Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Cleveland

Its mid-January in Cleveland and the Cavs are off to their best start in franchise history, pushing towards a potential first seed in the Eastern Conference. LeBron James is looking like the clear cut NBA MVP due to an elevated intensity on the defensive end and a willingness to play offense without controlling the basketball. Mike Browns has opened up the offense, without sacrificing his trademark defense first philosophy, by turning over some of it to assistant John Kuester.

Across the country, he Indians are just under a month from taking the field at their new spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona hoping that the namesake of their new home is an understatement of what they will accomplish in 2009. For the maybe first time ever the Dolan Family opened their pocketbooks despite a crumbling economy. Mark Shapiro took advantage by being aggressive and creative after an off-season of sitting on his hands in 2008 blew up in his face.

While I love the rosy prospects for both the Cavs and the Tribe in 2009 I find myself fearing and loathing the Browns at so many levels it shrouds my excitement for everything else Cleveland sports related. Right or wrong, the Browns are the team that is associated with and defines the city. LeBron may be able to chance that in the very near future, but for now when one thinks Cleveland, the Browns come to mind.

I love the fact that Randy Lerner does not want to sell the Browns and I appreciate that he does not want to be the face of the franchise. However, it scares me to death that he is so introverted that he can not even speak in front of a camera for ten minutes to explain his rational behind hiring a head coach. It is embarrassing when Team President Mike Keenan, who has been around for about a year, has to introduce himself at a press conference before he introduces the head coach.

I appreciate that Lerner seemingly found “his guy” in Eric Mangini and that he values a coach more than a General Manager even though it is an ass backwards approach to me. But I wonder what Lerner would have done if Mangini had not come available after Bill Cowher and Scott Pioli became unviable options.

And what if the Ravens’ George Kokinis decides to stay in Baltimore? I have no faith that Lerner has even considered that situation. It looks like the Browns only fallback options are Shack Harris who resigned from the Jacksonville Jaguars GM post after free agent signings of Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence blew up in his face and he was unable to get first round draft choice Derrick Harvey into camp on time. Former Broncos GM Ted Sundquist is begging Lerner for an interview which does nothing to sooth my fears.

I even have concerns about Eric Mangini, who I actually am intrigued by, as the head coach of the Browns. I may not like they way that Lerner went about selecting Mangini but I do think the scrutiny of the New York market and three years of actual head coaching experience will benefit him.

It does scare me that while coaches in their second go round do experience success many of them, like Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin, either took time off from football or went back to the coordinator ranks before their next head coaching gig. The 14 days off that Mangini had between being fired by the Jets and hired by the Browns makes me worry how much he could really learn from his mistakes in that short time.

So instead of celebrating the success of the Cavs or analyzing the potential of the Indians I find myself worrying about the Browns when they should be an afterthought in my mind. Fearing that an organization has failed to learn from its worst decade of football in franchise history and loathing the fact that we may be looking at another decade of the same.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - Receivers & Tight Ends

Wide Receivers

12 Syndric Steptoe, WR

You are just too small to be an effective every down or third receiver. You are incapable of blocking down field because of your size and it impacts the game negatively. You are a great return man but with Josh Cribbs here you will be forever blocked behind him. We need an actual third receiver who is capable to do it all. CUT!

17 Braylon Edwards, WR

Everything is in your brain. No one thinks anything less of you because you are from Meatchicken. Grow up. You have been pampered and coddled and I honestly think your head can not process this and does not have any idea on how to react. If you can get you brain sorted out you have a chance to be one of the greatest receivers in the franchise’s history, if you want to. We need your deep threat to open up the running game and make this a potent offense. Get you head out of you ass and man up. You are better that this. KEEP.

18 Donte Stallworth, WR

I have seen Kevin Johnson. I have seen Quincy Morgan. I have seen Dennis Northcutt. I have seen Andre Davis. I have seen Travis Wilson. You by far take the cake. You may be a worse free agent signing that Andre Rison. You are everything that is wrong with this franchise. You are soft, babied and put yourself before the team. You show no heart or soul in your play on the field. When it is time to lay it on the line you fold like a house of cards. If you are on this roster next season it would be a disgrace. CUT!

80 Kellen Winslow, TE

I love your heart and dedication on the field. The fact you play through pain on a daily basis is admirable. But I think the veil has been lifted on your true being. Yes, the staph infection cover-up was not you fault and put you in a bad position but the way you handled it was just as poor as Phil Savage. Despite your hard play and effort on the field I think that you only do it to benefit yourself off the field. You know your time is limited because of all your ailments and I think your first priority is to capitalize monetarily on that. The team comes second. I think it is time to move on and you need to be traded. CUT!

82 Steve Heiden, TE

If you removed Phil Dawson, you are the best player the Browns have had since their reincarnation in 1999. Your knee needs to heal quickly I think you will need to fill in for Winslow in 2009, and not because he is injured. KEEP.

84 Joe Jurevicius, WR

Seven surgeries on the same knee in under a calendar year is not good. I just hope you are able to make it through life without any effects from it. If you can make it back onto the football field it is a bonus. KEEP.

86 Martin Rucker, TE

Most NFL scouting departments don’t think very highly of you. The Browns don’t know what they have in you because the lame duck coaching staff would not play you. I hope this gives you a giant chip on your shoulder. KEEP.

87 Darnell Dinkins, TE

You still are the ugliest mo-fo on the entire team but that is not enough this year. I am tired of seeing your countless penalties on special teams and you dropping of passes over the middle. CUT!

89 Paul Hubbard, WR

You have the size to play in the NFL but could not get activated for a single game. I will attribute it to coaching ineptitude and not you being the second coming of Travis Wilson. KEEP.

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - Offensive Line

Offensive Linemen

61 Isaac Sowells, T/G

We need young offensive linemen but you’ve only see action on offense in one game in three years. Time to see what you are made of. KEEP.

62 Lennie Friedman, G/C

Let’s get it out of the way… I always laugh when I hear this name. I think of the scene in “Major League” when the construction workers are going over the Tribe’s roster after Spring Training. “Willie Hayes, Ricky Vaughn, Lennie Friedman… who the F@#$ are these guys?” You also are in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame which is outstanding. But I hear that LeBron-ukkah is sweeping the nation and that does not bode well. In all seriousness, you missed all year with a neck injury and I hope you experience no ill effects from it but it’s time for a youth movement on the offensive line. Mazel tov, my good man. CUT!

65 Eric Steinbach, G

You played injured most of the year and it showed. I think that impacted Joe Thomas’ play as well. We need you at 100% next season. KEEP.

66 Hank Fraley, C

Your play definitely decline this season. How many times were the Browns vulnerable to the blitz up the middle? Way too much. We need a solid year out of you next season while we groom a successor. KEEP.

68 Seth McKinney, G/C

I normally love a fat, red haired guy since they are few and far between but your play didn’t inspire me. Last year we were better off with Ryan Tucker and this year you couldn’t beat out Rex Hadnot. CUT!

70 Rex Hadnot, G

You are a road grader and I don’t mean that in a good way. You lack the athleticism a guard needs and combined with Kevin Shaffer you create a polar opposite right side of the line to the left side. Shaffer’s play also suffered with you in there and that has to say something. You weren’t awful but just weren’t good either. CUT!

72 Ryan Tucker, G/T

Two years ago you went off the deep end. Last year returned in the form of “The Tuckster” after a four game suspension for saying your prayers and taking your (illegal) vitamins. This year you started one game and the Browns rolled the defending champs. You are getting up there in age but you are valuable and make Kevin Shaffer look serviceable. KEEP.

73 Joe Thomas, T

You had a down year but you faced a much tougher list of opposing defenses. I will chalk it up to an adjustment period. You still had enough respect from your peers to be voted to the Pro Bowl which counts for something. You will anchor the line for a decade or more. KEEP.

77 Kevin Shaffer, T

After 2006 I wrote, “The Human Parking Cone (HPC) has been returned to the department of Public Works. You almost single handedly got Derek Anderson killed… I thought Chris Hovan killed him. But I got to see Ken Dorsey play. Thanks douche-bag!” Well after a stellar 2007 guess what? You DID single handedly get Derek Anderson killed. I DID to see Ken Dorsey play. Thanks douche-bag!” HPC you defied the oods last year but this year you came back to earth. You may look like The Warlord from the Powers of Pain tag team back in the 1980s WWE but that is not enough. It time we H-P-C ya. CUT!

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - Defensive Line

Defensive Linemen

71 Ahtyba Rubin, DL
You actually made a few plays here and there once you got some PT at the end of the year. A true nose tackle is hard to find and we need someone to spell Big Baby from time to time. Sad that only our sixth and seventh round draft choice were effective this season. KEEP.

91 Shaun Smith, DL
Carson Palmer called you the Hamburglar. Brady Quinn said you have a small penis. Some of your teammates insinuated you quit at mid season. You trash talk relentlessly which is fine but when you factor in that you came from the Bengals who love to keep malcontents and then chose not to re-sign you tells me maybe you are not that good. There is only one fate for you and your tiny penis. CUT!

92 Shaun Rogers, DL
Keep the weight within reason and stay motivated. DO that and you will be the best interior lineman the Browns have had in a long, long time. KEEP.

93 Louis Leonard, DL
You give it your all but you have zero effect on the game. Teams double team Rogers and you need to make plays or string it out. You did neither on a consistent basis. CUT!

97 Santonio Thomas, DL
See Leonard, Louis. CUT!

98 Robaire Smith, DL
Losing you early in the year was a huge blow. Big men with Achilles injuries have a difficult time recovering from them due to the weight placed on the heel. I hope you can recover, we need you. KEEP.

99 Corey Williams, DL
You look like the classic case of the square peg (not Sarah Jessica Parker) in the round hole. You were injured early in the year and struggled since. Regardless we need to see how you do with another season under your belt. KEEP.

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - RB & QB

Running Backs and Quarterbacks

3 Derek Anderson, QB

You had an incredible 2007 even though you tapered off. A smart GM would have traded you at your peak value. I expected you to fall off somewhat in 2008 but you crashed and burned. I still think you could be an effective QB but not in Cleveland. You were never going to be loved once Brady Quinn was drafted and those who cheered your injury should be embarrassed of themselves. I wish you well but it’s time to move on. CUT! Trade actually.

7 Bruce Gradkowski, QB

Your QB Rating for the year was 2.8. Do I need to say anything else you Pittspuke piece of crap? CUT!

10 Brady Quinn, QB

I think you can be the man. Will you be the savior like some think? I will believe it when I see it. But think entails being a leader. So when a big fat guy with a small penis is talking smack on you in the weight room you need to walk away and be the bigger man instead of pointing out he has a small penis. Also, no more wacky pictures. No more Village People gear at wedding. No more flexing with Brett Michaels of Poison. Subway commercials are cool. Pimping EAS on TV, cool. Got it? KEEP.

11 Ken Dorsey, QB

No one expected you to throw a pass this year so I can not hold you fully responsible for that. But after seeing you play at length there is no way that a roster spot can be wasted on you. Retire and get into coaching, you obviously have a future there. ESPN’s Bill Simmons delivered the infamous quote, “Good God, that’s Ken Dorsey’s music!” If you did have music it would be “Blaze of Glory” by Bon Jovi. Because the Browns season went down in one once you took over. CUT!

31 Jamal Lewis, RB

The tread on the tires is wearing down but you can still be effective. You may tippy-toe here and there but you still play hard, you still play hurt and you still play with passion and that counts for something. 10,000 career rushing yards, 1,000 yards in a season again and zero cocaine deals with in Cleveland. All numbers to be proud of. KEEP.

35 Jerome Harrison, RB

You made me a believer. You need 10-15 touches a game. Every time you touch the ball you are a threat to take it to the house. A competent coaching staff would have figured that out long ago. KEEP.

41 Charles Ali, FB
A second fullback is a luxury but you were just mauling people left and right when Vickers was injured. You are not, in any situation, allowed to touch the ball no matter what. KEEP.

47 Lawrence Vickers, FB
Once you were the bane of my existence when Maurice Carthon was around due to Fullback Option Passes and other tomfoolery. Now you are one of the most underrated fullbacks in the NFL and a relieving threat out of the backfield. You have swayed me my firend. KEEP

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - Linebackers


52 D'Qwell Jackson, LB

It can not be ignored that you led the NFL in tackles. You actually make play at or behind the line of scrimmage. Your size will never let you be a dominant #1 inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. However, if you keep this level of play up I think you can be an effective #2. KEEP.

54 Andra Davis, LB

Unless the Browns are playing in a blizzard, monsoon, earthquake or other natural disaster you are too slow and unable to make any sort of tackle for less than a five yard gain. In a 3-4 defense you need an inside linebacker to be an impact playmaker. You are not. You always gave it your all every play you just aren’t very good. CUT!

55 Willie McGinest, LB

You have a very good 2008 but overall your three years here have been a waste. You were supposed to be the veteran influence that would help develop the linebacking core. They developed to the worst linebacking core in the NFL. CUT!

56 Antwan Peek, LB

You have the scariest mug shot of anyone on the Browns but you can not stay healthy to save your life. Either you have bad luck or are fragile. Either way that leaves you in one spot. CUT!

58 Beau Bell, LB
It has been said that many other organizations did not think very highly of you in last year’s draft. Hopefully you can use that as a chip on your shoulder. There is little to no linebacking talent on this roster so you are worth keeping around. KEEP.

94 Leon Williams, LB
Neon Leon you are not. After looking line a successor to Andra Davis in 2007 you devolved in 2008. You got significant playing time at the end of the year and made zero plays. None. I don’t recall you every doing anything of substance. CUT!

95 Kamerion Wimbley, LB
Where do I begin? What looked like a sophomore slump is now a horrific trend. You still have only one, count them one, pass rushing move. Try to run around the tackle on the outside. This is not a formula for success. If anything it shows how brilliant Benedict Ozzie was in fleecing Phil Savage out of Haloti Ngata. It a season of disappointments, you are one of the largest. CUT!

96 Alex Hall, LB
For a seventh round choice from a D-II college you did more that anyone could have expected. You tapered off at the end of the season which will happen. Get someone who can actually coach you up and we may have something. KEEP.

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - Defensive Backs

Defensive Backs

20 Mike Adams, S

Nothing you did stands out, good or bad. When the starting safeties went down with injury you fill in and weren’t exploited. That counts for something. KEEP.

21 Brodney Pool, S

I have never thought very highly of you but you had a better year that I expected. Word on the street is that you many be better suited for strong safety which is curious. If that is the case then you need to have much more of an impact in both phases of the game. KEEP.

22 Brandon McDonald, CB

You got exploited this year that’s for sure. But you stood up and took accountability for your play, something that many other players on the team did not do. I still think you can be an effective player but your size may make you better suited for the slot receiver. KEEP.

24 Eric Wright, CB

I think you could be a corner piece for the defense for years but I do have an issue. How many times are you going to all a fade or corner route against you and not look for the ball? Ten? Twenty? Eleventy million? Sweet lord, when the receiver looks for the ball turn you damn head around! KEEP.

25 Terry Cousin, CB

How the hell have you been in the league this long? You are horrible! No wonder our defensive backs regressed if you were supposed to be the “veteran influence” for them. I thought Ralph Brown was bad but he was picked up off the scrap heap but you take the cake. Every opposing offensive game plan had this in it: Throw to whoever Terry Cousin is covering on third down. CUT!

26 Sean Jones, S

I thought you could become an Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu type force at strong safety: a hard-hitting, intimidating ball hawk that flew around the field and led the defense. You make a play from time to time but not enough to even sniff those players’ level. My memory of the season about you is the Browns’ being 0-3 and you having elective knee surgery to clean it out rather than sit out a couple weeks with a bye week coming up. Then you told the media you were doing it because it was your contract year and you were going to be a free agent. That told me all I needed to know. CUT!

39 Daven Holly, CB

I never would have thought that your loss would have had such an impact. But it resulted in moving B-Mac out of the slot and signing Terry Cousin. You also seem to be a ball magnet, grabbing 4-5 picks a year and a few fumbles. I hope you are 100% coming training camp. KEEP.

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - The Specialists

The Specialists

4 Phil Dawson, K

You may be the greatest pure kicker in franchise history and people still aren’t satisfied. If things don’t get much better for the team I am getting a #4 Phil Dawson jersey. If you didn’t play for the Browns you would be a perennial Pro Bowler. You are one of the few players we can be proud of. KEEP.

15 Dave Zastudil, P

You gutted out two weeks on a bum plant leg when most other guys would have hung them up. When you are healthy you are money. You’ve been hurt the past few years. Heal up. KEEP.

16 Joshua Cribbs, WR

What can be said that hasn’t already been? Hopefully, the new regime can find a way to get you 10+ touches on offense while not impacting your effect on special teams and returns. KEEP.

27 Nick Sorensen, DB

Every team needs a token guy who looks like a surfer or a burn out. You make plays on special teams and you actually were moderately effective on defense. Plus I work down the street for your high school. KEEP.

29 Jason Wright, RB

Always undervalued, but I see what you bring, superior work on special teams and always in the right spot for the blitz pick-ups. You are a solid all around back that every team needs. KEEP.

30 Gerard Lawson, DB

You showed a lot of promise in the pre-season and on special teams this year. We need a yound DB to emerge for depth. I hope it’s you. KEEP.

53 Kris Griffin, LB

I appreciate you are a former D-III college player but you’ve been hurt all year. We need your spot for younger, athletic linebackers. CUT!

64 Ryan Pontbriand, LS

Cool as the other side of the pillow. Keep them straight, Ponty, we can’t afford to burn another draft choice on a long snapper. KEEP.

2009 Cleveland Browns Cut List - Practice Squad & Others

The Practice Squad

8 Mike Dragosavich, P

Your name sounds eerily familiar to the impeached governor of Illinois. Do you have a horrible toupee? Are you trying to sell Senate seats to the highest bidder? No? CUT!

9 Lance Leggett, WR

I hear you have very skinny legs. That does not bode well for you. Plus I have no idea if you can catch.

44 Jed Collins, TE

The Browns lost three tight ends for the season finale and the team chose to use a back-up offensive lineman as the third tight end. The writing is on the wall my friend. CUT!

60 Melila Purcell, DL

You were drafted two years ago and have spent every single moment on the practice squad. Riveting. CUT!

62 Dustin Fry, OL

You could be a distant relative of Charlie Frye. Plus you took Lennie Friedman’s number. Bad move, my friend, bad move. CUT!

69 Christian Mohr, DL

You are the NFL Europe international designee. Awesome. NFL Europe is now defunct. CUT!

74 Kurt Quarterman, OL

I prefer pong over quarters. CUT!

83 Steve Sanders, WR

Cleveland born and Cleveland bred. You caught every pass throw to you this year. It may have only been one pass, but on this team that deserves recognition. Plus you are named after a guy from Beverly Hills 90210. KEEP.

90 David Holloway, LB

We have the worst linebacking core in the league and you couldn’t make the active roster, jeez. CUT!

Who the F#$% are These Guys

13 Richard Bartel, QB

You got that Week 17 bump up to the active roster so you can appear on the Browns’ all-time roster. Kudos. But I know Lang Campbell. I’ve seen Lang Campbell. You sir, are no Lang Campbell. CUT!

23 Travis Daniels, CB

We traded a seventh round pick for you play seven games and five tackles. You got to start one game and were pulled after one play. You couldn’t beat out Terry Cousin. This is not fuzzy math. CUT!

28 Allen Patrick, RB

Could be worse, you could still be at Oklahoma losing BCS games. CUT!

42 Hamza Abdullah, S

Inactive every game is not a good thing my friend. With that name I am sure you get harassed, sadly, at the airport every time. Could be worse your name could be Uleeq M’Diq or M’Balz Ez-Hari. (Thanks to SNL for those beauties.) CUT!

51 Shantee Orr, LB

You got cut out of training camp and only Antwan Peek’s knee injury brought you back. CUT!

59 Titus Brown, LB

You actually played in a game and made a tackle. Impressive for a Browns’ linebacker. Not enough however. CUT!

69 Eric Young, OL

You spent the entire year on the Non-Football Injured Reserve. Enough said. CUT!

79 Scott Young, OL

You got activated for the last game, as a third tight end. And you got called for holding like 50 times. Brilliant. CUT!

85 John Madsen, TE

The Browns had three tight ends out and they activated a back-up lineman instead of you. Hey, how ‘bout that. CUT!

88 Brad Cieslak, TE

I should keep you just for the name. Brad Cieslak is a great TV or movie name. You should look into that. CUT!