Monday, December 31, 2007

Browns Win Tenth, Miss Playoffs


Close only counts in horseshoes, as they say, and the horseshoe on the Indianapolis Colts' helmet was anything but lucky for the Cleveland Browns. The Colts rested all of their starters and a lot of their back-ups, losing to 16-10 to the Tennessee Titans giving the Titans the sixth and final playoff berth in the AFC. A ten win season without the playoffs is an NFL rarity but unfortunately that is the Browns fate in 2007.

In the end, a win in one of any of the gut retching last minute losses to Oakland, Pittsburgh, Arizona or Cincinnati would have not only given the Browns a layoff berth but also the AFC North Title, which would have been their first since winning the AFC Central in 1989. The Browns came close, but end up on the outside looking in. Regardless it was an amazing season that all Cleveland fans should be proud of as it may be the step the Browns need to finally leap up into the level of contender.

The Browns held off and beat down the San Francisco 49ers, 20-7, to notch win #10 in a meaningless game but played with aggressiveness and passion as they have throughout the year. The defense continued to show improvement, even against the lowly 49ers and 4th string QB Chris Weinke, with the 49ers mounting only 1 serious threat the entire game.

On offense Jamal Lewis continued to be a workhorse, showing that he just may have been the Browns offensive MVP this season. Derek Anderson was effective, but continued his late season slump, and concluded a great season in which he lead the browns to a 10-5 record in games he started. Braylon Edwars and Phil Dawson set franchise offensive records in receiving and kicking, respectively, and Josh Cribbs continued to shine with a 76 yard punt return touchdown to start the scoring.

The Browns only major free agent is Jamal Lewis and signs of an impending deal are apparent. The Brady Quinn versus Derek Anderson debate will start-up almost immediately but after watching some of the QB play in the league (I'm looking at you Jim Sorgi) it is a nice luxury to have. Other than that the Browns appear set on offense and can focus on developing depth on the line and skill positions. The special teams are solid, if not exceptional, as I fully expect a bounce back year from Dave Zastudil in 2008. The defense showed signs of improvement late, but still needs an influx of young talent in the Front 7 as the defensive backfield seems to be set for years to come.

The best year since the Browns resurrection in 1999 and the most fun to watch since the late 1980's. The end may have been bittersweet but the journey was an incredible ride. The Browns restored some pride to the City of Cleveland and have given the fan base hope for years to come. After the the perception of the team in the pre-season and after Week 1 no one could have seen that coming. For the first time in a long time the Browns are the face of Cleveland and that's the way it should be.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Finish Strong


Despite the bad taste still in our mouths over the gag job in Cincinnati that may ultimately cost the Browns a spot in the NFL Playoffs, the Browns still have a chance to do a lot of this season that no one thought they would.

A win against San Francisco would give them a ten win season for the first time since 1994. Anyone would thought the Browns would win 10 games this year is a liar (or mentally insane). I had them pegged for 5, most experts had them a 4 and Vegas had the over/under line at 6.

They also have a chance to go 7-1 at home. The Browns have never won 7 games at home in a single season. Never ever. In their history never. After the performances at Cleveland Browns Stadium since the rebirth in 1999, the fact that the stadium, fans and Dawg Pound are once again assets to the team in a complete turnaround. Football on the shores of Lake Erie in fun again. The tailgates are a happy place for the first time in a long, long time.

The development of some of the key players is leaps and bounds over previous years. The rookie class has been tremendous. Joe Thomas is already a Pro Bowl caliber player. Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald look to be the pieces needed to fix the decrepit secondary of last season. And Brady Quinn's performances in pre-season and practice have the Browns in the good kind of QB controversy... two quality QB to choose from, not two scrubs.

The younger veterans have come along nicely as well. Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow grew up and their play started to show it. Sean Jones and Brodney Pool struggled early on but came on at the end of the season. Despite the forgettable game in Cincinnati, Derek Anderson solidified what has been a volatile position since the Browns returned and even before they left. He has proved to be an NFL caliber quarterback despite his inconsistencies.

Older veterans bounced back as well in 2007. Phil Dawson showed last year's poor season was just a fluke. Jamal Lewis ran hard, hungry and showed he still may have a couple of years left on his tires. Andra Davis had a couple of big games at the end of the season. And who would have thought the simple move of Ryan Tucker to RG and The Human Parking Cone, Kevin Shaffer, to RT would pay huge dividends.

So despite the heartburn last week in Cincinnati, this has still been an incredible season. The games have been exciting, the Browns have been competitive and more importantly they have been winning. A win would finish 2007 strong and set the foundation for 2008. The team, town and people would be able to end 2007 on a high note and in a happy mood. And who knows, with a little help, we all may be rewards with a couple more games in early 2008.

Go Brows! Go Colts!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Cleveland Christmas List

A Cleveland sports fan's Christmas list...

For THE Ohio State University football program:

A competitive BCS Championship Game capped off with a Buckeye victory.
A silencing of the SEC propaganda machine.
Another great recruiting class for Coach Sweater Vest.
A trip to New York for Beanie Wells.
That Rich Rodiriguez's rivalry game struggles at WVU carry over to up north.

For the Cleveland Cavaliers:

A way to dump the awful contracts of Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, et al.
Some legitimate play making help for LeBron James and Boobie Gibson.
Another late season run reminiscent of the 2006-2007 season and playoffs.
That LeBron rises up and stays here forever.

For the Cleveland Indians:

A power bat for one of the corner outfield spots.
An affordable contract extension for C. C. Sabathia.
The rebirth of Pronk.
That Grady, Frankie G and the As Man continue to amaze with their gloves (and bats).
That Victor Martinez remains the heart of this team for a long time.
That the heat gets turned off of Eric Wedge for a while.
Another amazing season in 2008 where the Tribe proves their team is greater than the sum of its parts, complete with revenge on the Massholes.

For the Cleveland Browns:

Sort Term
A win over San Fran, a Brady Quinn appearance and a Colts win over the Titans.
A spot in the postseason versus the Appalachian Inbreds and a win over them.

Long Term
Another great draft and free agent class in 2008.
Some effective defensive linemen.
A new deal for Jamal Lewis.
A long term resolution of the QB situation.
Continued development of the juggernaut offense of Rob Chudzinski.
Continued health and lack of injuries for the team.
Consecutive winning seasons for the first time since the 80's.
That Cleveland Browns stadium continues to be a happy place on Sunday afternoons.. or maybe even Monday Night.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Changing the Perception


The best thing about the Cleveland Browns 2007 season was that the Browns were starting to change others' perceptions about them. With the NFL Draft in April, Phil Savage made people believe that they actually had someone in charge that knew what they were doing in netting not only OT Joe Thomas but also QB Brady Quinn. His knowledge was questioned again after the Opening Weekend performance and subsequent trade of starting QB Charlie Frye. Once again Savage proved his doubters wrong as that trade changed the direction of the Browns' season.


Many were calling for Romeo Crennel's head after a 4-12 campaign in 2006, but the big guy has led his troops to a 9-6 record. He has even shown some fire on the sidelines and some warmth and comic relief in his interviews. His coaching staff has resurrected an offense that has been dormant since 1994, with Rob Chudzinski paving the way with his aggressive, attacking offense. The Browns actually became a scary team for NFL teams to line-up against.

Jamal Lewis proved he still has some gas left in the tank after being jettisoned by Baltimore. Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards proved they could shut up and make plays after a season of being malcontents. Phil Dawson proved he is one of the game's clutch kickers after a bad effort in 2006. Ryan Tucker and Kevin Shaffer proved that maybe their are not as bad as they looked last year and a position change is all they needed. Derek Anderson proved he could be an effective (yet inconsistent) NFL quarterback after a disastrous 2007 pre-season.

But the one thing that the Browns failed to do again on Sunday is change the perception that a Cleveland sports team can not come through and win a big game when needed. Only the Cavs came close by beating the Pistons in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals but they were then routed in the NBA Finals. The Indians failed to put the nail into the Boston Red Sox' coffin in both Game 5 and Game 7 of the ALCS. And the Browns failed to prove they are finally back to NFL significance but beating a woeful Bengals team to secure the first playoff birth since 2002.

Cleveland has seen Jim Chones' broken foot, Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Rick Mahorn's mauling of Mark Price, The Move, Jose Mesa and The Stop Sign. But other cities have had to overcome as well. It took them 86 years but Boston finally overcame 1918. Bill Cowher and the hated Steelers overcame choke jobs in 5 AFC Championship Games. The White Sox put the Black Sox to rest.

Someday the Browns, Indians and Cavs will put their demons to rest. Hopefully sooner than later. Because that is the only way to change the outsiders perception of Cleveland from The Mistake By the Lake to Believeland. And that is what a die hard Cleveland sports fan wants more than anything else.

I beleive in Cleveland. It's about time Cleveland made everyone beleive too.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Brown Coal for Christmas


This one hurts worse than the 41-0 debacle versus the Steelers back in 2005. Much, much worse. In that one, the Browns were a crappy team with nothing to play for who no showed the game and had no heart. Today, the Browns were a far superior team with everything to play for and did everything to ruin Christmas for the Cleveland faithful.

That big, brown piece of coal in your stocking isn't coal. It's the 19-14 sh*t the Browns took today in Cincinnati against the hapless Bengals. All the Browns had to do is win and they were in the playoffs and they despite the score they didn't come close. It effectively renders the Week 17 game versus San Francisco meaningless as the only way the Browns can make the playoffs now is if the Tennessee Titans lose to the Colts in Indianapolis next week. The Browns game is irrelevant. The Colts are firmly entrenched in the #2 spot (no pun intended) in the AFC and will be resting starters left and right.

People will say the Browns stopped running Jamal Lewis too soon. They will say the Browns gave up 130 rushing yards to a back-up running back. They will the defense broke on the two late Bengal TD drives in the second quarter. They will say the bobbled snap on a potential field goal attempt in the first quarter set the morbid tone for the Browns. They will say the Browns looked flat out of the gate and looked tight the entire game. All valid points. But the reason the Browns were never really in this game came down to poor quarterback play, plain and simple.

Derek Anderson threw 4 interceptions last Christmas Eve at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He followed it up with 4 more today, and it may have cost the Browns a shot at the playoffs. All 4 interceptions were awful and that is being kind. All 4 interceptions were absolute drive, momentum and energy killers. The first pick was an attempt to force a ball to Braylon Edwards that was thrown right to the Bengals and returned to the Browns 5. The Bengals scored on the next play. Anderson's next pass was also a force to Edwards, with Kellen Winslow wide open underneath, that was returned to the Browns 30. A few plays later a 6-0 game was 19-0 and effectively over. How long did it take? 1:05. The longest 1:05 on the Browns season so far.

But the defense held in the second half and the offense started to drive. First and Goal, Bengals 9. Anderson forced a ball to Winslow in the corner of the endzone. He was covered by 3 Bengals. The pass bounded off the ugliest helmet in football and into a defenders arms. Drive killed. Then in the middle of the fourth quarter, with the Browns running the no-huddle effectively, the reached the Benglas red zone again and again Anderson threw a poor pass on an out route to Winslow that was picked for interception #4. 14 points left on the field, 13 given to the Bengals at the end of the first half. The Browns weren't going to overcome those numbers.

Yet, they still had a chance in the end, recovering a fumble on their own 20, trailing 19-14, with two timeouts, and just under 2 minutes left. But as effective as the no-huddle was earlier, the 2 minute version was atrocious. Tons of crossing routes, no attempt to get to the sidelines and embarrassing use of timeouts and the lack of spiking the ball to kill the clock, letting precious seconds off the clock. Anderson missed an open Winslow with no time remaining to seal the deal and break Cleveland's collective heart for Christmas.

Now us Browns fans must suffer through another meaningless Week 17 game on the lake front and then wait nervously until an 8 PM kick-off between the Titans and Colts to discover our destiny. But for now we can wonder how the Browns no showed for the biggest game of the season. Wonder how they handed the Steelers the AFC North Division crown. Wonder how they let a dysfunctional, selfish team like the Bengals show them up when they had nothing to play for. And wonder why they always seem to give us coal in our stockings for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No Bungle in the Jungle

Win and they're in. That's all the Browns have to do. Win and they're in the playoffs.

This is a trap game. Everyone has already pointed that out. The Browns have to go on the road where they don't play well. The weather is supposed to be cold and rainy which will neutralize the Browns powerful offense. The Bengals will be jacked up to ruin the Browns' playoff hopes just like the Browns did to them a few years ago. The Bengals are a divisional foe and extra familiar with the Browns. The Bengals O always gives the Browns trouble.

I don't give a sh*t.

This team has a lot to play for. Lose and they have to look for help to get into the playoffs. They still have a shot at a division championship. They finally have two Pro Bowlers in Josh Cribbs and Braylon Edwards... but should have had more. They are garnering attention from the national media but the national media still doesn't believe.

I expect the Browns to come into this game pissed off. Despite more than doubling their win total from last year they have received little or no credit from a lot of pundits. Kellen Winslow and Joe Thomas were left off that Pro Bowl roster despite being more deserving that some of the players at their position that were selected. Eric Steinbach and Derek Anderson are first alternates but maybe they want to make some of their peers doubt their vote. Jamal Lewis is at a point where the more yards he gains the higher his incentive bonuses go. Braylon Edwards is on the cusp of breaking all of the Browns' single season receiving records. The defense has been playing better in recent weeks and wants to show the world that it isn't a fluke. These guys are still hungry. You could see it in their eyes and play in the snow. The WANTED to be there. They WANTED that game. They WANT the win in Cincinnati more than the Bengals.

Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson and TJ Housmanzadeh are banged up. The Bengal offensive line has been in shambles since Eric Stienbach defects to Cleveland. Leigh Bodden is looking for retribution on Ocho Cinco. The Bengals are hurting and a huge disappointment. Still dangerous but teetering on packing it in. I expect the driven Browns to come out firing and but the Bengals out of their misery early and often. The Browns are a better and driven team. The Bengals are a rudderless ship in the night.

The Browns have pride in themselves, their team and their town. Why?

BECAUSE THEY DON'T LIVE IN CINCINNATI, THEY LIVE IN CLEVELAND!

BELIEVELAND

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One Great Snow Job

This one turned out a little better than the Indians Home Opener. The Browns battled the elements and battered the Buffalo Bills on their way to a 8-0 victory. The win puts the Browns at 9-5, tied with the Steelers who lost to Jacksonville 29-22, atop the AFC North. The victory eliminates the Bills, Broncos and Texans from playoff contention. The Titans did not cooperate, beating the Chiefs, but the Browns still control their own destiny and a win at Cincinnati next week puts the Browns in the playoffs.

The Browns were aggressive from the first snap, balancing the passing game with the rushing attack, something the Bills were unable to do all day. Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius made some clutch, and in Edwards' case amazing, catches to keep the Bills defense honest as the Browns rode Jamal Lewis to the 8-0 victory. Lewis rumbled for 163 yards, many of them rough, punishing runs that zapped the life out of Buffalo.

The special teams also shined bright with Dave Zastudil and the punt coverage team, minus one 7 yard punt and a Buffalo fake punt, kept the Bills pinned back in their own end for the majority of the game. The Browns also benefited from a safety after the Buffalo long snapper snapped it over punter Brian Moorman's head. Moorman kicked the ball out of the endzone and into the stands for 2 points. But not enough can be said for the job done by Phil Dawson. Two incredible field goals in horrendous conditions. One a 35 yard slice job that he aimed right and let the wind blow back through the uprights and an amazing 49 yard line-drive bomb that barely got 10 feet in the air but made it over the crossbar and hit the centrifuge to give the Browns the 8-0 lead and ultimately, the victory.

The snow provided the perfect opportunity for the much maligned defense a chance to pitch a shutout. Andre Davis reeked havoc in the Bills backfield all day and the Browns sold out to stop the duo of Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. It was obvious from the start that the Bills did not want anything to do with the passing game. The Browns D still gave up their fair share of yards but each and every time they needed to hold and that's what matters. They gave up 0 points and even it a blizzard, that's tough to do.

So it's off to Cincinnati with the playoffs on the line. Who would of thunk it??? Nine wins. Who would have thunk it??? A division title still a remote possibility. Who would of thunk it???

Only one place... BELIEVELAND!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Brown Sunday

The Browns are facing the Bizzaro Browns this Sunday on the shores of Lake Erie. Why are the Buffalo Bills the Bizzaro Browns? The Browns over the past few weeks (and most of the season) have played teams which they are far superior to talent wise yet struggle to eek out victory after victory. The Bills on paper have very few talented players but play hard and stay in every game. They stand at 7-6, but are a few missed field goals away from 10-3. A win for the Browns puts them in the driver's seat for they play-offs and eliminates the Bills hopes for the post season.

Rookie RB Marshawn Lynch returns from injury this week and if not for Adrian Peterson, he would be the rookie talk of the league. Well, him and Joe Thomas. Lynch appears to be a complete back, equipped with both power and speed, but it remains to be seen how he win react after being out for a few games. Another rookie, QB Trent Edwards, doesn't do anything flashy, but minimizes turnover and runs an efficient game. But the Bills still rank 28th in total offense and average on 173 yards per game passing. But add in the Browns porous secondary and you never know what can happen.

The Bills defense is nothing to write home about either, ranking a meager 30th in the NFL but still two better than the Browns 32nd ranked unit. They give up over 250 yards a game via the pass, a weakness the Browns are hoping to exploit. They don't force opponents to punt much, but when they do, look out for stellar PR Roscoe Parrish, who averages over 17 yards a return.

The formula for the Browns is simple. Take advantage of the the Bills porous pass defense, build a lead and then have Jamal Lewis pound the Bills into submission. This is the formula all good teams use. The Bills CBs are all under 6' tall, something than Braylon and Joe J should exploit. The Bills don't have much of a pass rush and with the way the O-Line has been playing I expect they won't have one on Sunday either. The Browns desperately need to get Kellen Winslow back involved in the game as he has been way to quiet over the past two games. The burden one again falls on DA to make some big plays when they are there, take what the defense gives him when they are not and to eliminate turnovers from the equation. It's been a while since he has been able to do all three in the same game.

On Defense the Browns need to continue to build on their performances over the past few weeks. Keep generating a pass rush, confuse Trent Edwards into rushing his decisions and force some key turnovers. The defense is improving, but it still is a liability and does not have the talent to dominate the game. Todd Grantham needs to keep being aggressive, mixing in some blitzes while disguising coverages to take advantage of the rookie QB. Eric Wright should be back this week so he and the other DBs should be focused on neutralizing WR Lee Evans while lending run support to the LBs. If the D can create enough havoc, they Browns may be able to exploit the Bills below average offense.

This isn't a big game. This isn't a must win. This is a statement game. The Browns have tiptoed, eeked, stolen, stumbled and lucked their way into more than a few victories this year. Most of them over inferior opponents that they struggled to put away. The Browns have yet to truly manhandle an inferior team all year. That time has come. The day is Sunday. The place is Cleveland, Ohio. The recipient is the Buffalo Bills. It's time for the Cleveland Browns to lay the smackdown and make a statement. The statement that they are for real and they are here to stay. I'm not looking for a Black Sunday. I'm looking for a Brown Sunday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BCS BS


If there ever was a year that proves that the BCS is a crock of sh*t, 2007 is it. With only 1 Division I, er sorry, Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) undefeated team in Hawaii, two 1-loss teams in Ohio State and Kansas, and a plethora of two loss teams, no two teams distinguished themselves above and beyond the others. With the inordinate number of losses by Top 5 teams to unranked teams it becomes increasingly frustrating to accept the NCAA's unwillingness to scrap the current bowl system and go to a tournament format that they use in Divisions I-AA (er, Football Championship Subdivision, FCS), II and III when parity in the FBS is blatantly obvious.

The excuses of missed classes, difficult travel and the uncertainty of locations are invalid as all the other Divisions deal with it. And these are the smaller schools who actually have student athletes and stricter academic requirements. The excuse of the lesser teams losing out on post-season action are also invalid as the lower Divisions also have single game Bowl Games. Keep the lower level Bowl Games, they are entertaining and a nice reward for the student athletes who sacrifice their time and effort. The excuse of the loss of money to the schools generated by the loss of Bowl Games is also ridiculous as the hype and excitement generated by a playoff should match that of the Bowl System. And if people don't think it would be exciting, please see the FCS this season as 8-3 Delaware, who finished the season 3rd in Division of its Conference, has gotten hot and is playing in the FCS Championship Game. Or better yet, see March Madness.

Forget the talk of a 4, 8 or 12 team playoff field, let's stick with a 16 team model like the FCS. Just for reference Division II has a 24 team field and Division III has a 32 team field. The first round would be played on the higher seeded team's field with the incorporation of the higher Bowls for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. To keep it fair to all the Conferences that aren't "BCS worthy", let's include all 11 FBS Divisions, just like March Madness. All Conference Champions get an automatic bid to the tournament. The other 5 "at-large" teams would be chosen by a Selection Committee, just like in March Madness and in the lower Football Divisions. But, let's put in a rule that you can not have more than 2 teams from any 1 conference to be fair to all Conferences. The Selection Committee would then seed the 16 teams just like in the March Madness.

In this demonstration we will use the final 2007 BCS rankings to select the 5 at-large teams and to determine the seeding.

So based on the 2007 Final BCS Standings you would have:
#1 Ohio State (Big Ten)
#2 LSU (SEC)
#3 Virginia Tech (ACC)
#4 Oklahoma (Big 12)
#5 Georgia (At-Large)
#6 Missouri (At-Large)
#7 USC (PAC 10)
#8 West Virgina (Big East)
#9 Hawaii (WAC)
#10 Arizona State (At-Large)
#11 Illinois (At-Large)
#12 Boston College (At-Large)
#13 BYU (Mountain West)
#14 UCF (Conference USA)
#15 Central Michigan (MAC)
#16 Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt)

Kansas and Florida lose out despite being higher in the BCS Standings because they would be the 3rd team from their conference in the tournament. This is just a rule I am making out of preference, not a necessity.

So the first round of the bracket would look as follows:

#16 Florida Atlantic @ #1 Ohio State
#9 Hawaii @ #8 West Virginia

#12 Boston College @ #5 Georgia
#14 UCF @ #3 Virginia Tech

#11 Illinois @ #6 Missouri
#13 BYU @ #4 Oklahona

#10 Arizona State @ #7 USC
#15 Central Michigan @ #2 LSU

With the exception of the 1-16 and 2-15 games all are compelling games. This has to be better that what we have now. For the following rounds you would use the following bowls with the Championship game rotating between the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls as it does now. You can even rotate the second tier Bowls in the Quarterfinals each year.

Quarterfinals: Citrus (Cap One), Cotton, Orange, Peach (Chic-Fil-A)
Semifinals: Fiesta, Rose
Finals: Sugar

Would be travel be a little bit of a pain in the butt, yes, but college football arguably has a larger following than the NFL. But these games would attract a sizable crowd regardless where held. Fans and alumni would come. This would produce plenty of money to be SHARED with all the school and all the conferences. It seems like a simple solution to a simple problem.

Unless greed and money gets in the way... just like it is now.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Control of Their Own Destiny


They never make it easy but the Browns topped the New York Jets at the Meadowlands, 24-18, to improve to 8-5 on the 2007 season. That win combined with the Tennessee Titans' loss to San Diego puts the Browns in sole possession of the final playoff spot in the AFC. It also puts the Browns in control of their own destiny. If they win out over the last 3 games of the season, they will secure their first playoff birth since 2002. One more victory also ensures them of their first winning season since 2002, a proposition that looked grim after Opening weekend. At worst the Browns are assured of a non-losing season at 8-8... (insert Carnegie Mellon Football joke here).

The difference in this game was Jamal Lewis. Looking healthy and hungry, J-Lew once again ran with authority and power as he physically wore down the Jets Defense. His 31 yard run at the end of the 4th Quarter, where he broke a minimum 5 tackles, helped close a game that looked in great peril after it appeared the Browns Defense was going to break at the end of the game one more time. The offensive line manhandled the Jets while piling up 152 yards rushing, at a 5.2 yard per carry clip, and yielded no sacks again. Oh yes, and no false starts in an away game. Well played Joe T, Steiny, Fat Hank, Tuck and HPC. Well played, indeed.

Derek Anderson was solid, yet unspectacular, as he suffered another dumb 1st Quarter interception and started slowly, again. The Browns did not score until 1:15 left in the 2nd Quarter due to a number of stalled drives and missed opportunities. Also disconcerting was that once it started to rain in the 4th Quarter Anderson seemed to have trouble making a play and looked bad on a critical drive where the Browns needed to run time off the clock. Anderson went 0-2 with 2 bad throws and the Browns went 3 and Out and let the Jets back into the game. But a win is a win and DA did throw 2 perfect balls on TD passes to Jamal Lewis and Braylon Edwards.

The Defense did a great job, for their standards, overall on the day but once again faded down the stretch to keep things interesting. They tallied 4 sacks on the day, including a sack/forced fumble combo by Kamerion Wimbley and a cameo by West Texas A&M's own Chaun Thompson. Brandon McDonald played another solid game and added an interception. At this point of the season he looks much better than Daven Holly, who gave up a number of key catches on the day. Sean Jones made a key play picking off a pass in the endzone after Anderson's 1st Quarter interception to prevent New York from getting on the board first. The Jets were only 2-12 on 3rd Down and 2-2 on 4th down, including a couple of obvious QB sneaks that the Browns Defense should have been prepared for. Overall the Jets actually out gained the Browns 387-337.

Some other good nuggets... Only 4 Browns penalties for 29 yards. Phil Dawson muscling up to drill a 49 yard field goal. The appearance of Josh Cribbs both in the passing and running game. Good use of Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison in order to keep Jamal Lewis fresh. Steve Heiden finally seeing a few balls thrown his way. D'Qwell Jackson with double digit tackles once again. Leon Williams with 1 1/2 sacks. The Browns special teams neutralizing dangerous KR Leon Washington.

Some things to improve on... Joe J and K2 both with key drops. Daven Holly leading with 11 tackles, which tells you just how rough his day was. Two touchbacks on punt by Dave Zastudil. Bad punt coverage by the Browns special teams. The continued infatuation with Lawrence Vickers on 3rd Down, although they did convert both times. Kellen Winslow being silent most of the game.

So the Browns come home to face the 7-6 Buffalo Bills. It is basically an elimination game for the Bills. If the Browns win they have a 2 game advantage over Buffalo with 2 games to play and the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Bills are surging behind rookie QB Trent Edwards who has developed a bond with WR Lee Evans. Rookie stud RB Marshawn Lynch has been injured but may be back for the Bills. If he is look out. The Bills have played a ton of close games this season, just like the Browns, but have come up on the short end of the stick most of the time. So I fully expect another heart stopper. But the game is at home and the Browns have thrived there in 2007 winning 5 in a row. Meaningful football in Cleveland in December... it's been a while. It's great to have it back.

Go Browns!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

No Show in Arizona


In what was their worst performance of the year since the Opening Weekend debacle, the Browns fell to the lowly Arizona Cardinals, 27-21, to fall to 7-5 on the 2007 campaign. It was Christmas come early for the Cardinals as the Browns basically handed them the game from the opening series and were unable to overcome their numerous mistakes over the course of the game.

Overall, the Browns committed 4 turnover, 3 by Derek Anderson, which handed the ball to Arizona deep in Browns territory and gave they 21 points with minimal effort. The turnover fest started on the opening series as the Browns were driving into Cardinals territory were Anderson threw a gift Pick 6 TD to Roderick Hood. On the subsequent possession, DA fumbled the snap deep in Browns territory and Arizona cashed in again to make it 14-0 after 2 series. A second DA interception was rendered moot by the defense by a costly fumble on a punt return by Josh Cribbs handed the Cardinals the ball deep in the Browns end again and the Cards cashed it in for their 3rd TD off a turnover in the game.

Penalties also killed the Browns as many of them were via the stupid variety. DA was called for pass interference on the first play of the game. Leign Bodden got flagged for a personal foul for playfully kicking the football after stopping the Cardinals on 3rd down. Sean Jones got called for a Horse Collar and Brodney Pool got called on a late hit on different scoring drives. Simon Frasier was called for a personal foul on the last kick return of the game that cost the Browns 15 yards they sorely needed. Overall the Brownies were tagged for 10 penalties for 77 yards.

The Browns never looked interested or got into a groove throughout the game. DA had a great stat line but was forcing the ball into bad spots especially early in the game. He made a number of bad decisions and poor throws that he is capable of making. The defense was handed very bad situations for 21 of the 27 points but the penalties killed them. They got no pressure (and no QB sacks) on an aging Kurt Warner playing behind a below average NFL offensive line. Edgerrin James ran for 114 yards when he hadn't cracked 80 in the last 4 games. The Browns were outplayed on special teams as Arizona successfully kept the ball out of Josh Cribbs' hands by pooch kicking all afternoon while the Browns gave up quite a few big returns to Steve Breaston.

Very disappointing as Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Jamal Lewis all came to play big time today. Lewis looked rejuvenated again as he pounded and ran his way through the Arizona D all day. Edwards made a ton of big catches especially on 3rd down and looked focused and determined. And Kellen Winslow was simply Kellen Winslow making plays for the Browns time and time again, nearly stealing a win for the Browns on the final play of the game when he caught a pass in the end zone but was ruled out of bounds rather than forced out by the Side Judge.

It was obvious the Browns were the better more talented team throughout the day, they just could not get out of their own way long enough to make something happen. A huge step back for the team after an impressive victory over the Texans last week. Now they must travel to Jersey for another 4:15 game against the improving Jets, who beat up on win less Miami today, 40-13. The Jets, despite their 3-9 record are improving and have weapons in Kellen Clemens, Thomas Jones and Laverneus Coles. The Browns have learned to win at home, now they must learn to win on the road if they want to be a serious playoff contender. The Jets are a team that the Browns are superior to and should beat... but so were the Arizona Cardinals.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Do it!

The Texans game was amazing. The fans, the atmosphere, the pride. All missing for a long, long time from the shores of Lake Erie. The Browns, despite being a little out of sync in the first half, rallied in the second and provided a beat down in the second half.

The D is starting to step up. The O is still delivering 30 points a game. The Browns have won 5 out of 6 games. Now they face a two game road trip starting with a trip to the desert.

Arizona is banged up. Their D is missing two of three starters in the D backfield. They don't get a ton of pass rush. Kurt Warner is still nursing a strained elbow. Larry Fitzgerald is nursing a sore hammy.

But this still is a dangerous game. The Browns historically are poor in West Coast games (see: Raiders game, Week 3). Eric Wright is still out and the Cards have a very dangerous compliment of receivers even if Larry Fitzgerald doesn't play. It's a featured late 4:15 game and the attention level paid to the Browns continues to grow, as does the pressure.

The Browns are a superior team to Arizona in almost all facets. All they have to do is shake off the distractions and prove it. Just do it, boys, just do it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reversal of Fortune?


Phil Dawson said it best after the game, the Cleveland Browns have been waiting for 9 years to get a call and they finally did. The no good field goal that was good after hitting the left upright and then hitting the arched post that supports the goal posts before bouncing back out in front of the goal posts allowed the Browns to survive a truly awful performance and somehow escape Baltimore with a 33-30 OT win. That win puts them at 6-4 a game behind Pittsburgh who no showed and lost versus the putrid New York Jets. It was a game that the Browns have become habitually good at losing on a consistent basis, but no matter how ugly it was they won and that all that matters. It was a stunning reversal of fortune that could hopefully spring the Browns onto a path of relevance and send the hated Ravens into a long period of suck-i-tude.

The Browns were not good today. DA and Braylon look completely off today, making mental mistakes and not making many plays when needed. Braylon had a fumble which DA threw a perfect pass right to Ray Ray Lewis for a Pick 6. The O disappeared in the second half for the second game in a row. The Browns had penalty problems, especially on the offensive line, resulting in a 1st and 30 at one point. Phil Dawson missed an easy 35 yard field goal early in the game and Ryan Pontbriand had his first bad snap I can remember on a botched FG attempt. The D allowed an awful Ravens offense and Kyle Boller to come back from a 13 point deficit. But somehow the Browns overcame it and won.

There were some positives. Jamal Lewis looked like he still had a pep in his step playing against his old team. Jason Wright again had more success as a nice change of pace back. K2 continues to make big catches when needed. Sean Jones looked like the playmaker he was last year and Brodney Pool finally stepped up when he was needed. Robaire Smith provided the Browns with a pass rush they have sorely needed. Mike Adams and Brandon McDonald stepped up after Eric Wright left early with a sprained knee. Josh Cribbs continues to amaze on kick and punt returns and even forced a fumble on kick coverage. Phil Dawson shook of an early shank to give the Browns the win. Romeo Crennel even won a replay challenge.

The Browns have 6 games to go against the opponents with the weakest remaining schedule in the NFL (lowest combined winning percentage of opponents). Who would have thought the Week 11 meeting with the Texans would have playoff implications? The Browns have plenty of problems that need fixing but they finally have returned to national prominence. When is the last time they were on the front page of ESPN.com or NFL.com? They are a constant topic on all the major pre and post game shows. That hasn't been the case since left were stolen in 1995. They may very well be the feel good story of the NFL. They seem to have some karma on their side for the first time in years with a fateful bounce. Let's see if the can turn that karma into a serious playoff push and reverse the fortunes of a once proud franchise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bounce Back

Wipe off the stink from the loss to Pittspuke it's off to Balti-whore for a date with the Ravens and their imperial leader, Lord Billick.

The Ravens managed only 7 points last week against the porous Cincinnati defense that allowed the Browns to drop 51 points on them in Week 2. They have switched from Steve McNair to Kyle Boller due to "injury". Many insiders think it has more to do with McNair doing his best Charlie Frye impersonation as a 60 minute sack and turnover machine. They have a young, inexperience offensive line. They don't have a lot of explosive weapons on offense. They're defensive backfield is far less than healthy. Ray Ray Lewis and the boys have lost a step on D and the team is arguing internally. Despite that, the Ravens are still a dangerous team especially at home.

The Browns made some mistakes last week that haunted them. A bad challenge that resulted in a double time-out, shaky QB play, a crucial turnover and not coming up big when they had the chance to. The Ravens are not a good team but they are not a bad team either. Any one or, god forbid, combination of them will give the Ravens a chance at victory. They do posses a quality RB which always gives the Browns fits and they D, despite their age and injury, does still posses a number of play makers who can change the game if given the opportunity.

The Browns couldn't take the next step last week by beating an elite team on the road. That time will come. Now it's time to grow up and rebound from a heartbreaking loss to a rival by beating a rival that they are better than. The Browns have always matched-up well against the Ravens. They need to be aggressive and take chances like they did in the first half against the Steelers. They need to play with the tenacity that they displayed in the first Ravens game. And they need to do this on the road. The Browns have turned it around at home but now they need to beat teams they are better than on the road.

They don't need another Oakland game. That game has left them at 5-4 instead of 6-3. A huge difference. Another misstep will make their prospects for the first play-off birth since 2002 grim. They have seven games remaining against teams they are better then, but four are on the road. They are only 1-3 on the road. They need to finish at .500 or better away from home to have a shot at the playoffs. They are done playing the dredges of the league like Miami and St. Louis. They don't have juggernauts like New England or Pittspuke left on the schedule. They have 7 average, run of the mill teams that they are better than. It time to start to run the gauntlet towards the playoffs and the first stop is Baltimore.

This game will tell us as much about the Browns as the Pittspuke game did. They hung tough took some punches but faded at the end and couldn't seal the deal. They have a Balit-whore team teetering on the brink of implosion up next. The Browns have better talent. They have better schemes. They are better people. But the Browns have to believe it before they can do it. Can they bounce back and get back on track for something that seemed like a pipe dream at the beginning of the season? Browns fans want to believe they can but it only matters if the Browns themselves do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Close, But So Far


In the end, the Browns came up just short. A few inches short on Phil Dawson's potential game winning 53 yard field goal and 3 points short of the Steelers in a 31-28 loss at Heinz Field. As brilliantly as they played in the first half, they just could not sustain it in the second half, allowing the Steelers to overcome a 21-9 Browns lead at halftime.

After forcing the Steelers to go 3 and out on the opening series the Browns drove the field on a 16 play 8 minute drive that ending in a DA touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow. 7-0 Browns.

Willie Parker drove the Steelers down the field on the ensuing possession but the Browns D held the to 3. Josh Cribbs responded with a 90 yard KO return to the Steelers 4 and after a Lawrence Vickers TD reception i t was 14-3 Browns.

The Steelers drove down the field again but the Browns D held again to keep the Browns up 14-6. After a short drive Browns punt on the next possession Brodney Pool intercepted Ben Roethlisberger and Braylon Edwards pulled in an amazing TD catch that needed a Romeo Crennel challenge to make it true and it was 21-6 Browns.

The Steelers drove the field again but yet again the Browns D held to finish the first half with the score Browns 21, Steelers 9.

In the first half the Browns O looked great and was firing on all cylinders. The Browns D stepped up and looked stout when it needed to be. But some key mistakes by the Browns int he second half turned the tide for the Steelers.

After both teams went 3 and out twice to start the half, the Steelers got the big break they needed when James Harrison forced Jamal Lewis to fumble in their own end and the Steelers turned it into an easy Hines Ward TD, 21-16 Browns.

The Browns and Steelers traded 3 and outs again as the third quarter ended, mercifully. The Browns finished the quarter with no first downs and DA was definitely frazzled by the Steelers D who obviously made the necessary adjustments needed at halftime.

The Browns went 3 and out... again, and again the Steelers made them pay. On the arm of Roethlisberger the Steelers drove down the field effortlessly and Roethlisberger then ran, almost untouched, for a 30 yard TD. Add the 2 point conversion by Ward and it was 24-21 Steelers.

With the Browns O struggling, Josh Cribbs answered as he corralled a squib kick at the goal line juked one man, tip toed up the sideline and somehow stayed inbounds and found a convoy to the endzone for a Browns 28-24 lead. The play withstood a Mike Tomlin challenge as the Browns finally caught a break in the game.

But the Browns D couldn't come up with the big stop it had in the previous weeks. The Steelers converted third downs of 7, 18 and 8 yards (many on Roethlisberger scrambles) to set up a 2 yard TD catch by Heath Miller to go up 31-28.

Romeo Crennel then made his only coaching mistake of the game calling a timeout before challenging the play, which he lost, ultimately costing the Browns 2 timeout on one play. It would come back to be a factor.

The Browns went 3 and out again but forced the Steelers to go 3 and out and punt. Josh Cribbs returned the punt to the Steelers 33 but a holding penalty moved the ball back to the Browns 39. DA managed to drive the Browns to the Steelers 36 but was forced to spike the ball with 7 seconds left on 3rd and 2, because they had used their final timeout previously, and on 4th and 2, Phil Dawson's 53 yard field goal attempt into the windy, open end on Heinz Field was dead on the money... but came up just inched short. Ballgame. Steelers 31, Browns 28.

In the end the Steelers showed the resolve of a time tested veteran team expecting to win while the Browns looked like an improving team not yet ready to make the next step to an elite challenger. Instead of coming out int he second half ready to step on the opponents' neck the Browns came out flat with poor QB play, a costly fumble, a poor coaching challenge and a an inability to make a play when needed. Josh Cribbs out gained the Browns offense on the day but they still came within inches of sending the game to overtime.

A frustrating loss but the best effort the Browns have shown against the Steelers in four years. An exciting, exhilarating game that Browns fans haven't seen in a long time. We learned the Browns are not in the Steelers class yet, but we knew that already. What we didn't know is that the gap isn't as wide as we thought. With a few pieces on D the Browns may become a contender in the AFC sooner than expected. Despite it's struggles the O put up 28 points on the the #1 D in the NFL and a D that was giving up about 6 points per game at home.

So the Browns sit alone in 2nd in the AFC North at 5-4. Seven games to go. Seven games against opponent they can beat. Seven games against teams that they ARE better then. The Browns have had an amazing run so far. They have proved all their doubters wrong. They continue to get better every game. They came up short against the Steelers but they didn't back down and traded punches all day.

In the end the Steelers took the game from the Browns. The Browns have a great chance to take what they and their fans want. To taste something they haven't since 2002. The Browns control their own destiny, all they have to do it take it. Let's shake off the Pittspuke hangover and take what is ours.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why Not?

This is a horrible match-up for the Browns and it unfortunately comes against their biggest rival. The Steelers offense presents a plethora of problems for good defenses. The Browns defense is not good. It is embarrassingly awful. They can pound Willie Parker against the porous Browns defense early, wearing down them while simultaneously keeping the potent Browns O on the sidelines. Doing this would leave the Browns D tired and easily susceptible to play action, which their DB (especially safeties) have been vulnerable to all season. Or they can use the passing game to set up the run as they have been doing most of the year. Taking advantage of the lack of pressure the Browns front 7 can generate, the Steelers could pick apart the Browns via the pass, gain an early lead and then salt away the clock by pounding the ball in the second half with Parker and Najeh Davenport. Either proposition is a possibility on Sunday.

The Steelers 3-4 D also presents problems for the Browns O. The Browns have traditionally struggled against the 3-4 D as evident by Derek Anderson's troubles agaisnt New England earlier this season. The Steelers have a stout nose tackle in Casey Hampton, as two run first ends who can also generate a decent pass rush. Their linebacking core is fast and athletic and James Harrison has more than filled the void left by Joey "Feces" Porter. Their defensive backfield has always been vulnerable but SS Troy Polamalu more than makes up for it by being a physical, intimidating presense. You never know who of or where from the Steelers D is going to come from.

Throw in the fact that the Browns are 3-15 against the Steelers since 1999 and that most of the games were not even close and it is a daunting task indeed. The Browns are starting to come into their own but the Steelers are more established, more talents and a better team that the Browns...

So why not shove it in their faces?

Why not hit Big Dumb Roethlisbozo ever time we have a chance because he's a cocky, condescending asshole who won't even credit his former Head Coach for his development?

Why not get Hines Ward back for his cheap shot on Daven Holly, for most of his amazing blocks come away from the play or after the play has moved down field and for the fact that his "smiling for the love of the game" is more taunting of a beaten opponent?

Why not show James Farrior and Larry Foote what a rivalry is and that the thing they think is a rivalry between Baltimore and Pittsburgh is shit?

Why not make the Appalachian Inbred Yinzer Scum wonder if Omar Epps really IS their Head Coach?

And why not make those towel waving assclowns shove those YELLOW towels the only place they truly belong?

It makes no sense. The odds of it happening are slim to none. The Steelers should win the game. They probably will win the game. But... WHY 'THE F' NOT? Who cares what everybody says? Who cares what the experts say? Why not the Browns? It's been a whacked out season of football. The team is actually playing with heart and soul for the first time in their reincarnation. The Browns players care about the rivalry something the Steelers players do not. It's small but maybe it's enough. It reminds me of a scene from a movie...

Joe J: War's over, man. Pittsburgh dropped the big one.
K2: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
DA: Germans?
Braylon: Forget it, he's rolling.
K2: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... [thinks hard]
K2: the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! [runs out, alone; then returns]
K2: What the fuck happened to the Cleveland Browns I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Kellen, we might get in trouble." Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. Hines Ward, he's a dead man! Polamalu, dead! Roelisberger...
DA: Dead! Kellen's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
K2: We're just the guys to do it.
Joe J: Let's do it.
K2: LET'S DO IT!

GO BROWNS!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bring on the Yinzers!!!


Wow, what a game! The offensive juggernaut that is the Cleveland Browns kept on rolling by putting up a 33 spot to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in overtime, 33-30 on the shores of Lake Erie. Getting down 21-6 early on but never giving up the Browns battled back to notch a win over a quality opponent and improve to 5-3. It also marked the first time since 2001 that they have won 3 games in a row and assures that next Sunday's match-up with the Steelers will be for 1st place in the AFC North regardless of the result of the Monday Night game.

It's someone different every week and this week belonged to Kellen Winslow and Jamal Lewis. 11 receptions, 125 yards, one banged up shoulder and one ailing knee. An amazing effort from a guy who is in constant pain every time he runs let alone gets tackled. Jamal Lewis pounded in 4 TD runs from 2 yards are less. When is the last time you can remember the Browns doing that more than once in a season and they did it 4 times in one GAME. Last week it was Braylon Edwards and Derek Anderson. But this offense has so many weapon you don;t know who will be the standout from week to week.

The defense may still stink, but they are making plays when they have to. For the second consecutive week they did not allow a TD in the second half and allowed the Browns O to mount a comeback. They came up with two stops on 4th and 1 AGAIN to hold serve when it mattered most. It all comes down to the D line. The lack of pass rush is embarrassing but Romeo and Todd Grantham are trying to overcompensate for it by rolling coverages and rotation fresh bodies in and out. When is the last time you saw Brandon McDonald and David McMillan in the game in the 4th quarter? Never. That is what this D is up against. But if they can continue to make plays when they need to, the Browns will always have a chance.

But the Browns won and did so while having to overcome a shanked extra point, a number of dropped TD passes and a punt return TD. But as they have all year they did NOT fold and came back to win. They now have some injury concerns as RG Seth McKinney left with an injured should and is most likely out for the Pittsburgh game. Will Lennie Friedman step in or will the reps Ryan Tucker got during training came pay dividends? Winslow is also banged up and will need a couple extra days of rest. But do you think he's missing the Steelers game? No.

So they've beat the win less teams. They've beat the mediocre teams. Sunday they beat a championship contender. The only thing that stands between them and first place it the neighborhood bully that has been smacking them around for almost 10 years. They've got a shot to knock them of their pretty little perch.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Where Do We Stand?


Well this is an interesting one for the Brownies this week. Sitting at 4-3 and one game behind the lead for the AFC North with impending back-to-back road games versus the Steelers and Ravens. It is a situation they have not found themselves in very often since 1999. This week the Seattle Seahawks come to town, owners of the exact same 4-3 record and coming off their bye week. The Seahawks are traditionally a tough one for the Browns as they are only 4-11 all-time versus Seattle.

The bookies have installed the Browns as a 1 point favorite. You get three points for being at home which means that on a neutral field they think the Seahawks are two points better than the Browns. So basically they have no clue on how to feel about this game just like most of us.

The Seahawks come in hurting on offense as the running game still hasn't gelled with the loss of Pro-Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson before last season. Shawn Alexander looks to have lost a step after being injured the majority of last season. The retirement of fullback Mack Strong as Alexander's lead blocker also has had an adverse effect on the 'Hawks running game.

The Seahawks are also aren't tearing it up via the pass either as Matt Hasselback is nursing a strained oblique and their wide receiving core still struggles with dropped passes and health even with the departure of Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson. They traded a first round pick for Deion Branch and it has not paid dividends.

Just like the Browns they have beat up on the dredges on the NFL... Cincinnati, San Francisco, St. Louis... and have been spanked by the good teams, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. So this should be a good judge of where both franchises stand. The Browns, hopefully, appear to be on an upswing with some young, stand out players coming into their own while the Seahawks are attempt to hold onto the core that got them to the Super Bowl a mere two years ago.

Seattle still has a formidable defense with Patrick Kearney and Julian Peterson anchoring one of the leagues most underrated units. Former Brown Brian Russell leads the secondary and even though they won't admit it, the Browns sorely miss his leadership. Despite the upgrade in defense over the Rams and Dolphins I still expect the Browns to score if they protect the ball. Chud, DA and the play makers have shown for 6 weeks that they are more than capable of dissecting any defense.

It all comes down to the D, as it always seems to. Big Ted Washington is on the IR essentially ending his tenure as a Brown. Shaun Smith will get more work at nose tackle while Simon Fraser will see more work at left DE. I expect to see a ton of rotation of the line to keep the boys fresh and because, quite frankly, none of them are exceptionally good. It looks like D'Qwell Jackson might not play but Andre Davis and Leon Williams held down the fort quite well in the second half against the Rams. The DBs stepped up in the end of the Rams game but will need a better overall effort against a better Seattle team.

This is your textbook measuring stick game between a young, up and coming team and an aging team still trying to play at an elite level. A good test for the Browns before they ship off to Pittspuke but they can not look past Seattle. This year the Browns have been beating teams that they are better than or as good as they are. They have been winning at home. They need to continue to do so to continue to provide Cleveland with meaningful football games into November and December for the first time in a long time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Browns Improve to 4-3


So we have a couple division wins, we've actually got a winning streak that exceeds one and low and behold a winning record. Now if we could only figure out a way to beat the Appalachian Inbreeds of Pittspuke we might have this thing going in the right direction.

Now the Browns did not look dominant or impressive in their 27-20 win over the now 0-8 St. Louis Rams but there were a number of things that occurred during the game that the Browns of the recent past would have reacted completely different to.

First off they got out to a 14-0 deficit. Yes, got off to it. The defense made Marc Bulger look like the Marc Bulger of 2004 not 2007 and Steven Jackson was running through the Browns like poop through a goose. The Browns of recent memory would have folded early and we could have been looking at a 44-7 debacle that was commonplace for years. But the D sucked it up, held the Rams to only 3 more points and allowed the O to get back into a groove and the half ended at 17-17.

Secondly, the O kept its head. After struggling their first couple of series, the browns stuck to their game plan, ran the ball to set up play action and mixed in Jason Wright, Jerome Harrison and Josh Cribbs nicely to keep St. Louis off balance. The best thing about the new O is that they spread the ball around so well. Anyone can beat you. Edwards is outshining everyone right now but if the D locks down on him the Browns have many options to go to.

The D, despite being picked apart all day, held when it needed to. Holding twice on 4th and 1. Getting some key stops in the first half to keep the Browns in the game. The Key 3 and out they caused in the middle of the 4th quarter to keep the score 27-20. And coming up with the interception to seal the deal. Not a great performance but they did enough to win, even against a bad team.

Some other good things to see… Edwards taking responsibility for his 15 yard taunting penalty and not dodging the criticism. Using Joe J on third down time and time again. Bodden bouncing bad after an awful first quarter. Zasty booming 2 monster punts (although his last effort was poor). The Browns false starting 3 times on the opening drive of the second half and still scoring a TD (once again a recipe for disaster in past years). Only 1 sack allowed by the O line again. No interceptions for DA again. Phil just kicking field goals right down the middle and silencing the doubters. Romeo showing emotion.

Some things to improve on… No pass rush, Ethan Kelley with the only sack (via fatting the center) against a depleted Rams O line. 14 penalties for 101 yards, yuck. Way too many third and long conversions allowed by the defense. An empty backfield on 3rd and 3 that yielded a sack.

A good win. Two in a row. Browns now 4-3 a game back of Pittspuke and tied with Baltiwhore. The Seattle Seahawks visit Lake Erie for a 4:15 game next Sunday. The Seahawks are good, but not great. It is a nice barometer for the Browns to gauge where they are. A tough Seattle D to challenge Chud's O and an aging 'Hawks O versus the porous Browns D. A measuring stick game for sure before the Browns depart for two away games against the two cities they hate the most. Godspeed, gentlemen. Godspeed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two Will Do

Pat Riley coined the phase "Three-peat". The Yankees won four straight championships from 1936 to 1940. Jeff Gordon is currently on his "Drive for Five" in the NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup. The Browns just want two. The Browns are seeking their first back to back wins since October 12, 2003, beating Pittsburgh and Oakland in succession. Do the math, that is over FOUR years since it happened.

The task at hand to accomplish this feat? Defeat their second consecutive win less opponent in a row, the 0-7 St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome. So far this year the Browns have given the Oakland Raiders their first win of the year but defeated the hapless Miami Dolphins in their last game.

Will the Browns continue to show signs of progression and come out after their bye week and trounce a team that is dead in the water? That question will be answered Sunday in St. Louis. This is a classic Browns trap game from recent years where they go into town against an awful opponent and hand them their first win (see: October 30, 2005 vs. Texans, Houston). Adding to the drama is that both TE Randy McMichael and RB Steven Jackson have come out and guaranteed a Browns victory. Let's hope the Browns follow Kellen Winslow's lead in the epic Winslow-Porter battle of Week 6 and just ignore it.

This will be a difficult game for the Browns because of their defense. Steven Jackson is back after missing four games with a partially torn groin. Marc Bulger may be playing with 57 broken ribs and their entire offensive line may be decimated by injuries, including LT Orlando Pace, but they still have potent weapon in Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Jackson. If the Browns can get pressure on Bulger, then there is no way they should lose this game barring a complete meltdown or turnover fiasco. Their offensive line is bad, and that is being kind. If the D-Line can get a decent push (a big if) and let the LBs create havoc in the backfield it should be another long day for Mr. Bulger. Holt and Bruce have lost a step and could play into the hands of the Browns young secondary. Nullify Jackson, create pressure and make Bulger throw while under duress is the key to the football game.

On offense, I expect the bounty of many point to continue. Rams sack master Leonard Little is out for the game with a toe injury. Rookie DT Adam Carriker is improving but still a rookie. Other than that their defense is made up of veterans past their prime and guys I have never heard of. If Jamal Lewis plays I expect a balance of J-Lew and play action throughout the first half to wear down the Rams D followed by a large dose of J-Lew after halftime against a tired and battered unit. If Lewis is out I expect a game plan similar to the Miami game. Tons of shots in the passing game while mixing in just the right dosage of Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison. Each week seems to cause me to wonder, WWCD? What will Chud do? How will he use Josh Cribbs this week? What new wrinkle in the passing game will we see? What else have they installed in the bye week. Once again, all eyes will be on Derek Anderson to see if he can have 2 good games in a row. He's due for a Bad Derek week, but the Browns did have a bye last week, so let's hope that counts and we get Good Derek Sunday. That would help the cause greatly.

Anything less than a decisive win by the Browns Sunday would be uncivilized... and unacceptable.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great Season, Horrible Ending


Coulda, woulda, shoulda...


Well what was an amazing season ended in disappointment and despair as the Indians dropped the last three games of the ALCS to lose the series to the Boston Red Sox 4-3. The Indians were outscored 30-5 in the last three games to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of Tribe fans everywhere.


After taking Games 2-4 from the Red Sox, and taking a commanding 3-1 ALCS lead, the Indians couldn't catch a break as they were over matched, overpowered and overwhelmed in Games 5-7. They had their chances in Games 5 and 7 as C. C. Sabthia couldn't hunker down in the 7th inning of Game 5 as a one run game turned into a blowout. In Game 7, it appeared as if the Indians would tie the game at 3 in the 7th inning as Franklin Gutierrez hit a sharp liner down the 3rd base line that should have scored Kenny Lofton from second... until Joel Skinner inexplicatively held Kenny Lofton at 3rd. The Red Sox then exploded for 8 more runs and the Indians dram season was over.


A failure to come through in the clutch once again haunted a Cleveland team in the playoffs as C. C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, Rafael Perez, Travis Hafner and to a lesser extent, Grady Sizemore, turned in abysmal performances in the ALCS and did nothing to help the team's cause.


Lost in everything will be the amazing season the Indians had. No one expected them to contend this year in a division with the Tigers, White Sox and Twins. No one expected them to beat those teams handily and win the AL Central. No one expected them to tie for the most wins in MLB with 96. No one gave them a chance to beat the Yankees in the ALDS. And no one gave them a chance to hang with the Red Sox in the ALCS. But they did all of those things.


But no one will remember that. They will only remember the failure to win one game in 3 chances to advance to their first World Series since 2007. It was a great, magical season, it just fell a little short of Cleveland's expectations. This one is going to hurt for long time unless the 2008 version of the Cleveland Indians can dull the pain.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

No Pitching = No Winning


10-1 Red Sox after 3. Ouch.

Carmona obviously learned nothing from his experience in Game 2. No control. Trying to nibble the corners. He started the game infield hit, infield hit and walk. Loading the bases in the first was awful but he battled back to get Scum Ramirez and Mike Lowell but fell behind the putrid JD Drew and threw a meatball down the middle of the plate for a Grand Slam and a 4-0 lead.

But you could tell he didn't have it again as he allowed runners on first and third with 1 out and thankfully got a DP grounded from David Ortiz to hold the deficit to 4-0. He let Drew get him again for a RBI single and his night was done. Two plus innings and an embarrassingly bad outing to show for it. Enter Rafael Perez, attain 1 out, score 10-1. Aaron Laffey on to stop the bleeding.

So the three biggest pitching assets of the Indians have C. C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona and Rafael Perez have come up as shit in the ALCS. And because of it, barring a miracle, there will be a Game 7 in Fenway Park Sunday night. It's up to Jake Westbrook to stop the bleeding.

The Indians hitters will have to be on their game as well as they squandered a great opportunity in the Top of the 3rd when Nixon and Blake singled to start the inning but the Indians could not score either of them. Grady Sizemore, 0-8 in the Postseason. Travis Hanfer, 0 for his last 13 as of the 3rd inning. All the bounces are going the Red Sox way. The Indians are going to have to do something to change that if they want to avoid a giant choke job Sunday.

Friday, October 19, 2007

All is Not Lost

Well that sucked.

The Indians laid an egg in Game 5 of the ALCS, losing 7-1 to the Red Sox. The series shifts to Boston for Game 6 and Game 7, if necessary.

C. C. Sabathia battled Josh Beckett for 6 plus innings but didn't have the type of outing that you would want from you alleged ace of the pitching staff. He was in and out of trouble all night and for the most part worked out of it but his performance paled in comparison to Beckett's.

Beckett's 8 inning, 11 strikeout performance was dominant from the moment Travis Hafner hit into a run scored double play in the 1st Inning, derailing and chance the Indians has of getting an early jump of the Red Sox #1 starter. Beckett may have proved himself to be an asshole both on and off the field but he also showed why he is the best clutch pitcher in MLB today.

Boston's bats woke up in the 7th extending a 2-1 lead to 7-1 and putting all hopes of an Indians comeback at home to bed. The Indians offense simply could not find an answer to Beckett which has been a difficultly for all AL teams this season. Amazingly, the Indians have not clinched a pennant at home since they won the 1920 World Series at old League Park.

But fear not, the Indians still need only win one of two games and in their last two trips to the World Series they were up won game 6 on the road at Seattle in 1995 and Baltimore in 1997. A solid start by Fausto Carmona and some offensive production will go a long way in making it happen again in 2007.

It's difficult to beat any team 4 straight times, let alone a good team like the Red Sox. If they Indians deserve to go to the World Series they will earn it. If they lose 3 straight to the Red Sox then they definitely won't deserve it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blood in the Water


After four and a half innings everything seemed very much in doubt. Tim Wakefield's knuckleball was knuckling beautifully, confusing and frustrating Indians hitters left and right. The Indians had notched only two walks and one hit, a solid double off the wall in left field by Jhonny Peralta, and looked as if they were in serious trouble.

The Red Sox had managed four hits and had gotten a runner to second base in two of the five innings. Paul Byrd was Paul Byrd. Giving up some hits while walking no one and working out of trouble. The were a lot of loud outs, but they were outs nonetheless. But you had to think that the Red Sox were in prime position to explode at any moment... until the Indians beat them to it.

A 7 run Bottom of the 5th rocked the Red Sox as every twist and turn fell to the Indians advantage. Casey Blake led of with a monster jack over the wall in left field that seemed to wake up the Tribe. Frankie Gutierrez singled to left on a ball at his eye level and Kelly Shoppach got plunked by a 60 MPH knuckler.

Then everything went the Indians way. Grady Sizemore sent a slow dribbler to second that forced Shoppach at second but advanced Frankie to third while Sizemore took first. The As-Man lifted a ball down the first baseline that Kevin Youklis bobbled 6 times before dropping and you could sense that something was about to happen. Cabrera then sent a liner back at Wakefield that spun out of his glove and deadened in between second base and the pitchers mound. A would be DP that turned into a RBI infield single. Victor Martinez followed with an RBI single through the left side which ended the night for Tim Wakefield.

Peralta rudely greeted Manny Delcarmen with a no doubt 3 run HR to right to make it 6-0 and send The Jake into a frenzy. Kenny Lofton then singled, stole second and scored on Casey Blake's bloop single to center that Coco Crisp barely missed catching on a dive. After it was all over the score read 7-0 Cleveland.

After more than 30 minuted in the dugout Byrd came out rusty and gave up 2 no doubt solo homeruns to Kevin Youklis and David Ortiz before giving way to Jensen Lewis. He may no be pretty but Paul Byrd wins plain and simple. There are no style points for pitchers, just wins. Manny Ramirez greeted Jensen Lewis with a monster HR to deep center that he stood and watch for a good 5 - 10 seconds as if he just won the game. Problem was, it only made the game 7 - 3. All that Jensen Lewis did after that was follow it with 2 scoreless innings of work which Raffy Betancourt followed up with retiring 6 straight to end the game. Final score Cleveland 7, Boston 3.

In what seems to be the theme to the series so far the Indians keep beating the Red Sox to the punch and keep shaking off the Red Sox' retaliation. Scoring 7 runs to establish control of the game and just when the Sox think they are back in it with back to back to back homeruns the bullpen comes in, completely shut them down and give them no hope.

So now the Indians are up 3-1 in the ALCS. One win to go. All the Media is going to say is that the Red Sox were down 3-1 to the Angles in the 1986 ALCS and came back to win the series. And they were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and won the series. But there is one difference, the Red Sox were a better team than their opponents. In the 2007 ALCS that is not the case. Yes, they have Josh Beckett going in Game 5. Yes, if they win Game 5 they have the next 2 games in Boston. Yes, Boston has a $200M payroll. But none of it matters.

The Indians have the Red Sox down. Their confidence is up. They know they can take the best shot the Red Sox have and attack right back. More importantly, they know they are the better team. Whether they win Thursday night or not, they have their foot on the Red Sox' neck and the smell blood in the water. And if the Indians have proved anything in 2007 it's that when the smell blood, they go in for the kill.

It's Tribe Time now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kenny and the Snake


What a game. Jake "The Snake" Westbrook was masterful. Kenny Lofton was magical. The crowd was unreal. It all lead to a 4-2 win by the Tribe over the Red Sox to take a 2-1 lead in the ALCS.

Westbrook had pinpoint control all night, minus the one pitch to Varitek in the 7th, and induced ground ball after ground ball after ground ball. The three double plays were huge starting with the amazing one in the first inning off the bat of David Ortiz turned, out of the shift, by the As Man to Blake to Garko. The one in the second was huge as it got the Tribe out of a bases loaded, no out jam without a run being scored. The last one of the bat of Manny “Scum” Ramirez was a delight to the entire Jacobs Field crowd. Enter Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt and Joe Borowski and game over.

Kenny Lofton continues to push this team as he ignited the crowd in the Bottom of the 2nd with a 2 run homer that barely got out of the park, and over J. D. Drew’s glove, a half inning after Westbrook worked out of the bases loaded no out jam. The As Man delivered a clutch RBI single in the 5th followed by a moment of heart and hustle from Pronk to beast out a potential double play ball to allow the 4th run to score on a fielder’s choice.

So it’s on to Game 4 tonight at The Jake. Paul Byrd versus Tim Wakefield. The Indians struggle against the slow stuff. It will be interesting to see how they work Wakefield. The Red Sox thrive against finesse pitchers like Byrd so he will have his work cut out for him. Regardless, the Indians have the upper hand and can put themselves in prime position with a win tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What Should Be Expected


When is the last time the Browns went into a game and did what everyone expected them to do? I can't remember. Maybe sometime in the 2002 season, if then. As of late they have been giving win less teams their first win of the year all too frequently, including Week 3 at Oakland. But in a change of heart, the Browns came out, marked their territory, and minus a little snooze-fest by the Defense in the 3rd Quarter, dominated a completely inferior football team... which is nice.

What can you say about Derek Anderson. He's keeps learning and improving which is not something you can say about any other Cleveland QB since 1999. His two best plays were scrambling for a first down on 3rd and 2 instead of forcing it into coverage and throwing the ball away at the end of the half the preserve a FG attempt. Could he have scrambled into the end zone? Maybe, but it was a 50/50 chance and he took the sure points while up by 14. Do I still think he is the long term answer at QB? No. But he;s shown that he could be, and is definitely someone you'd have no qualms being your back-up or spot starter in a pinch. This is the NFL you need a second QB who can play or you are dead in the water.

Rob Chudzinski keeps coming up with brilliant game plans. Knowing that the Browns will have to outscore their opponents (we'll get to that later) he attacks and attacks and attacks. There is no let up. To put up 41 points without your stud running back and use his two back-ups efficiently is more impressive than the play of DA, Braylon Edwards or Kellen Winslow. It seems like Braylon and K2 finally "get it". Be a professional, just play football and the rest will come. Both these guys are finally paying dividends after a couple of years as disappointments. With the O Line gelling (minus one sack yielded by the HPC) and playing physical the Browns on O are starting to take it to their opponents and playing with confidence. It's amazing what playing from ahead will do for you.

The only sad state of affairs in the D. Hopefully the bye week will give the coaches a chance to implement so personnel and scheme change to help. The D line is atrocious and a huge question mark. It finally looks that the Browns have conceded that Ted Washington and Orpheus Roye's best years are behind them. Without the D line taking up space on running plays or getting penetration on passing plays, the athletic LB core is going to struggle. We've known for years that the ILBs can not make tackles (except for 5 yards down field) without help from the D line. And without the pressure on passing downs the young, green secondary is going to be picked apart. Leigh Bodden is healthy, Eric Wright is rapidly improving but Brodney Pool and Sean Jones, especially, are having a difficult time making plays like last year. None of the secondary can cover a receiver for 5-7 seconds. Not gonna happen. The D is holding this team back from what could be an even better year than it has been.

So it's of to a bye week in Week 7 followed by an away game against the win less St. Louis Rams. The Rams have major injury issues on the O line and Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson are not healthy either. Their defense is even worse than the Browns'. It looks like an eerily similar script to the Miami game. The only problem is that the Browns have not won 2 games in a row in over 3 years. But unlike in the past 3 seasons they should win this game. Why? Because the Browns are finally doing what we all expect them to do.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

7-11 Heaven!


Wow. All I can say is wow. Hopefully, the Indians can turn this into a 'Rocky IV' moment. After taking a beating from Ivan Drago in Round 1, right at the end of Round 2, Rocky Balboa lands a blow to the giant Russian, cutting him below the eye. When he gets back to his corner his trainer, Duke, utters one of the great lines in a sports movie... "You cut him. He's hurt. You see! He's not a machine, he's a man!" 7 runs in the 11th inning clarifies as a cut below the eye. With that effort the Indians tied the ALCS at 1-1 with the next 3 games at home in Jacobs Field.

More impressive is how the Indians battled from the start after getting pummeled 10-3 the night before. The jumped on top int he first inning 1-0 before Curt Schilling got settled in. Carmona had an awful 3rd which included another bases loaded walk to Scum Ramirez and a 2 run double to Mike Lowell but the Tribe answered right back in the Top of the 4th with a 3 run jack by Peralta. Grady added a solo HR in the 5th before Carmona and Rafael Perez imploded.

Carmona gave up a single to Kevin Youklis when Uncle Eric called for the normally automatic Rafael Perez to face David Ortiz. He got Big Papi out but gave up back to back bombs to Scum and Mike Lowell to make it 6-5 Red Sox. Jensen Lewis was summoned and stopped the bleeding with a great DP by Blake as the As-Man.

But once again the Indians answered. Peralta and Lofton put together back to back singles to put runners on the corners. Franklin Gutierrez drove in a run on a ground out to make it 6-6. Casey Blake struck out and Pronk was robbed with the bases loaded by the shift but the Indians tied it up after what was a brutal assault by the Red Sox in the previous half inning.

And the the bullpens took over. Jensen Lewis and Rafael Betancourt were lights out for the Tribe. Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin and Jonathan Papelbon were as good for the Red Sox. Papelbon worked out of a jam int he Top of the 9th allowing 2 men on after he had gotten the first 2 outs. Betancourt answered for the Indians in the bottom of the 9th as the Red Sox got a runner to second with 2 outs and them battled Kevin Youklis for 11 pitches before he retired him on a lined shot to CF. The Indians went 1-2-3 in the 10th and the Red Sox sent up Ortiz, Ramirez and Lowell. Betancourt was out of gas so Uncle Eric called upon Tom Mastny who retired the heart of the Sox order 1-2-3. Mr. Mastny, like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, your something grew two sizes that day, and it wasn't your heart.

The Indians then erupted for 7 runs in the Top of the 11th (a MLB record) ignited by a PH single from ex-Red Sox Trot Nixon who was batting for Josh Barfield who was a PR for Hafner in the 9th. The As-Man then scored on a wild pitch, Ryan Garko followed with a RBI single and Jhonny Peralta followed with a RBI double. Gutierrez ended all doubt with a 3 run HR over the Green Monster. Ballgame. Tribe 13, Sox 6. Series tied 1-1.

The Indians have gotten nothing from their two aces, Sabathia and Carmona, so it now falls upon Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd to step up and take control. The Tribe has 3 in a row at home. Uncle Eric has professed winning and splitting series all season. They split 1-1 in Boston. They need 2 of 3 at home, or better. The Tribe took the Sox best shot and punched them right back.

What a difference a day makes!

Friday, October 12, 2007

C.omplete C.rap


Not the way you want to start the ALCS. After Travis Hafner homered in the first inning off of almost untouchable Josh Beckett, C. C. Sabathia gave up consecutive singles to Kevin Youklis, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to make it 1-1 after an inning.

He followed it up with a third inning in which he yielded 4 runs on 2 hits. The first run scored after he had Manny "Scum" Ramirez down in the count 0-2 and then walked him. Boston proceeded to pound the ball all over the place for the rest of the inning. The Red Sox added another 3 runs on 3 hits in the bottom of the fifth inning and C. C. was gone with only one out in the fifth.

His final line:
4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 8 R/ER, 5 BB, 3 SO... Ouch.

Final score: Red Sox 10, Indians 3.

Bottom line with Beckett dealing C. C. needed to keep the Tribe close in order for them to have a chance. Close was the farthest thing that can be said about this game. Tribe can still salvage a split in Boston but need Fausto to out duel The Narcissist Curt Schilling tomorrow night. For now the Indians are down 0-1 in the ALCS.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You sir, are an a$$hole...


Welcome back Joey Porter! Cleveland missed you. It's good to see you are still the classiest guy in football. Calling Kellen Winslow a wide receiver and not a tight end. You are a bad man. Guaranteeing that you will win the Joey Porter - Kellen Winslow battle. Guess what assclown, no one cares who wins the Joey Porter - Kellen Winslow battle except you. I don't even think K2 cares. HELLO! YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! You sir, are an asshole. You always were and you always will be. Whether in Black & Tinkle or Teal & White, it does not matter. Besides you have to go up against Joe Thomas this year not the HPC. He's on the right side now. Tables are turned... bitch. I shall refer to you as "Feces" from now on, "poop" is too nice.

OK, enough about Feces on to the game. The Browns should win by 2 touchdowns. OK I said it. The Browns should win by 2 touchdowns. The Dolphins are awful. God awful. Their offense has no skill players what-so-ever. Trent Green is out, and hopefully will retire, and the Dolphins are forced to start Cleo "Just call me Spurgeon Wynn" Lemon because second round draft choice John Beck in not ready yet. Number 1 choice Ted Ginn, Jr. has looked awful as an NFL receiver and I am sure Miami fans are still crying over the decision to select him over the Mighty Brady Quinn. Cleveland native Chris Chambers is an impact receiver but can Lemon get him the ball so he can make plays? RB Ronnie Brown has had a monster year yet but hasn't faced many quality defenses yet this year. And no, the Browns don't qualify as a quality defense.

On defense, the Fins still have Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Vonnie Holiday and the aforementioned Feces but they are all older and have lost a step. They only have 7 sacks as a team and Taylor has 3 of them. No one else has more than 1. Feces has zero. Zero. The secondary is not great and the lack of pressure up front leaves them exposed. This is not the Fins D of old who could carry their mediocre offense and win games. They can be exploited.

Why should the Browns win by 2 touchdowns? The Dolphins are not a better team than the Browns. In fact, the Browns are much more cohesive than the Dolphins, which is embarrassing for Miami. The Dolphins are a team that is in more disarray in the front office than the Browns. They They have less talent than the Browns. They drafted a punt returner with their #1 draft pick. They signed a veteran QB who was prone to concussions. They big against themselves signed Feces to a lucrative deal.

Cam Cameron is trying to implement the same offense he ran in San Diego that Chud is implementing in Cleveland and it has been a disaster because Miami does not have the personnel to run it, the Browns do. They don't have the game breakers like the Browns do and with Green out they don't have anyone capable of running the ship. The only way the Browns get gashed is if they do not account for Ronnie Brown who is nothing special. Force Cleo Lemon to make plays to Chambers. The Fins are going to force feed Ronnie Brown down our throats. If the Browns can't see that coming they don't deserve to win the game.

On O, the Browns are simply more athletic and explosive than the Dolphins D. If Jamal Lewis is out, that will hurt but Jason Wright might be able to scat his way to a few yards on the ground. The improved O line should be able to handle the Fins weakened pass rush and give DA some time to find Braylon, K2 and the gang. It boils down to DA as always. The Fins D is aging but they are a crafty, smart of veterans who will capitalize on mistakes.

Stop Ronnie Brown, force Cleo Lemon to beat you, minimize the mistakes and turnovers on offense and the Browns will win by 2 touchdowns. It just a question of whether or not they can do it.