Sunday, September 14, 2008

Something's Gotta Change

Of all the talk from Obama (and now hijacked by the Republicans) about the change that the US needs (oh yeah, sometime explain how McCain would be a change...), "change" seems to be a good theme for tonight, after one of the most embarassing, disheartening, sickening, maddening football weekends I can remember.

Sure, the Browns have had much worse outings, and even more disappointing ones, but layered on top of the utterly embarassing Ohio State blowout loss to USC Saturday night, 35-3, the fact that the Browns failed to score a touchdown just rubs it in.

Some quick thoughts:

  • It took one weekend for me to go from "excited about 2008 football in Cleveland and Columbus" to "realization that OSU will be lucky to play a January bowl game and the Central Division title is gone after week 2."
  • For a few years now, I've been off the Tressell bandwagon. And I don't know why. I think the main reason is that I don't trust or like him one bit. I always feel like he is lying, and the fact that he tries to look like a choirboy all the time just seems to me like a taunting insult. The fact is, I trust him so little that I was reasonably sure Chris Wells was going to play Saturday, until I saw him in sweats. This game has given me a clarity that maybe Jim Tressel isn't a good coach. Or, to put it nicer, as ESPN did, "There's still not nearly enough creativity in the scheme." Of course, they meant "offensive scheme", and I mean "the wool he's pulled over your eyes."
  • Did it not occur to anyone to maybe throw downfield a bit more? And what's his name, that quarterback who was actually making some plays? (Hint: It wasn't Todd Boeckman.) Why wasn't Terrell Pryor in there a hell of a lot more? (Pryor's snaps averaged 4.6 yards, Boeckman's averaged 1.9)
  • It was coaching, as much as anything that cost this game. Okay, it was a lot coaching, and a lot lack of discipline, killing Ohio State's drive in the second quarter with penalties. 14-10 was within grasp, and instead, a missed field goal and an idiotic interception by Boeckman made it 21-3.
  • I feel you, Alex Boone. "Every big game we end up blowing it." Of course, I had no way to directly impact the game, and you did.
  • Doug Lesmardes ranked OSU 18th on his ballot. They ended up around 13th. But the argument could be legitimately made that they could be left off the ballot. Ohio State would have had a tough time making the BCS championship game, even if they were undefeated or had one loss to USC. But now--even if they run the table and every other team loses 3 games, I guarantee they won't be there.
  • Now on to the Browns. Al Michaels must have a contractual stipulation that he isn't allowed to directly criticize coaches, but he came damn close Sunday night. Obviously Romeo is out of his league. A field goal, down by 7, with 3 minutes to go, on 4th and 7 or whatever? How exactly does that help you? No clock management at all? I'm sure Romeo must be able to do something well, you don't coach for 20-something years if you can't. But I'm not sure being a head coach is one of them.
  • That being said, the Cowboys and Steelers games were ones that everybody knew would be a tall order for the Brownies. But one touchdown in two home games? From the "Prime Time" offense that the Browns have? Terrible, and this doesn't look good all of a sudden.
  • How utterly embarassing, this "rivalry" with Pittsburgh. Ten in a row? Something like 23 of 25?
  • I wish I had a stat on "wasted" timeouts early in halves. The Browns need to be leading that category, right?
  • By the way, you can vote on Romeo (every week) here.
Thirty Five to Three.
That Penn State game is starting
to make me nervous.

Romeo Crennell.
You may see an obese coach.
I see Butch Davis.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The sum of all fears

Stop me if you've heard this one, Dear Reader:

Can't stop the pressure on the quarterback..the opposing offense ripping off huge chunks of yardage..manhandled at the line of srimmage, the team seemingly playing with a general lack of preparedness overall..crippled by injuries..

How many times have those words been written or said about the Browns since their inglorious return to the NFL? I'm far from ready to bail on the 2008 Browns..but today's game had the hallmarks of all the bad games we've watched since 1999. What's worse, it gives ammunition to all the naysayers who watched the Browns stumble through the preseason

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bill Simmons--not too hot on the Browns

Among other predictions The Sports Guy makes in his NFL preview is a possibly painful, everyone-afraid-of one for Cleveland...

Prediction No. 4: Cleveland will stink.

I'm not a big fan of this formula: Artificially high expectations + too many nationally televised games (five in all) + brutal schedule + too much luck last season (what are the odds of them getting 32 games from Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards again?) + brewing QB controversy + horrible preseason = Yikes.

Also, their two biggest offseason moves were fundamentally illogical: Trading for Shaun Rogers and keeping Derek Anderson. In the salary-cap era, you can't keep Anderson (who had two good months and tailed off) after dealing a future No. 1 and committing all that money to Brady Quinn. It's like drafting QBs in the first two rounds of a fantasy draft -- yeah, you can do it, but it never works. Why not trade Anderson for two draft picks and back the guy who you loved so much a year before? And why compound the error by trading your 2nd and 3rd round picks plus a valuable cornerback (Leigh Bodden) for expensive and possibly shaky defensive linemen (Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers). That's a swing of four draft picks plus Bodden! Didn't they see what happened with the Giants last year? If you made a "How to win the Super Bowl" formula, would "Pay two quarterbacks big money" and "Don't get anything from your draft" be two of the pieces? OF COURSE NOT!!! On the bright side, "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl" remains my favorite euphemism for making a doody.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Haiku Haiku Hai. Why not a haiku right now? Start showing your brains.

Ok--in honor of my one-time-favorite and still-readable-if-I-just-had-the-time columnist Gregg Easterbrook, let's start weekly Haikus to celebrate the current sports scene.

(By the way, here's TMQ's NFL Preview, all-haiku style. For the Browns it reads:

Quarterbacks many,
Playoff appearances few.
Old-new Cleveland Browns.

Forecast finish: 9-7)

Ok, I'll start 'em off:

Forty-three to zip;

You call this college football?

How 'bout a real foe?

Lots of prime time games,

Cleveland can show off to all;

Or else smell like Brown.

Pittsburgh opener

last year, me: "2 and 14"

Better start this year?

Monday, September 1, 2008

When did Ohio Stadium become an NBA arena?

Well, I made a trip to Columbus for my annual Alumni-association tickets (gee, thanks, I've been out of school ten years, and only once have I even got a Big Eleven Ten game, let alone Michigan. Maybe if I donate a couple hundred large to the university, I can at least get tickets between the end zones. And maybe when I'm out of school for 50 years, I'll get Michigan tickets. Anyway.

First, the game. A bit disappointing, if a 43-0 game can be called disappointing. The offense, while showing some flashes, just didn't seem to click. All those red zone possessions that end in our 29-year-old kicker putting three points on the board can not be called successful, especially against a I-AA team of all things! There were a couple fantastic fakes with Maurice Wells that fooled the whole stadium, I'd like to know whether the TV cameras could follow along. Terrell Pryor looked very solid, for a true freshman, and his touchdown had lasting effects--USC certainly needs to think twice during defensive practice the next two weeks. And, of course, Chris Wells' injury--let's wait and see on that one.

But the main thing I noticed was the noticeable stadium aura. I don't think I went to a game last year, so maybe this isn't brand new. But some of it is, I can tell. When the heck did The university decide they had to make Ohio State games, long understated ("Eddie George carry") into the next incarnation of an NBA game? I half expected fireworks after touchdowns and maybe a unicycling-plate juggling-halftime show. Some low-lights:

  • What certainly appeared to be a new addition--the stadium announcer punctuating all Ohio State first downs--and unfortunately for the crowd, against Youngstown State there were a ton of them--with an enthusiastic, annoying, "FIRST DOWN!!!" cry. As in, "Maurice Wells carry, 4 yards to the Ohio State 47.............and that's another Ohio State......FIRST DOWN!!!!!" Obviously done to draw crowd heat, it took two or three first downs to catch on, and then a noticable portion of the stadium yelled along with the announcer. Certainly not the entire stadium, let's just say a portion of the fans are very used to shouting along with the stadium, such as "because Stone Cold said so!!" But enough people to make it annoying. At one point I think the "official" announcer didn't even say it, just primed the crowd to say it for him. Uggh.
  • Before every Ohio State kickoff, the beats of the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army permeate throughout the stadium, all the way until the ball is received. The first time, for the opening kickoff, I thought, "fine," but that quickly got old. If you need to blast rock music to get the crowd pumped, you have bigger problems than a shoddy red zone offense. Maybe limit it to the beginning of halves, like the Browns with Enter Sandman. Ugggh.
  • Another kickoff note, as the White Stripes were playing before the opening kickoff, I was hearing the crowd road (or the "ohhhhhhhhhh" sound done on kickoffs) possibly being piped through the speakers, and it was certainly louder than the crowd was actually doing at that point. I hope that was just a live mike on the field picking it up, but let's just say I didn't hear that sound again.
  • Finally, the long tradition of the band playing Hang on Sloopy was now introduced by the announcer, with great fanfare. Made it seem contrived. And then, apparently (my alumni tickets had me in the south stands, back to the scoreboard), Archie Griffin came on to intone them to do it again. Lame. Let tradition be tradition, don't make it seem like you're introducing 100,000 new fans to what goes on at Buckeyes games.
Give me the standard OSU traditions, the dorks in Block O leading the O-H-I-O stadium thunder, and the band splitting up and spreading out throughout the stadium in the second half, and leave the rock music to Hineygate across the street.