Sunday, September 16, 2007

Out of Nowhere

Anyone who claims to have seen the Browns 51 point outburst coming is either Nostradamus or a liar, and last time I checked Nostradamus is dead.

Regardless, the hope for the 2007 season was restored when Leigh Bodden picked off Carson Palmer with less than 30 seconds left in the to preserve a 51-45 Browns victory in the highest scoring home game In Cleveland Browns history. In a game when defense was in short supply, the Browns D managed to force a couple of punts, cause a fumble and intercept two passes when it needed to.

The defensive line still looks horrible, but the overall speed of the defense is night and day compared to last season, limiting the number of big plays by one of the league best WR tandems, Ocho Cinco and TJ Whosyourmama. Rookie CB Eric Wright and hobbled CB Leigh Bodden gave up a ton of catches and a ton of yards but in the end they managed to win, even with a depleted secondary.

Brodney Pool left the game early when he concussed himself on a bone rattling tackle that earned, and rightfully so, a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Daven Holly dressed, but did not play, after being taking a cheap shot from Hines Ward last week. Mike Adams and Kenny Wright filled in, but more often than not, you didn’t notice, which is good.

The highlight on the day was obviously the debut of the “Air Chud” offense. And what a debut it was. Derek Anderson looked tight on the first series, quickly going 3 and out with two awful throws, but took a deep breath and tied the franchise record for TD passes in a single game with 5 (along with over 300 passing yards) and could have easily had 7 if he didn’t overthrow Joe J after recovering his own fumble and missing an open K2 on 3rd and Goal from the 1. This was the DA the Browns hoped would emerge in Training Camp this year but did not. Maybe trading Charlie Frye was really necessary for the mental stability of DA and Quinn. This does temper the need to rush Quinn in and buy him some time to sit back and learn which, despite what some others think, is a good thing.

The ball was spread out as both Braylon Edwards and K2 had over 100 yards receiving. Edwards and Jurevicius both had 2 TDs while Winslow pulled in another. Steve Heiden and Lawrence Vickers added key catches and the Browns executed a Josh Cribbs end around to perfection. The Browns actually utilized their weapons for the first time since the 2002 Wild Card Game and were aggressive and went for the win instead of playing not to lose. A nice change in offensive philosophy.

The only frustrating thing was the continued obsession with Vickers. I am instituting “The Lawrence Vickers Commandment” which states, “Thou shall not give the ball to Lawrence Vickers on 3rd or 4th Down when the yardage is 1 or less.” Fourth and 1, stuffed, enough said. Also, it is painfully obvious that Tim Carter may be fast but he is not good. What does that say about Travis Wilson if he can not make the dress squad? Put K2 or Cribbs in the slot and Heiden at TE in 3 wide sets, please and thank you.

Hands down the best thing about the game… offensive line. Holy crap! Jamal Lewis, 215 yards, and he looked frisky when doing it. He wasn’t kidding when he said he gets stronger as the game goes and the opposing D wears down. Sweet Lord, 8.0 yards per carry! And most of that was on the left side where Thomas, Steinbach and Fat Hank Fraley just mauled the Bengals and Seth McKinney could pull and lead Lewis through the hole. This also eliminates a weakness by running away from the Human Parking Cone, Kevin Shaffer, brilliant! Its ok, because once Ryan Tucker is out of steroid de-tox in 2 weeks, the HPC will become a thing of the past. Thomas and Steinbach are just big, not fat, just big and muscular. Fraley and McKinney are two of the most athletic fat guys the Browns have had in years, and everybody loves a fat guy!

Best play of the game… The DA knee down to run out the clock and the smile on his face when the Referee let him keep the ball, his first win as an NFL starting QB. Quote of the day, “How about that, a division win!” said with a smile and a chuckle by Romeo Crennel, who despite taking some deserved criticism this year stays one of the classiest guys in the league. To be able to make fun of himself under all the scrutiny tells you the kind of person he is.

A good win, that must be enjoyed, but the Browns can not lose focus. A dangerous Oakland team is lurking. They have a legit D and have looked more than adequate on offense in new head coach Lane Kiffin’s system. They run the ball well with LaMont Jordan and that will give the Browns D troubles. They suffered 2 bitter losses in the first 2 weeks so they will be hungry and the Browns have a history of poor performances on the West Coast.

The Browns notched only their second divisional win in the last 3 years this week. They haven’t won 2 games in a row in over 3 years. It’s time for that to end this week.

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