Never before have I been so conflicted watching the Browns play.
On one hand, they are playing the detestable, odious Pittstown Steelers, being cheered on by a fell rabble of dish towel-wavers. I am powerless to ever root in my team's best interest when the Steelers are involved, my hatred for them and everything about them is too immense. So the Browns are teetering on the edge of a huge upset, and my soul wants it in the worst way, no matter the consequences of a mostly meaningless win.
On the other hand, draft position is vital this year, perhaps like never before. You see, I am hoping against hope that the Powers Who Kind Of Be (you'll have to convince me that Holmgren is even in the state) will select the Super Awesome Franchise QB Of Badass-ness this year, and they'll probably need to be in the Top 5 to do it. My brain tells me a win all but knocks them out of that Top 5 range, and the 10 days of joy the victory would bring would not make up for the Lost Years ahead if we maintain QB Status Quo.
What to do, what to do? The duality of man and what not. Embrace the light, embrace the dark.
I decided that the best case scenario would be for the Browns to play them tough, lose in the end, but knock POS out for the season, thus ending the threat of any Postseason Steeler success. And I would've gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling kids.
POS, after having his leg bent in two near the end of the 1st Half, had a bionic ankle attached at Halftime and returned (thanks to about 17 percocet), destroying my evil plan to have him 86'd for the year (for now). But the offensive ineptitude of the Browns - a thing that cannot be underestimated - secured the second part of my manifesto. They floundered, Colt McCoy got knocked the F out then somehow re-inserted a few plays later (to my general incredulity) and threw a dizzy pick in the end zone to kill Cleveland's threat to take the lead with only about 3.5 minutes left in the game.
For good measure, Antonio Brown made Joe Haden look like a massive tool (maybe a giant fork) on a 79 yard TD 2 plays later, and Pittstown once again stuck a Haden in the Browns.
4-9. Boat's takin' on water fast, cap'n.
Time of Possession: CLE - 32:18, PIT - 27:42
Total Yards: PIT - 416, CLE - 304
Yards Passing: PIT - 269, CLE - 206
Yards Rushing: PIT - 147, CLE - 98
First Downs: PIT - 20, CLE - 19
Turnovers Forced: CLE - 3, PIT - 2
Sacks: PIT - 3, CLE - 2
Final Score: Bandwagon Fan Haven 14, Cleveland 3
Laud the Defense if you will - they allowed over 400 yards of Offense again and gave up about 150 yards to a poor rushing team. Not only that, they allowed a clearly hobbled POS enough time to actually be effective. When they saw him come into the game all gimpy, Dick Jauron should've unleased Hell on the guy. Guess Dick don't know Hell.
Pittsburgh had plenty of long drives. Red zone drives ended in fumbles twice and a goal line stand on a third. Those easily could've been cashed in for points to put the Browns away long before they did.
Another stat that I saw that really underlines the Offensive problems is this: Pittstown - 53 plays, 416 yards, 7.85 yards per play. Cleveland - 69 plays, 304 yards, 4.4 yards per play.
Rather impressive that the Browns were able to hang in it as long as they did with a 3.5 yard per play disparity.
Phil Taylor - For hitting POS in the head. Let 'im know you're there, Phil.
Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering - For turning POS into a pretzel and almost ending his day. Let 'im know you're there, boys.
Chris Gocong - I don't know who that dude wearing Gocong's number was during that 4th Quarter Goal Line Stand, stuffing the running plays left and right, but he was awesome. Feel free to invite him to take over more plays for you.
Carlton Mitchell - He got his name mentioned in a real live NFL broadcast!
D'Qwell Jackson - 13 tackles, a sack, and integral on Kaluka Maiava's forced fumble.
Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock - Mainly because they're not Jon Gruden or Cris Collinsworth.
Sheldon Brown - Congrats on successfully re-naming the Wall of Shame.
Montario Hardesty - Maybe he'll come back next year bigger, stronger, faster, less lame. Maybe an offseason without injury will galvanize his running style. Good Tebow, I hope so - 2nd Round RB's are supposed to be Starters, and this guy ain't a Starter right now.
The Giant Fork - That was real good Defense on Antonio Brown, there, Joe. Your team was still in the game... and then they were not. Take a bow.
Alex Smith - For getting embarrassingly blown up on his blocking attempt on 3rd and Goal in the 1st Quarter. Needless to say, the run did not succeed.
Greglon Littlewards - Get some stick-um, bro. Fun-tack, chewing gum, half-dried snot, I don't care. Catch the damn ball.
Paddy O'Shurmur - You might be the first to receive a Year-End Sheldon.
Regarding The Concussed
When James Harrison launched himself into Colt McCoy's facemask, you just knew Colt would be "seeing stars", which is, of course, dandy-talk for a phenomenon the medical experts call concussion symptoms. Watching replay after replay in super slo-mo, it was hard to fathom how his "bell" was not "rung".
I don't know exactly what Colt told the Trainers. Players have been schooled in this day in age what to say to beat the tests. They know perfectly well they just suffered a concussion, but they want to go back out there so they'll say whatever needs to be said to facilitate that.
However, in this instance, after that shot, it's hard to fathom how the Trainers were placated after only a few moments on the sidelines. how they felt that Colt was OK to go back in, even if he wasn't necessarily demonstrating concussion symptoms right then and there. A helmet-to-helmet hit like that, you test the guy more thoroughly.
So, yeah, I blame the medical personnel for allowing him to go back in the game.
I do not, however, blame Pat Shurmur.
I don't know what kind of angle Shurmur had of the hit. He didn't get to watch it 17 times in slo-mo like we did. What I do know is that it was late in the game and he was calling plays and paying attention to what was happening on the field and Colt came up to him and said he was ready to go and obviously the Trainers had given him the green light so he must be OK ("It's my understanding that the medical staff looked at him"). No time to sit him down for a nice long chat to gauge his wherewithal - you need that TD to possibly win the game and your starting QB gives you the best chance to achieve said TD.
I'd guess almost all the Coaches in the NFL would do the same.
I get that you hate Shurmur and would love to pin anything and everything wrong on the guy because... well... he pisses you off. I be not a fan neither. But, objectively, this fiasco goes on the Medical Staff.
And on Papa McCoy.
Regarding Papa McCoy
Brad McCoy, father of Colt McCoy, was the first to reveal the extent of Colt's ailment, running to the Plain Dealer with quotes such as these:
"I talked to Colt this morning and he said 'dad, I don't know what happened'."
"I certainly didn't think he'd be out only a play. It would've taken my high school trainer longer than that to determine if he was okay after a hit like that."
"Josh Cribbs suffered a groin injury earlier in the game and he was out for the rest of the game. Colt takes a severe hit like that and he's back in the game a play later?"
"After the game, the (public relations staff) made sure Colt's interview was brief and he couldn't face the lights in his press conference. The TV lights and the Stadium lights were killing him. Why would you say he was fine? That makes it even worse."
"He never should've gone back in the game. He was basically out after the hit. You could tell by the ridigity of his body as he was laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his hand."
Because you were right there on the field with him, right Brad?
Right or wrong... Papa, just Shut The F*** Up.
Papa McCoy is a High School football coach, which makes him just knowledgeable enough to think people care about his opinion. He (directly or indirectly) whined in the book Growing Up Colt this summer about the way Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll were mean to his son. Now he's whining publicly about his son's injuries and how they are/aren't treated.
Yeah, I understand that you're concerned for your son's well-being, but these are concerns you take to the Cleveland Browns, not make your boy look like a sissy that needs daddy to come out and tell the mean bullies to stop picking on him.
You sound like the Browns held a gun to his head and forced him back onto the field against his will, rather than Colt telling them he was good to go.
Your son is a grown man and a professional athlete - he can fight his own battles. What are you gaining by going to the press with this? What are you gaining by getting your son's team in trouble? What are you gaining by causing further public controversy for said team?
And why would Colt let you go public?
There are few things on this planet more annoying than meddlesome moms and dads. Hell, if I were Heckert, I'd think about axing Colt just to get rid of Brad.
Then I'd write a book about it called Cutting Colt.
Regarding James Harrison
Sub-human Pittstown LB James Harrison has been suspended one game by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy, and it is a totally warranted punishment. That hit is clearly against the rules, and if you try to tell me that he couldn't have prevented the head shot you are either an apologist or not very bright (probably both).
There's a reason that these incidents keep happening to Harrison, and that reason is that he does it on purpose.
He's even admitted as much. After the head shot last year that put Josh Cribbs out of the game, Harrison said:
"That ends the wildcat. It's out the window. That's his thing."
"I'm not opposed to hurting anybody. There's a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game."
Plainly, Harrison's mission is to incapacitate the enemy, thereby rendering that weapon useless. It's a very practical approach. However, since this is blatantly against the rules and he continues to do it anyway, he is unquestionably a dirty player who deserves his fines/punishments. Period.
The Steelers have that mentality. Harrison isn't the only one. There are plenty of dirty players on that team.
I wish we had more dirty players.
Because if someone on the Browns put that hit on POS, I'd be mailing a check to help pay their fine right now. Take POS out. Put him in a body bag. He can't hurt you if he's busy pushing daisies.
They are the enemy. There are no friends on the opposing team while the game is being played. Harrison understands that.
"When it's us vs. them, all friendships are off until the game is over."
The Steelers get it. You think the Browns do?
That's a rhetorical question.
Regarding The Complete Lack of Leadership on This Stinkin' Team
James Harrison blatantly head-shots Colt McCoy, and no one on the Browns does a damn thing. They just stand around with their fingers in their sphincters, maybe waving for a Trainer. No one gets in Harrison's face. No one is screaming and yelling about what just happened.
They're afraid to.
This team has been a giant metaphorical vagina since its re-inception. I've said a million times that they lose 90% of these games against Pittstown and Baltimore before they even take the field. They are intimidated, and they have absolutely no leadership in place to scream at them and tell them to re-attach their testicles.
These are professional football players. They are all big, strong, violent men. There's no reason that one group should be afraid of the other.
The Ravens... the Steelers... these teams have vocal leaders in the locker room that demand effort and accountability and unity. These teams have respected Coaches that won't tolerate being pushed around by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Since the Browns have returned, who has been their vocal leader? Who has been their respected Coach?
Chris Palmer was a lifetime ago. The players didn't like Butch Davis - he played favorites and had clubhouse spies. Romeo Crennel was too soft to get the players' attention, and Eric Mangini divided the locker room with his inconsistent treatment.
And now you've got Paddy O'Shurmur, who seems such a bungling dolt that it seems impossible that anyone would give him even a portion of the respect that a Head Coach in the NFL should command. The players probably listen to him stumble his way through instructions and start crossing off days on their mental calendar until they can get the hell out of this joke of an organization.
This team needs a strong leader so bad they can taste it, more potent than licking a rusty nail dipped in cat piss.
Shurmur is not that guy. Try again, Holmgren. Do it yourself, if you have to. I don't care if the guy has experience, I don't care if the guy is brand new... just get us a Coach in here that can finally instill some freakin' leadership.
Regarding Draft Positioning
This week, Indy (0-13) holds steady at #1, MIN and STL (2-11) look strong for picks 2 & 3, leaving 6 teams tied at 4-9 (JAX, MIA, WAS, CAR, TB, and, of course, CLE) vying for those 4 through 9 slots. If the draft were today, Cleveland would own the #6 pick. But that's not high enough for my comfort.
Let's assume the Browns lose out (safe assumption, if you ask me). Can they count on the other 4-9'ers to win a game and solidify that #4 slot?
Jacksonville - at Atlanta, at Tennessee, Indy. Well, that last one looks pretty good. Let's give them a 5-11 record.
Miami - at Buffalo, at New England, NY Jets. The Fins are playing pretty well right now, and I wouldn't be surprised if they win 2 of these games. I'll give them 1 for sure and another 5-11.
Washington - at NY Giants, Minnesota, at Philly. That Vikings game stands out as one they should win (although it's entirely possible they don't). I give them a shaky 5-11.
Carolina - at Houston, Tampa, at New Orleans. They wouldn't take a QB anyway, but I'd rather be ahead of them just for trade-sake. Definitely give them a win vs. TB. 5-11.
Tampa Bay - Dallas, at Carolina, at Atlanta. I don't see a win there. This team is a mess. I doubt they'd take a QB, but they're another trade-down danger. A 4-12 with the Browns, but no head-to-head tiebreaker, and the Browns' current Strength of Schedule (.497) is lower than Tampa's (.550). That could change, though... Cleveland's 3 remaining opponents have 26 wins, Tampa's have 19.
That puts my Likely-Ometer at the Browns picking at #5. You lose out and still only move up one spot. Holy Tebow, there are some bad teams out there.
Barring trades (very dangerous this year), Cleveland will have to wait while Indy takes Andrew Luck, St. Louis takes Justin Blackmon (WR - OK State), Minnesota takes Matt Kalil (T - USC), and Tampa takes Morris Claiborne (CB - LSU).
That leaves RG3 for the Browns.
Whether they take him or not is highly debatable. Whether they should is even more so. But when Cleveland goes on the clock in April, I want them to at least have the OPPORTUNITY.
PS - Mr. Heckert, the second the season ends, I want you to start proclaiming loudly to anyone will listen that you are happy with Colt McCoy and that you have absolutely no intention of taking a QB. Say it again and again so that the gullible believe, and maybe Those Who Might Trade Up do too.
***Owen Marecic received his 2nd concussion of the year on Thursday (as if concussions are presents). It is not good when your Fullback starts becoming concussion-prone. It's not like Fullbacks aren't slamming into people like every play. If this trend continues, the concussion train will be whisking Owen away to some humid Florida retirement community at a disappointingly early age.
***In the pre-game telecast on the NFL Network, Deion Sanders was asked why Josh Cribbs hadn't been as effective the last 2 years as he was in '09, and Deion said something about the players around Cribbs not being as good.
So that 2009 team was supremely talented, was it Deion? That team that started 1-11? The one with the 2nd Round picks that are already ringing Salvation Army bells outside of K-Mart? That's the talented team?
I think maybe, juuuuust maybe, Cribbs' lack of production has to do with him being hurt all of last year and hampered by a lesser Special Teams coach and the kickoff rule this year.
But that would've required some research, and these ARE the Browns. Not enough people pay attention to them to make bothering to know what you're talking about worth it.
***Speaking of that, Jordan Norwood looked pretty good filling in for Cribbs on Punt Returns. A little slippery-er, a little more explosive. Perhaps it's time to make a change. But that would probably piss off Josh, and Paddy ain't gonna do anything that makes people mad.
***If the Browns were blessed with Tebow-Fortune (winning all close games at the end by a combination of elevated play and the other team choking), it might be reasoned that they could've won both Cincy games, the Rams game, the Raiders game, and the Steelers game. Instead of 4-9, they would be 9-4.
This is not to say they are good or deserve to be anywhere near 9-4, especially since they could've lost 3 of their wins. It does, however, show you just how fine the line is between Suck and Playoff Contender.
***I don't think I'm crazy when I say that Chris Ogbannaya is the best RB on the team right now.
***A CBS Sportsline article had a source that estimated that if the NFL adhered to truly removing every player that had any concussion symptoms from the game, that 20% to 40% of all players would be sidelined by the end of each contest. That's a crazy amount that would change football as we know it. It might kill football as we know it.
The solution doesn't lie in removing the concussed, it lies in preventing the concussion. Someone in sports technology can make themselves a millionaire.
My theory is to surround the outside of helmets with padding, maybe a 2 inch layer of foam. Take two helmets, bang them together and feel the product of that impact. Now take two Nerf balls and bang them together with equal force.
Feels a bit different, doesn't it?
Maybe the challenge of sports technology is not to find an answer, but to make the answer look cool.
***We Suck, But Not As Much As Tim Tebow went down in ignominious defeat on Sunday. The initial error was made in the last second benching of Shonn Greene (24 points), but a 4th Quarter Tebow-like comeback was still possible with the RB I benched Greene for, Hakeem Nicks, and Dan Bailey yet to play and only down 40.
That RB was DeMarco Murray, who got hurt early on an innocent play and was out for the season.
You could shoot POS in the head with a bazooka and he would still find a way to play, but Murray gets looked at the wrong way (technically, tackled) and breaks his ankle.
Even the Power of the Tebow wasn't enough to save me at that juncture.
***Speaking of the Chosen One, I came to bed the other night singing a song I made up - "We Could Be Tebows", to the tune of David Bowie's "Heroes" - and my wife gave me a stare of great dislike. When I asked her why, she informed me that not only does she dislike Tim Tebow (heathen), but she also dislikes David Bowie.
So I told her that she would certainly not enjoy attending a concert by David Tebowie, Tim Tebow's stage name where he sings all the hits of David Bowie with alternative Christian lyrics.
The bed was very cold that night. Sometimes she is just humorless.
Arizona Cardinals (6-7).
Arizona is one of those teams (like the Browns) that has been a laughing stock so long that people look at them on the schedule and chalk them up as a win.
Ask Dallas and San Fran how that worked out for them.
The Cards, winners of 3 in a row and 5 of 6, are playing tough right now. The Defense is swarming, the running game is dangerous with Beanie Wells, and either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton have the capability of making big plays every once in a while. Not to mention Patrick Peterson is almost Devin Hester-deadly on punt returns.
The Browns will likely be starting their backup QB as Concussed Colt is Definitely Doubtful. But Seneca Wallace isn't a huge step down from Colt (it will actually be quite interesting to see how he does, what that says about McCoy, and how the Excuse Army spins it), so I don't see that as the difference in this game.
The fact that - right now, Colt or no Colt - Arizona is just a better team is the difference.
Browns - 29th in Rush Offense, 31st in Rush Defense. Can't run, can't stop the run. Sound familiar?
Start Beanie in your fantasy leagues, kids.
Cardinals 28, Browns 16.