Monday, December 30, 2013

Oh no, not again: Are the new Browns the same as the old Browns?

It wasn't supposed to be like this anymore.
Do you trust these men?

Eighteen months ago Cleveland Browns' owner Randy Lerner sold the town's most beloved sports franchise to Tennessee businessman Jimmy Haslam. The move was long overdue, as the team's losing ways and shabby sideshow of a front office had made it a national punchline. 

Now that the room has been cleared and an entire new ownership group brought in, how is it possible that things may be even worse than the days of Bottlegate and "F*ck you" emails? Not just an unending stream of bad football - Browns fans are used to that - but the horribly familiar feeling that those in charge have no idea how to improve the situation?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What we think the Browns will do against the Steelers today (Week 17)

altCleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers 

December 29, 2013

Steelers 33
Browns 12

Browns suspend entire team for "conduct detrimental to the team." But Squealers still don't sneak into the playoffs.


Browns 24
Steelers 17

This is what I get for huffing butane on a Sunday morning.



Steelers 26
Browns 6

The best thing about the season coming to an end is that we won't have to hear any Browns' talk for five months...he said wistfully. 

Steelers 28
Browns 16

Feeling very Phil Leotardo-ish this morning. And when the last word has been written, the world will look back on December 2013 and say, "that was the month that finally broke the Vox." No more, Butchy...No more o' this.

Steelers 34
Browns 12

Seems like yesterday the Steelers were 0-4 and the Browns were challenging for the division lead. It's hard to decide which turnaround is more impressive. 


Steelers 27
Browns 10

Another fabulous ending to another fabulous season.


Steelers 2200
Browns 1

Super stoked about what's going to be a FUN and EXCITING off-season here in Browns Town USA. Listen for me on Bull and Fox Show daily as I break down the draft position by position. I go under the name 'Da Browns Freak' so make sure to tune in lol. You are my moon and stars, Browns. I love you.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bennett pick sheds unkind light on Cavs' GM Grant

 If only Anthony Bennett let off this kind of steam (Trust me, that's funny).
Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown and Greg Oden. Three names that will forever live in infamy as well as compilations of the worst overall No. 1 draft picks in NBA history.

The career of Anthony Bennett  is still in its infancy, but the rookie forward's lack of readiness for the rigors of the pro game has put him on the short list for Bleacher Report's next "NBA's Most Shocking Draft Busts" column. 

If Bennett's numbers spoke for themselves, they'd be slurring like a drunk coming off a four-day bender. In 22 games, the NBA's top selection for 2013 has scored 50 points on 29 percent shooting.  Bennett averages ten minutes a game, though even in these brief stints he appears lost in Mike Brown's offense, getting few looks near the basket and flicking up panic jumpers like a guy playing pick-up at the local rec center.

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Browns give fans little reason for optimism

It's been a rough first year for Banner and Co.
The dialogue from local sports scribes these last few weeks has centered on whether or not the Browns are better than last year. Remember that relaxing bye week we had in early November? Cleveland had just beaten the champs and a glorious season of seven or eight wins seemed possible. A month later and the team is staring at the possibility of not even matching last year's five-win total, a song so part and parcel of Browns' fandom that we should be collecting royalty checks. 

Comparing the 2012 and 2013 seasons is like choosing what strain of herpes you'd rather contract. Even the numbers are basically the same: As compiled by The Plain Dealer, last year's team finished 25th in the league in points; this year's offense is actually worse in that rather important category, ranking 27th before yesterday's washout against the Jets. The 2013 Browns are giving up more points this season, too, standing at 21st in the NFL as compared to a 19th-place finish last year.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

What we think the Browns will do against the Jets today (Week 16)

altCleveland Browns at New York Jets

December 22, 2013

Browns 27
Jets 23

Because when draft position is at stake is when the Browns pull off a victory.


Jets 20
Browns 14

Read this during the week on twitter, courtesy of Tom Withers from the AP. "#Browns are second NFL team with at least 10 10-plus loss seasons in 11-year span. They join the #Buccaneers."
Why do I even bother....


Jets 27
Browns 24

If the Browns have a meaningless win in them, this will be the week to do it.  However, expect them to stay the course with the end of the season mercifully in sight.

Jets 20
Browns 16

The smell of hospitals in winter and the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls...Adam Duritz ain't got nothing on Cleveland! Because what could be more tedious and depressing than any activity associated with the Browns in these annually-long Decembers?

Jets 36
Browns 17

It's the annual win-to-learn-how-win vs. lose-for-a-higher-draft-pick" debate. Either way, does it really matter? If they don't screw up the draft, one of our key players will be bit by a rattlesnake while hiking with friends just outside of Vegas and need his leg amputated. Literally snake-bitten–get it? I'll be at the Improv next week.


Browns 24

Jets 17

The defense finally holds onto a 4th quarter lead.


Jets 26
Browns 3

Rex Ryan is sexy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bears auditioning QBs for the Browns today?

Bear with me here. (No pun intended.) I live in Chicago, so am subjected to nonstop Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls chatter in the local media and around all my Chicago-based friends and coworkers. (Those who aren't talking about the Packers, Lions, Tigers, Brewers, Cardinals, Indians, Buckeyes, Boilermakers, Badgers, Wolverines, Spartans, or Rams non-stop, which now that I think about it in this melting pot of the midwest, is only about 40% of them.)

And trust me, the Bears fan base is just about done with Jay Cutler. Personally, I find that hard to believe, because every time I watch him play (and I've seen him a couple times from the upper deck of Soldier Field,) I had been marveling over his arm strength, particularly when compared to the nonstop parade of dink-and-dunk Browns QBs, culminating most recently in Colt McCoy. I'd say watching Cutler made me most optimistic about the drafting of Brandon Weeden last year, for arm strength alone. Of course, it hasn't worked out that way for Weeden. But in many ways, it hasn't worked out that way for Cutler either.

It's, of course, not that Jay Cutler hasn't gotten some success in Chicago--he just hasn't quite led them to the promised land. Of course he is beaten like a rented mule most times he gets behind the shoddy Bears offensive line, and he has suffered his share of injuries. Yet the fans (and other players) relentlessly pile on him, even when injured, most famously when he was injured in the NFC Championship game vs. the Packers in January 2011, didn't return, and sat on the bench with a case of Jay Cutler Face, taking hits from other players and fans through social media. Turns out, he also had a case of a sprained MCL. Since then, he has broken his thumb, suffered concussions, and torn his groin. But he always smiles through it. (Note: no he doesn't. See above for the closest he gets to a smile.)

Anyway--even more than his face, his turnovers are what have Bears fans ready to turn the page, and specifically turn it to backup Josh McCown. I don't think the Bears' front office is on that train yet...but rushing Cutler back, against a suffering opponent in the form of our Browns....seems like the Bears wouldn't mind if the Browns front office considers a little Cutler infusion to help their QB situation in 2014. Although, to that end, they should probably run McCown out there for a few series, as Mike Lombardi might want to get first-hand eyes on him as well. 

Well shoot, I am not even close to convinced any of the QBs in the draft is the answer for Cleveland--at least not in a top-five spot. So might as well get the binoculars and the tape machine out, Mike.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What we think the Browns will do against the Patriots today (Week 14)

altCleveland Browns at New England Patriots

December 8, 2013

Patriots 28
Browns 13

After this weekend I might give myself a concussion to forget about the Browns and Buckeyes. 


Patriots 34
Browns 10

If the Patriots didn't almost lay an egg last week the Browns might have been able to catch them sleeping. Not going to happen now as Belichick will have them ready. How many more weeks until the draft?


Patriots 24
Browns 13

In a  quarterback driven league the Browns are tooling around in an '86 Dodge Omni. 

Patriots 30
Browns 10
                                          Nobody buys into the "Any Given Sunday" mantra more than the Vox. I believe the line between the NFL's good teams and bad teams is thinner than the iPad Air. There's always a chance for victory. Always. Except for today.

Patriots 28
Browns 13

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," which means Browns games don't matter except for draft position.


Patriots 27
Browns 10

It only took me 13 weeks to convince myself that the Browns suck.


Patriots 33
Browns 6

Browns, Schmowns. I'll be watching 'The Sound of Music Live' on DVR. I don't care what anyone says, Carrie Underwood is tremendously talented. She killed it and the haters can just go drink their haterade lol. 

Reflections on a Championship Squandered

As I sit in line at a Bob Evans in nowhere, Indiana, I just can't stop shaking my damn head, and not because I'm jonesing for sausage gravy.

Ohio State's loss in the Big Ten championship just became the latest in the never-ending trail of gut punches suffered by (northern) Ohio fans.

What. The. Hell. Was. That?

It's not like I thought Michigan State would be a walkover. And I got all the pregame howls about the strength of the SEC and the weakness of the Big Ten. But I did not expect the Buckeyes to come out and shit the bed like that.

And by the Buckeyes I mean the defense/special teams and the coaching staff.

The extremely partisan crowd (I'd put it at 80% red, 20% green, which actually made it very festive for the season) was immediately put in a bad mood by two terrible pass interferences and a punt reception interference, three idiotic plays that no accomplished team should make. After the coaches went away early from the unstoppable Carlos Hyde, and the OSU DBs forgot to guard people, all of a sudden Sparty was up 17-0.

And yet I don't think many fans were nervous yet. With a couple quick scores and one more after halftime, all of a sudden it was tied up and soon it was 24-17 good guys.

So what did the brilliant OSU coaches do next? (And for once we are not picking on Luke Fickell.) Abandoned the horse they rode in on, the aforementioned Carlos Hyde. Even on busted runs up the middle Mr. Hyde gets four yards, and if he gets a head of steam it's more like eight or ten. Summarized perfectly up by trying a Braxton Miller run on the critical 4th and 1.5 that basically sealed the game for Michigan State, while Carlos could just block, and MSU completed its 17 point bookend and won, 24-17.

Inexcusable lapses by the coaches and defense. Heartbreaking walk through the cold for the throngs of long faced Buckeyes fans. And a long few weeks coming for the team, who has to know that they can beat Sparty 6 or 7 times out of ten.

And OSU would beat Auburn 8 out of ten times.  Although at this rate those games would be 70-63.

Whether Florida State or Auburn really is the best team in the country, nobody knows or ever will. But I suspect not.

Thank goodness for the playoff system starting next year. Even though Ohio State would likely be watching on television if it were in place this year.

Uggh. An Orange Bowl vs Clemson sounds about as much fun as the Sugar Bowl versus Texas A&M in January 1999. Which is after the last ridiculous loss to Michigan State.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Strong words can't mask stench of Browns' return to obscurity

I'm singin' to myself, there's got to be another way.
Just two months ago I was sitting in the upper levels of the Dawg Pound as the Cleveland Browns were polishing off Cincinnati in dominating fashion. It was a great win against a division foe, punctuated by two touchdown passes from hometown kid Bryan Hoyer and an aggressive performance by Ray Horton's defense. 

It was a fantastic day for Cleveland sports and an exhilarating one as well. Many high fives were given and/or received that chilly autumn Sunday, I can tell you, while the guy one seat over generously offered me his beef jerky. Whether that last is a euphemism is for the courts to hash out.

Anyway, that first Cinci game was one that made you want to believe a corner was being turned on a season and perhaps even on a decade-and-a-half of futile football. The Browns were actually being discussed as playoff contenders, if not a threat to take the division in a down year for the Steelers and Ravens.

Knowshon Moreno cries, like all Browns fans

Great screen capture here. (If you missed his fire hose tear ducts.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What we think the Browns will do today against the Jaguars (Week 13)

altCleveland Browns vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

December 1, 2013

Browns 15
Jaguars 13

These are the veggies you have to eat after yesterday's wonderful football buffet. Time to put the Christmas lights up.


Jaguars 17
Browns 14

Another December to forget. Winning games or playing for a draft pick, which is more important? Who knows--we can't seem to do either right.

With the boo birds out in full force, Weeden lays an egg.


Browns 10
Jaguars 6

You have entered a strangely familiar place of sight and sound. A place of boredom toward your favorite football team, where every snap is no longer your No. 1 priority on fall Sundays. Take my hand, friend, because you have entered..the Browns Apathy Zone.

Browns 12
Jaguars 10
The Browns were humbled the past two weeks, and so was the Vox, but I think we'll find a win today. Vegas, however, should know our pal BWeeds should never lay a touchdown to any NFL team. Hell, I'm not even sure Weeden should be favored against the Mentor Cardinals.

Jaguars 21
Browns 16

I figure Weeden's good for at least one incredibly disastrous play. Along with too many 3-and-outs by the offense, the defense eventually wears down enough to let the Jags squeak out an ugly victory. 


Browns 40
Jaguars 7

Brandon Weeden flips off the crowd like Marcus Hall.


Jaguars 12
Browns 9

How now bad Browns?

Amazing Saturday leaves Ohio State with inside track and further points out BCS obsolescence

It's not like your normal Ohio State-Michigan game lacks drama, hype, passion, heartbreak, and glory. But 2013's edition lived up to the hype and more, and kicked off the amazing day in college football we just experienced. Ohio State came into The Big House as a huge favorite, in the 14-16 point range, and the pitiful Michigan offense promised to make this a cakewalk.

Nobody has run for more yards for OSU v Michigan. Ever. (AP/Carlos Osorio)
But it never is. Devin Gardner came out playing like he hasn't in a long time, and I, for one, was seeing shades of the nightmare of 1995 early in the first quarter. However, it wasn't meant to be, as Ohio State roared back with their predicable offensive explosion, marred only by a Carlos Hyde fumble (after a Herculean-effort on a run up the middle). Too bad the defense wasn't up to the task. It took an interception by Tyvis Powell on a two-point conversion after the porous Buckeye defense let the Wolverines back from a two-touchdown deficit to seal the game. 

A huge fight after a kickoff marred the first half, and of course that will be playing in OSU-UM hype films for the next century. Unfortunately it cost Ohio State a ton more than Michigan, as speedster Dontre Wilson and starting O-lineman Marcus Hall were kicked out for punching. In addition, Hall gave the 100,000+ fans in attendance a nice double-finger salute. Undoubtedly lots of people are using that as their Facebook cover today.

Now on to Indianapolis next week, where Ohio State plays the stingy defense of Michigan State. If Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde are on their game, I don't see any way any defense can hold the Buckeyes under 30 points. Now, if the defense of Luke Fickell plays like the defense of Luke Fickell, 30 points may not be enough.

And this isn't just for the Rose Bowl any more, after one of the most amazing finishes you will ever see down in the "Iron Bowl", as an instant replay put one second back on the clock as it appeared #1 Alabama and #4 Auburn were headed to overtime. With that one second, Alabama coach (and Bill Belichick protege) Nick Saban decided to try and kick a 57-yard field goal to end the game right then and there. With that decision, one of the most improbable endings in the history of college football unfolded, with Auburn's Chris Davis catching the short attempt in the back of the end zone, and rolling 109 yards past all of the Alabama big men who were out to block for the FG, sending the Auburn crowd into delirium....

.....and the Ohio State bus as well (as shown on the Instagram video captured by Ohio State WR Frank Epitropoulos.

Now what? Likely today's polls will have Florida State the new #1, and Ohio State the new #2. Likely (but not as likely), if Ohio State takes care of business against MSU and Auburn beats Missouri in the SEC Championship game, Ohio State will still make the BCS Championship game as an undefeated major-conference team (vs. Auburn, who's bigger wins also come with a loss to 3-loss LSU this year.) But that will come with howling from every corner of the sports-talk blogosphere. And to be honest, I can see the point. Auburn beat #1 Alabama, Texas A&M, and lots more. Ohio State didn't. But that's the way the ball rolls sometimes. Wins and losses count too. And moreso, so do votes.

Nobody wants a playoff more than me, but in this case, we don't have one. And if for some reason, (if they beat Michigan State and) Ohio State gets jobbed out of a place in the BCS Championship for a one-loss SEC team, there will be no justice in this world. Which is a shame, because Saturday showed how great college football can be. And once we have a playoff, it will be that much better.