Following Sunday's spanking of the Jacksonville Whine-uars, I courageously boarded an international flight bound for Tibet. When I arrived, I quickly flipped through my trusty English-to-Tibet pocket language translator and asked the first person I happened upon- "Where might I find the Wise Man?"
Fortunately for me, his residence at the top of a mountain is a myth. As it turns out, the Wise Man of Tibet (The Dalai Lama's second cousin) hangs out at a local sportsbar in Lhasa and goes by the name of Sweet Lou.
As we tossed back some Guinness over a game of darts, I finally worked up the courage to pose the question I had travelled so far in search of. Head bowed and in a hushed, yet severely slurred voice, I said "Sweet Lou, I watched the Browns take the Jaguars out behind the woodshed, but the final score showed a difference of only 9 points. Winning 48-0 is a statement for sure, but in lieu of that, how can we know the severity of the whooping the Browns just handed the Jaguars on Sunday?"
Sweet Lou, (The Wise Man), smiled a crooked smile, coughed once indicating I had to buy him yet another beer for the right to this knowledge, belched and then said "There is but one other way of knowing the level of whipping the Browns handed the Jaguars on Sunday... Follow the Trail of Tears."
And the light went on.
No really. Well, yes, it was 2am and the bar was closing, but that isn't the light I'm referring to.
How badly did the Browns beat the Jags? Take a look:
Coach Tom Coughlin reported the Browns to the NFL office yesterday for dancing on the Jaguar logo at midfield before the game. Coughlin asked the league if the Browns' actions violated the NFL's recent crackdown on taunting. "Evidently, [the taunting crackdown] doesn't cover the pregame period, too," Coughlin said yesterday. "I've already had a discussion with [NFL director of officiating] Mike Pereira about that. He said he was surprised, but he didn't offer anything definite [regarding punishment]."
"That's the Cleveland Browns," defensive end Paul Spicer said. "That's not the Jaguars. We're not going to jump on the orange helmet or whatever the hell they have up there. We're just going to go out and play Jaguar football. If we play Jaguar football, we'll beat the mess out of them."
"The hit had nothing to do with the play," Coughlin said. "The play was ahead of where [Brunell] was standing. [Warren] actually ran over 10 yards to put his helmet directly on Mark Brunell's helmet. It was a flagrant foul." Added Coughlin: "I take exception to the fact that a severe blow was delivered on what was really a defenseless player. There should be a fine, and maybe a suspension."
Rather than admit they lost, and make no mistake about it- the Browns won this game, the Jaguars chose to whine and cry about taunting and dancing on logos. Rather than admit the Browns dominated the game but for one drive to start the third quarter, they chose to whine and cry about Big Money's hit on Brunell and how they didn't play "Jaguar football".
How do you like me now, 48-0.
The Browns came out on top in nearly every statistical category in this game, including the crucial time of possession matchup where the Browns had the ball for more than 11 minutes longer than the Jags. But even this info isn't enough as any team that wins generally wins the statistical wars and the Browns didn't dominate enough statistically to justify my claim that this was a true butt-whooping.
Until you add context.
During the first two seasons of putrid 5-27 football, the Browns rarely gave the impression they were even in the game let alone having a chance to win it. Of the 5 wins, only the victories over the lowly Bungals and the horrible Patriots classified as true wins. A Hail Mary, a late-hit gift and a blown call by the refs contributed to the other three wins.
Not this year. Not this game.
The Jags came into the game at 2-0 without yielding a TD in their first two outings. Pundits were saying they were playing like the team that went 14-2 just two seasons ago. From the opening kickoff, the Browns sent the message that things were different. Gerard Warren leveled an unsuspecting Mark Brunell to set the tone and the Browns never let up. The defense continued to press while the Tim Couch-led offense started to find itself. Despite Butch's conservative decision to kick a FG on third down near the end of the first half, the offense moved the ball better than at any point in this young season. It was a total victory.
From a mental standpoint, the Browns controlled the game against a quality opponent on the road. This is why I say the Browns took the Jags behind the woodshed. It's why I'm calling it a butt-whooping. This was exactly the kind of game this very young team needed right now. The type of game they can look at themselves and what they've been working so hard for and believing in during those spring mini-camps and August two-a-days. The gassers, the dreaded "middle drill". The philosophy brought in by Butch Davis and his coaching staff gained credence on this day. And to be fair, the Browns will need to continue this play next week and beyond to ensure this is the case.
Yes, there is much work yet to be done. Redzone field goals need to be turned into redzone touchdowns. The defense needs to stiffen against the run. Missed tackles must become a thing of the past. Tre' will need to be replaced. James Jackson will need to heal. All of this will now become the focus of those who follow the team. But that's a far cry from the past two seasons. A far cry from that overwhelming sense that the team would lose, hoping only that it would be by less than 3 or 4 touchdowns.
The Browns have come a very long way in a short period of time under Butch Davis.
Words of advice to future opponents- Win or lose, you better buckle yourr chinstraps because this team now has a nasty streak and a little bit of swagger.
And don't forget your kleenex.