The drumbeat is still faint, still distant, but it's steady now, and will likely do nothing but get louder. The natives are restless.
Do you hear the drums? Bah-boom. Bah-boom. The drums are angry. They're calling for the head (shrunken or otherwise) of Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini.
Now, this is not a shock. In today's sporting society, there is no greater truth than the fact that fans are reactionary. One day, Coach X is the Savior, the next, Coach X has to go. Hell, the Cavs are 0-2, and I bet someone out there is calling for Mike Brown's head.
A good example would be the latest Sunday night game, Arizona at New York (Giants). The Giants, a very good team that won the Superbowl just 21 months ago, lost to the Cardinals by 7 points. Arizona is no slouch - they were last year's NFC Superbowl entrant, and despite the loss, the Giants remained a highly respectable 5-2.
What did the fans do? They BOOED THE GIANTS OFF THE FIELD.
Do you know what the fans of Cleveland would do for a team with the recent history of success that the Giants have enjoyed? That would be like Valhalla to these people. Yet, I believe that Cleveland fans - if spoiled by victory the way Giants fans have been of late - would probably act similarly in a similar situation.
It's not about the fans of City X being better/worse/nicer/meaner than the fans of City Y. It's about the unreasonable demands of the Modern Sports Fan. So I'm not shocked that some fans have begun beating the Anti-Mangini drum. Some of them have been beating it since before the season began, and, my, aren't they proud now at how clever they were!
However, the game changes when legitimate local media magistrates start jumping ship. Usually, these individuals are much slower to emotional outburst. They have journalistic reputations and team relationships to maintain. They have to hob-nob with the people they cover every day, and calling for someone's head is not just a whim to them.
That's why I was surprised to see the Browns beat reporter for the ABJ - Pat McManamon - toss his hat into the Fire Eric Mangini ring only 7 games into Eric's first season in Cleveland.
To be fair, Pat Mac has had it out for Mangini from the beginning. Several reporters have. They didn't like Mangini's secretive ways and his Belichick coaching-style. Pat Mac can be seen as particularly jaded, seeing as he left ABJ for a while for a job with ClevelandBrowns.com, which did not turn out at all the way he wanted. When you have a personal beef with an entity, it's difficult to maintain objectivity.
But Pat Mac is also a highly decorated veteran sports reporter, and probably one of the more respected Browns-related journalists out there. So his call for Mangini's firing cannot be dismissed as easily as, say, some schmoe like me.
It's hard to say where I fall in all this. Calling for a firing is easy to do, especially when the bandwagon is full to the brim and rolling down a Black Diamond. But if the coach is here to stay - at least for the 2010 season - is whining and cajoling for his dismissal anything other than talking to hear oneself talk?
Now, if it WERE up to me... oh boy...
Here's the 411: If it WERE up to me, I'd give Mangini the rest of the year to prove himself. As awful as the team has been, he deserves at least that. He deserves a chance to show that his ways work, that improvement can come from increased awareness, greater smarts, more passionate passion, and better fundamentals. He deserves a chance to prove that his ideas and theories aren't complete cowpie.
And if things don't improve, sigh, yes, I'd pull the plug, even after just one season. There are 2 reasons why:
1. The Browns have 11 draft picks next year, and it is ESSENTIAL that those draft picks be huge impacts. And I don't trust Mankinis to make the right decisions on that front. I feel that Mangini has to be such a good coach that he overcomes his own poor personnel decisions. And if he can't do that...
Coaching ain't just about coaching when the coach is the de facto GM. If you get the power to buy the groceries, then you can't complain about the poor quality of the meals.
2. Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren, and Tony Dungy.
To quote the great Van Wilder: "Sex sells, Gwen. Sex sells."
The Packers of Green Bay heinously outscored the Browns of Cleveland and made this a non-contest by the time the players departed for Halftime festivities.
The 2nd Half was not worth viewing.
Final: Packers 31, Browns 3.
Time of Possession: Green Bay - 35:54, Cleveland - 24:06
Total Yards: Green Bay - 460, Cleveland - 139
First Downs: Green Bay - 25, Cleveland - 12
Ungodly awful. And, incredibly, not even as bad as last week.
In 4 out of 7 games, the Browns have allowed over 400 yards of Offense, while their O has been held under 200 yards 4 times (a 5th time they got exactly 200). They average 225.43 yards of Offense a game. Their competition averages 414.86.
That's right - they have an AVERAGE disparity of about 180 yards PER GAME.
First downs aren't much prettier. The Browns average 13.43 of those bad boys a contest, whereas they allow 22.71 to their enemies. Time of Possession? The Browns get just over 27 minutes (27:05), compared to their opponents at right about 33 (32:55).
It's truly staggering how overwhelmingly horrible they are.
Stats can sometimes lie, but these stats are standing in front of a judge with their right hand raised, confident that they won't be perjured no matter what oath they take.
Chansi Stuckey - Due to bye weeks and player injuries, my unfortunate fantasy football foe was forced to field the famous Mr. Stuckey, who responded by providing my opponent with zero points. Excellent work, Chansi.
Billy Cundiff - For preventing the ol' shutout.
Josh Cribbs - I like Josh Cribbs.
NFL Sunday Ticket - You know why.
Wall of Shame
Derek Anderson - Any wall of shame begins and ends with DA.
Eric Mangini - You are responsible for a team that suddenly makes me long for Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel. That's almost impossible.
Brian Daboll - There is no rhyme or reason to the play calling at all.
Rob Ryan - If you're gonna get beat in every way possible, at least make your guys hit the QB late.
The Defense - For taking another Sunday off.
The Offense - For taking the season off.
The Tackling - Actually, it's unfair to fault the tackling, because there was none.
Derek Anderson - Any wall of shame begins and ends with DA.
Glancing through the dictionary, here are some words that begin with D and end with A:
Drama, data, delta, Diana, diarrhea, diorama, diphtheria, dipsomania, diva, DNA, Djakarta, DOA, dogma, drachma, dyslexia, dyspepsia.
A few of those are actually quite apropos. I particularly like the definition for "dipsomania": An irresistible, typically periodic craving for intoxicating drink.
That just about sums up Browns games with DA at the helm. DA stands for dipsomania.
And here are some other appropriate words that just begin with D and have an A in them:
Denial, daemon, daddy-longlegs, damnable, dagger, dank, Dante, danger, dandruff, dark, daiquiri, daunt, daze, dead-beat, dead-end, deaf-mute, death, debate, debilitate, defame, defecate, deflate, defraud, degrade, delay, demean, demoralize, denigrate, dental, deplorable, depopulate, derail, desecrate, diabolic, diagnosis, diatribe, diaper, die-hard, dilapidated, dinosaur, disappoint, disapproval, disadvantaged, disbar, disgrace, disdain, disenchant, disharmony, disenfranchise, dishrag, displease, dismantle, dismal, disorganize, dismay, dissatisfaction, donate, doomsday, dotage, double-standard, downstream, drab, drag, drain, dragoon, drafty, Dramamine, drastic, drawback, dreadful, dreary, dromedary, drunkard, dude ranch, dumbwaiter, dunderhead, duplicate, dustpan, disgustipate.
Word is that DA is not a fan of the English language.
So, why is DA still starting, you ask?
Good question. Here's an excerpt from the PD:
Anderson is last in the NFL with a 40.6 passer rating, and 31st in third-down passing. On third down, he is 17-of-50 with one touchdown and five interceptions for a 10.3 rating.
What's more, the Browns have scored only four offensive touchdowns in 81 possessions this season, with three of them coming in Anderson's 19 quarters of work.
In addition to Anderson being last in the NFL in passer rating and 31st on third down, he's also:
Last in fourth-quarter passing with a dismal 7.8 rating. For comparison's sake, this week's opponent, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, is sixth with a 113.7 rating.
35th with a 43.8 completion percentage.
Tied for 34th with two TD passes.
Tied for 29th with one pass of 40 yards or more.
Again, why's he still starting? It's not like he's a rookie, and it's not like we don't know what to expect from him at this point. So, with the season a wash, why? Why why why? Mr. Mangini?
Mangini: "I think he gives us the best chance right now to move the ball. I know his numbers have not been impressive, but I don't think he's been alone in producing those numbers. I think there have been a significant amount of drops. I think there have been times where we've had chances and there have been some breakdowns in protection, but I've also seen him complete some balls that they were well thrown and well caught."
How about that $11 million incentive that kicks in if Brady Quinn takes 70% of the starting snaps? How much does avoiding that have to do with your decision?
Mangini: "Nothing, zero, nothing to do with it."
Riiiiiigggghhhht. Well, if you say so. But there must be some reason. I mean, are you watching these games? And somehow DA is still a better option than Quinn (or Brett Ratliff or Josh Cribbs or Ryan Pontbriand)?
Let's be clear about this - Quinn is not an innocent victim. He sucked royally when he got the chance to start. He wore Braylon's cleats as a tribute to the departed WR, acted petulant and aloof during games on the sidelines, and put his house up for sale in suspicious concert with his benching. He's acted like the spoiled tool that modern athletes have become.
But he certainly hasn't (at least publicly) questioned authority or made himself a distraction, and, considering his (and Ratliff's) inexperience, there's really no reason not spend a lost season proving/disproving what we already know about DA. It makes no sense, yet - still - DA plays on.
Here are possible reasons why:
1. DA is truly the best option. Mangini is right - DA has been the victim of lots of drops. DA's completion percentage would be a lot better if his Receivers caught all the passes that have hit their hands. It would be even better if his Receivers were 10 feet tall and had fingers on their feet so they could also nab the passes that weren't even close to their hands, but I digress.
If Derek freakin' Anderson is really the best option this team has, then someone should just put all three of them out of their misery. Time for a QB field trip to the middle of Iran.
2. It's about the $11 million dollars. Petty, weak, but, in the Mangini era, entirely possible.
3. Mangini has a personal issue with Quinn. This one apparently popped up on the Browns Red Zone program on STO, which is hosted by Tony Grossi, Jim Donovan, and Doug Dieken. I didn't see this episode, and I can't find it anywhere online, but it was discussed in the message forums and our humble benefactor Swerb stated this:
Grossi mocking Kokinis as the "GM". Says Quinn publicly challenged Mangini in front of the team on a stat Quinn felt was incorrect, and that Mangini has had a grudge since. Says Quinn and Daboll have not spoken a word to each other in weeks.
The implication being that Mangini does not like his power to be questioned - especially in front of the other kids - and has shit-canned Quinn accordingly.
Possible? Hell yeah. Mangini comes off as a guy with huge insecurity issues. You know that he's probably been teased mercilessly since he was a child, and now that he's finally got some power, he has sworn to never be embarrassed again (save on Sundays). He's a big man with a small man's personality.
I'm not saying I buy Grossi's story right this sec, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility.
4. Mangini is ingeniously driving up Brady Quinn's trade value. Every game that Mangini throws DA out there is a game where DA looks awful. By comparison, all of the sudden, Quinn's early season pathetic performances (against teams that are currently 12-1, the masses keep telling us) seem to be washed away. As time goes by, we're convinced that - hey! - Brady wasn't so bad. At least he wasn't last in the NFL in QB rating! Sure, he couldn't throw the ball down the field, but that was the Receivers' fault, not his.
Before you know it, the Browns will be 1-12, DA will have a QB Rating of 3, and the 1700 people left in Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sundays will be chanting "Brady Brady!" again as if the first 2 ½ games never happened.
THEN the time will be ripe for a trade. (Man)Genius!
5. Quinn slept with a particular coach's wife. This one's obvious. When one person is vindictive towards another person for seemingly no reason, it's always surmised that Person A has diddled Person B's wife.
Sadly, said diddling happens all the time. Now, this is all conjecture, and I will not slander innocent individuals, so I shall use my pathetic excuse for tact and call this coach's wife Mrs. M... no, wait, uh, Mrs... Y.
So maybe Brady popped over to the home of Coach Y to discuss the playbook, and Mrs. Y opened the door, hot and sweaty from a rigorous treadmill session. She looked Quinn up and down - Coach was never home these days, and he'd grown husky in his coaching career. And here was a young, stupid athlete to play with.
"Come in," she said throatily.
"K," Brady replied, strolling in and thinking that Mrs. Y sure did keep a nice figure. He wondered if she used Myoplex?
We need not go into the seduction, but, lickety-split, the two adults were in their thongs, warming each other up with scented oils and the melodic croonings of Barry Manilow.
"Mandy, you came and you gave without taking! And I gave you away, oh Mandy!"
As often happens in such situations, Coach Y decided to come home early that night. He entered, his mind awash with situational gap integrity, only to see two naked, glistening forms frozen in fear upon his couch. His eyes lit up like small moons. "Mrs. Y!" he shrieked.
Mrs. Y hid her face in her hands whilst Brady tried desperately to make the best of a bad situation.
"Uh... hi Coach! Uh... she had something in her ear... and I thought it was ear wax..." Slowly, he trailed off as he realized he was intercoursed.
"At the Copa... don't fall in love..."
6. Brady Quinn is from an alien civilization bent upon taking over humanity and Eric Mangini is here to save the world. It seems the least likely of all the options, but we can't rule out the concept that Brady Quinn was sent here by alien beings to woo and lull mankind into submission with his man-pretty smile, and, Mangini, upon learning this horror, has moved surreptitiously to cut off the impending alien invasion by turning mankind against the extraterrestrial leader from the Catholic university.
Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum
Mangenius! King of the Impossible! He's for every one of us! Stands for every one of us! He'll save with a mighty hand, every man, every woman, every child, Mighty Mangenius!
OK, I'll stop now...
Have you ever read the transcripts from the Eric Mangini press conferences? At first, I found them refreshing and interesting. Now, it's just a bunch of repetitive blah, mixed with excuse-making, such as this excerpt when asked if the rookie WR's were open enough:
"I thought on a couple of those balls we had a real shot. There was one in two-minute where the corner had fallen off on Brian (Robiskie) to come and trap Greg (Estandia), who was running an out route. He had come off to trap it and the safety hadn't gotten deep enough and D.A. tried to get it off to him. It was the second to last play of the two-minute drive there. He got hit right at the end by the corner, who fell off the back, hit his arm and it fell a little bit short. If we completed it, it would have been a touchdown. Then there was the fade that we were talking about to Mohamed, where I thought we had a good chance. There were a couple plays where we created some cause penalties, didn't get the completion, but got the penalty which, it doesn't count as a completion, but it really has the same end result."
You know what this reminds me of? Butch Davis breaking down how the Browns' Run Defense would've been really good if they had just retained gap-integrity one or two more times.
This was right after Jamal Lewis ran for 295 yards on his team.
Actually, now that I mention it, do you know who Mangini reminds me of...?
After the Browns game on Sunday, I watched the Minnesota-Fixburgh game. I watched enough of it to know that the Vikings were by far the superior team, and yet the typical Fixburgh-esque bizarre-arse crap kept the Steelers ahead and led them to victory.
If it wasn't phantom tripping calls wiping out TD's, it was 10 minutes, 900 yard fumble returns for TD's, or botched screen passes resulting in 13 minute, 1346 yard interception returns.
After 2 garbage Superbowl wins and countless inexplicable Steeler luck, it makes me want to tear my eyebrows out.
The Football Gods don't like us - I get that, and I'm fine with it. But why must they be so enamored with our enemies?
From Jeff Schudel at the News Herald:
Quinn probably had more trade value before the last draft than he will next April, although there are enough teams desperate for a quarterback, and there are enough egotistical coaches who believe they can rescue a non-productive player, that maybe the Browns could get a second-round pick for him.
Honestly, Jeff. A 2nd Rounder? Why does everyone think other teams are climbing over themselves to accumulate our junk?
You'd be lucky to get a 4th Rounder for him at this point. Damn lucky.
Welcome to the NFL, where draft picks are more valuable than actual human beings.
You know you've hit bottom when Phil Savage - yes, THAT Phil Savage - is criticizing you for making the mess he left behind WORSE.
Telling the Mobile (AL) Press Register:
"You don't take a lot of solace in watching a place you leave go downhill further. But they took what we did have going there and they just dismantled that even further.
We left two quarterbacks behind that both seem ruined right now. They traded a lot of players out of there. I feel for the guys we brought in because they're good players and good people and they're stuck in a situation and can't get out for at least the time being."
Day-um. There'll be an old-fashioned lynching soon.
I'll tell you when I'll finally get excited about the Cavaliers: When they play a quality opponent and finally Offensively look like something other than LeBron and the Four Mannequins.
There's one thing for sure - no one in Northeast Ohio is enjoying the Cavs' 0-2 start more than Eric the Mangini.
Everyone thought the Browns would suck, and he's just proving them right. But a lot of people feel the Cavs are Champions-To-Be, and a disappointing start makes 90% of Cleveland forget Mangini even exists.
We'd like to forget Mr. Braylon and flush him from our collective psyche, but we must monitor his process so we can further hate him... I mean, uh, see if he does well enough in NY to bump our 3rd Round pick up to a 2nd Round pick.
The goal is rumored to be 55 catches and a certain number of TD's. For the sake of argument, let's say 5.
Goal: 55 catches, 5 TD.
Progress (3 games): 9 catches, 1 TD.
Yet to go (9 games): 46 catches, 4 TD.
He's averaging about 3 catches a game and 1 TD every 3 games (that's an elite WR for ya!). If he keeps up this blistering pace, he'll end with 36 catches and 4 TD, which just isn't good enough.
To add to Braylon's problems, he's been charged with misdemeanor assault because he punched that dude at that place. The charge comes with a max of $1000 fine or 6 months in jail.
Far be it from me to defend Braylon, but, really, 6 months in jail for punching someone? I don't know many guys - or girls, for that matter - that wouldn't have served some jail time if everyone went around clogging up the legal system because they punched or were punched. Gee whiz.
QB-O-RAMA - Version 2010!
I need not even defend my position on this any longer. Any argument that maintains that we should continue along without trying to acquire a Franchise QB as soon as possible is - to me - as logical as arguing for aardvarks' right to vote.
Go ahead and tell me how we need to build the rest of the team first. With DA/Quinn at the helm, I'm sure Eric Berry will get plenty of chances to show how much he has improved the team: He'll be on the field 40 minutes a game.
I will not throw a hissy if the Browns do not select a QB in the first 2 Rounds (it's not like there's not enough needs to go around). I'd love to have an Eric Berry too. But until the most important position on the team is addressed, we're going nowhere. It's going to have to be addressed eventually, and until it is, expect more weekends in Hell. The teams with QB problems and stopgaps litter the dregs of the NFL.
Sam Bradford - Oklahoma (vs. Kansas) - DNP. There are lots of rumors about whether or not this guy will be coming out at all, but my guess is that he will. He won't want to miss out on the last Rookie cash-grab, and there's no guarantee that coming back for his Senior year will fix the damage he's done to his draft slotting.
Colt McCoy - Texas (vs. Missouri) - 26 of 31, 269 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT, 13 yds Rushing. Very nice numbers, but I'm still wary of this guy. Not my first choice for the Top 10. I'd be delighted to have him at the top of the 2nd, but it's very unlikely he falls that far.
Tim Tebow - Florida (vs. Mississippi State) - 12 of 22, 127 yds, 2 INT, 88 yds Rushing, 1 Rushing TD. This is one of the few games I did get to watch this weekend, and I'm about 1 week from dropping Tebow from this list altogether. He is very unimpressive as a QB. He'd be fine in a Wildcat or as a tricksy Tight End.
Jake Locker - Washington (vs. Oregon) - 23 of 44, 266 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT. Lots of QB's will look mediocre against Oregon, which is probably the class of the PAC 10 right now. But his completion percentage is still cause for concern.
Jimmy Clausen - Notre Dame (vs. Boston College) - 26 of 39, 246 yds, 2 TD. Another solid day for the Domer. He's starting to make me uncomfortable. I want to dismiss him, you see, but I just can't do it...
Tony Pike - Cincinnati (vs. Louisville) - DNP. Could end up dropping if people start to see him as an injury concern.
Dan LeFevour - Central Michigan (vs. Bowling Green) - 16 of 22, 147 yds, 2 TD, 128 yds Rushing. Most college QB's have to go out of their way to prove to NFL scouts that they can pass as well as they can run. Seems like LeFevour's doing the opposite.
NFL Bottom 10!
Never before have I seen a Sunday as the last one that so succinctly emphasized the growing gulf between the Haves and Have-Nots. KC, TB, OAK, STL, and our beloved Browns all got SHANKED. If you throw in WAS, DET, and TEN, they prove that the NFL is currently a 24 team league.
1. Tennessee - The bye week helps some teams move up (see Detroit) because you forget (for a week) how bad they are, whilst all the other teams are reminding you a-plenty. But when your last game was 59-0, you don't move anywhere.
2. St. Louis Rams - Lost 42-6. Like the Browns, they often follow up a decent effort with a complete demolition, such as the colonoscopy they suffered last week.
3. Tampa Bay - Lost 35-7. Yes, Kellen. It's you.
4. Cleveland - Lost 31-3. At least we're not... oh, forget it.
5. Kansas City - Lost 37-7, and... OH NO! They're going to lose their leading rusher, Mr. Larry Johnson! This will put a serious crimp in their playoff chances.
6. Detroit - At least THEY didn't get the prison-shower treatment this week. A good week to be on a bye.
7. Oakland - Lost 38-0. The one team with a QB situation that even the Browns can't envy.
8. Washington - Somewhat competitive... almost a legitimate effort.
9. Carolina - They lost to Buffalo, which is humiliating and awful.
10. Buffalo - They lost to Cleveland, which is humiliating and awful.
From Sven Doe, Cody, Wyoming: "Jake Locker? JAKE LOCKER???!!! You've gotta be kidding me with that! No way Browns fans go for Jake [expletive] Locker!"
They will if enough Mel Kipers and Todd McShays tell them to.
I've already seen a couple scouting services rank him as the #1 draft prospect in 2010. Not to mention that those small or weaker school QB's that distinguish themselves (despite being surrounded by sub-par talent) often end up being pretty good.
That, and he's got good size, he's mobile, he throws a good ball, he has a strong arm...
I didn't have Jake Locker on my radar screen at the start of the college season. I didn't even remember that he was alive. He was nothing to me but some freshman running QB that the Buckeyes shut down in '07. And then I read the accolades and watched one game where I was impressed... and suddenly I'm just as gullible (or worse) as anyone else.
Don't worry. Likely - somehow - the Browns will be drafting too high to have a shot at him anyway.
At Chicago Bears (21st Defense, 16th Defense)
Matt Forte has been a huge disappointment this year (ask my fantasy team), and Jay Cutler is hit-or-miss (more miss than hit). They don't really have any quality WR's, and the Bears' D has been slapped with injuries (like they are every year). In the tough NFC North, Chicago has very little chance of a postseason berth.
The Bears aren't really that good, but... SO? They're good enough to beat the Browns, and they're playing at home. Expect the Browns to make the traditional "strong" effort after an awful game, but they don't have the firepower to pull it out.
Bears 24, Browns 9.