In his triumphant return to the huddle, Colt McCoy's play was one of the few bright spots in the Brown's latest defeat, the other bright spots being Terrell Owens not playing, and the fact that I got to watch the game at all.
For that I have to thank (or blame, depending on how you look at it) Amazon.com's prime membership that allowed me to ship the rest of my Christmas shopping to my house by Wednesday, therefore saving me a trip to (shudder) the mall. Instead I got to sit in front of my TV and attempt the superhuman feat of not yelling anything that could get me in a lot of trouble if my son should repeat it when he sees grandma and grandpa today.
The Browns defense was faced with an almost impossible decision yesterday on how to defend the juggernaut Bengal's offense. Given a choice of either not tackling Cedric Benson, or not covering any receivers, the Browns played it safe and decided to do both. They must have done both because I have no idea how to explain Bengals receivers running wide open 15 yards downfield and at the same time allowing Benson 5 yards on every rush before even touching him. And, this was all being done without even the hint of a pass rush. It's quite impressive, actually.
If Carson Palmer went against this Brown's defense every week he very well might convince people that he is, in fact, Carson Palmer and not the reanimated corpse of Rusty Lisch. The Bengal QB turned his back on the only thing he's been doing well this season, throwing interceptions, and may have cost his team Andrew Luck in the process.
There are only a few ways to explain this unexplainable defensive performance. The first explanation is that Rob Ryan and Eric Mangini game planned to not allow one particular Bengal player to beat them, and that player was punter Kevin Huber. If that was the plan, they damn near pulled it off because Huber didn't see the field for the first 56 minutes of the game. (Except when he was holding for field goals, but you know what I mean). I can't help but wonder if the Browns wouldn't have forced the Bengals into that late punt, and instead kept the Bengals offense on the field, if that would have provided the extra time needed for the pick 6 that we all know Palmer was dying to throw. I guess we'll never know.
The only other explanation I can come up with for the Brown's defensive performance it that we played with only 9 guys on that side of the ball in an attempt to intimidate the Bengals with our clear physical superiority. Kind of like when my older brother used to beat me up with one hand in his pocket. Someone else is going to have to go back and check the tape, because I might become physically ill if I have to watch The Browns not tackling Cedric Benson one more time.
Either way, it was a terrible performance, resulting in barely over 20 minutes of possession for Colt and The Browns. For those Brown's fans down in southern Ohio who didn't get to see the game due to the blackout, I can explain it best by saying the defense looked almost as bad as John St. Claire, who's continued existence in a Brown's uniform can only be explained with a bet between Randolph and Mortimer Duke.
For those of you who promised to review the game tape for me to tell me how many players were on the field, I need you to check one more thing. Whenever you can, scan the sidelines for Clarence Beaks.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Browns
Next week, the Browns head back to the safe confines of Cleveland Browns Stadium to face off against the Baltimore Ravens, in a game that may be important in determining Mangini's fate as head coach. This is unfortunate because, despite the last 2 ugly losses, I'm squarely in the "don't fire Mangini" camp. I think the team has already shown enough progress this season to warrant another. I realize that I'm probably in a quickly dwindling minority at this point.
However, I'm a realist and I do understand that wins do matter, and the Browns don't have enough of them. If Holmgren is looking for justification to make a coaching change, he probably already has it. I wouldn't be surprised if Mike already has his mind made up about what he wants to do. But a win in the next two weeks against either one of our biggest rivals, the Ravens or Steelers, can only help Mangini's cause. I also realize that what I think doesn't make a damn bit of difference. I can only hope that what Tony Grossi thinks doesn't make a damn bit of difference either.
The Ravens will be coming to town riding a big win over the New Orleans Saints that leaves them tied with Pittsburgh for the AFC Central lead. Not only will the Central Champ be determined, but possibly the second playoff seed and a first round bye. So, any notion that the next 2 weeks would provide an opportunity for the Browns to sneak past a team that's head is already in the playoffs is pretty much out the window. The Ravens are going to bring it, and bring it hard. And they are going to use Ray Rice to do it.
Ravens backs have a history of success against the Browns, and Ray is coming off a week where he gained 233 yards from scrimmage by himself. He pretty much single handedly beat the Saints. With the Browns giving up enormous chunks of yardage to a guy looking forward to his next boat party, a focused Ray Rice on a team fighting for its playoff seed is not a good combination to a Browns team limping toward the finish line.
With Peyton Hillis falling back to earth in the last 2 weeks and going up against a defense that yields less than 100 yards on the ground, the game will be put in the hands of Colt McCoy. And that's OK by me. Colt and his hopeful ascension to "QB Of The Future" is the most riveting storyline for the Browns in recent memory. It's must see TV, no matter what the Brown's record is. It's exciting and I wouldn't miss a single play.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Cavs
The incredible self restraint I showed during the Browns game was also on display Wednesday night in Souff Beach. I'm ashamed to say that my emotions got the best of me once. Lebron drove to the basket and was fouled for the and one. He came down and strutted around the baseline with fists in the air flexing his muscles, as if getting to the rim on this Cavs team is a major accomplishment. Seeing it, I went a little bananas. I unleashed a short, but direct torrent of colorfully hateful profanity that I'm pretty sure re-lit the pilot light on the gas fireplace on the other side of the room.
My wife, to her credit, let it slide. Partly because she didn't want the kid to see the things I said, the awful things I said, get a reaction; and partly because she's been bugging me to light that pilot (the whole thing takes about 20 seconds and I just hadn't found the time to squeeze it in yet). Thankfully, the kid repeated nothing. But, it's just another example of how LeBron is narcissistic jerk who could care less that he's causing little boys to hear things that they should not hear until their friends teach them in middle school.
The Cavs lost the game and Clevelanders city wide rejoiced that it wasn't an embarrassing beatdown like the one the Heat delivered when they came to town a few weeks ago and debacled us. Three days later the Cavs mercifully ended their 10 game losing streak by getting past the Knicks in OT. That ends last week a better than expected 1-2 and brings their season record to 8-19, right in line with their ability.
The Cavs have 3 games in the coming week.
Tonight (Monday Dec 20) at home against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are 19-9 and coming off a win Saturday against the Bucks. They are clearly better than the Cavs, but then again, so were the Knicks. Utah has been alternating wins and losses the entire month and is heading into the 3rd game of a 4 game roadie. I'm predicting a glorious upset that will set up this Cavs team to finish the week as the only Cleveland team not to go winless. And that includes the Tribe. Mark it dudes.
Wednesday Dec 22 in Atlanta. After a sizzling start, the Hawks have come back to earth. They've pretty much been playing .500 ball for the last month and a half, while still paying Joe Johnson the max for his 17/4/5 line. That's OK, though, because if I'm not mistaken that contract runs out in 5 short years...after this one. Hey, at least he's not almost 30 already or anything. Joe Jackson's contract aside, the Hawks are still a better team than the Cavs. And playing on the road following their (potentially) glorious win over the Jazz, I think the Cavs will be in line for a let down.
Sunday Dec 26 at home against the Minnesota Timebrwolves. The Timberwolves are 6-22 despite having a roster with WAY more talent than the Cavs. Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders in the league. Michael Beasley is scoring over 20 a game. Darko Milicic has quietly become a legitimate NBA player. It has been suggested by a very knowledgeable NBA analyst (yours truly) that the Cavs inability to trade for Jonny Flynn is the number one reason LeBron left. And Kosta Koufos continues to be really really tall and named Kosta. These are just a few of the things the Cavs will be up against. However, 6 wins is 6 wins, so obviously something is missing.
The smart money will be on the Cavs ending the week with a 1-2 record. My money says they are finishing up with a winning weekly record for possibly the last time all season.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Tribe
Hide the women and children. The Tribe have busted out of the winter meetings on a free agent rampage. Following the huge signings of infielder Jack Hannahan and catcher Paul Phillips, Mark Antonetti continues to make over the Indians with the signings of Adam Everett and something called Toru Murata. So far, out of all the free agent signings the Tribe have made, none of them have been to major league contracts.
This is officially the most depressing offseason in the history of the world. And, Nick Punto remains a possibility.
I would be remiss not to note the passing of the greatest right hander in the history of the game, Bob Feller. There's nothing I could write that would hold up to the work of writers like Pauly C or Joe Posnanski. I can only give my thanks to a man who defined Cleveland baseball to multiple generations of fans, and defined it well.
An awkward Glance Ahead At TV
Kung Pow: Enter The Fist - Friday 12/24 4:40 AM Cinemax
This is not a recommendation for all of you. This isn't even a recommendation for most of you. Kung Pow is quite possibly the most ridiculously stupid movie ever made, and I absolutely love it. The creator and star of the film, Steve Oedekerk plays the hero of the film doing battle with evil kung fu enthusiast Master Pain, also known as Betty. Steve takes himself and a few other actors and splices new footage into a 1970's Kung Fu flick. The result is quite possibly the funniest/stupidest thing I've ever seen.
I would venture to say that if 10 of you DVR this ridiculous thing, 9 of you will think it's a really bad, unfunny movie. You will curse my name and vow your revenge. But, the other one of you will find it sidesplittingly funny and immediately try to make all of your friends watch it.
So yes, I'm absolutely willing to throw 90% of you under the bus for the remaining 10%. DVR this thing. A few of you won't regret it. The rest of you don't know where I live so stick it.
Actor In My Movie
One of the newest members of the cast (he isn't dead like Jack Elam anyway), I remembered T.J. the other day when he popped up in She's Out Of My League (with another possible cast member Jay Baruchel), a surprisingly funny movie. You might remember him as the guy doing most of the filming in Cloverfield. I liked Cloverfield, but that role most definitely did not land him a part in my project.
No, T.J. gets a place in front of my camera thanks to his turn as Marmaduke Brooker in the (really bad) sitcom Carpoolers from a few years ago. Nobody watched it (except me). It didn't deserve to be watched truthfully. But I kept tuning in to see this really really goofy kid who turned out to be T.J. Cracked me up every week.
T.J. has been in a handful of things more recently so you may recognize him in those. I haven't seen any of those new things. I have a feeling he's going t be popping up more and more.
He's just such a weirdo.
Youtube Clip Of The Week
Legend Bob Feller
Happy Festivus everyone!