To paraphrase a query made by a local sports radio personality: Is this what we've been reduced to? Celebrating a loss just because the Browns didn't look too bad, that they just made a game of it, that they fought to the end, but lost anyway? Is this what is now what is acceptable?
Uh... yeah.* (*insert rolling eyes and pre-teen incredulity here)
Do you watch the Browns? Have you seen the games?
Comparatively, hells yeah that game was acceptable. It didn't make me retch. It didn't make me curse the gods. It didn't make me rather be licking chalk. And I watched it to the end, which hasn't happened a lot lately (and I was at the stadium, freezing my tuchus off somewhere in the upper deck).
I saw an Offense that was occasionally competent (well, if you don't count the 3rd Quarter). I saw a Defense that was partially capable (well, if you don't count the 3rd Quarter). I saw a QB that didn't suck out loud, and Running Backs that didn't pitter-patter around the line of scrimmage, and Tight Ends that actually caught the ball. I saw a home crowd that felt compelled to boo - really boo - their team just one time.
The 2007 Pats, it wasn't. But, for the 2009 Cleveland Browns, that was one of the top 3 performances of the year.
No one is saying that moral victories are going to be acceptable or palatable in the future. No one is saying that we should rejoice, per se. But it was nice, for a change, to actually watch a game and enjoy more than, say, 10 minutes of the 3 hour debacle.
In this The Most Pointless Season EverTM, what is normally unacceptable has to be redefined, even if just for 2009. There is so little to look forward to, to cling to, in these remaining games that we have to settle - at this juncture - for simply being entertained.
If we're lucky enough to get even that.
Hold on and persevere. Change is coming, my friends.
At least, it better be.
To be honest, the worst thing that comes from a game like this one is that people start to hope again. Like a rock sprouting a sapling, people start to think that maybe Eric Mangini will be fine as Head Coach for another year, maybe Brady Quinn is the answer at QB, maybe the team is evolving and growing in "The Process".
Maybe if we stay the course with this cast of characters, we'll eventually reach a thousand points of light.
And they might even be right (doubtful, but possible).
However, the danger in this type of rampant optimism/avoidance is that we forget the past and are therefore doomed to repeat it.
Take the upcoming game, for example. The Browns, coming off one of their better performance of the year against one of the better teams in the league, face the Steelers, losers of 4 straight to juggernauts such as the KC Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Plus, Polamalu is out and Hines Ward is likely a scratch too. A loss pretty much seals the Steelers playoff coffin. Cleveland is playing better, and Fixburgh couldn't be playing worse.
So we (the general population) start thinking that we (the football team as a community) have a real legitimate chance to finally knock off the hated Inbred, and that win alone will justify the whole season.
Ever hear someone say, "I don't care if we lose every other game as long as we beat the Steelers"? Well, here's our chance to bring that dream to fruition (pretty much).
Personally, I am torn. I want to send the Evil Subhumans and their horde of unwashed rag-wavers back to the Abyss as much as anyone, but I worry about a win producing 2 negative side effects:
1. The belief that status quo is working and we should stay the course and everything will eventually work itself out fine.
2. Seeing as one cannot count on St. Louis or Tampa Bay to pull another victory out in the final 4 games, we win our way out of the #1 overall slot, thus denying us the chance to draft certain players (more on this later).
That, of course, would be the logical side of me, and there is, has always been, and always will be a constant war raging between the two diametrically opposed sides of my brain (which easily explains my vast success). On game day, the logical side goes into hibernation, and out comes the side that feels that punting bricks is a great way to relieve tension and anything wearing black and yella should be sent to a foul and painful demise.
So, kick their ass tonight, Browns! There's no guaranteeing any alternate plans would've worked out anyway. At least give us this.
The Browns shocked the world by going on a dream opening drive, marching 72 yards for the first opening drive TD for Cleveland since the Truman administration, including 3 catches by the immortal Evan Moore.
"Who the hell is this Moore guy?" I asked my friend. He just shrugged. So we decided to make up first names for him, since no one had a clue what it was. I referred to him as "Sammy Moore" until the 3rd Quarter.
The Chargers responded with a FG, but the Browns went on another nice drive, this one - tragically - ending with a FG miss by Phil Dawson, who probably was rusty from disuse. If you don't use it, you lose it.
Pathetic, horrid tackling aided a pathetic, horrid 1 play 66 yard TD screen pass to a Fullback for SD, and the Browns were down. But Quinn wasn't done. In response, he led them on yet another long drive, all the way down to the SD 3. There, on 3rd Down, he didn't see Shaun Phillips behind him, go the ball tomahawked out of his hands, and the Chargers recovered.
"Now I'm done," Quinn said.
And he was right. They were. That was basically the game.
The Browns had a chance for a drive a the end of the Half, but butchered the bejeezus out of it and punted it back to SD, allowing the Chargers to demonstrate how to run those tricky 2 Minute drills and tack on a FG to go up 13-7.
In typical fashion, the Browns turned a close Halftime game into a 3rd Quarter blowout. The Browns Offense went to sleep, leaving Philip Rivers to throw a ball up for grabs, Hank Poteat to trip over himself trying to get out of the way, and Antonio Gates to come down with the ball. Before we knew it, it was a 27-7 standard embarrassment formation.
Give the Browns credit - they made a game of it in the end. The Chargers went into prevent and Quinn woke up from his 3rd Quarter doldrums. When Jerome Harrison scored the first of his 2 TD's with about 9 minutes left, the Browns were only down 27-14. The Defense, naturally, gave up a FG in response, but the margin was still only 16 (30-14). A TD with about 2 minutes left put Cleveland only a 2 Point Conversion from a one-score game.
That failed, however, and even the recovered onside kick was delaying the inevitable. The Browns almost got a TD (Brian Robiskie dropped it), and settled for a FG to get to 30-23 with 39 seconds left. The second onside try didn't work, though, so that was game, set, match. Nice try. No dice.
Final: Chargers 30, Browns 23.
Time of Possession: Cleveland - 30:37, San Diego - 29:23
Total Yards: San Diego - 477, Cleveland - 372
First Downs: Cleveland - 24, San Diego - 21
Well, the Browns did it. They passed the magical 141 points scored landmark (they now have 145), ensuring that they don't magnify the infamy of the season by setting an embarrassing NFL record. They also held their own in most of the major categories, although stats were cruelly skewed in the 3rd and 4th Quarters.
The Browns have shown Offensive competency 2 of the last 3 weeks - a dangerous trend. However, they have compensated by giving up over 470 yards in both of those weeks, solidifying their losses.
In fact, Cleveland is now giving up over 400 yards per game on average. If you're new to stats, that ain't good.
Evan (Sammy) Moore - First NFL game ever, and he came in and made the rest of the Tight Ends look like refuse. 6 receptions for 80 yards, and the most impressive catch was an incompletion, a one-handed over-the-shoulder number on the right sideline when they split him out wide. Josh Cribbs said about this guy: "He's going to be one of those guys that has incredible talent. On scout team, he was unbelievable, just killing our first-team defense. We had to make him active and look what he did out there today."
In case you were wondering, Moore was on the Practice Squad about a month before he was activated, which isn't necessarily an indictment since at least he was activated.
Jerome Harrison - About 100 yards rushing and receiving, plus 2 TD's. This team is better without Jamal Lewis in the lineup. My apologies, Jamal, but you just didn't have it anymore, and as unimpressive a Harrison/Jennings lineup might sound, it's still much more effective than you tip-toeing up the gut for 2.
Josh Cribbs - Just ‘cuz.
Joe Thomas - For his selection to the All Fundamentals Team (whatever that is).
Brady Quinn - Well, that's 2 fairly non-sucking performances in a row. You've got 4 games left. You better make ‘em a lot more like Detroit and San Diego than Baltimore and Cincy, because you've gotta know that you're on major double-secret probation.
Brian Robiskie - Of course, there's some highfalutin' reason that Robiskie was inactive all those weeks when the likes of Jake Allen and Mike Furrey and Chansi Stuckey were lightin' up the scoreboard. Had you not dropped that last potential TD pass, you'd have been a level higher, Brian. By the way, loved the standing O you got for your first catch (2nd of the season) on Sunday.
Kam Wimbley and Matt Roth - Combined for a sack that killed a drive. It was important at the time, and there aren't a lot of Defensive candidates here.
Wall of Shame
Hank Poteat - Poteat is an amazing "talent". Anywhere you see a bad play, Hank Poteat is there. A missed tackle, a blown coverage, a game-killing penalty... BAM! There's Hank Poteat! BAM BAM BAM! I actually long for Terry Cousin at this point.
Eric Mangini & Brian Daboll - You get this for the last 2:30 of the 1st Half. More on that below.
The Pass Defense - It's always something.
Randy Lerner - On the first day of Christmas, the Owner gave to me... a 1-11 football team.
Before we go any further, we need to discuss the elephant in the room. If any of you watched the Big 12 Championship Game, you already know where this is going.
The elephant (almost literally), of course, is Ndamukong Suh, the All-Earth Defensive Tackle from Nebraska.
From the Preseason on, Suh's name has been almost universally listed in everyone's Top Five 2010 Draft Prospects. But we (well, most of us) ignored it because DT was the one position where we had some talent and depth. Can't go throwing a Top 5 pick at another D Linemen when we have so so so many other needs.
When I first watched Suh (pronounced Sue) early this season, I will admit that I wasn't seriously considering him for a Browns draft pick because of the above, and because I was under the major illusion that Cleveland would not have a Top 5 pick. So I just watched him and said to myself, "Self, that is one bad-ass mamba-jamba. Hope he goes to the NFC."
Now, as the season has rolled on and shown that this Browns team might possibly be the worst of all time and has vast and tragic need at pretty much every position, I'm more of the mind that - if you need everything - then you take the Best Player Available, period, end of story.
The problem for me to this point has been that none of the projected Top Players had really stood out to me as the Best Player Available, making this draft a crapshoot; always dangerous when you very well might be stuck with the #1 overall pick. Last Friday, with the draft on my mind, I threw together the Mock Drafts & Top Prospects of 6 recently updated Draft Websites, and here are the consensus Top 8 (in no particular order):
Eric Berry (S-TEN), Gerald McCoy (DT-OKL), Jake Locker (QB-WASH), Jimmy Clausen (QB - ND), Joe Haden (CB - FLA), Ndamukong Suh (DT - NEB), Russell Okung (OT - OKL ST), Sam Bradford (QB - OKL).
I have spent some time this season discussing the need for a Franchise QB. If you don't have one, then you need one, pronto. Unfortunately, there isn't a QB in the draft that just stands out as THE QB. Locker, Clausen, Bradford... they've all got flaws. There's no clear cut #1.
However, after that Texas-Nebraska game, there is (to me) a clear-cut Best Player Available.
A couple friends and I were watching the game in some Cleveland bar, and Suh made one of his umpteen crazy-good plays, and my buddy (who doesn't pay much attention to college football) asked me, "Who IS that guy?"
"Yes, exactly," I replied. It was loud in there.
"Suh. Domma... Undomma... his last name's Suh. He's one of the Top 5 prospects in the draft."
Another crazy-good play.
"Wow. The Browns should draft that guy!" my friend reasoned.
"I'm starting to agree," I started to agree.
Now that Suh had my full attention, I decided to do a little more research on him. My fear was that drafting him would require a conversion to the 4-3, which I'm not necessarily opposed to, but it certainly sounds messy.
However, all the draft sites I went to did not seem to feel that playing in a 3-4 would be any difficulty for Suh at all, such as this blurb from NFLDraftDog:
"He is generally quite instinctive and reads plays quickly. He makes linebacker type plays in the box, on the edges and at the sidelines and will hustle down the line and chase the ball all over. Even when fooled, he has the quickness to get back into the action. His athletic ability also lends him to shifting over at times to the edge and would make a prototype 3-4 end as well."
Every profile I read on him was glowing. Stuff like:
"Ndamukong Suh has become the best player in all of college football. The man can do things that no other can. At times, he looks like Superman swatting flies. Don't pencil him in as the #1 overall pick; put it in permanent marker and laminate it."
"Strengths: Athleticism, Size, Strength, Quickness, Burst, Hands, Versatility, Potential
"The man is simply incredible. Not a mammoth man like a Terrance Cody, Suh packs a lot of power and natural strength into his 6' 4" 305 pound frame and, frankly, college lineman are just no match for the force that is Ndamukong Suh. Possessing a fantastic burst and quickness of the snap, Suh is in your backfield before you've gotten up in the morning. He regularly beats lineman to the corner on traps and pulls, nullifying the play before it's really even started.
And just to mix things up, he simply moves you where he wants to go and tosses you aside with sheer beastly strength. His bull rush is better than that of many NFL linemen."
Now, I've read many a slobbery review on a player, only to watch them myself and wonder what the Hades the "scout" was smoking. But, I've seen this guy do these things with my own eyes, and no way in Hades has a Clausen or a Locker or a Bradford or an Okung or even a Berry impressed me nearly as much.
So, suddenly I was falling asleep to dreams of Suh and Big Baby side by side "tearing shit up" (as one of my friends is fond of saying), ripping apart opposing Offensive lines, rending flesh from bone, blood spraying the grass, severed limbs flying through the air in slow motion (I need to cut down on the red meat right before bed).
And I've now, for the first time all season, figured out for certain who I want the Browns to take, who I would take if I were the GM and the Browns had the #1 Overall pick - Ndamukong Suh.
With Suh, there's not just the vast player potential, the tantalizing idea of a Defensive Lineman that can create his own pressure, freeing up Linebackers (should we ever get any), allowing for the Safeties to double down instead of blitz or run contain. There's also the name. Obviously, there's tons of potential in that name. Suh. I can already hear the call cascading down from the stadium - "Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!"
Or you could go with Kong. Instantly, the tired old Dawg moniker would be replaced by thousands of grown men and women wearing gorilla masks. Every game would begin with a clip of Kong ripping the T-Rex's mouth open.
Or why even bother with a nickname when your given name is Ndamukong? It means "House of Spears" in Cameroon, which is bad-ass enough, but the name itself is pronounced "In-dom-uh-kon". Who the hell messes with a dude named Indomukon? That's the kind of name you give a Gladiator or Mongol Warlord. When a king challenges another king to have their best warriors duel to decide a dispute, the other king just smiles and says, "So be it. INDOMUKON!"
I can hear the Black Sabbath Iron Man remakes already... "I AM INDOMUKON!"
He snacks on nails. He once picked up Denver when he couldn't find his keys. He can kill a man just by thinking about him. Indomukon.
All right, enough of that. I sound like his damn agent or... well, we'll just stop right there.
Blurb about Holmgren in MMQB:
I think Mike Holmgren to Seattle is not quite the slam dunk we might think it is. The other day, when Tim Ruskell walked out of the Seahawks' posh new facility in suburban Renton, the most interesting -- and telling -- thing said by team CEO Tod Leiweke was, "We're not going to join them, they're going to join us.''
I believe Holmgren wants a role like Bill Parcells has in Miami -- a franchise czar sort of role. Parcells has installed a football culture in Miami. But Leiweke sounds very much like he wants to retain Jim Mora as coach (which Holmgren would also do), and find a general manager who fits in with the organization and doesn't cast a major shadow over it.
Would Holmgren, with homes in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona, be the kind of worker bee at this stage of his life to help a team in need of rebuilding at so many positions on and off the field? Seattle will have three picks in the top 45 of a very rich draft -- its own in the first and second round, and Denver's from a draft-day trade last year. The Seahawks have to plan for a new left tackle with Walter Jones on his last football legs and a new quarterback with Matt Hasselbeck not an ironman [Indomukon] anymore (though Hasselbeck certainly can give Seattle a year or two more of quality play if he can stay on the field). It's a good job, but a few weeks ago, the football world thought Holmgren would be crowned with it. Now he may well have to prove to Leiweke he deserves it.
Now, before we get all interested in Holmgren again, we should remember that it's obvious that he's a West Coast guy. Says so right where it says "homes in Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona". That's nothing like "homes in Indianapolis, Detroit, and Iowa".
Can't say I blame him. I live in Ohio now, and I'm fairly happy here, but I did spend 5 years in CA, and - no offense - I count down the days until my kids graduate so that I can move back to mountains and deserts and rocky coasts and huge-ass trees and 10 am kickoffs and Monday/Sunday night football games ending at 8:30.
So, unless there's an offer in place that's just too good to refuse, don't count on Holmgren deciding to up and spend his lightly golden years in the Midwest.
And speaking of the lack of said offer being in place... Randy Lerner, what in THE HELL are you doing?
I am not just speaking of the perceived inactivity of Mr. Lerner, who vowed to find a "serious, credible" football czar as soon as possible, then seemingly went to a spa for an extended mud bath. I am speaking of this article from Pro Football Talk:
As NFL suitors line up for the services of Charlie Weis (or, possibly, as agent Bob Lamonte tries to create the impression that NFL suitors are lining up for the services of Charlie Weis), we've caught wind of a fairly surprising rumor that the Browns could be in play to land Weis as offensive coordinator.
Our first reaction (and likely yours) was that there's no way Weis would work with coach Eric Mangini, given Weis' close relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the intense hatred (if there's a stronger word to describe the emotion than hatred, then that) between Belichick and Mangini, due to Spygate and other complications.
But, as the fairly surprising rumor goes, Weis would land in Cleveland as offensive coordinator after the termination of coach Eric Mangini. There's also another fairly surprising rumor that Weis met over the weekend with owner Randy Lerner and G.M. trainee Bernie Kosar.
There is much need for skepticism regarding this report, since PFT is the TMZ of the football world. But if Lerner has indeed had a meeting with Weis of this nature, it is so bass-ackwards that I find it difficult to not punt a brick.
Here's how this works, Randy: You hire the Football Czar. Football Czar hires the GM and the Head Coach. Head Coach hires the Offensive Coordinator.
Since when does hiring an Offensive Coordinator take precedence over hiring the Head Coach/GM/VP of Football Ops? Remember last year when GM candidates wouldn't even interview because you'd already foisted a Head Coach upon them? Did that work out well?
To answer, I'd like to paraphrase the scene from A Fish Called Wanda, where Wanda has a discussion with Otto about his methods:
Me: You set out to "make it right", then you come loping in like Rambo without a jockstrap and jumped all over Eric Mangini, ignoring everyone else, and you scared away any GM type that had any kind of credibility whatsoever! Now, was that smart? Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics? Or was it stupid?
Randy: Don't call me stupid.
Me: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn condoms with higher IQs. But you think you're competent, don't you, ape?
Randy: Apes don't run football teams.
Me: Yes they do, Randy. They just don't understand how.
I'd like to whine about how Mangini is vindictive, how it makes no sense that he made Jerome Harrison inactive a few weeks ago when Harrison is clearly one of the best playmakers on the team, how I was wrong when I thought that Mangini would be unlike Romeo and play the "best players" rather than the "old guard" or "coach's pets", how said pettiness has done nothing but hurt the team's chances of winning... but I'm going to try and keep my Mangini gripe to one topic this week.
And that would be the last 2:30 of the 1st Half. Let me paint the picture:
2:33 left in the 1st Half. Browns have the ball on their 13, down 10-7, 1 Time Out left. Quinn has been moving the ball effectively all day, and Jennings ran the ball twice for 14 yards to the 27 with about 1:55 left.
Translation - the Browns had 1:55 and a Time Out to go 40-45 yards to get into Phil Dawson FG range.
So what do they do? Piddle-jerk around, finally snapping the ball with 1:38. Incomplete pass. Short pass that wouldn't have done anything. Then, on 2nd Down, they ran the ball up the gut for nothing and then sat around, burning clock.
Why? What do you have to lose? You're 1-10. Your QB is playing well. Why are you calling colossally cowardly crap?
Then, after letting the clock seep down to 51 seconds, you dial up a pass play, whose incomplete result then stopped the clock you were so desperately trying to run out? What the HELL is wrong with you? If you're gonna try to run out the clock, then try to run out the clock and run the ball again. If you're gonna try to move down the field, then don't run and bleed the clock on the previous play.
You don't go for it, but yet you don't get the clock burning done either, so you end up punting, allowing SD enough time to drive and get a FG of their own before Half.
I can't stress how HORRIBLE that clock management/play calling was. It's crap like that that makes me question the concept that Eric Mangini is even a decent football coach.
We already know about his GM skills.
I'm not wasting my time with Braylon f-ing Edwards anymore. Doink! Long TD pass, right off the kisser. Enjoy, NY.
Last week, Quinn was about 50% quality NFL QB, 50% same-old-Quinn. Which, naturally, is better than 100% same-old-Quinn.
He seems to throw a better ball when he's on the move, especially rolling to his right. Maybe it's because he has less time to think, maybe it's that he doesn't have anyone in his face... who knows?
The first drive of the game last week was masterful. Hell, the whole 1st Half was pretty good. If Quinn can start to gain confidence and carry the success he's garnered in 2 of the last 3 games into the last quarter of the season, then maybe (huge MAYBE) we don't need to address the QB situation.
Watching the potential development of the likes of Quinn (and any other player with less than 15 starts) is really the only reason to keep going at this point.
QB-O-RAMA - Version 2010
Obviously, this will be the last chapter of QB-O-Rama, as the college season has ended. There's no reason to wait for the results of the Bowl games since the Bowl games (exhibition games) themselves don't mean a damn thang.
So, without further ado, here are the final season numbers for the potential draftees.
Sam Bradford - 39 of 69 (57%), 562 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT. Hurt for most of the season, came out a year too late.
Colt McCoy - 330 of 468 (71%), 3512 yds, 27 TD, 12 INT, 348 yds Rushing, 3 Rushing TD. Why has this big name with the flashy numbers been projected as a 2nd Rounder by many? I can't answer that, but the fact that he disappears in big games against good Defenses is somewhat disturbing.
Jake Locker - 230 of 394 (58%), 2800 yds, 21 TD, 11 INT, 388 yds Rushing, 7 Rushing TD. Despite numbers that are rather pedestrian, his sheer potential still has him as a Top 10 pick.
Jimmy Clausen - 289 of 425 (68%), 3722 yds, 28 TD, 4 INT, 3 Rushing TD. It probably means I'm shallow and stupid, but I still have trouble getting over the fact that he's another ND product. Gaudy numbers, though.
Tony Pike - 184 of 293 (63%), 2350 yds, 26 TD, 6 INT, 18 yds Rushing, 2 Rushing TD. It probably means I'm shallow and stupid, but I still have trouble getting over the fact that he looks like Derek Anderson. A lot less interceptions, though.
Dan LeFevour - 285 of 401 (71%), 3043 yds, 27 TD, 6 INT, 701 yds Rushing, 14 Rushing TD. I'll be curious to see how he does against NFL-ready talent in the Senior Bowl.
Ryan Mallet - 210 of 367 (57%), 3422 yds, 29 TD, 7 INT, 2 Rushing TD. Everyone else is including this guy in the mix, so far be it for me to protest.
Tim Tebow - 182 of 279 (65%), 2413 yds, 18 TD, 5 INT, 859 yds Rushing, 13 Rushing TD. Not great passing numbers, but he did lead the NCAA in tears.
NFL Bottom 10
Stand up and salute the scurvy scalawags of the sporting sewage!
1. Cleveland (1-11) - You win the tiebreakers for #1 overall, you get to stay in the driver's seat of the Suckmobile.
2. St. Louis (1-11) - Playing it close against Chicago gets you nowhere.
3. Tampa Bay (1-11) - At least their Offense looks like NFL quality.
4. Detroit (2-10) - Actually had a good shot at Cincy, but did the exact same thing the Browns did and betrayed themselves at every opportunity. Losing teams know how to lose.
5. Kansas City (3-9) - Hard to figure out anything with this club, other than they have a long way to go.
6. Buffalo (4-8) - Back to limp and lifeless for the Bills of Buffalo.
7. Oakland (4-8) - Go into Fixburgh, ruin the Steelers hopes and dreams... I don't know why you aren't off this list altogether. Gradkowski sure didn't look this good for us. What does that say?
8. Chicago (5-7) - An unimpressive win, to be sure. But, still, they won. I guess.
9. Washington (3-9) - One Suisham botched FG from a huge win. That's the luck of this better-than-the-record-shows team.
10. Houston (5-7) - When you lose 4 in a row, you get to join the vermin.
From Larry Doe, Naples, FL: "I'm totally convinced that Charlie Weis will make a better head coach in the NFL than in college, and I'm glad the Browns are looking at him. What do you think?"
Maybe. Who knows? All I DO know is that if Chuck Weis is the Head Coach of the Browns next year, I'm bringing bricks with me to Training Camp.
The Only-Weis-Can-Save-Quinn camp is really confusing to me. How good can a QB be if only one guy can make him competent? How bad is it if that one guy is a coach who failed at a situation a lot more advantageous than Cleveland?
The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-6). Offense - 7th, Defense - 5th.
(The Browns are 32nd in Offense and 32nd in Defense).
The stats don't say it, but the Steelers are ripe for defeat. However, no matter how much I want to pick the upset, I can't do it.
As frustrated they get, the Steelers will always have confidence in beating the Browns, their chew toys since the 70's. And no matter how confident the Browns get, they'll always be frustrated by their perceived inferiority against the Steelers.
It's mental at this point. The Steelers don't think they can lose to the Browns, and the Browns don't think they can beat the Steelers.
Steelers 21, Browns 16.
Take heart, Browns fans. At least you're not one of the towel-toting toothless masses, the bandwagon scourge of the sporting world... the Fixburgh Fan.