Sunday, October 30, 2011

Woe is them: Browns' offense continues to founder

Is the Frye-era offense back? Please, no.
The futility of the Browns' offense has driven fans to the point where even long touchdown throws with the game still in balance are frowningly scrutinized. Colt McCoy tosses a 45-yard touchdown pass and the Twitterverse grumbles that he didn't lead his receiver.

That's where our heads are at after this latest frustrating defeat. The one positive about these performances is they allow one to fall into a sort of catatonic stupor where thought exists at a higher plane. Today's coma state got me thinking about the worst Browns' offenses since the franchise's return, and how this unit compares.

What we think will happen vs. the 49ers (Week 8)

Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers

October 30, 2011


49ers 17
Browns 10
Just predicting the Browns score a touchdown is going out on a limb, here. Colt McCoy has to show improvement in pocket awareness or medium/deep accuracy .

49ers 28
Browns 6
The Browns are going to be hard pressed to score, and I can't see them breaking into the endzone against the 49ers tough defense. Phil Dawson continues as the only Brown to score points this week.

49ers 21
Browns 13
The Niners and Frank Gore will be a great test for the Browns much improved defense. I just don't think Cleveland's offense will  be better in the face of so many injuries and talent-related question marks, resulting in a worn out defense and a mark in the loss column.

49ers 24
Browns 10
Maybe Roy Hall can break Ted Ginn Jr.'s ankle again. Otherwise, the Glenville legend may take a couple to the house considering the Browns' special teams problems.

49ers 24
Browns 16
Here's hoping mild-mannered Pat Shurmur punches Jim Harbaugh in that pot belly.

Browns 20
49ers 13
There is no logical reason to think the Browns should win this game but something just tells me they will. I think the Browns defense can keep Frank Gore in check and hopefully force Alex Smith into an INT or 2. Not sure how our offense can score 20 but I am banking on good field position on turnovers.

49ers 31
Browns 10

Vox Lox (8): Cleveland, city of fair-weather hypocrites

I miss the NBA. You don't.

A recent More Sports & Les Levine poll revealed 64% of voters don't mind if David Stern cancels the season. While this poll was no doubt unscientific, it's alarming when you consider Levine's audience is comprised of (so-called) Cleveland sports fans.

A Cavalier win in mid-January is often the only reason I know I'm alive during a Cleveland winter. But you're obsessing about the NFL draft.

I have to beg the bartender to please put on the Cavs' game. You're at the barstool to my left, happily consuming meaningless college football, Dancing with the Stars and Newhart reruns on three flat-screens in front of us.

I'm worried about Coach Scott's rotation. You're worried about banging foul chicks.

When LeBron fucked us on national television without even a phone call, he was carefully communicating that he does not care about the Cavs. Apparently, Cleveland, you don't either.

As much as you claim to hate LeBron, he was the reason you were a fan.

Now he's gone. And so are you.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What we think will happen against Wisconsin today

Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes

October 29, 2011


Badgers 20
Buckeyes 10
The Buckeyes are hungry and angry. And those are just the ones who lost in Madison last year and aren't part of the team any more. The Buckeyes still with the team I'm sure are looking for revenge, but even a stout defense can't make up for a pitiful offense against a Badgers team who is looking for redemption after last week's shocking loss.

Badgers 28
Buckeyes 14
The offense continues to struggle and Wisconsin is to much to handle. 

Badgers 27 Buckeyes 20
A return to the grind-it-out style of Tressel-ball led to a much-needed win against Illinois. But OSU will need to put it in the air more than four times to match the Wiscy offense. If the Buckeyes were on the road I'd say they haven't a chance. At home they do have one, it just won't be enough to beat the talented Badgers, still smarting after a killer loss to Michigan St.

Badgers 28
Buckeyes 13
The Bucks just can't score. And an inept offense that makes the Browns look like the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" isn't going to cut it. Coming off a shocking last second loss last week, the Badgers may be looking to make a statement.

Buckeyes 21
Badgers 17
Just a hunch. Get laid tonight, Columbus.

Badgers 27
Buckeyes 17
A few weeks back I thought the Buckeyes had no chance to win this game, I now think they can win, but I just don't think they will. Wisconsin's offense is just too good, so unless the Buckeyes catch a few breaks like a kick off return and/or a pick-6, their offense just lacks the passing game to stay with the high scoring Badgers. I hope I am wrong but as my 11-1-1 ATS in the NFL last weeks tells you, I rarely am.

Buckeyes 21
Badgers 18
Another hunch.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Even Android is a Buckeye Fan

Those of us at CST are split pretty evenly. No, not on what baseball team to support. Or basketball. Or football. Or arena football. Or semi-pro lacrosse. Maybe on rugby union. Not sure.

What we are split on is our smartphone operating system. Some of us are fully indoctronated iPhone (and Mac) devotees. Some of us don't care what we have. But some of us are Android disciples. And this is why. Let's see iPhone do that.

Texas blows Game Six, but it still can't compare

Last night's World Series Game Six, already being called one of the best and most historic World Series games--if not overall baseball games---of all time, has bleary eyes across the country this morning.


Amazing comebacks by both teams. But for Indians fans, this seemed very familiar. Neftali Perez, the Rangers closer who hadn't given up a run in a LONG time, had the Cardinals down to their final strike, down by two, and the outfield playing as deep as you can play without buying a ticket. And yet he pulls a Jose Mesa, giving up a game-tying triple to hometown boy David Freese over the confused defense of right fielder Nelson Cruz.

That, of course, was only the start. Josh Hamilton homered in the tenth to put Texas ahead, and the Cardinals went down to their final strike again. And again came back to tie. And then David Freese came up in the 11th inning again. And I don't think St. Louis has come down off that high yet.

I'm sure every Indians fan over the age of 16 thought immediately of Jose Mesa. And if the Cardinals could have brought Freese home from third base in the ninth, that would have been apropos. Sure, it's not Game 7, but still, the Rangers had one strike to go. But fortunately for Perez, he won't be the only goat in this loss. The Rangers managed to blow saves in the sixth, ninth and tenth innings, and then, of course, gave up the game winning home run in the 11th. Unbelievable.

Of course, like the 86 Red Sox, the Rangers have a chance to redeem themselves tonight in Game 7. Whether they can come back from this game is left to be seen.

Jose Mesa stands alone here.  A franchise without a title in 49 years. A city without a title in 34 years. Game 7. A lead in the ninth. And all gone. That's called pain, folks.  Dallas hasn't won a title in what, four months? (Memo to self, I still owe Mark Cuban a beer.)

By the way, Texas has played 46 games without consecutive losses. So don't weep for them yet. If you even could.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Browns win delivers more questions than answers

Is Colt the answer? Man, I don't know.
The thing about today's 6-3 Browns' victory over the Seahawks is how little it moved the needle in terms of the "process" the front office has been advocating. A win is a win, yes, but in a season where the franchise is trying to find its cornerstone players on offense, the Browns are no further along in getting those answers than they were yesterday.

Hell, the deciding three-point margin didn't even do anything for the gambling community, as the game ended in a push. The Browns' latest assault on their fans' patience for all intents and purposes may as well never have even existed. Would that it didn't.

Vox Lox (7)

Since Carmen "Spin City" Policy headed west, the Browns have been just as bad off the field as they are on it. They are arguably the poorest franchise in professional sports when it comes to PR. Say what you will about Carm, but he got out in front when needed (insert joke about bottles/packing/wallop here). Mark Shapiro does the same for the Indians, even if his message blurs the line between pragmatism and propaganda. I thought President Mike Holmgren would encompass that role and, early on, he was smooth with the media. So what was Big Show thinking when he granted an interview request from a Seattle radio station before speaking with us? The Browns desperately need a voice of leadership, and Holmgren had been stunningly silent this season. Thankfully, he gave us a default press conference thursday, and seemed slightly put out. So tell me...would Holmgren have addressed the Cleveland media if he hadn't made the mistake of chatting with "Mitch in the Morning" on Seattle's KJR 950? Hell to the naw.

What we think will happen vs. the Seahawks (Week 7)

Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns

October 23, 2011


Browns 17
Seahawks 7
This will be ugly.


Browns 10
Seahawks 17
The offense continues to struggle and Pat Shurmur begins to feel the heat, whether its real or imagined its hanging over the team like dead weight. Unfortunately today isn't the day get rid of that weight. Seattle with all of their issues Seattle looks like the more organized team today, which maybe they are.


No pick this week


Browns 17
Seahawks 24
If the Brush Arcs High School football team was playing the Browns, I'd have to think twice about saying a Browns victory was a sure thing. You just never know with this team, so I have no idea how anyone can confidently pick them to win a game.


Browns 23
Seahawks 17
Immediately following the victory, the Browns are crowned the worst 3-3 team in NFL history.


Browns 27
Seahawks 13
My confidence in Colt McCoy is starting to fade but I am not ready to write him off just yet. I think he can have success against a below average Seahawk pass defense. The Browns are long over due for an easy home victory.


No pick this week

Friday, October 21, 2011

In defense of Dan Gilbert

In his report today about the NBA Labor situation and the dire position the two sides are in, J.A. Adande made reference to the fact that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is involved in the negotiations with Billy Hunter and asked him to "trust his (Gilbert's) gut."

(AP/Amy Sancetta)
You know a deal is nowhere close when the owners' side has Dan Gilbert telling the players to trust him. Yeah, that'll work. It's the same Dan Gilbert who went from sweet-talkingLeBron James and offering him $125 million to shooting arrows at his back after he left. Put it this way: How seriously would the owners take it if LeBron came into the room and told the Cavs' owner to take the players' proposal and trust him on it?
One of those parties tanked a playoff game for still-mysterious reasons and caused his #1 seed team to fail spectacularly, and then pulled the ego trip of a lifetime in order to add more pain to a community which he knew was long suffering. The other one fired off a bitter, knee jerk, comic sans open letter in the heat of the moment.

What on Earth do those two things have to do with each other? I know which one I'd trust more.

Now I'm no billionaire-lover. I would guess that Dan Gilbert and I have different views on tax policy (he might be gaga over Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan, as it would save him many many many millions.) But little digs on Gilbert from player (read: LeBron)-favoring columnists just aren't right. And it seems that our old friend Brian Windhorst got into the game a little bit today too, with a column about Gilbert's business dealings and the casino he is building in Cleveland.  Although he doesn't outright accuse Gilbert of not caring about the Cavs, and only using the James-powered team to build his own business interests, he comes pretty close.

Give me a break. Gilbert (as Windhorst admits) tried incredibly hard to re-sign James. And the fact that Gilbert is a businessman and is trying to make money at it doesn't mean it's necessarily a "hedge" against James leaving. Don't you think the casino would make even more money if the Cavs were winning 60 games a year?

Not sure where this sudden PR push against Gilbert came from, but it seems disingenuous at best.

Can patience be Cleveland's virtue?

"All we need is something something."
Browns president Mike Holmgren preached patience during yesterday afternoon's meeting with local media. Holmgren's not the first Browns' executive to take such a tack, and when asked how long he thought it would take to make the Browns a Super Bowl contender, his answer probably didn't do much to satisfy starving fans:

“How long will it take? That’s a tough question," said Holmgren. "In Green Bay, it took five years and Seattle it was seven years. We’ve been able to do it, my group, in about five years. You have to have good drafts. I have the utmost confidence in Tom Heckert. You have to find the quarterback to get you there and that’s as big as anything.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Browns "could be persuaded" to trade Hillis, but what does that mean?

Chris Mortenson said on ESPN that the Browns "could be persuaded" to trade Peyton Hillis. Now seriously, what does that even mean?

Not even getting into the fact that Hillis showed how valuable he could be last year. That his head-down, hard-charging style is just what Cleveland fans embrace. That this year there was great hope for a two-headed rushing attack with Hillis and Hardesty, that hasn't come to fruition through injury to Hillis and mysterious playcalling by the Browns offensive powers.

But to hint that they could be persuaded? Sure, Shurmer said Monday that he wasn't on the trading block. But in reality everything is for sale. Colt McCoy would be traded for the right price. Joe Haden would be out the door for a wheelbarrow of draft picks. I'm sure you would sell your house if a shiek showed up with a few suitcases full of cash.

A couple years ago a guy asked me at the gas station if I was interested in selling my car. My 13 year old Honda Accord. And I said "no." And immediately kicked myself. Shoot, should have negotiated at least.

I don't want Hillis to be traded. I want him to get a fair contract. And I want the Browns to use him and Hardesty to beat teams to submission. But unless the player is named Tom Brady, there isn't any team that wouldn't listen to an offer. (And I'm not even sure Belichick wouldn't at least listen.)

So take the news reports with a grain of salt. Of course Mortenson has his sources. But other sources keep insisting the Browns aren't moving Peyton. But if anyone wants to buy an old Honda know whom to call.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Remembrance of things past

Why so serious?
It's difficult to sit through another Browns' loss and not strain your ears for echoes of past failures. Every defeat reminds us that we haven't had any semblance of decent NFL football here since the franchise's renaissance in 1999, and yet we seemingly still have so far to go.

Yesterday's not-as-close-as-it-sounds 24-17 decision to the Raiders was emblematic of so much that has come before. The Browns identity on offense, for one, is still hidden under a shroud of uninspired playcalling. The team is last in the league in plays over 20 yards; perhaps not too surprising in light of wide receivers unable to get separation and pick up the yards after catch the West Coast offense thrives upon. Even so, that dink and dunk style offense means you're going get stat lines like Colt McCoy's 21 completions for a measly 215 yards.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What we think will happen vs. the Raiders (Week 6)

Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders

October 16, 2011


Browns 24
Raiders 23
I thought the Black Hole was a name for the Browns' and Buckeyes' passing games. Turns out they have sociopath fans on the West Coast, too! If Colt McCoy can put any balls on the money deep, the Browns could pull this off. If not, then not. Defense needs to come up strong too. So why am I picking them? Because I'm a shameless homer? No, because I don't believe in the Raiders.

Browns 13
Raiders 10
Browns head into the Black Hole looking to find themselves after a distraction filled bye week. The game won't be pretty, but the Browns will put something together in a low scoring win. If not the distractions will grow as they always seem to do with the Browns, no matter who's in charge.

Raiders 23
Browns 14 
The games you don't expect the Browns to win are the ones they inexplicably do. I don't think it's in the cards this week, though. Too many distractions and too much Run DMC spell doom for our boys.

Browns 21
Raiders 28
The Browns are going to have to prove to me that they can fly across the country and beat ANY team... let alone a decent team.

Raiders 24
Browns 17

Bottom line: Browns' two wins came against teams that are a combined 0-9. No reason to be optimistic with Coach Shurmur severely struggling in his dual role.


Raiders 21
Browns 17
Browns keep it close but Oakland plays off the emotions of Al and gets the win. McFadden outshines Hillis in the battle of former Razorbacks.

No pick
No pick this week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vox Lox: Ten Vox Quickies

a sunday morning special

1. I wish I lived on the west coast. Mostly because I want the NFL to start at 10am. I hate waking up and waiting until 1pm.

2. In 1998, I randomly spotted Ric Flair signing autographs in front of the Nascar Cafe in Nashville. Sadly, I was lost at the time and never stopped to meet him.

3. El DeBarge once crooned "playing games is part of human nature." Of all the song lyrics I've quoted in my life, perhaps that one is the most apropro.

4. Pat Shurmur is just Chris Palmer, ten years later. I pray I'm wrong. Of course, I don't blame either coach. I blame Dwight Clark and Mike Holmgren for hiring them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vox Lox (5)

When you met your busted-up Bookie last tuesday at the gas station off the freeway exit, or your local barbershop, or in front of Mrs. Fields at the mall and he handed you that manila envelope filled with jack and looked at you with bewildered amazement...well, hopefully you let him know he'd been voxed. Simply put, there weren't any other handicappers in the industry that went 4-0 with their NFL slate last week. I may pontificate on the Back to the Future trilogy, My So Called Life, porn stars, etc., but I'm always particularly focused on exploiting each week's oddsmaker errors. Those who have rode me long enough know I won't go undefeated every week, but I will consistently build bankrolls with careful, informed wagers. Those who jumped on last week, welcome back...we're playing with your man's money now...and the Crookie crumbles again with these moves:

Friday, October 7, 2011

When Braylon Edwards and Yankees fans go to war, it's hard to know who to root for.

Wow. I was happy that the Tigers eliminated the Yankees last night, and then this from @OfficialBraylon on twitter.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vox in the Box (27): Top Ten Torturous Cleveland Sports Moments

On my way home from work last Wednesday, did I really hear WKNR's Tony Rizzo, in afternoon drive, plug CST? Did I really hear Uncle Rizzy describe our front-page design in depth, slowly read our tag line (I'm blushing, now), and half our mission statement...verbatim? Yes. Fuck yes, I did. Sunroof down, I unapologetically pumped my fist into the September sky. For a brief moment, I was John Bender on a vacant football field, Molly Ringwald's diamond hanging from my left lobe. Or I was an aspiring pop star, hearing my song on the radio for the first time. Our fifteen seconds had come without warning, and I was unsure of myself in the aftermath. Do I break off a tweet to Rizzo? Call my longtime friend and CSTer, Kevin, to thank him for sending Rizz the email about our blog? Should I Facebook this shit? All of the sudden, I was home. Within a few minutes, I was drowning in domestication and had already forgotten about it.

Six days later, I have Mrs. ExVox's cash rent payment in my pocket, a few hours to spare, and I'm feeling like this is the prime of my life. Any of you area dive bars wanna open at 10am for some mid-morning karaoke? Or maybe I could use a steak and schvitz? I could take Memphis for a classic re-evaluation-of-life-walk (but I'm always distracted by my dog's pure domination of multiple fire hydrants). Today feels different, for whatever reason. I see a Box in a Vox (random hot chick/fellow Solara-owner) at Speedway. Suddenly, I have words in my veins, and they want out. Now. And by the time I hit the coffee shop, this column has almost written itself. All aboard for a Random Top 10. Grab your scotch and your bong; this one goes down hard, friends.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The forgotten lockout

No season means no Kyrie and Tristan.
A person's enjoyment for a thing is truly tested when faced with the possibility of its absence. Sports fans this year were presented with double-barreled lockouts from the NFL and NBA. While the NFL managed to come to an agreement, the NBA powers-that-be are still stalemated in their labor negotiations with players.

What's missing from the NBA "drama" is the furor and outrage that permeated the NFL lockout saga. It seems like nobody outside of hardcore NBA fans are concerned about the possibility of a shortened regular season or by tactical threats from commissioner David Stern regarding the loss of the entire campaign should talks continue to falter.

Looking back on a disastrous football weekend

Well I think my predictions for Ohio State and the Browns this weekend were a little too rosy, for sure. I wasn't cocksure, but I felt wins were in the cards for both teams.

However, you can see that my nervousness was there, hiding under the surface.  In predicting an easy Buckeyes win, I had the caveat "this game can go a hundred different ways...Ohio State can score 49 points or 3 points and it wouldn't totally shock me." And about the Browns, I wrote "I can't see Colt McCoy being as off as he was last week, so I'm guessing the offensive ship gets righted..."

All day long. (Irwin/Getty Images)
Well, here's what I think we learned watching two of the most wretched performances imagineable this weekend from our beloved Bucks and Brownies.

Sure, Braxton Miller is only a freshman, but there appears to be an immense drop off in talent from Terrelle Pryor to Miller. Miller's average play involves him dropping back three steps, then nearly immediately tucking the ball down in a confused jig, making one person miss, and going down for no gain (+/- 2 yards). I don't even know if he can make a throw down the field.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What we think will happen vs. the Titans (Week 4)

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns

October 2, 2011


Browns 24
Titans 21
Chris Johnson is killing my fantasy team worse than the Titans. I can't see Colt McCoy being as off as he was last week, so I'm guessing the offensive ship gets righted enough to get the good guys another home win.

No pick this week. 

Browns 20
Titans 14
 I'd to see the Browns go into their bye week with a decisive home win. The offensive line needs to offer Colt McCoy a bit more protection this week, but the young gunslinger must be more precise with his throws. Hillis's return will help boost McCoy's confidence, while the play of a talented young defensive line will be enough get the Browns the duke.

Browns 10
Titans 7
Matt Hasselbeck seems to have found the Fountain of Youth but with his best receiver out for the year, Chris Johnson struggling, and a surprisingly good Browns defense, the Titans should struggle to score. That being said, the Browns offense hasn't exactly lit the world on fire and the Titans are the top rated defense in the league. With Peyton Hillis back, the Browns squeak out a low scoring, close one to earn the W.

Browns 22
Titans 20
In March of 1998, I drank alone at a Nashville bar and spent my time there oddly fascinated by a life-size wall illustration of Yancy Thigpen. I often wonder if that bar still exists and, if so, have they replaced Yancy with an image of Jeff Fisher, Steve McNair or Frank Wycheck? And if they haven't, might I suggest Kenny Britt? You cannot stop Kenny Britt, you can only hope he's out for the season when you play the Titans.

No pick this week.

No pick this week.