Sunday, September 27, 2015

What CST thinks about the Browns-Raiders today

Browns 20, Raiders 19

This is easily the game that the Browns lose, crushing fans' hopes. Also one of the games they can win this year. Right now I'm holding onto the fact that maybe the Jets aren't that bad...i.e. maybe the Browns aren't also. McCown steps in, ignores the Johnny chants, and gets the win.

Browns 21, Raiders 17

Today is the type of game the Browns have typically lost since their return: the winnable contest against an inferior opponent the week following a victory. Cleveland, even with its mediocre daredevil QB back under center, should have enough home cooking to avoid another momentum killing defeat. I'd just ask Browns fans to chill on the Johnny chants.

Oakland 28, Browns 24

Meeting John Football around noon at United Skates of America. Planning to mainline the cherry ICEE machine and lip-sync Rachel Platten.

Browns 24, Raiders 14

McCown is like Donald Trump. Nobody respects him (Trump) but he's the Man to make this Country Right. And McCown is the Man to make the Browns right this week at the Quarterback position.

Raiders 28, Browns 17

I just don't see the Browns having enough offensive fire power to win games consistently. Pair that with the inability to defend the run and it's pretty much status quo on the shores of Lake Erie—hope, despair, disbelief, repeat.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Browns fans get just what they were looking for against the Titans

Home Browns games have long been a horrible experience. Sure, the tailgating is fun, as long as you get a Muni Lot spot by 8am and make sure you drink your adult beverages out of a Solo cup. Yeah, it's fun to see all the regulars and eat some grilled meat and play egg toss and all that. But then the game actually starts team goes ahead and kicks you in the gut in a new way every Sunday, so much that people are inspired to make videos of themselves yelling at the stadium.

AP/David Richard
Today was none of that. This was what fans--well, the optimistic ones--have been hoping and expecting from this team. Great defensive and special teams, a solid running game, and QB play that doesn't kill you. And whaddya know--that's exactly what we got. First, Johnny Manziel, filling in (temporarily??) for concussed short-termer Josh McCown, started off fantastically. The bomb to Travis Benjamin, solid check-downs, throws on the money. Nearly everything he did was just what the Browns need in a QB. Some of it (i.e. the damn fumbling) is something that needs to be worked on, pronto. Some of it (the improvisation that pays off in spades) is what they dreamed of when they drafted him.

The defense was all over Marcus Mariota the entire day. That dude must just hate Ohio. And it's pretty obvious that there is a large gap between the Buccaneers' and Browns' defenses.  Sacked 7 times, hit innumerable times, three fumbles, an INT that didn't happen due to a Browns penalty, and this epic play where he lost his shoe, helmet, and the ball.

Travis Benjamin, obviously, was magnificent. Not only did he do a great job hauling in the two touchdowns from Manziel, particularly the clinching touchdown, in which he did a great job of adjusting to Manziel's improvisation and taking it to the house. But equally as important was the huge moment earlier, where Benjamin took advantage of the Titans' unbelievable decision to punt deep to him with a minute or so left in the first half. And this happened.

As mentioned earlier, there is a big gap between Tampa Bay's defense and the Cleveland Browns'. That said, nobody can get excited yet. This game (as well as next week) are games that even the team's biggest naysayers said they should win. So today let's just be happy they did. And just the way we wanted them to.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What CST thinks about the Browns-Jets today

Browns 23, Jets 13

The Jets S-U-C-K. I'm banking this entire win on the healthy offensive line allowing the Browns to actually run the ball. And because I'm a damn sucker with unwarranted optimism.

Jets 17, Browns 15 

Long day. They stick to the run for to long, and have to play catch-up the whole game. Its a shame since this is one of the games they are supposed to win. Home or away, the Browns lose again on opening day.
Yes, the Browns will go for 2. As a side note, I cannot wait for all these oddball scores with the change to the extra point.

Jets 17, Browns 9

Two unproven offenses face off in the Meadowlands, but the Browns lack of dynamic, proven skill-position talent spells their doom in the opener.
Browns 20, Jets 10

The law of averages says we have to win a season opener more often than once every 15 years.

Jets 18,  Browns 16

Josh McCown can't make a third-down throw.
Even if he can, we don't have a real threat at WR.
Text Ray Farmer laughing emoticons during the game.
See you next Sun-day, show your...

Jets 16, Browns 13

Browns just one wildcat play away from the victory.

Jets 18, Browns 10

Because it's the season opener. And it's the Browns.

Browns 61, Jets 44

(Editor's note, this fish found in the Cuyahoga in the latest survey just said "Browns by 17 or something.")

The Best of the Worst Team on Earth

You've probably heard a writer say "the column wrote itself." Well this one did, literally. It's not that I'm lazy, but why waste a millennial of words on our dysfunctional pro football club when I can just cherry-pick a decade's worth of my columns? So, here is a sampling of my frustrated and frenetic musings on the Cleveland Browns over the past ten years...

2/1/15 For fifteen seasons, Clevelanders have been condemned to a modified version of the NFL. Games are rarely enjoyable, largely because our offense sets the standard for failure and folly. While scraping the ice off my car on dark Monday mornings, only fifteen hours removed from the latest Browns debacle, I've often wondered if Cleveland is the earthly-version of Hell. Should I be so helplessly immersed in a tradition that offers no healthy reciprocation? 

1/12/13 Cleveland knows press conferences. Don't know much about playoff seeding and parades, but, dear God, we know how to roll out a new coach. And with Twitter, the whole process is much more fun than it was ever meant to be. In fact, the whole damaged NE Ohio sports fan persona has found itself inside social media. We have to be the only fan base in America that happily makes fun of its own football team...while said team is playing, no less! 

1/3/15 See, there are many ways to skin the football-kitten, but a legion of front office fuck-ups with BROWNS on their business cards couldn't find fortune no matter the method. You have to wonder if those pathetic Suits, past and present, are simply a fateful extension of our largely-ignorant fan base. Based on our sardonic reaction to a semi-successful bridge-QB from Lakewood, do we even deserve prosperity? 

1/8/12 Truly, the joke is on Cleveland...with our silly, unconditional passion, our PSLs, our penchant for $8 Pabsts, and our orange jerseys pimping defunct players. Effing Mike Holmgren saw us coming.

1/15/12 On playoff weekends, it hurts the most. Wide screen HD TVs everywhere, flashing the colorful pageantry of the NFL dance. But brown and orange fashions are nowhere in sight, as we are dateless going on a decade. Pro Football is constructed to intermittently share the post-season wealth with all 32 franchises, but their formula doesn't work in Cleveland. I'm freaking frustrated, friends. I mean, even Cincinnati got laid.

9/18/11 Hear this: the honeymoon is over. Again, I'm not overreacting to one badly-coached game in 2007 or Shurmur's awful debut seven days ago. I'm simply implying that, even when I'm hot and thirsty and coming off a four-mile run, I will be reaching for something other than the Holmgren-flavored Kool Aid (you know, maybe some OJ, purple stuff, or even the dreaded Sunny D). And, if the Browns don't show today, then, Mike Holgren, you are Mr. Myagi, Pat Shurmur is Danielsan, the city of Cleveland is John Kreese...and it's open season on HIM and YOU.

1/2/09 While many observers credit Coach Crennel for keeping his mouth shut while Dr. Phil and management rendered him powerless, I consider Romeo's silence and lack of assertiveness another indictment of his pathetic tenure as HC of the CB. I understand about staying in tune for the sake of club harmony, but if I'm going to fail...I'm going to fail My Way. Phil, if you want to pick my coaches and tell me when Brady Quinn should play, then you coach the goddamn team. I'm gone, Phil. I have enough problems with in-game strategy, clock management and my players coming out flat almost every week. I don't need to be micro-managed by a glorified scout with a poor draft record

1/10/13 The stench cannot be removed from this foolish hiring, as Lombardi's NFL legacy speaks louder locally than any national spin. Two days ago, Lombardi begged the Cleveland media for a "clean slate" but there are no magic erasers in this town. We've suffered too much, simply. "The Hole" at Shawshank equates to First Energy Stadium. And there ain't no easy time at The Factory of Sadness. And Lombardi is hardly Andy Dufresne. Dufresne is actually the Cleveland Sports Fan: jailed for crimes we did not commit, ass-raped by leaders of our own institution, and forced to crawl through 50,000 yards of shit-smelling-foulness you can't ever imagine or maybe you just don't want to. 50,000 yards, that's the amount of offense opposing teams have put up on our defense since 1999. We crawl through a river of shit EVERY Sunday, but we don't EVER come out clean. And we sure as hell don't escape. Instead, time is added to our sentence with every new regime that busts into our city preaching faith and discipline (and patience).

9/17/2012 Simply put, I expect to lose every Sunday. That doesn't mean I'm numb to it. It hurts each week, in different ways. But I'm done fooling myself. As long as Shurm walks the sideline, the Browns will continue to surrender those inches that make up the difference between victory and defeat.

9/10/10 (Bill) Simmons argues the Browns' worst moment was when the team moved in '95, but that would discount all of the suffering we've endured since they've returned and somehow morphed into the worst run organization in the history of pro sports. You could reason we bottomed-out mid-season 2009 when our drunk GM (rhymes with penis) was escorted out of the complex, our new coach was shredded by a music magazine (and compared to Augustus Gloop), and our team was an unwatchable 1-11, including a last second loss in Detroit- which seemed to feel OK because of the "entertainment value." Look, if you found anything redemptive in losing to the Lions...that, my friends, was rock bottom. Except it wasn't. Perhaps the lowest of lows occurs when you can't even honor your franchise properly. Only the Browns could screw up a "Ring of Honor." Now this may seem insignificant when compared to the holes on the team's roster and performance the last few seasons, but how hard is it to bring a few living legends together to toast past greatness for fifteen minutes? For the Browns, even that turns into a tough task, and a PR nightmare

9/22/13 In Cleveland, almost everyone knows something about football. Everyone but the jackasses running our team, it would seem. Because here we go with Rebuild 6.0. The first five varied in size and scope, produced one playoff game, and were led by architects with resumes far more substantial than Browns President Joe Banner.

1/3/15 If you weren't singeing the Ebola Nurse with vitriolic judgements and threats, then you were sucking the fun out of the Browns' 6-3 start with ludicrous demands for Johnny Manziel. I wrote in my September 4th column that "QB controversies destroy franchises, fan bases and my fondness for football." And, like clockwork, Coach Pettine's eventual cave to Manziel would cause more damage in Cleveland than Ebola ever could.

9/5/2008 The name on the door is Cleveland? That's what I'm afraid of, Phil.

1/8/12 Maybe in Holmgren's office, in between his Bill Walsh books, bottomless carton of dougnuts and whatever else he owns. But one thing Mike doesn't own? His failures. He blames the media. You blame the QB. If you've read me since week one, you know where I place the blame. And, until Mr. Lerner cans Holmgren, ain't nothing gonna change in these parts. Now go write your pointless mock drafts. I've got a 4-3 basketball team to worry about.

12/31/2007 Our loss to the Bengals last week is the reason this blog exists; the kind of thing I don't tolerate, can't stomach, and won't recover from until I wake up some January morning and the Brownies are on the ticket. Until then, thanks for nothing Berea, don't gimme no lines and keep your plans to yourself.

11/05/11 And we certainly don't need a wishy-washy West Coast offense implemented in a strike-shortened off-season from a rookie coach and unqualified president. We need a bruising, eat-the-clock running game, built to punish teams that come to our cold lake front in December. But the only thing the Browns punish is their fan base.

9/13/2015 3-13. Nothing personal, Brownies. By now, we all know it's a QB League (the NFL insists on it, actually...with rules catered towards protecting and propelling high-powered offenses). But you just cut your best option in Terrelle Pryor. Not a Buckeye homer, either. I've just seen enough of Josh McCown to know that calling him a journeyman is kind. And I have no respect for a front office intent on another rebuilding season because the very basics of talent evaluation elude them, spring after spring. Oh, did I write nothing personal? That was a joke. Just like your silly organization.


Texans (pk) over Chiefs, 1 Dime
Last Season: 6-3, +10 Dimes
Career: 148-127-14, +45 Dimes

What CST thinks about the Browns 2015 season

6-10 Record, 4th in AFC North

Last year I could not decide where to peg the Browns between 4 and 10 wins, I had no idea what the hell they'd look like, so they just looked like both a 10 win team (when they were 7-4, mostly with a healthy Alex Mack) and a 4 win team (after the first 11 games). The 12 stages of grief Browns fans went through in Manziel's first start will hopefully never be repeated. This year...even without a passing game, the stout defense, bolstered by new-Vince-Wilfork Danny Shelton, and healthy line, shouldn't make the Browns all that bad. I pray. That said, it is the Browns, and the schedule is a lot harder than last year.

5-11 Record

This is a season for the record books already. Our #1 wideout suspended, our GM suspended for four games, our offense line coach on a leave of absence, and we haven't even played a game. There are believers/Kool-aid drinkers out there who think that Josh McCown is the short term answer although he has never proven to be the answer for any previous team, and has racked up 17 wins total in a 12 year career. Odds say he won't make it through the season, since he has yet to play a full one. McCown, Dilfer, and Delhomme, its like groundhog day around here. It's gonna be a long one Browns fans. Get ready for yet another press of reset.

6-10, 4th in the AFC North

Ah, 6-10, it's good to see you again. My annual prediction on the Browns record has returned, and will keep doing so until this franchise proves otherwise. Trying to win consistently with a throwback, grind-it-out offense led by a game manager QB is simply not feasible in today's NFL. The defense will have to play at an extremely high level for the Browns to come close to .500, Unfortunately, I don't see that happening, and I'm paralyzed by visions of "Fail for Cardale" chants rising up within  FirstEnergy field by October. Nooooo!
7-9 Record, 4th in the AFC North

Every year I start with the same hope that if things go right we can make the playoffs and every year I am disappointed. I think this team could be slightly better than last year, but the schedule appears to be much more difficult. The Browns need to start at least 2-1. If not, I think we could be looking at a three-win season. My hope is we can get out to a fast start and at some point Johnny Football proves he can play in this league. Every year a team seems to come out of nowhere to make the playoffs. Maybe that could be the Browns this year. That would be cool.

3-13 Record

Nothing personal, Brownies. By now, we all know it's a QB League (the NFL insists on it, actually...with rules catered towards protecting and propelling high-powered offenses). But you just cut your best option in Terrelle Pryor. Not a Buckeye homer, either. I've just seen enough of Josh McCown to know that calling him a journeyman is kind. And I have no respect for a front office intent on another rebuilding season because the very basics of talent evaluation elude them, spring after spring. Oh, did I write nothing personal? That was a joke. Just like your silly organization.

3-13 Record, 4th in the AFC North

Browns just miss out on the Wild Card.

4-12 Record, 4th in the AFC North

The Browns went through training camp and the pre-season intent on keeping things quiet and uneventful, dashing my hopes of seeing them on Hard Knocks. And they were successful. But it's the Browns, so they cut Terrelle Pryor 5 minutes after making through "final" cuts, traded Terrance West and Billy Winn for some late round draft picks, and signed a back up running back with a high ankle sprain who reached an injury settlement with his former team... all in the week before starting the regular season. Nothing says winning quite like that.

16-0 Record, 1st in AFC North

Johnny Football returns to lead the Browns to victory in the money Super Bowl.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Browns' official podcast is the 14th most popular sports podcast. WTF?

Perusing sports podcasts this morning I found that the Official Cleveland Browns podcast is the 14th most popular podcast in the sports category.

What? The top of the list is predictable..ESPN fantasy, Mike and Mike, Dan Patrick, etc. But then out of nowhere the Browns show up only one spot behind Grantland and above Shaq, the Official NFL podcast, ESPN First Take, Tony Kornheiser, Dan Le Betard (ok I understand some of these), and many more national names.

I don't get it. Unless it's the 21st century audio equivalent of rubbernecking at a car wreck.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Browns play well in dress rehearsal and Manziel spits sunflower seeds at McCown

Hey, what do you know? The Browns looked pretty pretty pretttttty good against Tampa Bay on Saturday night. All three phases looked good, and that means that this Thursday's preseason wrapup in Chicago (which I'll be lucky enough to go to) will feature absolutely nobody worth seeing. At least there's beer! (Although maybe a Terrelle Pryor sighting will make the night.)

Regardless, caught this little gem of Josh McCown chatting up Johnny Football Tendinitis Manziel on the sideline, when Manziel spits out a sunflower seed shell and just whips it at McCown's chest from 3 inches away. Not sure exactly what that was about--maybe they're just great friends or maybe McCown was asking him a clown question. Who knows.