OBR Daily Blog Feb. 4-7

Super Bowl Edition: As the creator of the daily blog has a weekend hiatus, he's wearing green & gold

12:05 AM

Intentional Hounding: Top 5 from Texas: From the first snap of training camp to the hoisting of the Vince Lombar… http://bit.ly/hEhH3x

12:11 PM

Browns are listed as 60-to-1 to win 2012 Super Bowl. Only Cards, Seahawks, Bills and Panthers are worse. Bengals, Broncos, Jags also 60-1.

1:12 AM

What We Learned: Super Bowl XLV: As expected, Super Bowl XLV was a good one and came down to the end. So what di… http://bit.ly/eC7IvL

Holmgren Emails Season Ticket Holders
Barry McBride on February 6th, 2011 AT 5:41 PM

The Browns sent this out two days ago, and we’ve pasted it here for the curious:

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and for being part of the Cleveland Browns family. We truly appreciate your dedication as the team continues to develop. In 2010, we improved our roster and had some exciting wins over playoff teams. Overall, I was proud of the players’ effort and believe we made progress. With the performance of our draft picks and free agents combined with our core of proven veterans, we are headed in the right direction and have the opportunity for a bright future.

To build on this, I am very excited that Pat Shurmur is our new head coach. Pat’s experience as a coach and offensive coordinator in the National Football League, his eagerness to come to Cleveland and join our organization, and his dedication to returning the Browns to the playoffs and beyond, convinced me that he is the right choice for our team, our fans and our great city. He possesses the personal and professional attributes I know are important and I am confident that he will succeed. I know you will join me in welcoming him to Cleveland and that he will soon see firsthand why Browns fans are the best in all of the NFL.

We continue our commitment to building a foundation for success both on and off the field. The foundation of our core values is centered on winning and caring, with focused efforts on our team, our fans, our community and our heritage. Each of these efforts are of great importance to us. The likes of which we hope you appreciate through our ongoing Cleveland Browns Stadium enrichment programs highlighted by our Ring of Honor, Heritage Hall and also our continued efforts on improved fan conduct.

As we look to 2011 and beyond, we know that continued progress and sustainable success can only be achieved with your support. That’s why I encourage you to take this opportunity to renew your 2011 season tickets and continue to be a valuable member of our team. As we take the next steps in our development – steps that I am confident will result in returning the Cleveland Browns to the level of success that you expect and deserve – you make a difference!

Super Bowl Prop Bets
Dave Kolonich on February 6th, 2011 AT 11:16 AM

The Super Bowl always means a return to the intersection of boredom and too little common sense.  Or in other words, it's time once again to place your bets.  See if any of these Prop Bets strike your fancy….

Bodog.com – Super Bowl Prop Bets

I had no idea the roles Christina Aguilera and Fergie would play this evening. 

Of equal importance are the following bets:

Will a punt hit the Texas-sized scoreboard?

Who will the Super Bowl MVP first thank?

How many times will the FOX announcers reference a player’s hair?

Of course, you can always bet on the outcome of the game.

2011 Hall of Fame
Dave Kolonich on February 6th, 2011 AT 10:52 AM

Let the annual debate begin…

ProFootballHOF.com – 2011 Hall of Fame Class Announced

Some once-in-a-generation talent is Canton-bound, including Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Shannon Sharpe.  Along with Richard Dent and two more historical picks in Les Richter and Chris Hanburger, this year's HOF class is a pretty diverse set.  Although for nostalgia's sake, there is no better pick than NFL Films founder Ed Sabol.

Of course, as an NFL Films nerd, I'm a bit biased.  But even having revealed that, there's been no better marriage between film and sport than the one between NFL Films and the league.  In so many ways, Sabol's company helped to humanize the sport, along with characterizing its combatants as nothing short of majestic actors on some grand stage. 

Just think about all the legends created thanks to NFL Films.  From the fledging AFL to the mystique of the Oakland Raiders, Vince Lombardi and the Steel Curtain to genius of Bill Walsh and a host of characters in between, NFL Films has given life to a league that can often be reduced to nothing more than petty violence.

Not to mention hope.  After all, there was no better barometer for a team's success than NFL Films' annual season Yearbook.  Even the most hopeless of Browns' seasons were painted as a struggle to regain a sense of community pride and set in motion a promise for the future.  Now, such films are cherished – especially among the wash of a contemporary media that never rests.

Having said all this, the league owes a gratitude towards Sabol and NFL Films – mainly for promoting their brand for decades now.  On this note, I would love to see the additions of more members of the NFL Films' family be inducted into Canton.  Why stop with Ed Sabol?  How about Steve Sabol?  Or, even the most talented camera crew ever assembled? 

Anyway, I can hope.  In the meantime, such prolific names as Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter, Charles Haley and Andre Reed are still trying to find their way into Canton.  While all are deserving of the honor, I think we need to remember that the perspective of time is a key factor here.  Much like Richter and Hanburger had to wait close to four decades to get in, I'm sensing that the fates of Reed and Carter could prove to follow a similar pattern. 

9:43 AM

(Subscriber) Game Day Chat: Super Bowl XLV: If you’re watching Super Bowl XLV from home but want to feel like yo… http://bit.ly/hAdaPF

5:12 PM

Story of the Week: Matt Roth Edition: The OBR Forum members discuss the future of Matt Roth http://bit.ly/eUzOrR

5:12 PM

Story of the Week: Matt Roth Edition: The OBR Forum members discuss the future of Matt Roth. http://bit.ly/hmPZa6

OBR Newswire updates for February 4th through February 5th
OBR Newswire on February 5th, 2011 AT 4:00 PM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for February 4th through February 5th:

Dick LeBeau, Dom Capers and the Evolution of Defense
Dave Kolonich on February 5th, 2011 AT 3:32 PM

Here's a brilliant read from the folks at SmartFootball.com.  Suddenly, having a veteran defensive coordinator onboard makes a lot of sense.

Smart Football.com – Dick LeBeau, Dom Capers and the Evolution of Defense

2:10 PM

Fox Sports Ohio on the reasonableness of embracing Steeler hate: http://ow.ly/3QwLj

11:02 AM

Can Whipple recreate his QB magic?: Whipple’s past successes with QBs – namely Roethlisberger – will now be appl… http://bit.ly/euSIS1

OBR Newswire updates for February 3rd through February 4th
OBR Newswire on February 4th, 2011 AT 8:00 AM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for February 3rd through February 4th:

OBR Podcast – Post-Script
Dave Kolonich on February 3rd, 2011 AT 5:56 PM

In case you missed it, the OBR Podcast was back on the airwaves last night. 

Among the topics covered were the state of the Browns heading into the early stages of the offseason, the new arrivals among the coaching staff, the possibility of a lockout and some draft prospects on the horizon.

OBR Podcast – February 2, 2011

As a bit of a post script, one thing is clear….

Or in the words of Don Delco, "it all comes down to talent."

While the arrival of a new head coach and defensive coordinator signals a shift in overall team philosophy, the naked truth is that the Browns desperately need to add some playmakers this offseason – regardless of scheme.

Offensively, this is a team that made some minor strides in 2010, but still lacks any type of an outside threat.  The identity of this offense will be difficult to change, as Peyton Hillis and Ben Watson were the only consistent contributors last season.  For a new passing offense to emerge, at least one wide receiver needs to arrive via the draft.

Of course the question here becomes, is wide receiver a first-round priority?

Taking a wideout with the sixth overall pick is a risky proposition – and one that may not be justified this year.  While there is some nice talent at the top of draft, including Julio Jones and A.J. Green, neither player could be considered anything close to a lock.  Further down the list, there are some intriguing second-round prospects, including Leonard Hankerson, Titus Young, Torrey Smith and Jon Baldwin.  However, every Browns fan knows the lineage of recent second-round receiver selections, including the likes of Andre Davis, Quincy Morgan, Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi.

Last night, Lane Adkins hit on the reality that the Browns also need to reform an aging defensive front seven.  Regardless of a scheme shift, the only certainties on the current roster include Ahtyba Rubin, Scott Fujita and possibly Chris Gocong.  Simply put, talent is needed everywhere.  From adding some traditional defensive ends to talent all over the linebacking corps, GM Tom Heckert has some serious work to do.  In this sense, Brent Sobleski hit on Missouri's Aldon Smith as a potential target.  But again, the same question regarding the wide receivers has to be asked:  is this the best option at number six?

Perhaps a quick glimpse at the recent drafts of the Philadelphia Eagles – where Heckert was heavily involved before coming to Cleveland – could provide the answer.  The Eagles have invested heavily in drafting both offensive and defensive linemen at the top of the draft, before devoting second and third round picks to the offensive skill positions.  Of course, it's worth noting that the Eagles have drafted in the later portions of the first round – something foreign to the Browns over the past decade.

But then again – to channel Adkins – much bigger problems are on the horizon beyond the draft.  There is a great chance that a labor lockout leaks into the Spring months, which could easily derail any momentum the Browns may find in April.  While I'm not ready to call the looming lockout a crisis for the Browns, it's discomforting to think of a new coaching staff trying to implement a lot of fresh terminology among a roster that will look dramatically different once the season actually begins.

As for the labor strife – look for this topic to vault to the forefront of all post-Super Bowl talk.  For a quick primer on the issues involved, check out the following link:

NY Times – What's At Stake In the NFL Labor Talks

And in the meantime, we'll all become honorary Packers fans this weekend.

Speaking of which, here's Part Two of my Super Bowl pick:

Being that the Karma of Big Ben is the most powerful force in the NFL universe, the luckiest QB to ever play the game will likely throw seven interceptions, break two major bones, get arrested at halftime and impregnate half the viewing audience – then of course will somehow win his third Super Bowl title, before being elected Governor of Pennsylvania. 

Just a hunch.

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