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Today in Cleveland Sports History
No birthdays today
1987: Browns defeat Jets 23-20 in double-overtime AFC Divisional Playoff
Quote of the Day
"I've been riding the bike and that's all I've been doing. But riding the bike and basketball are two different things. It's just like going to a regular beach and going to a nude beach. It's two different things."
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With wins in each of their past three games, the Browns are one more season ending win against the Jaguars away from their longest winning streak of the expansion era. The team is playing smart, hard, and focused for coach Eric Mangini as he ironically awaits his fate from new team President Mike Holmgren next week. The Jags, who started 6-2, find themselves at 7-8 and needing a win over the Browns and all kinds of help to find a way into the playoffs as an AFC wildcard team. Jesse Lamovsky takes a look at the season finale for our readers in his preview of Browns vs. Jaguars.
Here's an item from the Didn't See This Coming Department, at least as it was established some two months ago. When the Browns were in a midst of a seven-game losing streak, was anyone worried about the long-term prospects of any player not named Josh Cribbs or Joe Thomas? Isn't it funny what a few wins will do for a fanbase? After nearly a month of winning football, the fates of a few more Browns contributors may hang in the balance in the next weeks and months...or maybe not at all. Dave takes a look at the fate of some potential Browns free agents to be in this weekend wrapup.
Today we bring to you the first installment of what is going to be a sweeping and comprehensive review of the best and the worst of Cleveland Browns football in 2009. And any true analysis of Cleveland Browns football in 2009 has to start with what began as ripe controversy and finished as one of the more benign topics of discussion in Berea. Of course, the annual quarterback soap opera we can't seem to get away from in this town. So today, Dave looks back at the drama, breaks down the play of Brady and DA this year, and looks into his crystal ball regarding the future of both of the team's signal callers.
If unscientific polls have any validity, then the Cleveland Browns' hiring of Mike Holmgren as their next president is an overwhelmingly popular move in Cleveland. So much so, in fact, that it's actually hard to find any detractors, even among those still supporting head coach Eric Mangini. In Gary's latest, he says that the hire of Holmgren officially makes the hire of Mangini as the latest franchise savior the latest in a series of bad hires for the Browns owner. And at the best, leaves Lerner's hand picked coach from 11 months ago teetering on the brink of unemployment.
The final year of the first decade of the 21st Century was, once again, devoid of world championships for Cleveland's teams. But even without trophies or rings, there was still plenty to remember from the sports year 2009 in Cleveland. From the good (anything involving LeBron James or Josh Cribbs) to the bad (another Tribe fire sale) to the ugly (Braylon Edwards slugging a friend of LeBron's, then getting traded) it was another eventful sports year on the North Coast. Erik Cassano has been counting down the top ten biggest Cleveland sports stories of 2009, and today, brings us his #2 moment.
It's been a rough go of things for Randy Lerner as the Browns owner ever since he took over the reigns of the team after his father Al passed away. In Gary Benz's latest, he says this has a lot to do with the fact that Randy has been in over his head from day one. But with the hire of new President Mike Holmgren now official, Gary says Lerner has finally taken his first real step towards putting together a successful organization to overcome his weakness. Gary thinks this is a great first step. But that it's not enough. And that the next steps will be even harder.
Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed in film for years, but has been out of our collective consciousness since probably 1979 with Christopher Plummer playing the famed sleuth in "Murder by Decree". So director Guy Ritchie had an almost blank slate to work with when it comes to the movie-going public, at least, in updating the 19th century detective to appeal to 21st century audiences. So how would Ritchie deal with an iconic character that is at least familiar to most, and beloved by many? Mitch tells us in his latest movie review here at The Cleveland Fan.
As Charlie Frye broke the Oakland huddle yesterday afternoon, a feeling somewhat unknown swept across Browns Nation - confidence. Our suddenly "peaking" Browns have now won three straight games, a number that is relatively astronomical, at least compared to the dark days of months past. And beyond the wins, the spirit of inspired, passionate football that has permeated the month of December is beyond measure. Who saw this coming five weeks ago? Dave Kolonich checks in this morning to give us his thoughts on the Browns third straight win, yesterday's 23-9 home victory over the Raiders.
In a game that served mostly as a series of reminders and what ifs, the Cleveland Browns beat a mistake-prone Oakland Raiders team 23-9. It was a reminder of one quarterback, Charlie Frye, sent packing two years ago, and another quarterback, Derek Anderson, sent to the bench several games ago. In the end, neither was much of the story, although Frye's 3 interceptions kept the Raiders from getting back into the game late. The victory was the Browns' 3rd straight in a season filled with mostly high drama and low execution, but where this all leads with Mike Holmgren coming aboard is anyone's guess. Gary talks about the game in his latest.
The history of the NFL is rife with legendary quarterback duels. From the Sonny Jurgenson-Don Meredith shootouts of the Ď60s to the Dan Marino-Ken O'Brien bombardments of the Ď80s to the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning donnybrooks of the present, we've been treated to field generals raising their game, spurred on by the challenge of greatness. This naturally brings us to the newest in the annals of the great quarterback duels: Derek Anderson versus Charlie Frye. Jesse Lamovsky previews tomorrow's Browns/Raiders tilt.
This time last year, the Browns were starting the likes of Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski at QB, with Syndric Steptoe and a barely upright Jamal Lewis in the backfield. The team energy was non-existent, coach Romeo Crennel's consistent mix of stoicism and cluelessness seemed to permeate through the locker room and Phil Savage was busy planning his next Alabama scouting trip and sending juvenile email replies to Bills fans. While this season got off to a disatrous start, progress has been made as of late, both on the field and in the front office. Dave Kolonich talks about it.
Not only have the Browns won two games in row, but this latest win over the Chiefs had some serious historical significance, as Jerome Harrison broke Jim Brown's single game franchise rushing record, and Josh Cribbs set the NFL record for most kick returns by one player. In this week's holiday Outsider, Chris hits on the win, talks about the looming Holmgren Era, theorizes on what the Holmgren front office will look like, gives us his thoughts on who will be coaching the team next season, and talks about a potential switch back to the 4-3 and the ongoing George Kokinis soap opera.
Successful poker players may lose many small pots and still be totally happy, for their goal is to win the occasional big ones. The same thinking comes naturally in football. When the "Browns are in a fourth down, "moving all in", in the meaning of going for it, is worthwhile only if the odds for success are good enough. In most other cases, itís probably wiser to just "fold" the hand, as in punting the ball away. In the same way, winning or losing a single yard means nothing as long as they manage to get a first down.
When Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini looks under his Christmas tree this year, the present he'd like most but probably won't see is the one from new club president Mike Holmgren with a card inside telling him that he's being retained for the remainder of his contract. If you want early insight into why Holmgren likely plans no such gift just look to Randy Lerner. Specifically, look to the reasoning behind why Lerner brought in Holmgren. Gary Benz talks about it in his latest column.
Whether it qualifies as irony or just bad timing is hard to say. But on the day that the Cleveland Browns announced the hiring of Mike Holmgren to be their president of football operations came word that former general manager George Kokinis has filed for arbitration over his on-going dispute with the Browns. The two events couldn't represent the schizophrenic nature of this franchise any more accurately. Gary Benz talks about it in his latest piece for us ...
Mike Holmgren is coming to town. Monday, after nearly a week of meetings and suspense, he accepted the role of Browns team president. If you want a team czar with football chops, a guy who has won everywhere he's gone, a guy who was a leader -- not a support staffer -- on a Super Bowl winner, Holmgren is your man. That's good news. But that's not the best news. The best news is who Holmgren is slated to replace as team president. No, not Mike Keenan. He's the team's main business operations guy, and will transition to the role of chief financial officer. I'm talking about Randy Lerner.
The Cleveland Browns, ensconced in a season of historically bizarre proportions, have finally given their fans a reason to celebrate the holiday season and it has nothing to do with refunds. Randy Lerner, apparently tiring of all the complaining his indifferent tenure has brought about, finally got something right. He said he would bring a serious, credible leader in to run his football operations and he's done just that in the hiring of Mike Holmgren as the club's president, according to reports. The formal introduction of Holmgren is expected to occur next week. Gary Benz gives us his thoughts on the hire.
And so it goes being a Browns fan. As Jerome Harrison and Josh Cribbs set records yesterday and the Browns won their second straight game - in a most entertaining fashion against an inferior opponent - the joy that Dave Kolonich should have experienced was replaced by a dark image of the future - one that is predicated on the past: Mike Holmgren just may become the team's President, GM and Head Coach. Dave talks about the exciting win in KC yesterday, and also looks ahead to a Holmgren future here in Cleveland in his latest column for us.
If I told you before Sunday's game that Brady Quinn would go 10/17 for 66 yards, no TDs, two interceptions and a passer rating of 27.7, and that the defense would give up 500 yards, what kind of odds would you have given me on a Browns 41-34 win? Because that's exactly what went down in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. All it took was perhaps two of the greatest individual performances ever by Cleveland players. And once again, Browns fans have a reason to go to sleep smiling on Sunday night.
With nothing to play for but their future, the Cleveland Browns beat the Kansas Chiefs 41-34 on the back of historic performances by running back Jerome Harrison and kick returner Josh Cribbs. Harrison, buried on the bench for most of the season, ran for 286 yards and 3 touchdowns and now holds the team's single game rushing record. Cribbs ran back two more kick returns for touchdowns, giving him 8 for his career and placing him atop the NFL's all-time list in that category. Despite the historic performances, the Browns had to survive a late scare to secure the win. Gary talks about it all in his latest.
He might not have had a whole lot to do with the Browns' 13-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers two Thursday nights ago, but Brady Quinn now gets a prominent spot in the annals of the rivalry. His 48.1 quarterback rating will soon be forgotten as we bask in the glory of a victory over the Steelers --- the first in six years and the first in Cleveland in nearly a decade. There have been some great starting quarterbacks in the 50-plus years of Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh. And there have been some real dogs, guys whose mothers barely even remember that they started a Browns/Steelers game. Which list will Brady Quinn join? While pondering that, consider this Top 10 list of the Most Irrelevant Starting Quarterbacks in the history of the Browns/Steelers rivalry.
How will this football team handle its sudden prosperity? The Browns got their biggest win in a long time last week when they knocked off Pittsburgh, their first home win over the Steelers since 2000. They have a golden opportunity for their first winning streak of any length since 2007 when they meet up with the Chiefs, who are having a miserable season under first-year head coach Todd Haley. Kansas City is bad- 30th in the NFL in both total offense and total defense, 28th in points scored, 29th in points allowed. This is a game we can and should win. Jesse previews it for us.
Now that's what Chris Hutchison calls a psychological enema. He's watched the Browns/Steelers game five times in its entirety already. And taunted young children in Steelers gear this week. In The Browns Outsider, Chris looks back at the win, talks about its significance, and hands out gameballs. He talks about Mike Holmgren as the potential "czar", Josh Cribbs as a potential running back, and Eric Mangini's future with the team. Chris also continues his weekly look ahead to the NFL Draft, and the names likely to be in the mix for the Browns now that they are unlikely to have the #1 overall selection.
Maybe it was the rum balls. Gary Benz went to the office Christmas party the other night and while he generally refrains from sampling most of what people try to pass off as holiday treats, someone said "you just have to try Jill's rum balls." Which he did. Several hours later, he awoke in a cold sweat after an incredibly vivid dream. There Gary was, inside the Browns' Berea complex, attending head coach Eric Mangini's Wednesday press conference. A very entertaining read from Mr. Benz ...
As of this late morning, the Browns are still officially "czar-less". After an overnight affair in which our continental owner wined and dined his latest offseason love affair, Mike Holmgren, the former Seahawk boss left Berea with little more than fanciful visions of an alleged eight million dollar a year contract and perhaps some good intentions. Not to mention some serious leverage heading into the coming days and weeks of NFL front office free agency. In Dave's latest, he talks Holmgren, and also hits on some news surrounding a couple of former Browns.
The reaction from Cleveland Browns fans over last week's victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been interesting, to say the least. It may be, as Josh Cribbs said after the win, that it erases the memory of all that's come before it. Gary Benz calls it the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Cleveland Browns Mind. Is the win proof that Eric Mangini's "process" is working? Or has the emotional victory over our hated rivals tricked fans into forgetting completely about the things that were driving them insane just a few short weeks ago? Gary gives us his thoughts.
The newest speculation (rumor? infotainment?) making the media rounds is that ex-Seahawk GM Tim Ruskell could become a candidate for Randy Lerner's newly created "czar" position in Cleveland. Whether or not this story, originally "reported" by the PD's Tony Grossi, citing an unnamed "NFL Insider", has any legitimacy is unclear. But that's not going to stop Dave Kolonich from thinking and talking about it, which he does in his latest column for us.
On Thursday, the Browns won. They likely did most or all of the above -- deprive themselves of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, secure Mangini as the coach at the outset of next season, possibly cause Lerner to hold off on hiring a general manager, and made the fans hope, however so slightly, that maybe some faint pulses of light are filtering through the fog that has entrapped this franchise for way too long. Against 30 other teams, it would have been a meaningless win that did exactly what the evidence says it did -- more harm than good. But this wasn't the other 30 teams. This was the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As this Browns season has worn on and head coach Eric Mangini has become more embattled, he's been increasingly vocal about pleading his case for more time. Does one victory against the Steelers doesn't in and of itself, make that case? Or is it simply a much needed but ultimately meaningless reprieve of the pressure that's been mounting against the Browns first year head coach? Gary gives us his thoughts on the matter in his latest column for us.
Not since the days of Tim Couch and Butch Davis have we been able to celebrate a Browns win over the Steelers. And despite our current 2-11 record and the always tenuous fate of our franchise leader(s) heading into the offseason, let's at least enjoy this one for what it was...which was simply a dominating defensive performance over a hated rival, at home, in a game that the Steelers desperately needed to win. Dave Kolonich offers up his morning after analysis of last night's glorious victory.
The Cleveland Browns, their season long since over, brought a little company along for the rest of the ride into the offseason, stunning and embarrassing the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night, 13-6. The loss effectively put an end to the Steelers' playoff hopes, which was the real icing on the cake of a very cold evening. The win also stopped the Browns own 7-game losing steak and 12-game losing streak to the Steelers. Though the offense did enough to win, it was an inspired defense that confused Ben Roethlisberger all night while sacking him 8 times. Gary tells us about it in his latest.