Why, Browns? Why do you make me care about you?
I was perfectly happy in apathetic shell I'd put around myself for the season, and then you made me care about you again (for a half). Maybe it was Monday Night, maybe it was how hard the Defense was playing... I don't know what suckered me in, but I was suckered.
What do I get for my foolishness? 3 quick plays in the 3rd Quarter to take a close game and shut it down. Anger. Pain.
"They're only down 2 scores," my girlfriend reasoned as the game entered the 4th Q. I mocked her right out of the room. They've scored 5 Offensive TD's in the last 14 games (now 15), and they'll somehow score 2 in a Quarter??? Anger. Pain.
As if this were a new feeling. It crept up on me, but, glancing at the calendar, I can't help but notice that we are little over the month from a new decade. And the Browns have made me feel anger and pain for pretty much the whole damn thing.
A decade. It's hard to believe that we're already coming to the end of another decade. On January 1, it will be the end of the Aught's, the end of the Double 0's. The 80's felt like a decade. This one? Felt like maybe 4 years. How the flagnard is it 2010 already? Where has the time gone?
As far as Cleveland Browns football is concerned, what should we name this decade?
The Decade of Shame? 10 Years of Suck? A Prelude to Hell? The Lost Decade?
2000 - Record: 3-13. 1st Round Draft Pick: Courtney Brown. Starting QB's: Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Spurgon Wynn. Leading Rusher: Travis Prentice (512). Leading Receiver: Kevin Johnson (669). Points Scored: 161 (31st). Points Against: 419 (27th).
The second year of re-incarnation, Chris Palmer's 2nd (and last) season as Head Coach. This team was actually 2-1 after beating the Steelers at home in Week 3, but it went downhill, and the "runaway train" began after Couch got knocked out for the season after 7 starts. Also the year my first daughter was born, watching the games with me in her Browns onesie while the snow fell by the foot in the mountains of Southern CA.
Palmer was fired after the season by Carmen Policy for not being ambitious enough (predicting only 6 wins). Palmer later said "If they had told me that I had 2 years, I'd have drafted Ricky Williams and played Ty Detmer." But ya didn't, Chris. Ah, the sweet misery of hindsight.
This was Tim Couch's first year starting from Day One, and his career was not to be indicative of a #1 overall pick. His greatest accomplishment is probably marrying Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar.
Probably the most depressing Browns season outside of the current one.
2001 - Record: 7-9. 1st Round Draft Pick: Gerard Warren. Starting QB's: Tim Couch. Leading Rusher: James Jackson (554). Leading Receiver: Kevin Johnson (1097). Points Scored: 285 (25th). Points Against: 319 (15th).
Butch Davis left the University of Miami (despite swearing to them he wouldn't) to come to Cleveland as the new super-popular Head Coach (and de facto GM), and it seemed to pay immediate dividends. After the Browns beat the defending Champion Ravens, they were 4-2 headed into Chicago, a game I flew from CA to Chicago to see. And, as we already know, they blew a 14 point lead with less than a minute to go and lost on a pick 6 in OT.
That kind of nutso-ness was par for the 2001 season, which also included the legendary Ben Gay leading Cleveland to another victory in Baltimore and the epic drama of Bottlegate as the fans reacted badly to the refs overturning a 4th Down ruling (after another play had already been run), basically ending the game and any Browns playoff hopes.
THAT was sight to see. Plastic bottles rained down from heaven like a biblical plague. Carmen Policy explained it afterwards: He was glad the fans were passionate and those plastic bottles wouldn't hurt anyone.
The Browns missed the playoffs, but got their first Pro Bowl player since The Return (Jamir Miller), and rookie Anthony Henry had 10 picks. The future looked bright.
2002 - Record: 9-7 (9-8 with playoff game). 1st Round Draft Pick: William Green. Starting QB's: Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb. Leading Rusher: William Green (887). Leading Receiver: Quincy Morgan (964). Points Scored: 344 (19th). Points Against: 320 (10th).
The Browns loaded up on expensive Free Agents such as Earl Holmes and Robert Griffith and were primed for a playoff run. However, Jamir Miller was lost for the year in the Preseason, and Couch injured his elbow before the 1st game, prompting Kelly Holcomb to start the season against the Chiefs, where he went ballistic, starting a QB controversy that would last for several years.
Cleveland should have won the game, but Dwayne Rudd removed his helmet on the field while the play was still going on (as the clock ran out), which is a 15 yard penalty and gave the Chiefs an un-timed down with which to kick the winning FG.
I finally got engaged in Prague to my longtime girlfriend, and our second daughter was born in November (during the bye week, which was handy). After that, the Browns won 5 of their last 7, including a Hail Mary TD against Jacksonville and the "Run William Run" victory in the final week against Atlanta. Through a complicated array of tiebreakers, the Browns were in the playoffs. My fellow Ohio expatriates and I celebrated in a Valley Browns Backers bar.
A few days after that, my friends and I went to Arizona for the National Championship Game (couldn't afford the tickets, so we watched the Buckeyes beat the Hurricanes from a bar about 200 yards away from the stadium). I stayed long enough to watch the Browns play the Steelers in a Phoenix Browns Backers bar, seeing Holcomb (Couch was injured the previous week) light up Pittsburgh on the way to a 17-point lead, which they blew. Their fate was sealed when Northcutt dropped a certain 1st Down pass, the Browns punted, and the Steelers plowed down the field for the go-ahead and game-ending TD. Typical Browns.
It was also during this season that Al Lerner died, leaving the team to his mercurial son, Randy.
2003 - Record: 5-11. 1st Round Draft Pick: Jeff Faine. Starting QB's: Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb. Leading Rusher: William Green (559). Leading Receiver: Dennis Northcutt (729). Points Scored: 254 (29th). Points Against: 322 (12th).
The offseason was tumultuous. The Browns were forced to purge the roster due to salary cap restraints (it was explained that the team had known this was an issue, but they wanted to win a championship for the ailing Al Lerner), and fans spent every waking moment arguing over the merits of Tim Couch or Kelly Holcomb as Davis opened Training Camp with a QB Competition, the first of many in Berea. Holcomb won that, mainly due to Davis' "gut feeling".
A few weeks after the Browns playoff loss, I packed up our house and we moved back to Ohio, so I was present locally for the first football season since 1990, and I got married in Vegas just before it started. I put $100 on the Browns to win the Superbowl. Ha!
The year started well enough as Cleveland went 3-3 in their first 6, including Tim Couch's finest hour - a 33-13 beatdown of the Steelers in their craphole city. That was the last time the Browns beat Pittsburgh.
William Green was very disappointing, getting arrested for DUI and pot possession during the season (was wearing only one shoe when pulled over), then later got stabbed in the back (literally) by his fiancée. He was suspended for a significant portion of the season.
After that, it went downhill. Holcomb was on-again, off-again hurt/ineffective, and Couch wasn't much better in relief. They lost 5 in a row at the end of the season, a streak stopped only by a win in the final week against the Bengals, sparked by rookie Lee Suggs' rushing performance, a win that (inexplicably) irked some because it robbed the Browns of the chance at a higher draft pick.
2004 - Record: 4-12. 1st Round Draft Pick: Kellen Winslow. Starting QB's: Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Kelly Holcomb. Leading Rusher: Lee Suggs (744). Leading Receiver: Dennis Northcutt (806). Points Scored: 276 (27th). Points Against: 390 (24th).
Carmen Policy retired during the offseason, so Butch was now Emperor of Berea. He showed how wise allowing him that power was by giving up a high 2nd Round pick to move up 1 spot in the 1st Round to draft Kellen Winslow (who the Lions weren't going to draft anyway). Kellen lasted until the 2nd game of the season, where he blew out his knee trying to recover an onside kick at Dallas. That was the beginning of a star-crossed relationship between Kellen and his knees.
Davis cut Couch during the offseason (he went to Green Bay and didn't make the final roster) and brought in ex-SF QB Jeff Garcia, who hooked up with (and later married) local hottie, bar-fighter, and Playmate of the Year Carmella DeCesare, despite his rumored alternate sexual preferences. That was about the only thing Garcia did right in Cleveland, since he was more suited to a West Coast Offense, and the Browns didn't run that.
Once again, the Browns started off 3-3, including the only Opening Day win of the expansion era (20-3 over Baltimore). Then they calmly reeled off 9 straight losses. Firing Butch Davis was the topic du jour, and, after a 58-48 shootout loss to the Bengals, Davis did everyone a favor and simply resigned.
WR Coach Terry Robiskie took over on an interim basis, and he went 1-4, winning only the meaningless final game of the season. He was not retained.
2005 - Record: 6-10. 1st Round Draft Pick: Braylon Edwards. Starting QB's: Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye. Leading Rusher: Reuben Droughns (1232). Leading Receiver: Antonio Bryant (1009). Points Scored: 232 (32nd). Points Against: 301 (11th).
Randy Lerner, with his first true executive decision, hired former Ravens' scout Phil Savage as GM and 3 time Superbowl winning Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel as Head Coach. He also lured John Collins from NFL Headquarters to become team President. With this impressive array of talent aligned for glory, the Browns headed into a Brave New World.
The season got of to a rip-roaring start when Kellen Winslow nearly killed himself practicing bike stunts in a parking lot, lost control, and launched himself into a tree, blowing out his knee again and ending his season before it started. There was a popular groundswell to end his awful term in Cleveland, but Savage instead restructured his contract in a more Browns-friendly fashion.
Garcia was flushed, as was Holcomb, Gerard Warren, and oft-injured Courtney Brown (and numerous others). Very little of the Playoff-Run Browns team was left. Savage/Crennel brought in Trent Dilfer to run the show, sort of a veteran stop-gap/mentoring presence to heralded local-boy rookie Charlie Frye. The Browns traded for Reuben Droughns, who went on to become the first 1000 yard rusher in Cleveland since 1985 (ye Gods!), and picked up Free Agent Antonio Bryant and undrafted rookie Josh Cribbs.
I was enjoying the sheer pleasure that is a separation and divorce, so I got to watch most of the games from my buddy's couch (where I slept). It was a growing year, and the Browns were competitive in almost all their games (although a 41-0 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 15 would like to differ), but they still finished 6-10. At 4-7 and with the season essentially lost, the Browns pushed Frye into the starting lineup to get him some experience. He was 2-3, and seemed to have a good repertoire with fellow-rook Edwards, but Braylon got a season-ending injury in their first game together.
As the season ended, it was rumored that John Collins wanted to fire Savage. Browns fans went nuts in protest, and Crennel went to bat for Phil. Collins lost the power struggle and "resigned", leaving the team without a President/VP of Football Ops/CEO/etc. Just now is Randy attempting to resolve this issue.
2006 - Record: 4-12. 1st Round Draft Pick: Kamerion Wimbley. Starting QB's: Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson. Leading Rusher: Reuben Droughns (758). Leading Receiver: Braylon Edwards (884). Points Scored: 238 (30th). Points Against: 356 (22nd).
By this time, I had my own apartment, and had to endure my first (and only) horrible season of non-NFL Sunday Ticket since 1999. Charlie Frye entered the season as the anointed starter. Trent Dilfer was traded to SF for a box of condoms and Ken Dorsey, reportedly because he feuded with "Offensive Coordinator" Mo Carthon (I put that in quotes because Carthon's idea of Offense was 90% screens to Fullbacks).
Kellen Winslow finally played, and Braylon Edwards was back, but the Browns Offense still was unable to inspire the bards. Probably the best win of the season was the game where Frye got hurt. Backup Derek Anderson, a 2nd year player claimed off waivers the previous season who was a hometown friend of Playmate of the Year Sara Underwood, came in 14 down and led the Browns to glorious OT victory. However, his subsequent starts were inglorious, and he and Frye combined to end the season on a 4 game losing streak.
The seat got hot in a hurry for Romeo Crennel. The Offense was so bad that Mo Carthon was forced to resign during the season, and Crennel didn't seem to have a clue about how to change the negative direction in which the team was headed. Only a huge turnaround season could save Romeo's ample ass.
2007 - Record: 10-6. 1st Round Draft Picks: Joe Thomas, Brady Quinn. Starting QB's: Derek Anderson, Charlie Frye. Leading Rusher: Jamal Lewis (1304). Leading Receiver: Braylon Edwards (1289). Points Scored: 402 (8th). Points Against: 382 (21st).
In 2007, I had moved into a new house with my new girlfriend, so everything was new, including the Browns. Cleveland picked up ex-Crow Jamal Lewis in Free Agency, and their draft was one of the most exciting in memory, selecting Franchise Left Tackle Joe Thomas and moving up to take (thought to be) Franchise QB Brady Quinn in the 1st Round.
The season began with another QB competition (this one between Frye and Anderson), and it was just as uninspiring as the others. Frye "won" the competition and started the first game against the Steelers, where he was beat to hell and relieved mid-game by Anderson. A few days later, Savage traded Frye to Seattle for a bag of corn chips and a plastic sombrero, thus ending Frye's 18-start career.
Anderson obviously started the following week, and went out of his gourd, throwing for 5 TD's in a 51-45 score-fest. He then became the next-big-thing in the NFL, leading the Browns to a 7-4 start in multiple nail-biting wins, including the much discussed doink-FG OT win against the Ravens in Baltimore, where Phil Dawson's tying kick bounced off the stanchion of the uprights and back through, causing officials to originally believe the FG was a miss. The refs had to call the Crows back onto the field after they ran off in celebration.
A few games later came the Snow Bowl at Cleveland Browns Stadium, where a blizzard made conditions nigh impossible, and the Browns pulled out the victory 8-0 to move to 9-5 and in prime playoff contention. But then the Browns played in Cincy against a bad Bengals team, and Derek Anderson - whose 2nd half of the season was much less spectacular than his 1st half - threw 4 interceptions, pretty much single-handedly killing his team's chances.
With the Titans holding a tiebreaker, the Browns watched helplessly (after beating SF in Week 16) as the Indianapolis Colts rested their starters for the postseason and Tennessee beat awful awful awful Jim Sorgi. The best season of the decade ended prematurely.
Tons of Browns went to the Pro Bowl - Derek Anderson (alternate), Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, Josh Cribbs, Joe Thomas, and Ryan Pontbriand (Butch Davis' best draft pick). The future looked bright.
2008 - Record: 4-12. 1st Round Draft Pick: None. Starting QB's: Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski. Leading Rusher: Jamal Lewis (1002). Leading Receiver: Braylon Edwards (873). Points Scored: 232 (30th). Points Against: 350 (16th).
With pundits around the country, glory-drunk Phil Savage made several key moves. He re-signed Restricted Free Agent Derek Anderson (despite Anderson's trade value never being higher and the fact that they gave up two 1st Round picks for backup Brady Quinn), and he traded high picks for Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers. That left the Browns with no draft picks until the 4th Round, where they took LB Beau Bell.
The season didn't start well, but it had its moments. When the Browns beat the hell out of the defending Superbowl Champion Giants on MNF, they had won 2 in a row to get to 2-3 and were looking to get into the mix. ‘Twas not to be.
Several key things went wrong: Lewis wasn't nearly as good as he was in 2007, Edwards developed a severe case of the dropsies and the boo-hoos, Winslow was hurt, and teams had figured out Anderson. Winslow developed the staph from a surgery, but the Browns (beset with a bad reputation of being staph-ridden) asked him to hush it up, causing a nasty rift. Cleveland came down hard on Edwards and Anderson, and Savage dropped F-bombs on fans.
After throwing a pick 6 to lose the game and finally break the camel's back, Anderson was benched for Quinn with the Browns at 3-5. Quinn's first start went well, but the Defense gave up the lead late and the Browns lost. His second start was less spectacular, but still good enough to get a win against Buffalo. But he broke a finger during that game, tried to go the next week, sucked, and got benched. That was the season for him.
The next game, Anderson was knocked out for the year too. Horrible Ken Dorsey and street-roamer Bruce Gradkowksi finished out the miserable season. The Browns ended the year losing 6 in a row, not scoring an Offensive TD in ANY of those games. Savage and Crennel were both shown their walking papers (despite recent contract extensions). The future suddenly was back to dismal.
2009 - Record: 1-8. 1st Round Draft Pick: Alex Mack. Starting QB's: Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson. Leading Rusher: Jamal Lewis (385). Leading Receiver: Mo Massaquoi (358). Points Scored: 78 (32nd). Points Against: 225 (27th).
Lerner jumped eagerly upon recently-fired Eric Mangini as Head Coach, despite not having a VP or GM in place. His attempts to hire a GM after the fact were rebuffed by several reputable football front-office types, so Lerner was forced to settle for Mangini's old friend and hand-picked candidate, George Kokinis, another member of the Ravens' staff.
The draft (highlighted by 3 first round trade-downs, the biggest with the Jets) was met with lukewarm acceptance, but most hailed Mangini's orderly, disciplined ways, especially when compared to Crennel's relaxing/untaxing camps. The roster was again overhauled, sending Winslow away in a trade and acquiring many of Mangini's former players from the Jets.
Yet another QB competition once again yielded no clear results, so Brady Quinn got the starting nod (four days before the start of the season). The first game - a loss to the Vikings - was fairly close, but the next 2 games weren't, so Quinn got benched midway through the 3rd contest, after which he put his house up for sale. Anderson, back at starter, played decently against the Bengals, throwing 8 passes for 148 yards to Mo Massaquoi. After that performance (and after Braylon decided to randomly punch some friend of LeBron James), the powers that be (Mangini) decided that Edwards was expendable and traded him to the Jets, apparently the only team in the NFL the Browns are allowed to trade with.
The Offense and Derek Anderson fell completely apart after that, despite the fact that the Browns somehow managed to eke out a 6-3 win against Buffalo (in a thrilling contest). After a miserable loss to the Bears to drop them to 1-7, Lerner was so incensed that he promised to acquire a "serious, credible" football organization leader. A few days later, Kokinis was fired and escorted out of Berea. The presumable reason is that Kokinis was hired and given personnel power as GM, yet had been relegated to servant by Mangini and did not have the personality type to fight for the powers that were contractually his. He basically nullified his existence, and Lerner relieved him of his plight.
Quinn was re-named starter for the 9th game of the season after Anderson had set all kinds of league lows in statistical categories; however, he fared no better as the team avoided a fan-planned protest but couldn't avoid another Offensive nightmare.
Currently, Lerner is reportedly searching for a Football Czar to run the operations and evaluate Mangini (otherwise known as "fire" Mangini).
And there you go. Another awful season to bookend the decade with 2 of the most miserable seasons ever conceived by human kind. 10 years have gone by, and the team is basically in the same situation. With very little to show for it.
Record: 53-101 (averaging about 5 wins and 10 losses per year, and this year ain't even over yet).
1st Round Draft Picks still on team: 4 (Kam Wimbley, Joe Thomas, Brady Quinn, Alex Mack).
Starting QB's: 12 (Tim Couch - 45 starts, Derek Anderson - 32, Charlie Frye - 19, Kelly Holcomb - 13, Trent Dilfer - 11, Jeff Garcia - 10, Doug Pederson - 8, Brady Quinn - 7, Luke McCown - 4, Ken Dorsey - 3, Bruce Gradkowski - 1, Spurgon Wynn - 1)
1000 Yard Rushing Seasons: 3 (Jamal Lewis - 2, Reuben Droughns).
1000 Yard Receiving Seasons: 4 (Kellen Winsow, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Bryant, Kevin Johnson).
Points Scored: 2502 (about 250 a year, 15.6 a game).
Points Against: 3384 (about 338 a year, 21.2 a game).
But we lead the league in QB's with relationships with Playmates of the Year.
So we got that goin' for us. Which is nice.
Bring on the Teens.
The Defense put up a valiant effort in the 1st Half, but the O - despite moving the ball decently the first couple drives - did nothing to help. It was all bubble screens and runs up the middle and short slants, the kind of stuff that gets you nowhere if employed on a continual basis. Still, at least they didn't commit any turnovers that way, and the Browns managed to go into Halftime tied at Nil.
When playing with the fire like that, if you slip up even once, you get burned. On the Ravens first possession of the 2nd Half, Brandon McDonald went for the pick on a short pass to Derek Mason, whiffed, and it resulted in a 41 yard gain to the 13. Ray Rice ran it in on the next play.
The game was still in doubt, however, until a couple plays later when Quinn tried hit Ol' Stonehands himself (Robert Royal), the ball bounced off his mitts (was thrown somewhat behind him) and a Crow took it back for an easy Pick 6. The game was over then.
To solidify it, Quinn threw another pick on the following drive (this one bouncing off Mike Furrey's hands), and the Ravens got another FG, then played it safe from there on out as the stadium - which was excited and loud in the 1st Half - headed for bed.
Final: Ravens 16, Browns 0.
Time of Possession: Baltimore - 31:32, Cleveland - 28:28
Total Yards: Baltimore - 274, Cleveland - 160
First Downs: Baltimore - 14, Cleveland - 11
Not as ugly as it usually is, but they still managed an L in all 3 categories, which - shockingly - often translates to an L on the scoreboard. Especially when you toss in a couple turnovers.
The Browns have failed to reach 200 total yards in the last 5 games.
The fewest points scored in a 16 game season by an NFL team is 141 (1991 Indy Colts). That Colts team also scored the fewest TD's in a season (14). The Browns (78 points scored and 7 TD's in 9 games) will be making a serious charge at both those records.
David Bowens - He was everywhere in the 1st Half, including 2 sacks. Good game in the middle for someone who's usually on the outside.
Kaluka Maiava - Several nice plays again from the little LB.
Brodney Pool - I wrote his name down here next to "nice tackle", so he must have had a nice tackle.
Wall of Shame
Brandon McDonald - You don't take that chance in that situation
Brady Quinn - I haven't seen a QB look that bad since Derek Anderson. I wonder if it has anything to do with...
Brian Daboll - Someone please put this poor bastard out of our misery.
Eric Mangini - Who hired Daboll?
Robert Royal - Why have hands if you don't know how to operate them?
Mike Furrey - Wes Welker you ain't.
Randy Lerner - Fix this, Jerkwater.
Rumor (also known as Jim Brown) has it that Mike Holmgren is in town talking to Randy Lerner about the open VP Position. Now, Brown didn't say that it was Holmgren, not in so many words. To paraphrase, he said something like:
Randy is right now talking with someone that could become the new Vice President. I can't say who it is. The only thing I'll tell you is that he coached in Green Bay and Seattle, his initials are M.H., and his name rhymes with Schmike Schmolmgren. I can't say any more. My lips are sealed.
So, if this is true, there are two questions:
1. Would Mike Holmgren take the job?
2. Should Lerner leap to a decision?
As far as # 1 is concerned, it's hard to say. Many around the league scoff at Holmgren coming here because the situation is such a mess. But that's the national media, and they scoff at anything that takes place outside of New York or Los Angeles.
Is this such a horrible job? Lerner's obviously willing to give full control of the organization. If you're Holmgren, you come here as Browns God. Your will is rule. You have a team that is decimated, but has some good players at key positions, and a couple interesting projects. You have 11 picks in the draft, including possibly the # 1 overall. You have the power to bring in anyone you want to Coach. And you have a rabid fan base that will pack the stadium and build statues in your honor if you even just make the team competitive.
The opportunity to return a storied franchise to former glory must be tempting to many an NFL mind.
This brings us to # 2. Many have argued that Lerner's biggest mistake last time was leaping to nab up Eric Mangini, especially when he was hardly a hot commodity. They argue that the Browns should do their due diligence this time and make sure they talk to all possible candidates and makes a thoughtful, informed choice.
However, there are a few drawbacks to that theory. The first is that maybe you don't want to give a guy like Holmgren time to think twice about it. Maybe you don't want to wait to the end of the season where several other options will open up - some very attractive - allowing someone else to come and steal your metaphorical bride just because you were too slow to pop the question.
Another drawback is that you lose 2 months of preparation. You lose the chance for Holmgren to analyze the players and coaching staff up close and formulate a first-hand opinion of all of them. You lose the opportunity for Holmgren to hit the offseason knowing exactly whom he's keeping, whom he's letting go, and whom he's going after.
An advantage of that kind at this juncture could be huge for the Browns in 2010.
I still get the occasional Support-Mangini e-mail, and I admit that I am impressed with these people's staying power. I appreciate their unwavering opinion and their inflexibility. And they make some decent points.
But the discussion has passed its validity. There will be a new Sheriff in town soon, and he will decide whether Mangini stays or goes. I want the new Sheriff to succeed, so I will adhere to his coaching decision. I would do so even if I wanted Mangini to stay, and since there is very little chance that the Sheriff will want Mangini to be his Deputy, I'm simply advising giving up on Mangini's existence in Cleveland, whether it's fair or not.
Arguing about what Mangini does/does not deserve is really as fruitless at this juncture as me arguing with my sister about who left the huge ink stain on the backseat of the Cutlass Supreme in 1982.
(It was her).
I must say that I feel really bad for Rob Ryan and the Defense after that game. To paraphrase Butch Davis, they fought their guts out. Really, the only had 2 bad plays all game, and got negative assistance from the O.
How is that the 32nd ranked D? I've seen a lot of bad Defense in my day, and that ain't it.
To me, the play where Josh Cribbs got hurt as the Browns tried to score at the end of the game is as big a non-issue as fashion for gerbils.
Players get hurt. It could've happened at the beginning. It could've happened in the 3rd Quarter. Just because it happened on the last play doesn't mean that they should've thrown in the towel just to protect everyone. That kind of attitude is defeatist.
Hell, why not just have them start kneeling in the 1st Quarter? They're not going to win anyway. At least everyone will be healthy.
I'm just so glad that NFL Apparel has embraced the Ravens, especially in that commercial with Ray Lewis writhing in pain in slow motion (he was probably just stung by a jellyfish) and a kid emulating his gyrations.
Because if there's one guy we want our kids to look up to, it's Ray Lewis.
Glad to see the protest failed. It was just such a hair-brained idea, and, nationally, it would've come across all sort of the wrong way.
But the cameras kept showing close-ups of one of the organizers, Dawg Pound Mike. You know, the dude with the bone hat. And, of course, when Quinn knelt down tied at 0 with 30 seconds left in the Half deep in their own territory (and getting the ball first in the 2nd Half, no less), DPM shook his head in horrible disgust because the Browns didn't try to force something downfield.
And they say fans are dumb.
Besides, the real protest isn't empty stands at the start the game. It's all the empty stands at the start the 4th Quarter.
In order for the conditional pick the Browns received for Braylon Edwards to be bumped from a 3rd Round to a 2nd Round pick, Mr. Edwards must meet certain incentives. 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 (5 games): 16 catches, 2 TD.
Yet to go (7 games): 39 catches, 3 TD.
Asking an "elite" WR to get 55 catches in 12 games isn't excessive. But asking that of Braylon Edwards is. His biggest number since he arrived is the 1-4 record. Oh, and don't forget the fumble and the 2 point conversion drop last week. Good ‘ol Braylon.
Yet, strangely enough, if you go to this Jets board, they seem to think that the fact that he hasn't turned water into wine yet must be the water's fault.
When I lived in NY, I knew many down-to-earth, intelligent Jets fans. Apparently, they don't go to that message board.
I wonder what they'll be saying a year from now, especially after paying Braylon the $10 mil a year it will keep to get him? Hmmmm...
I'm pretty close to being done with Quinn. Sure, he's got no Receivers, no Running Game, and no Offensive Coordinator, but there's a difference between being thwarted by your surrounding personnel and just looking bad.
Derek Anderson looks bad. Watching him, you know he's a bad QB, no matter what the excuses are.
Brady Quinn is right there with him. Dude can't throw a ball downfield (without it floating out of bounds), and even his short passes aren't that accurate. I was hoping he would come into this game feeling like he had nothing to lose, playing loose, trusting in his arm and challenging the Defense. That certainly did not happen.
I still feel that he should get the rest of the season to prove himself. I mean, honestly, he's only had 7 starts in his career, which is less than even Doug freakin' Pederson got with Cleveland. That, and I don't want to see Derek Anderson play for the Browns EVER AGAIN.
But I don't have a lot of hope for Quinn. His stats always look better than he does, and, in this case, not even they looked good. I can only assume that QB is amongst the highest of 2010 needs.
Which leads us to...
QB-O-RAMA - Version 2010
Sam Bradford - Oklahoma (vs. Texas A&M) - DNP. He's still coming out, folks.
Colt McCoy - Texas (vs. Baylor) - 23 of 34, 181 yds, 2 TD, 13 yds Rushing. It's very hard to ignore the skill set that McCoy brings to the table, even though some might question how he'll perform in an NFL system.
Jake Locker - Washington (vs. Oregon State) - 14 of 23, 153 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT. As Washington ceases to be a factor in the Pac 10 and their losses get more lopsided, the buzz about Locker has died down somewhat. It will be interesting to see how he performs at the Senior Bowl/Combine.
Jimmy Clausen - Notre Dame (vs. Pitt) - 27 of 42, 283 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 Rushing TD. Lost in Notre Dame's slide into oblivion (accompanied by constant Charlie Weis job speculation) is the fact that Clausen is playing really well right now. Of course, some of his stats get padded because he's always trying to lead the Irish back from big deficits.
Tony Pike - Cincinnati (vs. West Virginia) - 2 of 4, 17 yds, 2 TD. They're supposedly trying to work him back into the lineup, but he sure didn't get much work last week. Still when your only 2 completions are TD's, then you've done the best with what time you have.
Dan LeFevour - Central Michigan (vs. Toledo) - 29 of 36, 341 yds, 2 TD, 19 yds Rushing, 4 Rushing TD. They haven't played since my last article.
NFL Bottom 10
Time to give some love to the misshapen, the unloved, the mutant, malodorous masses slowly swirling around the toilet bowl of humanity.
1. Cleveland (1-8) - It's impossible for me to pretend that the Browns haven't climbed into the Pole Position of Suck. At least they're winning something.
2. Detroit (1-8) - Suck Bowl 2009 is only 2 days away, sports fans! Mark your calendars and program your DVR's!
3. Oakland (2-7) - The best thing Cleveland has going for it is that they still get to play 3 of the worst 4 teams in the league (with themselves being the 4th). Too bad they can't play themselves.
4. Kansas City (2-7) - At least they're one Larry Johnson lighter, and that's definitely a case of addition by subtraction to avoid the multiplication of division.
5. St. Louis (1-8) - Losing close to a great Saints team is much more impressive than winning close against a horrible Raiders team.
6. Tampa Bay (1-8) - Still only one win, but they (along with the Rams) at least appear to be noticeably improving, which is certainly more than one could say about some teams.
7. Buffalo (3-6) - The first coaching casualty of the season is Dick Jauron, the only guy to lose to the Browns this year. To rub it in, Bud Adams gave them the ol' multiple bird. Suck it, Bills!
8. Seattle (3-6) - Even when they play their A game and even when the Cards aren't up to par, they still didn't have enough to take a superior opponent down.
9. Washington (3-6) - They... won? Against Denver? Wow, the Broncs are a bigger sham than I thought.
10. Chicago (4-5) - When your fans start pining for the glory years of Kyle Orton, your QB might be throwing too many picks.
From Henry Doe, Portland, MN: "I like the list you compiled on the VP/GM candidates, but I did notice you left off two very possible choices - Charlie Casserly and Floyd Reese. I was wondering if you did that on purpose, or if you just forgot them."
Well, a little of both. I see those two as sort of a lower tier of options, but I guess since they are both available right now (and guys like McKay and Heckert are not), I should add them.
Floyd Reese I like OK, and I'd be happier with him than Charlie Casserly, who has a horrible W-L record and a 1st Round history that is appalling (David Carr, Desmond Howard, Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook, etc.). But neither is going to make me break out in song.
Really, the only viable argument I've heard for Charlie Casserly at this point is that at least he's better than what we have now. Which isn't really a viable argument at all.
In the end, they're both experienced NFL Front Office guys, and they would at least fit the criteria of "serious" and "credible". If they were hired, I guess I'd just have to work up my enthusiasm for them. A few beers ought to help.
The Detroit Lions (1-8). Offense - 26th, Defense - 31st.
Yes, the Browns now rank # 32 in both Offense AND Defense (if you go by Total Yards). So, in a battle between these two teams - a reprisal of the Great Lakes Classic - you have to wonder if the game will end in a scoreless tie.
The Lions have shown a lot more prowess Offensively than the Browns, and it doesn't take much D to stop the Cleveland Aerial Attack. Unless Detroit falls prey to a rash of turnovers, I'd have to think the Kitties takes this one.
Lions 20, Browns 6.