Monday, September 10, 2007

Staggering Incompetence

The Cleveland Browns are a staggeringly incompetent organization. There's really nothing else you can say about a team that supposedly had been preparing for yesterday's game since last April, and yet managed to turn in a performance that was so inept that it would have embarrassed a Pop Warner team comprised entirely of kids who eat paste.

Consider the following:

  • The Browns squandered almost the entire preseason in a fruitless quarterback derby that apparently settled nothing, and seems to have accomplished nothing except to ensure that no quarterback on the team would have an adequate number of snaps to prepare for the season.
  • New offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski was supposedly bringing a new style of play to the team, yet the Browns continued to do pretty much the same things they've done in the past -- a point that wasn't lost on the Pittsburgh Steeler James Farrior, who mentioned it in his post-game comments.
  • The offensive line was completely unprepared for what Pittsburgh threw at it, and was incapable of making any adjustments in response to the Pittsburgh defense. I understand personnel issues, but how is something like this even possible against a team that you see twice a year, every year? Gee, maybe hiring an offensive line coach whose only NFL experience was with the Houston Texans wasn't such a good idea after all?
  • Then there's Romeo Crennel, who continues to prove both on and off the field that while he's one of the most stand-up guys in the NFL, he's also in way over his head. For example, confronted last week with yet another example of poorly timed anti-social behavior by a key player, Crennel continued his role as team doormat, defending Leigh Bodden's arrest following an alleged obscenity laced tirade against a police officer at Hopkins Airport as "nothing more than a traffic stop."
  • Poor preparation for early season games has become a hallmark of Romeo Crennel's teams. Whether it's the loss to the Bengals in 2005, the loss to the Saints last season, or yesterday's debacle, you can always count on Crennel's Browns for an abundance of penalties, turnovers and mental errors in their opener. Those can no longer be blamed on Maurice Carthon or Butch and Carmen's players. It's on the head coach.
  • But it's not all on the coach. Someone explain to me how the Cleveland Browns managed not to sign a punter until Saturday when they knew that Dave Zastudil might not answer the bell? Phil Savage, you truly deserve a game ball from the Pittsburgh Steelers, because you and the rest of your front office were instrumental in their victory. You know Phil, there's more to being a GM than making headlines on draft day.
  • Then there's America's number one footie fan, Randy Lerner. What's the deal, Randy? You've been very careful to remain behind the scenes since John Collins attempted his coup back in 2005, but I think it's time for you to start acting like George Steinbrenner with a bad toothache. The time has come for you to very publicly smash some furniture. That is, if you give a damn. By the way, do you?
In light of the dismal performance of Frye and Anderson, many fans are already calling for Brady Quinn to get the nod as a starter. The Browns front office -- which is likely to be in full panic mode by now -- may be willing to do that very soon. All I can say is that if they try that, fans ought to storm Berea with hot tar and buckets of feathers. Don't let these fools squander the slim hope for the future that Quinn represents in what is likely to be a futile attempt to preserve their jobs.

For better or worse, Brady Quinn is the team's future. That's something that Phil Savage ensured when he sent next year's first round pick to the Dallas Cowboys for the rights to Quinn. Do you really want to put Quinn behind what is currently a train wreck of an offensive line? If Frye and Andersen can't play this game, then I'd prefer to take my lumps until we at least see some evidence that this team can protect a quarterback.

I still hold out hope that this offensive line may amount to something this year. If it does, then okay, I'll reluctantly agree to throw the rookie to the dogs. I'm only willing to go along with that because the team's dunderheaded approach to the QB derby and their yanking of Frye after a quarter and a half have guaranteed that they don't have any other alternative. The Browns made it painfully apparent to everyone in the league yesterday that they never wanted Frye to end up with the job in the first place, and Derek Anderson spent the balance of the game showing why he couldn't claim the job despite being given every opportunity to do so.

They say it's always darkest before the dawn. I hope that's right, because after yesterday's performance, it's pitch black outside as far as the Cleveland Browns are concerned.


Anonymous said...


You are simply WAY too Brown-centric. This is supposed to be a Cleveland sports blog, and you can't find a word for the first-place Tribe in the past month or so.

The Browns are irrelevant -- the front office ought to be concerned that a lot of Browns fans (like myself) didn't really even care about yesterday's game. It would be better for them if we did care. But until we have a serious coach and a competent staff that can game-plan, it's not worth watching.

So cheer up! The Cavs made the NBA Finals, and the Tribe is on the verge of clinching. We'll have Sabathia and Carmona going 1-2 in the playoffs. If you can't get excited right now, you've got problems.

peter said...

It's not a train wreck of an offensive line. Most of those sacks were Frye and Anderson holding the ball too long. Most egregiously, they both seemed oblivious to the blitz when Pittsburgh signaled it loud and clear.

Leigh Bodden was arrested for driving while black. He got into a disagreement with a cop who's made 87 arrests at the airport because picking people up at that god-forsaken departure area is a nightmare and you categorize that as real anti-social behavior?

I would cut Frye and Anderson, sign Dorsey and Leftwich, and let Quinn start. What are we waiting for? He's the quarterback of the future, and we don't have anyone better to fill the position now.

Joey Peeps said...


At the risk of sounding like a fair weather fan, I agree with anonymous' feeling that "the Browns are irrelvant." Thanks to the actions of Art Modell and then the Lerner family, since 1995 I've rediscovered Sunday afternoons in the Fall as a sizeable chunk of the weekend to employ towards some more pleasant purpose -- play 18 holes, go for a bike ride, take the kids to a movie, bang the wife, or failing that, what the hell, spank the monkey -- the point being that there are a host of ways to use 4+ hours on a Sunday afternoon which don't result in a feeling of utter futility. A feeling of "how do I get that last 4 hours of my life back?"

It ought to scare the hell out of Browns ownership and management that phrases like "the Browns are irrelevant" are popping up on blogs, but I sense it doesn't. This is and likely will forever be a football town, and I suppose that is the model on which Browns ownership is based. Still, though, at some point, when does the cost-benefit analysis for the fan base -- especially working stiffs who aren't in Browns Stadium on the corporate dole -- become too negative and season ticket renewals drop off? Doesn't a fourth quarter in which empty seats outnumbered the occupied seats make management worry (okay, I know it rained, but empty seats are not a new phenomenon) about a tipping point, or at the very least, how they might avoid one?

Well, for an entity that I find increasingly irrelevant, I've devoted too much time. I'll probably be the asshole who's begging you for Browns tix in a couple years, and then Rhino, you may have the last laugh. And I truly hope you get that laugh. Until that day, though, I'll be working on my short game. And no, that's not a euphemism for any of the above-listed Sunday afternoon activities.