Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rebuilding in store for Browns, Ohio State

Last weekend was an exciting one for Ohio State football, to be sure. The buzz around Urban Meyer was only overshadowed by The Game, held this year, of course Up North. And although the 2900-day domination over Michigan came to an end this year in The Big House, the future looks good—if not a little bit murky—for the Ohio State football Buckeyes.

Truth be told, early in the year, I was actually a Joe Bauserman backer. His first game reminded me more than a little bit of Joe Germaine. He was on target, strong armed, and solid in the pocket. Unfortunately after that, he reminded me more of Germaine’s pro career--confused and short-lived. Braxton Miller just wasn’t doing it for me. There’s nothing I hate more than designed quarterback runs, except maybe quarterback runs where the QB pulls it down way too early and takes off on pass plays. Which is what I saw too much of from Miller early in the year. As the season progressed, however, he grew on me--dramatically. Stayed in the pocket a little longer, made mistakes that definitely cost Ohio State some points, but showed more and more poise week after week. Working on deep throws should be a major priority for Miller and the Buckeyes this offseason. If Miller could have hit his deep receivers with any consistency, Ohio State wouldn’t have had one of the worst passing offenses in college football this year. Probably three touchdowns were missed against Michigan alone. Uggh.

When Miller's arm is as good as his legs--watch out. (AP)

I’m not one to suggest a coach is the deciding factor for success. But I’m more than willing (and much more than our own SamVox) to give Meyer some room to work. The spread offense that Meyer should bring in should allow Braxton Miller to flourish. Plus, nothing is more important to a college team’s success than recruiting, and I can’t think the Meyer era in Columbus will accompany anything less than premiere in- and out-of-state recruiting, year after year. Nevertheless, that’s next year; while this week Buckeyes fans will be forced to watch Wisconsin versus Michigan State, of all teams, in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game. Uggh.

And of course, there’s another team about 135 miles north on I-71 which occupies half my weekends as well. And the Browns are in perpetual rebuilding mode. With the jettison of Ryan Pontbriand this week, the last Butch Davis holdover is gone—which tells you a lot about the continuity of talent in orange and brown. That it’s nonexistent.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Breakable Browns can't afford mistakes

Cleveland football's glacial slog toward respectability is nothing if not fragile. This team lives on such a rickety ledge each game that one or two mistakes are enough to send the whole works crashing to the floor like a precariously placed Ming vase.

The Browns can occasionally get away with a few gaffes to beat a team like Seattle or Jacksonville. Against a talented, upcoming team like the Bengals, however, those blunders magnify a root truth of competitive sports: Bad teams always find a way to lose.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What we think will happen vs. the Bengals (Week 12



Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

November 27, 2011





Brian

Browns 24
Bengals 13
I don't know why I pick the Browns to win. I just do. Bengals are better. Browns are on the road. But Ohio State just lost to Michigan, and things are topsy turvy.
Tom


Bengals 20
Browns 13
Browns fall flat in Cincinnati. Last weeks win is quickly forgotten, as the offense and defense struggle. The Bengals look like a team on the rise--same can't be said for the Browns.
Doug


Bengals 24
Browns 10
The Browns have played decently over the last two weeks against mediocre competition, and are still only 1-1 during that span. Even with Cleveland's stable of running backs making a return, the improved Bengals will take the Browns' measure today on their home turf.
Kevin

Bengals 20
Browns 13
I can't believe I'm jealous of the Bengals-- young, good, and loaded with high draft picks.
SamVox


Browns 24
Bengals 13

Our man Colt finds a groove today. The Bengals may be ballers this season, but that's still Marvin Lewis with the headset on.
Ryan

Browns 20
Bengals 17
We lost a game we shouldn't have lost week 1, we win a game we shouldn't win today.
Sean

Bengals 20
Browns 17
Enough said.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What we think will happen vs. that team up north today

Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Wolverines

November 26, 2011






Brian

Buckeyes 24
Wolverines 17
I'd almost given up on Braxton Miller earlier in the season but he has done much to impress since then. Unfortunately he still is a freshman and that shows up too often. Oh yeah, our soon to be ex-coach is a frosh too. I think the history of the game overwhelms any distraction from the Urban Meyer chatter and the Bucks pull off a win.
Tom

Buckeyes 17
Wolverines 13
The last game before Urban Meyers arrival is a solid win for the Buckeyes. The Seniors graduate never having lost to that Team Up North.
Doug

Wolverines 23
Buckeyes 21
If there's a year the Wolverines are going to get theirs against the Buckeyes, it's going to be this one. Ohio State will cover but Michigan will take the duke on their home field.
Kevin

Buckeyes 17
Wolverines 16
Bucks pull off the upset as Coach Fickell is carried off the field like Earle Bruce..and into the waiting jaws of Urban Meyer.
SamVox


School up north 26
Buckeyes 20
(overtime)
Ann Arbor is still a whore.
Ryan

Buckeyes 23
Wolverines 20
The Buckeyes have consistently played up/down to their competition all year. They played their best game of the year against Wisconsin, the team that I believe is by far the best in the Big Ten. Michigan more have more talent then the Buckeyes this year but my gut tells me the D steps up and controls Robinson. Luke Fickell gets carried off the field just like Earl Bruce 24 years ago.

Let's Party Columbus!
Sean

Buckeyes 24
Wolverines 20
The "D" is going to have to hang tough and win the turnover battle to pull this one off. I think they do just that, while Braxton Miller improvises and Krenzel's us to victory.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vox Lox: Meet Urban Meyer, Douchebag

Urban Meyer is a hypocrite.

After his one-loss Gators beat Alabama in the 2006 SEC title game, Urban feared Florida wouldn't wouldn't get a chance to play for the national championship and immediately started politicking against the BCS: "the college presidents need to sit down this week and get a playoff together." Of course, that wouldn't stop Urban from incessantly lobbying his way into the BCS title game. For the next few weeks, Urban begged Forida's case to any media member who would listen. On the other hand, the classy Lloyd Carr, who could've legitimately argued for a Michigan-OSU rematch on a neutral field, stayed silent. One month later, when Urban was happily holding that crystal championship trophy high above his head, where was his conviction for a playoff system? Did he make any reference to undefeated Boise State? Yeah, right. Urban doesn't care about college football. Urban cares about Urban.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Urban the right answer for Ohio State

Meyer could bring crystal paperweights back to C-bus.
If the gossip coming out of Columbus is true, then Urban Meyer may be the next head coach of Ohio State. Meyer's "I've certainly not accepted any job" dissembling during yesterday's Michigan-Nebraska telecast was just not very convincing. The man's as good as signed, even with the NCAA infractions committee ruling still hanging over Columbus.

Bringing in Meyer would seem to be a departure for the program, as Buckeyes football has never been about plucking the shiniest coaching bauble off the shelf. Even Woody Hayes himself came from humble Miami University. John Cooper did take Arizona State to three consecutive bowl games, including an in hindsight ironic Rose Bowl victory over Michigan, but he never reached the airy heights of the former University of Florida coach.

What we think will happen vs. the Jaguars (Week 11)




Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns

November 20, 2011




Brian

Browns 15
Jaguars 14
The fact that I am still getting all dressed up in orange and brown to watch this game says a lot about my loyalty, or intelligence, or both. The offense we have been subject to this year should qualify us all for a purple heart. I think the Browns D can hold the paltry Jacksonville offense, so if Young Colt can put the ball into Greg Little's hands a bit more...
Tom

Jaguars 17
Browns 6
No offense this week once again, except for the leg of Phil Dawson. The Browns will have trouble against a very good defense. The boo birds will be out and it will not be pretty.
Doug

Browns 14
Jaguars 10
The Browns opened up the offense last week and still couldn't put pigskin in the pen. This week they face an equally awful offense and a banged up secondary. If Cleveland's going to make any kind of hay the rest of the year, it will have to be today, so...
Kevin

Jaguars 10
Browns 6
Last week I broke my self-imposed rule of never picking the Browns again. The Jags have one thing our sad resemblance of an offense does not - a weapon (Maurice Jones Drew). The ultimate question is will I once again (for some inexplicable reason) suffer through the entire game, or wisely choose to do yard work, help clean the house, or some other productive chore?
SamVox

Jaguars 20
Browns 16
I've always had a man-crush on Jack Del Rio, especially when he coaches in his Jaguars leather jacket. In fact, Jack bears a slight resemblance to the handsome CSTer below. Looks alone should be enough to beat the Browns.
Ryan

Browns 17
Jaguars 13
They got in the red zone a few times last week which was encouraging. This week I think we get in the end zone and beat a team that doesn't have much talent outside of Jones-Drew.
Sean



Jaguars 17
Browns 9
I kind of wish the NFL would go the way of the NBA right now.

Vox Lox (11): Bye Bye Becks

I won't be watching football tonight. I'll be watching football. With apologies to Faith Hill and her skin-crawling-rhymes & common-denominator-gyrations, I, too, will be waiting all day for Sunday Night. Not for the Giants vs. Eagles, Amazing Race, or even Boardwalk Empire. I'm talking MLS Cup. Galaxy vs. Dynamo, with both franchises seeking their third league championship. Possibly just as important as the stakes is the realization that I'll be staring down David Beckham's last game in the United States. The Beckham brand far transcends the result of today's match, but for those of us who fawn over his midfield artistry and unheralded professionalism, it will be quite a kick in the groin to see him flee L.A. for France without having hoisted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy. I've enjoyed the hell out of the Galaxy this season, especially the healthy tension between their three superstars: Britain's Beckham, with his pinpoint passing and shot placement, America's Landon Donovan, armed with supreme skill, guts and imagination and Ireland's Robbie Keane, perhaps the purest goal scorer we've known since Maradonna. My bet is that Beckham plays big tonight, and I'm releasing my largest wager of the year on Los Angeles. As of late, I've been pissing away my early season NFL profits but the Galaxy is a mortal lock to win the Cup. It will be bittersweet bidding adieu to my man, David Robert Joseph Beckham. Of course, parting was always inevitable.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What we think will happen vs. Penn State today



Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes

November 19, 2011







Brian





Buckeyes 24
Nittany Lions 10




Penn State players and fans are still undoubtedly in shock. Terrible tragedy and I hope drunk jerks in Columbus don't say something they shouldn't to people who had nothing at all to do with the scandal. Ohio State seniors won't want to let this one get away. And the band director dots the i. Sounds like the perfect storm for a Buckeyes win.




Tom





No pick
No pick this week




Doug






Buckeyes 21
Nittany Lions 16
Luke Fickell's fate as a head coach was likely sealed last week with the loss at Purdue, but even with the Urban Meyer rumors floating around, Ohio State should be able to muster enough offense to take care of the reeling Nittany Lions at home.




Kevin










Buckeyes 19
Nittany Lions 17
Between the PSU molestation cover-up, Joe Paterno's cancer, OSU's year long infractions, and Urban Meyer rumors, this match-up has become more of a circus than what should have been a highly anticipated football game. The Bucks pull-off a bitter sweet home victory on the shores of the Olentangy.




SamVox






Nittany Lions 24
Buckeyes 23
PSU catches a break or two. They're due.




Ryan





Buckeyes 20


Nittany Lions 9




Hey Penn State...At least "The Vest" didn't molest!(My wife came up with that and thought it would make an excellent t-shirt. I agree.)




Sean






Buckeyes 20
Nittany Lions 17
Bucks hold strong on Senior day, make Mom proud.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfully only 4% of the US is subject to Browns-Jags this weekend

How NFL broadcasts are shown (or not shown) across the country is a puzzle every week. Blackout rules, doubleheader rules, other ridiculous rules make it pretty much a mystery. For instance, if the Browns have a sold out home game (on CBS in this instance), and the other network (say, Fox), is scheduled to have a doubleheader, they are not permitted to air a game opposite the Browns game, leading the local affiliate to run exciting episodes of 'Taxi' or 'American Idol Auditions'.

Amazing.

Well, for the past few years I've been living in Chicago, and with the lack of national television games for the Brownies, I'm normally at the Red Ivy Chitown Dawg Pound in Wrigleyville every Thursday, Sunday afternoon or night, or Monday night.. Definitely the best place to watch the games, but what about when I'm traveling? Does the NFL publish where their games are going to be shown? Apparently not, because the only place to find out what games are where, for the past umpteen number of years, is on a great sports TV resource blog called The 506. Great resource to check if you're ever curious on what's going to be on tv, not only in the NFL, but in all major sports.

Well due to 1% geography, and 99% to the predicted crappiness of the product, only about 3.8% of the United States is going to be subject to Steve Tasker and Bill Macatee and the Jaguars-Browns this Sunday. But if the Browns continue their ways, you could switch over to golf, soccer, or an old episode of Seinfeld.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

'Factory of sadness' gears up for holidays

It wasn't your fault, Phil.
Computing the cheerless geometry of another baffling Browns' loss is a futile exercise. Math was never my strong point anyway, but for the sake of this column, I'm going to take another run at deciphering the latest brain-busting chapter of "How We Blew It This Time: A Compendium."

First, a positive note: For another game in which the endzone was lidded against the Browns like a welded-shut manhole cover, the offense showed some ingenuity in what rather pathetically was its best performance in weeks. Coach Shurmur seemed to recognize that run-run-short pass wasn't doing it and broke out with some much needed trickery. Wildcat formations, end arounds, and by God shotgun formations all made appearances.

What we think will happen vs. the Rams (Week 10)


St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns

November 13, 2011






Brian

Rams 8
Browns 3
Fortunately, I was out of the country for the past week, where the sports news was all Penn State, all the time. I almost forgot how anemic the play calling of Ohio State and the Browns are. Unfortunately the Buckeyes reminded me yesterday, and I'm forced to pick a Chris Bermanesque ridiculous score for this game. Who knew that Browns season ticket holders were paying for the equivalent of 5 (or maybe 12) preseason games featuring teams that belong on a practice squad?

Oh, and thanks DeSean Jackson, as I'll be starting Greg Little on my fantasy team today. Whoo-hoo!!
Tom

Rams 14
Browns 6
The Browns will find it difficult to do anything right today. The offensive scoring rides on the leg of Phil Dawson. The defense doesn't do much better containing Steven Jackson. Probably should avoid the game all together, but much like an accident it's hard to not want to watch.
Doug

Rams 13
Browns 6
The Browns are plagued by ineptness and injuries, while the Rams at least have a running game. This team as of late has given us no reason to think they can overcome even the slightest adversity, so why should today be any different?
Kevin


Browns 9
Rams 7
To quote Doctor Emmett Brown in Back to the Future, when asked why he went against his own better judgment, read Marty's letter about the future, and risked screwing up the space time continuum, "Well, I figured, what the hell?"

Sometimes, there just are no real good explanations. If the Browns don't win today, they may never win again.
SamVox

Rams 16
Browns 13
Hopefully Coach Shurmur leaves town with the Rams.
Ryan


Rams 17
Browns 10
The Browns offense is pathetic and unimaginative. The defense can keep us in it for a little bit but knowing we have no offense leaves no hope that the Browns can win this game. (Editor's note: I just left this comment in from last week.)
Sean


Rams 21
Browns 20
(Editor's note: I don't think any number of Phil Dawson field goals add up to 20.)

Vox Lox: Top 10 Billy Joel Songs

Up against a deadline, some crazy shit can become a column. And why not? I have no editor, no filter and, sometimes, no shame. Yes, yes- the V stands for vexing, the O for outrageous, and the X for x-rated. In simpler terms, advertisers be damned when my pen finds this space! This week, however, calls for a family-friendly countdown. I'm going WDOK on your ass. See, mid-week, our very silent contributor Sean mentioned that 11/11 was the anniversary of a Billy Joel concert he attended with his wife and sister-in-law. That got me thinking about the artist we all hate to love, because Billy Joel conquered the world by being uncool. And if he's everybody's guilty pleasure, then we've all attained innocence by the sheer volume of Joel's undeniable popularity. I like him. You like him. Chuck Klosterman likes him. Christie Brinkley liked him. There's really nothing to feel guilty about anymore. Let's do this:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unwatchable Browns testing Cleveland's loyalty

How much longer must we watch this?
The Browns crossed a line on Sunday. I don't mean the goal-line, which is prohibited for them to traverse until they're down big in the fourth quarter. Nor do I mean the opponent's 33-yard-line, a demarcation from whence the right foot of Phil Dawson becomes the team's most potent offensive weapon.

No, the Browns doglike rollover against Houston marked the moment in the season when Cleveland football became unwatchable instead of merely tedious. The Browns have been steadily reaching this point all year, but the actual threshold crossing happened like a stroke of lightning thanks to a quick Houston touchdown followed by a Cleveland fumble on their first play from scrimmage. Bang, it's 14-zip and you're looking for something else to do with an unseasonably warm fall afternoon.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vox Lox (9): via Chi-town


In a deceptively tiny boutique hotel room at the end of the world, the Vox stares down his weekly column. Easy with the drama; I'm only in Chicago.

It's popular (and wistful) to say the Second City is Cleveland on steroids: the midwestern hospitality and Parma accents, the devotion to ball teams, the brisk November breeze blowing inconsistently and unapologetically in your face. But those would have to be some other-wordly PEDs. Because Chi-town boasts the bustle of New York, the instant taxi-cab culture of Las Vegas, and the spiritual resolve of New Orleans. On the other hand, Cleveland's downtown can feel depressingly unsafe and vacant. You may wait 20 minutes for a cab. And you may see the slogan Believe-land in some hopeful corners of our struggling city, but that belief is largely a myth.