Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Must Win?

Isn't every game a must win for an 0-5 team? I guess, but reality and desire have only met a few times for the Cleveland Browns this season, and in a few hours they will meet again. It is these meetings that the Cleveland Browns need to make the most of. They have fought hard in all five games thus far this season, but have fallen short by just a bit in three games, and by a large margin in their first and last game of the five.

The Titans are not a walk-over, but they are beatable, and the Browns must take advantage of this opening, because if they lose to the Titans this Sunday the positivity and steady leadership from Hue Jackson takes another hit, and players begin to doubt the good advice and the glass-half-full attitude that has made Hue so successful thus far.

After the Titans, the Browns face the Bengals and the Jets. Both of those teams are beatable, but after that, there is not much hope for a win. So it remains that the Browns' hopes for breaking into the win column are dwindling. Tennessee is a team that Cleveland can beat, at least on paper. A loss today will cement the Browns as the worst team in the league and throw into question whether or not they can win a game this season. Imagine that...wait, let's not.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Here Comes The Hard Part...

Keep smiling, Hue. We're just getting to the hard part...
This is where is gets hard. The Cleveland Browns are 0-4 and by all accounts about to go 0-5 with their latest impending loss to the New England Patriots. I'm not going to speculate on their chances today in depth; it all just seems too obvious. A talent rich perennial winner is coming to town and, as we all know, Tom Brady is back in the line-up again for the first time this year. Obviously, Brady is angry over his suspension and looking to make an example of the remaining 12 teams he has to play, the Cleveland Browns just happen to be the first poor team to walk into the buzz saw.

That being said, I like this pugnacious young Browns team, and despite the impending 10.5 point spread, I expect the Cleveland Browns to play hard and hopefully stay in the game. This will be a great benchmark game for a young Browns squad. Stay with the Patriots, even come close to winning, and it's sign that Hue and his staff have moved this team a great distance in the time he's been here. 

It hasn't been easy, though. If we're all being honest, there is no way Hue Jackson hasn't gone to bed at least once and said to himself, "What the hell is going on here? Can't I catch at least one break?" Maybe even, "What did I do? Why did I come here?" This Browns team has had more than it's fair share of bad luck. Some of it is unavoidable, like the various injuries to Griffin III, McCown, C. Coleman, Nassib (back today hopefully), DeValve, Haden, Erving, the list goes on. 

One more example of past regimes' mistakes.
Some of the bad luck was almost self-inflicted, Josh Gordon is an example

But a lot of the bad luck was inflicted on the Browns by the league. I'm acknowledging my homer bent here, but it seems that the Browns have had an inordinate number of bad calls this year for a team that needs every break they can get. Starting with last week's debacle, when Duke Johnson fumbled and then immediately recovered, but the officials ruled that Washington recovered a phantom ball that wasn't in the scrum...because Duke Johnson was holding it. I've heard people say this week that it didn't really matter in terms of the outcome of the game, but I couldn't disagree more. There's no telling what transpires if that is ruled correctly.
But I have the football...
There was also Terrelle Pryor, Sr.'s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the Baltimore Ravens game that could have led to four chances at the end zone for the win.

And now, through no fault of their own, the Browns will have to bear the brunt of Tom Brady's ire for Roger Goodell. So once again, the league is stacking the deck against the Browns. There's a larger problem here, I think, but that's an article for another time.

But all of those unfortunate incidents aside, this season hasn't even gotten challenging yet. In true Cleveland fashion, the naysayers' cries of discontent are strengthening like a distant echo barreling down a canyon in your direction. Looking at the Browns' schedule there are three winnable games in the near future: Titans, Bengals, Jets. If they win two of those games, which at this point is a stretch, they will be 2-6 with eight games to go. From that period on, there are not a lot of games that jump out as wins, which means that this is going to get worse/harder before it gets better. I expect the Browns to steadily improve due to good coaching and hungry young athletes, but the detractors outside the building are going to get louder and louder. 
This is what bothers me. It's like hiring someone to gut your home and re-do it in the exact image of your dream house, and then showing up during the demolition phase and freaking out that they've torn down all the dry wall. It's short sighted and ignorant. 

Let's all back up folks. Look at this team and the problem with building a winner here from 30,000 feet instead of the mashed-up-face against the window view point we've all been prone to in the past. Remaking the roster is only part of the fixing that needs to be done here, and it looks to me like Hue, Sashi, and Paul are beginning to put things in line behind the scenes as well as assemble young hungry talent on the field. The bottom line is that through better drafting (how can our drafts not improve?) and better coaching (let's be honest, there was little coaching going on here in recent years) and an aligned vision through a dynamic leader like Hue Jackson, things will improve. It's just that right now the dry wall is in pieces on the floor, the studs are exposed, and the kitchen sink is sitting in a sad, lonely puddle in the back yard. Let's let the builders finish the demolition and construct a new structure and winner before we judge. In this case, with this group, I think patience is a virtue.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

So This Is Progress...

TP is a bright spot for this new Browns team.
After reading over my article from last week, there is only one thing that I regret saying, and it is that I would feel remorseful for spending the time watching the game. Not only did I enjoy watching the Browns last week, I enjoyed watching the game go into overtime. I had the pleasure of meeting up with several other Browns fans who were on vacation, and we watched the second half together. Watching the game with friends, new and old, makes it so much more entertaining and enjoyable. Even though, as Parkey lined up to miss his last kick I turned to my new friend and said, "You know what's going to happen here, right?" And he responded, "Yup."  - it was still great fun to be IN the game. To be in that position, with that team, is in itself an amazing job by the Cleveland Browns' coaching staff.

Seriously, this dude was our quarterback last year!
So progress is what's on my mind this Sunday, especially after the big news this week of Josh Gordon's decision to enter re-hab. After last week, I am even more excited to watch the Browns play this afternoon. Have you looked at our roster lately? More importantly, have you looked at who is not on our roster? With the elimination of Manziel (1st rd. pick), Mingo (1st rd. pick), Gilbert (1st rd. pick), Bowe, and now, quite possibly Gordon, just to name a few, the Browns are completing a process of remaking their roster and filling it with players who WANT to play football for the right reasons.

Many folks feel like the Browns latest saga with Gordon is yet another let down, but I feel like it is the latest in this new management's effort to eliminate players who are not in line with the overall direction of this team. So in that sense, although losing his potential is unfortunate, filling his roster spot with yet another player who is interested in winning games and playing within Hue Jackson's system is an overall gain, not a loss.

Yes, Hue. Let's go in that direction!
Now let's just hope that the Browns can continue to display the progress they have so clearly made this year in three games, albeit losses. There will be a point where their effort and attitude and growing talent will tip the scales in the win/loss column and the Browns will start winning these close games. It may not be this year, but I have a feeling it will be sooner rather than later, and I applaud this management team for moving us in a painful, but important direction away from the self absorbed, attention seeking football players who were more interested in the trappings of fame than the rewards of winning.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Foreboding Joy - Browns v. Dolphins

He looks like a really nice guy. Good luck today, Cody! Seriously. 

Today is one of those games that I am already regretting spending the time to watch. I just don't see much of a way for the Browns to win this one. With such a young team and so little depth, the Browns simply can't weather an injury storm like the one that has befallen them over the past two weeks.
Starting QB, Back-up QB, Starting DE, Starting DB (questionable), Starting K, Starting WR, Starting C, Starting S. I'm not even sure I've mentioned everyone...

So the logical question is: if a young healthy Browns team can't beat Philly, and a young sort of healthy Browns team can't beat Baltimore, how on earth is a young injury riddled Browns team supposed to beat Miami? Don't sell Miami short here. They are also 0-2, but they have played two of the top teams in the NFL (I'm disregarding your "the Seahawks suck this year; they can't score." comments right now, as you're thinking them. Isn't that amazing, you didn't even know I was thinking about you. Wait. Forget that. Keep reading.) in the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

But this is where the being a Browns fan thing rears its ugly head. I still have this glimmer of hope. Everything presented to us, all the facts, all the pundits, all logical thinking would tell you that there is no way the Browns can win this game. But, I still can't wait for kick-off. I'm secretly hoping that Cody Kessler is as good a quarterback as he seems to be a teammate and hard worker.

Hopefully, John Greco will be an upgrade over Cam Erving as he goes against Ndamukong Suh at center... I can't even continue down this line of reasoning; it's making me sad. But, I'm still excited! What is that? Why have we been chosen for this?

My misplaced excitement and hope aside, something interesting to watch today will be how Joe Thomas handles Mario Williams. There have been many in the past few years that have given Thomas a hard time, citing declining skills, and riding out his all-pro rep while not playing at an all-pro level. To be fair, there are as many, maybe more, who feel he deserves every bit of praise he gets. So today will be a great test for the "future Hall of Famer" against a possible future HOFer.

Another interesting aspect of this game will be how Hue Jackson fashions the offense for Cody Kessler. By all accounts we might see some interesting formations and play calls today.

So, in the end, I will gather the family into the car and drive down to our local sports bar and eat lunch as we watch the Browns game unfold in real-time. While I'm afraid that I've become one of Pavlov's dogs as I dutifully sit myself in front of the TV for four hours each Sunday, I'm also just hungry. So in this case, I salivate for a win, or for another quarter like the first quarter against the Raven's last week. Man, that was fun! And then it wasn't. But here I am, hearing the bell and returning to the dog bowl. (Wow, that metaphor ended nicely.)

Go Browns.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Browns place Robert Griffin III on injured reserve

We're Back!

And so it begins again. Our last post was seven years ago, almost to the day. After the first game of the Hue Jackson Era, we've decided to get the band back together and vent, scheme, seek redemption, and have some fun. In the meantime, we've all started families and gotten old, so this blog will feature a variety of stories, mostly Browns related, but also political, etc. The idea is to use MUTM as a mostly Browns, but a general posting board for stuff we like and think is interesting. That's it. No pretence.

Below is the email I sent this past Sunday that got this ball rolling...


I'm sitting in a bar on Grand Cayman watching this debacle. While I never expected dominance, let alone a win, this has been tough. Usually it's week six or seven when I begin the question the prudence of dedicating four hours a week to this team, but after this, on week It's going to be a long season. (How many times have we heard that?)

I'm not even sure why I'm writing all of you, other than it's (especially) lonely being a Browns fan in a foreign country.

The crazy part is that I like what they're doing. Go young. Let people play. Draft well. Suck for a bit. But man, sucking blows!

Part of me wants to start Metcalf up the Middle again as a live blog during games. We could all contribute. It'd be hilarious. 

Anyway, off to do some home improvements followed by dinner on the beach. 

Peace out, dudes, and I hope you all had a good weekend. Hug your children, and tell them it will get better. 

In Hue/Sashi we trust?


Ps - I just saw an old dude roll by wearing a Charlie Frye Jersey. Going to talk to him now...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Defense (Sort of) of Eric Mangini

So everybody is jumping up and down on Eric Mangini this week. Certainly, that is to be expected given last week's non-performance in Baltimore. The team was not adequately prepared and did not execute in any phase of the game...ultimately that responsibility falls upon the head coach. However, the (utterly predictable) calls for his job by the unwashed masses and Joe Posnanski's inflammatory for the sake of being inflammatory article are utterly ridiculous.

Don't buy into the hyperbole of what the no-talent hacks like Posnanski, Tony Grossi and other members of the media (who admittedly dislike Mangini because he makes their job harder) have to say.

As an example, let's examine Posnanski's claims about why Eric Mangini was a bad hire:

1. Mangini had just been fired in New York, where he had done a terrible job. He had a losing record. His team had collapsed down the stretch, he had alienated his players, he was a pain in the neck to deal with. Point is: He'd already PROVEN how much damage he could do as a coach.

Did Manging do a terrible job in New York? Taking over a 4-12 team, he was 10-6 in his first season, and brought the Jets to the playoffs. After an admittedly bad season in 2007, he had the Jets off to an 8-3 start last year before Favre's injury and ineffectiveness resulted in a 9-7 finish. That is 23-25 in three seasons. I'm not arguing that he did a fantastic job, but a nearly .500 record over three seasons should hardly be called terrible. (also notice how one of Posnaski points is that "he was a pain in the neck to deal with"...again, Mangini does make media members jobs more difficult and they hate him for it...I, for one, couldn't care less).

2. He came right out of the school of Bill Belichick ... and that didn't work THE FIRST TIME in Cleveland. It seems to me that Cleveland is a working-class town and Browns fans want a working-class coach -- not some pompous know-it-all who doesn't feel like he should have to explain to the commoners what he's doing.

The reason Bill Belichick didn't work in Cleveland is because he didn't win enough. Knowing everything you know about Bill Belichick, would you have taken him as the Browns coach in 1999 or even now? I sure would. It is about winning. Belichick, in his second incarnation, became one of the best coaches of all time, in part certainly due to learning from mistakes he made in his first go around as head coach. Could something similar happen with Mangini? Maybe. I can only speak for myself, and I don't know what "working-class" means, but I don't care how much of a prick the Browns coach is as long as they win!

3. What had he ever done to convince anyone he could be a head coach in the first place? Why, because he was a defensive coordinator for the Patriots under Belichick for one season? The Browns had JUST HIRED Romeo Crennel, who was ALSO defensive coordinator under Belichick. Attention Cleveland Browns owners, here's a good hint: BILL BELICHICK IS HIS OWN DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR.

Despite Mangini's expanding girth, comparing he and Romeo is comparing apples and oranges....ok, milky way and cake. Romeo was lauded as a great hire because he had "paid his dues" as an assistant and he had convinced people that he was qualified to be a head coach. And he was a bust! So there is no tried and true way to convince someone that you are qualified to be a head coach. Good head coaches and bad head coaches come from all organizations and all experience levels. And you have no idea what was said in Mangini's interview to convince Woody Johnson and then Randy Lerner that he was qualified to be a head coach, but the bottom line is that the interview likely had much more to do with his hire than his resume.

4. Basically the first thing Mangini did -- first thing -- was have them tear down a mural of great Cleveland Browns players on the wall in the Browns offices. Now, there are differing opinions about what really happened, whose fault it really was, does it all matter, etc. You know what? The Cleveland Browns have never been to a Super Bowl. Never. Not one. But Browns fans still have a whole lot of pride. Browns fans grow up on a glorious history. If you allow something stupid like that to happen on your watch ... just a horrendous hire.

This is laughable and totally irresponsible reporting. Mangini, like almost any new coach, did some rearranging of the locker room and the facility. The mural that Posnanski refers to was actually moved to a much more prominent place in the facility (why the failure to mention that one, Joe?). The Browns organization has reached out to its alumni. Do you see Paul Warfield and Jim Brown on the bench every game? This is a totally salacious and false argument and is only used to drum up a dramatic conclusion.

So there you have it my friends. I'm not saying that Eric Mangini will end up being a great coach for the Browns. There are clearly a lot of holes in the ship. Some of the early season failings are due truly to a lack of NFL talent, while some absolutely fall on the coaching staff and the head coach in particular. But it is important to note that Posnanski and other members of the media already dislike Mangini and are eager to see him fail. But we Browns fans are smarter than that. Let's see how the season continues to play out and what kind of progress the team makes before rushing to judgment. I know last week was dark, but keep your heads up and keeping cheering on Sundays.

Top Dawg

Thursday, August 27, 2009


You heard it here first: The Vikings won't make the playoffs. I never bought it when Favre signed and all the sudden these guys could win it all. Total BS. Just throwin' it out there...