, who had a 70-something yard TD pass to David Patten, and then a 40-something yard completion to Patten again on the next drive. He looked down the field, threw a nice, strong ball, and had better accuracy than anyone else on the field.
***Even the Beastie Boys think James Davis is crafty. I now see what everyone is excited about. He's quick, and he looks like he'll be a real bee-otch to bring down in the open field with his nifty footwork. Like catching an eel in a tub of KY.
***Jamal Lewis looked slow. Shocking.
***Mo Massaquoi looked really good early, acting as DA's go-to guy as the White team was taking Braylon Edwards away. He did have a bad drop in the 2nd Half on a wide open crossing pattern, however.
***Lance Leggett followed the same pattern, looking good early (long TD catch) and dropping balls late.
***D'Qwell Jackson was very solid. He made a nice pass defense in the middle of the field early, then picked DA when he'd driven them deep in the 2nd Quarter, returning the theft for about 40 yards.
***Brandon McDonald also stood out with a couple of very nice pass defenses.
In the end, the Defense seemed to eat the Offense up. It could be that the D Line has superior depth to the O Line, and when the starters were split in half, the O line just couldn't hang. It could also be a lack of a running threat allowed the D Line to just tee off, but they owned the O Lines most of the day. I did notice Mack got better against Rogers and Robaire as time went on, but they were smacking his ass and calling him Sally early.
Now, is this a complement to the Defense, or a black mark against the Offense? A little of both, probably. I think the Browns D Line will be strong this year, and I think their overall D will be improved. But the Browns O didn't go without a TD in the last 6 games of 2008 by accident, and with the uneven play of the 2 potential starters, we're probably not looking at setting any scoring records here.
In other words, avoid Browns players on Fantasy Draft Day.
Regarding Shaun Smith
Shaun Smith got released. Damn, I'm gonna miss him.
Oh, wait. I thought it said "Shaun Rogers".
Regarding Rex Hadnot
His knee injury is a blow. The O Line needs all the depth it can get, even if Hadnot is only of borderline starter talent.
Fortunately, rumor has it that it's an MCL injury, not an ACL, which should only keep Rex out for a month/month and a half.
Regarding Syndric Steptoe
Syndric hurt his shoulder in practice and is out for the season. His Agent then bleated to the press about Mangini being too "mean" with his practice habits, making players practice in the rain, where injury was more likely to happen; they might stub their toe or sprain their gallbladder.
Mr. Agent, what sport is it that your client plays again?
Regarding Don Carey
Carey, one of the Browns 6th Round picks, also hurt his shoulder and is lost for the year. But instead of putting him on IR, the Browns reached an injury-waiver settlement with him, hoping he would make it through waivers so they could re-sign him to the Practice Squad.
Why did they do this, you ask? Why not just stick him on IR? Here's the explanation that Mangini gave in one of his press conferences:
"It doesn't create a roster spot. You're still at 80, until a designated time period, where then it reverts back to a roster spot, which was quite a bit of time away."
So, carrying 80 guys in Training Camp was more important than carrying 79 and a dude on Injured Reserve. That's the story?
No, the real story is that - due to the fact that Carey was injured - Mankinis felt they could slip him through waivers. He even said so in his presser:
"Statistically, those guys don't get claimed. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't."
This time, it did. Jacksonville had done its homework enough to know that Carey had potential, and they claimed him. So that draft pick was a complete waste.
It was a mistake. Mangini gambled, and he was wrong. There's no way you can tell me that the 80th guy on this team is better than Carey. And I'm sure if Mangini had it to do over again, he'd make the other choice. You can even sense the slightest hint of bitterness in his words (like a hint of cilantro in a good salsa):
"Don has a long way to go before he's going to be able to play any football and you have to make distinctions there, whether you put him on IR, whether you waive him injured...You make the decision and you move forward. He does have quite some time before he'll see the field again."
Yeah, take THAT! you Jaguar bastards.
I saw this picture in the PD the other day. I took one look at it and just cracked up.
Just look at Romeo's face. That's the look my dad gave me after I told him I accidentally hit the water tower with his truck.
And Romeo seems like a guy that would be hard to piss off.
Gee whiz, with such cohesion between the Front Office and the Head Coach, how did the Crennel/Savage Browns fail?
A Conversation With A Steelers Fan
INT. CLEVELAND BAR - NIGHT
Chris, 36, a stunningly handsome man with a shaved head, sits at a table with Hector, 35, a fit man of Italian descent, Pio, 23, a wiry man also of Italian descent, and Leena, 26, a pretty woman wearing a riding jacket. Chris drove up from his home near Akron at the request of Hector, his inevitable brother-in-law-to-be, to play on Hector's flag football team (they were short a man). Pio and Leena both play on the team as well, and the 4 of them agreed to get a few beers after the game.
Chris notices that Pio is wearing a Yankee cap.
Chris: Are you from New York?
Chris (interested): Where? I lived at 22nd and 1st for 4 years.
Pio: I'm from near Buffalo.
Chris: Oh. I thought you meant New York the city. Well, Buffalo's still New York, I guess.
Leena: Yeah, but he's a Steelers fan.
You've heard of Instant Karma? Chris has a kind of opposite reaction when he meets a Steelers fan. More like Instant Revulsion.
Chris (wrinkling his nose): A Steelers fan? Why not a Bills fan?
Pio: I just always liked the Steelers.
Leena: His favorite teams are the Yankees, the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Cavaliers.
Chris (raising an eyebrow): The Yankees, Steelers, Penguins, and Cavs? (turns to Hector) You know what that sounds like to me?
Chris (nodding): Frontrunner.
Pio: I'm not a frontrunner. I just always liked them ever since I was a kid.
Chris: Are you telling me that, as a kid in Buffalo, you were a Cavs fan before LeBron James got here?
Pio: Well, I didn't really watch much basketball...
Chris: Is your favorite college team Florida or USC?
Pio: Neither. It's Texas.
Chris (sarcastic): Oh, well I was way off. It makes perfect sense that someone from Buffalo would be a Texas fan.
Pio: I guess you're a Buckeyes fan?
Chris: I grew up here.
Pio: The Buckeyes suck.
Chris: Sometimes they do.
Pio: You probably like the Browns too.
Chris: This is Cleveland...
Pio: I don't know how Browns fans can even show their faces in public.
Chris: Why? We don't play for the Browns. We're just fans. We have nothing to do with whether or not they suck.
Pio: It's just that we have pride.
Chris: You play for the Steelers?
Chris: Then what are you proud of? You have nothing to do with the Steelers. The team you choose to root for just happens to be good right now. It has nothing to do with fans - fans just have to ride the wave through thick and thin. Unless, of course, you're lucky enough to be one of those guys that just roots for whoever's good at the time. You know, frontrunners. Like half of Northeast Ohio. And you.