Honestly, what did you expect?
That's probably about as good a result as we could realistically hope for. That's what happens when you play a team on the road that is better at pretty much every position.
We could go down the roster spot by spot, but it would just depress you (me).
I've said it since the Preseason and I'll say it again - this is the normal result when a Good Team plays a Team In Transition. Yes, I agree, Fixburgh ain't what they used to be, even as recently as last year. But they're still solid. They're still light years better than Cleveland.
This game should be viewed in about the same light as the Minnesota game: The Browns were never really a threat, but they hung in there for most of the game against a markedly superior opponent.
It's difficult for me to get righteously indignant about a result that was about as predestined as sports gets. There will be lots of games like this one this year. The only reason left to watch is to hope for progress.
With this roster, that might be a lot to hope for. Let me tell you a little story called The Tragicke Tale of The Offence of Clevelandia - An Ode To Sucke.
Once upon a time, after a surprisingly ineffective "joust", jolly King Eric declared revered Prince Quinn the royal heir. However, the enemy's Safety Dragons did not respect Prince Quinn's ability to throw the javelin, so they crept up close and took away his cavalry's ability to gallop free and locked down his faithful short-range troops and attacked the startled Prince with shocking violence. They dared Prince Quinn to throw the javelin at them - and he failed.
King Eric had a fit, beheading the shell-shocked Prince in favor of his bastard son, Duke Derek. And, for one brief contest, it looked like King Eric's choice was wise, because Duke Derek loved nothing more than hurl javelins willy-nilly about the grounds, which forced the Dragons to retreat and opened up the passes for the cavalry to charge and the knights to find success in mid-range attacks.
But then the King arrogantly banished the evil Sir Braylon to Jersey-Upon-The-Hudson, and Duke Derek's most effective Knight was gone. The Safety Dragons, fearing none of the Duke's remaining Knights, crept back up to the center of the battlefield, took away his cavalry's ability to gallop free, and, well, you get the point.
The Offence had come full circle. It had returned to its original form - a steaming pile of oxen dung.
Baron Massaquoi is more of a complimentary Receiver. He's not normally a deep threat. Lord Cribbs can run fast, but he doesn't run routes well enough to beat an NFL CB on a consistent basis. Friar Robiskie will never be anything but a possession-type Receiver, and Monsieur Furrey and Earl Stuckey are slot guys. Serf Ventrone? I just choked on my gruel.
There is no one in the King's Court that can be considered a legitimate deep threat.
Without a legitimate deep threat, the cavalry's charge is destined to falter.
Without a deep threat or the cavalry, the Offence of Clevelandia has almost no chance to succeed.
So, I say to you what the Priest told the disappointed bridegroom: I'm sorry, my son, but that mess ain't gonna get prettier anytime soon.
That goes for the Defense too - just substitute the words "legitimate pass rush" in for "legitimate deep threat".
Especially with the season ending injury to the Marquis D'Qwell (Count Jackson). That can help the Defence the way the plague helps a baby.
King Eric's got a helluva way to go to pull Clevelandia out of the Dark Ages.
Really, this section has nothing to offer but sarcastic, self-loathing comments that belittle the Cleveland Browns and everything and everyone associated with them.
Thus, it has been suspended indefinitely without further notice. May the Browns find reason one day for me to feel compelled to actually re-live their contests.
Final: Steelers 27, Browns 14.
Time of Possession: Fixburgh - 36:46, Cleveland - 23:14
Total Yards: Fixburgh - 543, Cleveland - 197
First Downs: Fixburgh - 28, Cleveland - 12
See what I mean? It's actually a huge compliment to the team that they somehow only lost by 13 and were in it until the end. The Browns only had 4 more yards against Fixburgh than they did in that thrilling Buffalo game and allowed... an ungodly amount more... and yet managed to not be down 59-0.
Yes, that kind of compliment is like telling someone's mother that you really like her moustache.
Josh Cribbs - You get a Kickoff Return TD, you get a Gameball. That, and you were the most effective Browns QB on the field.
My VCR - So I didn't have to watch the game very much.
Jerome Harrison - By far the more effective RB.
Mo Massaquoi - Had a couple drops, settled down, played very well, then had a couple more drops. Don't start down this path, Braylon Lite.
Brodney Pool - Made a bunch of tackles, which couldn't be said about everyone else in the secondary.
David Bowens - For late-hitting Pig Ben. You would get a Gameball if you did a Turkey Jones on him.
Lawrence Vickers - He had a TD catch... ah, hell, I'm just trying to find some more players to put here.
Wall of Shame
Pig Ben Roethlisberger - For striking me as a repulsive human being.
The Pass Defense - For yet again making Pig Ben look like Johnny Unitas.
The Pass Rush - For taking another Sunday off.
Derek Anderson - Wild Thing. You make my eyes bleed.
Chansi Stuckey - For being completely useless. If you're not dropping balls, you're letting guys easily muscle past you for picks.
Brandon McDonald - What happened to you? You can't guard, you can't tackle. You must be Zombie Brandon McDonald.
Kam Wimbley - For being out for the game with the flu.
D'Qwell Jackson - For being out for the season with a shoulder injury. And for not being able to cover Heath Miller for a damn.
The Refs - What the hell was with giving the Steelers the 1st Down after they were clearly measured short on 4th and 1? You put the "Fix" in "Fixburgh".
You know what? I'm sick of this shit. I'm going to buy the team and fix this $&#@ once and for all.
In today's depressed economy and considering franchise devaluation, I figure it'll cost about $800 million to buy the Browns. I'm just a few dollars short of that, so I'll have to ask the assistance of you good people.
All I need is for 800 of you to send me $1 million dollars each.
I will definitely write you out a receipt for tax purposes.
By the way, please don't mistake my assertion that the Braylon Edwards trade has hamstrung the Offense for pining over the loss of Mr. Edwards.
Braylon is a decoy. He has a good game one in every 5. His potential helps teams out, because opponents are forced to guard him in case the current game is one of his good ones, but his production isn't jaw-dropping, and when he's bad... oh, he's BAD.
Take Sunday's Jets loss to the (as we know) cataclysmically awful Buffalo Bills. Mark "The Sanchize" Sanchez threw 5 picks, showing that his hero-worship may have been premature and that perhaps inclement (non-SoCal) conditions might not agree with him. However, looking back at those interceptions, we ought not be too hard on him, because at least 3 of them were directly the fault of one Braylon Edwards.
Two of the picks (one very catchable) were passes that Braylon thoughtfully knocked up into the air so the Defender had an easy INT. The third was a pass where Braylon woefully mistimed his jump and allowed the Safety to pop right in front of him.
I keep telling myself that I want Braylon to do well enough in NY so that he can meet the escalator (rumored to be 55 catches and a practical number of TD's) that turns the Browns 3rd Round pick into a 2nd Rounder.
But a certain evil, petty part of me really can't wait for the day that he walks off the field, tears streaming down his cheeks, to a cacophony of boos so loud that it can be heard from space.
In case you were keeping count (and who would be shallow enough to do so)...
Cleveland Browns: 1-5
Braylon Edwards: 0-6
Yes, Braylon. It's you.
Rolling Stone, of all magazines, has jumped on the Mangini Bash-a-Thon. I haven't read the piece (I think you'd have to buy the mag, and that just ain't gonna happen), but it sounds like it was written about a month ago by an angry tenant of Browns message boards, and for some reason Rolling Stone saw fit to run with it.
Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi went as far as saying the Browns have quit on Mangini in lopsided defeats, a charge many of Cleveland's players dismissed after road losses to Denver and Baltimore.
Taibbi wrote: "In the NFL, if you don't show your players that you have a plan that works, the T-minus to an on-field player revolt is usually about a month. In Cleveland, we're there."
Yawn. In Cleveland, we'd prefer it if you didn't try to speak for us.
Despite being useless and out-dated, the article was very informative for me. You see, until today, I was under the impression they stopped publishing Rolling Stone more than 10 years ago. I guess it still exists. Go figure.
Have you ever wished your radio could hear you?
It happens to me all the time. Someone on some sports radio talk show will say something that is so dumb that I am inadvertently forced to yell at my car's dashboard in a vain attempt to make them hear me. Now, I do realize that it is sometimes the job of the talk show host to make bold and often ludicrous statements in order to generate conversation (controversy), but it seems that it is all too frequent an occurrence when some schmoe on some show will spew some blow which was clearly not well thought out.
For instance, a host on a certain show on a certain local radio station the other day was incredulous about how it was that the Browns were 1-5 and the Denver Broncos were 6-0 when they had about the same amount of talent?
"Because they don't have about the same amount of talent!" I screamed at my innocent radio.
With these current rosters, do you honestly think that if you put Josh McDaniels in Cleveland that the Browns would be 6-0? Hell no. No coach in the world would be able to take the 2009 Cleveland Browns and make them look as good as the 2009 Denver Broncos. Why? INFERIOR TALENT.
Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are both better than any WR on the Browns roster, even before the Braylon Deportation. Tony Scheffler is better than any TE Cleveland has. Knowshon Moreno is (at this time) better than Lewis or Harrison. Kyle Orton may not be a world-beater, but he doesn't make many mistakes and he has an exemplary record - something no Browns QB can claim. The Offensive Line is better overall. Elvis Dumerville is 10 times the pass rusher of the best Brown, and Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey are both better than any single Defensive player on this squad (including Shaun Rogers).
Saying the Browns have about as much talent as Denver is like saying that Barbara Walters is about as hot as Megan Fox.
Underwhelming talent isn't why people (including myself) thought the Broncs would suck this year. No, the reasons were 1) bad 2008 D transitioning to a 3-4, 2) downgrading talent-wise at the QB position, and 3) rookie Head Coach walking into a firestorm of controversy. But they certainly had their share of good players.
Scheme, coaching, situational formations and tactics... yes, these things are important, and can help you win games. But more often than not, the team with the superior talent level will be the victor, no matter how many frills the Coordinators throw into the game plan. Every once in a while, a team will overcome a more talented team based upon superior planning/execution, but I'll take the better talent 7 days a week.
You can take good talent and screw it up and still lose a lot (see: Raiders, Oakland), but you can't take inferior talent and consistently win. It just can't be done.
Here are the current Browns players that could realistically be considered talented difference-makers:
Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach?, Alex Mack?, Shaun Rogers, Kam Wimbley?, Eric Wright, Josh Cribbs, Dave Zastudil?, Ryan Pontbriand?
I mean, you can see that I'm grasping at straws.
Now, sadly, you can only expect about one true difference-maker through Free Agency each year, and maybe 2 difference-makers through the draft. That's a best-case scenario of improving a team by 3, maybe 4, difference-makers a year.
You can see why this should not be viewed as a Quick Fix.
Many surmise that Randy Lerner grew cold on Scott Pioli because Pioli insisted that the Browns situation required a blow-up and rebuild. Mangini may have sold himself on a win-now premise, but all his actions have dictated that he too knew that this was a build from scratch situation. He brought in a bunch of his former players to help him install his culture and to act as temporary starters and - in theory - future reserves. He passed on high-profile, high-dollar Free Agents which would not - in theory - significantly improve the current team and would - in theory - hamstring them cap-wise in the future. He traded Kellen Winslow, he traded Braylon Edwards, amassing draft picks that will - in theory - help grow the team's talent level to a competitive level in the fastest possible manner.
I'm not saying that I agree totally with his philosophy, tactics, or (especially) moves, but I do know that there is no Quick Fix. Tragically for us, what is being done is probably what is required.
No matter who comes in here, the Browns are not close to winning consistently. It's not impossible for teams to go from 3-13 to 13-3 overnight, but generally it's a fluke and they end up right back at the bottom the following year.
Kind of like the 2007 season, where so many of us thought the Browns were an up-and-coming team instead of exactly what they were: A team fortunate enough to win a lot of close games against a lot of bad teams. A team that won 1 game against an opponent with a winning record. A team that whose fatal flaws were ignored since it was the only beacon of hope in years.
A lot of people pine for the quick moves that will make the Browns "respectable", but we must not forget the ultimate goal is a Championship. Band-aid decisions may get us a 2007 here and there, but they won't build the Browns into legitimate annual contenders. The right course is to be patient and pray that the powers that be can do it right this time (for once).
"But we've already done that before and WE'RE SICK OF BEING PATIENT!"
I hear ya, Browns Fans. Advocating patience is as fun as punching myself repeatedly in the testes. But it's highly unlikely that Mankinis is going anywhere for 2010, and just because we're sick of failed building projects doesn't mean that a building project isn't exactly what's needed - no matter who's at the helm.
Besides, we're all completely powerless anyway... unless you guys can come up with that dough I mentioned earlier.
So we have established the following: The talent level on this team sucks. There is little hope for vast improvement this year. This season is a wash.
The only thing really left is to develop the young talent and try to get the future of the organization as familiar with the NFL and the playbook as humanly possible.
1. It's time for DA to be done. It's true that he's probably the best QB on the roster right now (which is faint praise of an epic proportion) and that he's the victim of a lot of drops, but (for the 2nd year in a row) the only question that DA's an answer to is Which NFL QB Has The Worst Passer Rating?
For the love of Mother Theresa, he's 10 points below JaMarcus Russell! Someone just shoot the poor bastard already - he's suffered enough. Play Quinn or, hell, Ratliff instead. Someone who ISN'T Derek Anderson. Give them a chance to PROVE they have no purpose here, the way that DA has so amply done over the last 3 years.
2. Start Coye Francies at CB. There's really no reason we have to keep watching Brandon McDonald get beat when Francies could easily be doing that (and getting some experience).
3. Play Jerome Harrison more. Play Chris Jennings a LOT more. I appreciate what Jamal has done and how he works, but it's time for his Golden Years to begin.
4. Get David Veikune and Alex Hall on the field. What, is the Defense gonna give up 600 yards if they're in there? (Don't answer that).
5. Both Mo Mass and Robiskie need to start. And pick up some speedy Free Agent to run go-routes every play. At least pretend like going deep is a possibility.
6. Blitz more. This safe, slow-death, play-not-to-lose crap just doesn't make sense for a team headed for oblivion.
7. Enhance the spectacle. It's gonna be difficult to drum up much in the way of attendance come December, so create incentives to get a game day crowd. Improvements such as making Miss Nude Ohio an honorary captain, fireworks for all 4 Browns 1st Downs, free Vicodin for the first 10,000 fans that show up, and (everyone's favorite) beheading a Steelers fan at Halftime.
If the boat's a-sinkin', let's all go down sippin' scotch and listenin' to the violins.
QB-O-RAMA - Version 2010!
Many of you seem to be against drafting a QB in the 1st Round because "the Browns will just ruin him" or "we can get by with [Veteran X] for a few years" (or both). I don't quite understand the aversion to trying to find a long-term answer at the most important position on the team, especially since the idea that "the Browns will just ruin him" could apply to any poor bastard they pick at any position.
However, I am willing to consider the top of the 2nd Round as an area for potentially taking a "Franchise" QB (in addition to the 1st Round). Several good QB's were taken early in the 2nd in the past with the intention of dubbing them "Franchise" QB, and it worked out. Drew Brees pops to mind. Recently, Chad Henne was taken with that understanding.
So, I'll add a couple more names into the mix this week as we now consider which QB's might be available picks 1-40 of the 2010 NFL Draft:
Sam Bradford - Oklahoma (vs. Texas) - 2 of 6, 77 yds. Got hurt again, which may affect his overall draft stock. If it were any other year, logic would dictate that he stay in school for another season, but why miss the last chance to cash in on the big Rookie bucks before that Salary Scale eventually drops?
Colt McCoy - Texas (vs. Oklahoma) - 21 of 39, 127 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 33 yds Rushing. Didn't really impress me all that much, but Oklahoma does have a good Defense.
Tim Tebow - Florida (vs. Arkansas) - 17 of 26, 255 yds, 1 TD, 69 yds Rushing. Every week that I watch Tebow with the thought of drafting him in mind, I like him a little less. He's reminding me (in a bad way) of Vince Young. I don't know if you take a project that high in the draft.
Jake Locker - Washington (vs. Arizona St.) - 22 of 38, 279 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT, 24 yds Rushing. Sadly, it will be unlikely that we get another national game with Locker before a Bowl, so I have to go on what I saw in the ND game. Which I liked - Locker has the highest ceiling of all the QB prospects. But his completion percentage needs to come up - we don't need another strong-armed, inaccurate QB.
Jimmy Clausen - Notre Dame (vs. USC) - 24 of 43, 260 yds, 2 TD, 1 Rushing TD. I was trying to avoid bringing him on here, but I can't any more. After watching that USC-ND game, I must grudgingly admit that Clausen has a lot of talent and should not be judged by the NFL success (or lack thereof) of his predecessor.
Tony Pike - Cincinnati (vs. South Florida) - 12 of 25, 140 yds, 2 TD. He would be more of a 2nd Round pick, and he just had surgery on his wrist, so he has some medical issues. Plus, he looks (physically) a lot like DA, which gives me the shivers. But he does throw a nice ball, and turnovers seem to be far less a problem for him than they were for DA coming of college (and since).
Dan LeFevour - Central Michigan (vs. Western Michigan) - 18 of 30, 238 yds, 2 TD, 76 yds Rushing, 1 Rushing TD. So many people have asked me to add him that I must comply. What I've seen of him, I've liked, but I'd like to see more of him against better competition. I guess it's just that I'm Charlie Frye-shy. However, if this guy is truly as good as many people believe he is, it's unlikely he'll be floating around until the 3rd Round.
I'm still leaving Jevan Snead off this list because I have less interest in Mr. Snead than in hair replacement surgery to my eyeball.
NFL Bottom 10!
As bad as the Browns have been this year (and I still advocate that they have the potential to be the worst Browns team EVER), they still aren't even the worst team in the 2009 NFL. With a system set up to enforce parity like no other league, poor franchises still find a way to consistently give themselves prostate exams with their own heads. The talent gap between the good and bad NFL teams is as large as any in recent memory, with the potential that a 4-12 team will be picking in the 8-12 range because this year you have to historically bad to compete for the top spots.
In a pathetic effort to placate Browns fans (a la At Least We're Not Detroit!), I'll take a look at the monumental struggle for 2009 NFL Worst TeamTM.
1. Tennessee - It doesn't seem possible that the Titans are this bad, but it's hard to argue with 59-0. The team hasn't been competitive in their games for a while, and Kerry Collins just completed 2 passes for -7 yards (prompting DA supporters everywhere to puff up with pride). At a certain point, you have to look at a pig and say "Hey, that's a pig."
2. St. Louis Rams - Every once in a while, they put together an effort that makes it seem like at least they're trying, but they might be the only team in the league with markedly less talent than the Browns.
3. Tampa Bay - Yes, Kellen. It's you.
4. Washington - At least we beat the Rams and Bucs, they say. Wow, give yourselves a cookie. Young Al Davis is driving this franchise directly to Hell.
5. Detroit - It was looking better for a while, but a couple injuries later and Detroit is Craptown again.
6. Cleveland - At least we're not Detroit! We're not Detroit!
7. Kansas City - Some will protest that I put KC above Cleveland, but I can see steady improvement from them, and I just think - if they played today - they'd beat the Browns.
8. Oakland - I had them oh-so-much lower, then they go and confuse the hell out of me by beating Philly. What the...?
9. Buffalo - They gave up over 300 yards rushing to the Jets. In actuality, they got really lucky to win, and probably should be below a Browns team that beat them. But they're also 2 last second losses from 4-2.
10. Jacksonville/Carolina - I couldn't decide which of the 1995 expansion teams was worse. They've both had weeks when they looked just AWFUL, but if they played today, I have no idea who'd prevail. Not that I'd care.
From Alex Doe, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan: "As an alternative to your plan to draft a QB early, why not pick up a young, talented veteran that just needs a new venue? They're already broken in, and they'll come a lot cheaper than any of the top college Quarterbacks. I have 2 players to suggest: Matt Leinart and Troy Smith."
Matt Leinart... I just can't muster up much interest in that guy. Fans around the NFL are bringing up his name because he's high profile, he came from a big name college, he was a 1st Round Draft pick, and he's still fairly young. But you could say the same thing (for the same reasons) with Brady Quinn, and Quinn had a lot less opportunity with a lot less weapons than Leinart. So why would I think Leinart would be a significant upgrade over even Quinn? You know that the coaches really wanted Leinart to win the job over Warner last year, and he just couldn't do it, much in the way that Quinn couldn't capture the job this year. Most likely, he and Quinn both are destined to be mediocre at best in the NFL.
Troy Smith, on the other hand, intrigues me. We've never really gotten a chance to see how he plays at this level. He was set to be the starter in Baltimore last year, but then he got sick in the Preseason and forced the Ravens to throw Flacco into the mix, and after Joe's rookie year, you know Troy's not getting a shot in Crabtown.
The danger is, of course, that Troy Smith is essentially a rookie. It would be hard to sign him and declare him the starter, not knowing anything about the guy. And if the Browns were to pick him up, I'm sure they'd treat him differently than someone they drafted. If Troy struggled, they'd move on to Option # 214 pretty rapidly, and I'm not sure we need another young QB subject to a quick hook.
On the other hand, signing him likely wouldn't cost picks (he's a RFA), and the evidence of how awful the Buckeyes Offense has looked since he left is pretty compelling. And he might just be familiar with the weather conditions in Cleveland.
The Green Bay Packers
The Packers are 10th in the NFL in Offense and 8th in Defense. They just came off a 26-0 ass-whooping of Detroit. Aaron Rodgers is a very solid QB, and they have a number of Offensive weapons. The Defense isn't dominant during this transition year to the 3-4, but they have some playmakers and can easily shut down a sub-par Offense (which the Browns may or may not have).
I can't really see any way the Browns win this game. In fact, coming home, after bracing for the Steeler onslaught, I think they'll relax (for no logical reason whatsoever) and get reamed royale. I just have a bad feeling about this one.
Sorry to say it, DA, but you're gonna hear it but good on Sunday.
Packers 31, Browns 12.