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.

Oh, Colt. What are we going to do with you? Watching McCoy skitter about the pocket in the face of the Raiders' four man rush gave me horrific visions of Charlie Frye. McCoy is no Frye, but my man needs to make the throws that he's just not making right now. He had nice touch on the first touchdown drive, but his accuracy problems continued, and he's still struggling to hit his receivers in stride. Still, if this is a developmental year to "find out what we have," then McCoy needs to finish the season under center. There's absolutely no point in Braxton Miller-ing the guy in favor of Seneca Wallace or some other veteran picked up off the wire.

And for those you wishing the Browns to "Suck for Luck" (an unfortunate phrase complete with its own Twitter hashtag), put away the pipe when it comes to nabbing the talented Stanford QB. While these Browns may be stultifying mediocre, they are not as bad as either Miami or Indianapolis, two clubs they've already beaten. Furthermore, I'd rather puncture my eardrums with a white-hot sewing needle than listen to any chatter about who the Browns could get in next year's NFL draft.

In the "it's always something" checkbox the Browns have been dutifully ticking off since '99, Cleveland had two special teams breakdowns that effectively took them out of the contest. The Browns had a public relations snafu as well, with Peyton Hillis's hamstring injury, a boo-boo that apparently occurred early in the game, not announced until the end of third quarter, with fans in the interim no doubt wondering if Hillis was being punished by Coach Shurmur due to his contract situation or for not playing against Miami. Who knows? I bet local sports talk radio will be able to suss out the situation! I can't wait!

In the macro sense, meanwhile, the Browns were coming off their bye week and played as if they were still off. Maybe the Raiders were motivated by the Al Davis Eternal Flame Memorial burning bravely on a plaza level of the Coliseum. That doesn't excuse the Browns looking so flat with two weeks to prepare.

And that lack of preparation, a sign of that seeming cloud of uncertainty and chaos this team has lived under for years, is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the whole shebang thus far. The franchise finally has some stability in the front office, but the product on the field is still the great bloody mess that we've sadly grown accustomed to.

I believe in Double H (Holmgren and Heckert), really. Shurmur is another tale altogether, and he was handpicked by Holmgren, so wrap your head that, friends and neighbors. I try to remind myself that it's still fairly early in the season, but I'm afraid it's not too early to get a bead on this year's team. That's because the lack of progress offensively and on the sidelines is an all-too-familiar tune that Browns' backers know by heart. This team needs to show us something, anything positive moving forward, or the song is going to remain the same.