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McBride: Cleveland Browns Football Analysis of the Utmost Importance

OBR Founder Barry McBride blesses the world with his latest thoughts, creating must-reading for the Civilized World, and some of the less-civilized outreaches.

I’m always somewhat amused by the faux folksiness one sees in columns from respected and well-compensated writers, titled things like “Scribblin’ and Talkin’ about Them Thar Sportsball Teams”. As if they need to slum with us normal folks by going all casual with their gerunds.

Since I’m neither respected or well-compensated, I figure I should go in the opposite direction with my title in the hopes that I’ll fool someone.

So, enjoy the incredible analysis that follows, as I expand the literary realm of football writin’ in spectacular ways.

JOHNNY BE PRETTY GOOD

In what may be the Brownsiest season of all time, it’s to be expected that the squad would set about negating their good 2016 draft position by winning a couple of meaningless games down the stretch.

But, damn, it feels so good.

It’s hard to look at any downside in the aftermath, as the Browns manhandled their opponent Sunday, thrashing the travel-weary and generally awful San Francisco 49ers, 24–10. One has to be happy for the select players on this team who have given their best week-in-and-week-out to get a win.

The main event, though, was the return to the starting line-up of one Johnny Manziel, a quarterback seemingly determined to strut, preen, and rap his way into Mike Pettine’s doghouse. After a week on the sidelines, the Browns got back to the business of determining if Manziel could be their quarterback of the future.

The result, albeit against an awful opponent, was fairly positive. The erstwhile Mr. Football was 21-of–31 for 270 yards and both a touchdown and an interception. With a depleted receiver corps and a new left guard protecting him, Manziel often scrambled to prolong plays, allowing his receivers time to get open. It was both effective and exciting football to watch, compliments not often directed towards the often-dull and depressing Browns.

Despite a couple of mistakes, one of them severly detrimental to a Microsoft Surface tablet, I’m anxious to see how Manziel does against a resurgent Seahawks team in a difficult environment last week. If he does well, we might be inching closer to an outcome where the Browns can take the best player available next April regardless of position.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR

The only disheartening bit of news from the game was the loss of WR Brian Hartline for the season with a broken collarbone. Hartline, who had caught eight passes for 107 yards, had seemingly found a rhythm with Manziel and will be missed in the weeks to come.

If nothing else, Hartline won’t have to worry about keeping his yap shut to keep his job. His performance in 2015 is enough to suggest that the team could use his services in 2016.

THAT GREAT “FILM ROOM” PIECE YOU JUST READ IS PROBABLY FULL OF CRAP

I’m always intrigued by these great Xs-and-Os pieces you find on the web. As someone who is just a fan-with-a-web-site and never played the game, my jaw often drops at the complexity and speed of professional football. It looks like magic to me. Poorly executed magic, in the case of the Browns, but they’re still going through a lot of complex machinations to yank that rabbit out of the stovepipe hat during their weekly ritualistic pummellings.

So, as I see them, I’m generally thankful that seasoned and wise observers of the game can write “film room” type articles to explain to me why the Cam Erving was supposed to drop back five yards and whiff at that blitzing linebacker instead of, say, dropping back two yards and just falling face-first on the ground in the hopes of tripping him. Or do a Spider–2Y-Banana or whatever.

There’s a big problem with these sorts of articles, though, which was recently exposed by Danny O’Neil, a Seattle beat reporter who fancied himself knowledgeable enough about the intricacies of football to wag a finger at a Seahawks offensive lineman for a “missed assignment”.

Turns out that he was completely and utterly wrong. The lineman was doing exactly what he was supposed to do, contrary to how it looked.

The fallacy about these sorts of analyses in the mainstream media or blogosphere is that the writer has no clue what play was called, and the responsibilities of each player on the play. They’re making assumptions about what each player is supposed to do, and those assumptions are often just plain wrong.

Great piece by O’Neil, and worth reading for those of you who, like me, wonder why coaches tend to sigh deeply when answering questions from the media about blown plays and the performance of individual players.

There’s a lot of wires under the board that we peons writing about the game just don’t see. It’s worth keeping in mind.

IT’S JUST MONOPOLY MONEY

As someone who was on the losing end of a franchise move in 1995, I’m somewhat confused about what to do about scumbag NFL owners ripping the hearts out of their paying customers by circling Los Angeles and threatening fans in Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis.

The root of the problem is the same as it was in the 1990s and hasn’t changed a whit: The NFL is a de facto sports monopoly which can, at will, extort hundreds of millions of dollars out of their communities for fabulous and profitable (for them) sports palaces by threatening to move. This dynamic is the same now as it was then, despite some political bluster about removing the league’s anti-trust exemption.

Not many remember those days, but when the Browns were taken away twenty years ago, the NFL took its’ good sweet time announcing an expansion franchise for Cleveland. A dedicated group of fans demanded “Expansion Only” for Cleveland as we didn’t want to do to another town what Baltimore did to us. Despite our efforts, billions were spent on palaces for NFL owners as they hinted that a move to Cleveland would be easy to make. I started a website called Greedwatch about it, which eventually mutated into the OBR as the Browns returned.

So far, however, I’ve heard nothing but quiet out of Los Angeles, and precious little from the threatened communities, as their city fathers fall all over themselves to promise untold millions in construction costs to their LA-besotted local scumbag owners.

To the people of Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis, I say this. If you want to keep your team, fight for it. Browns fans showed you the way in 1995 and the Internet gives you even more tools than we had in those days. The only way to fight injustice is to peacefully protest it. So, get to work, or be at the mercy of the NFL jackals. Your move.


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