We all know that this is the time of year that players are walking on eggshells, hoping not to hear <I>"The coach wants to see you, and bring your playbook..."</I>. Well, Les tells us today that the Browns front office is no different, as <B>another</B> exec is on his way out. The "Voice of Truth and Reason" is back once more with news and perspective you won't get anywhere else but here...
The end of the exhibition
season means that the rosters have to be brought down to the 53- man level
by next Tuesday. Even veteran players, and marginal starters won't breathe
easily until the roster is set, and even later, because teams usually bring
another player or two into camp after they have been released by other
But it's not just the players
who are walking on eggshells in Berea. It was learned this week that
another key front office member (from the Carmen Policy regime), Bruce Popko,
VP of Marketing, is in the process of leaving the team, because of
‘differences in direction'.
By all accounts, Popko has done
a terrific job since the team returned in 1999.
Popko probably knew he was in
trouble when John Collins took over, since Collins' strength is in the
marketing side, rather than the football side of things. As with the
dismissal of Media Relations Director Todd Stewart, which took place a week
before the opening of training camp, the timing of Popko's dismissal or
resignation (you make the call) is somewhat suspect. Now, Popko is moving
on, just a week before the first regular season game
Perhaps the new Media Relations
Director is just feeling her way around, but by all accounts, she has made
little effort to reach out to key media members in the market.
When the late Al Lerner took
over the team, the word was out that the Cleveland Browns were extremely
good to their players and employees. That reputation doesn't appear to be
holding up in recent months.
Normally when players speak out
against management and coaches, the fans do not side with the players. They
think that the player is making plenty of money, therefore he should be
happy with whatever cards he is dealt. That seems to be the case with
running back James Jackson, who said he'd rather go to the ‘freaking CFL'
than stay in Cleveland.
Perhaps Jackson is not aware that the average
salary in the ‘freaking CFL' is around $60,000 (Canadian).
On the other
hand, the fans seem to be siding with Jeff Garcia's criticism of the
coaching staff. Garcia thought he would play close to three quarters
against Kansas City, but a change of plans had him come out in the second
Prior to that numerous procedure penalties were called, and, with
or without equipment malfunctions (Butch Davis' words to describe the
communication problems---similar words used to describe Janet Jackson in the
Super Bowl, in the production headed by John Collins), the offense had
trouble getting to the line of scrimmage.
With one exhibition game left, in
which Garcia doesn't figure to play much again, the offense has plenty of
work to do. With a new QB and Offensive Coordinator, along with a key
rookie in Kellen Winslow, Jr., this team can't figure it can just snap its
fingers and turn into a smooth running machine.
So far the fans are giving
Garcia a free pass, based on his previous success, I assume. If Tim Couch
was running this team, and had the same stats and lack of success that
Garcia has had thus far, we wouldn't hear the end of it. I will assume that
Butch Davis has a plan, but right now it doesn't appear that he and his
newly acquired leader are not on the same page, and that doesn't bode well
if it doesn't get corrected.
The Browns/Ravens match-up in Week One didn't figure to be a prime time
If things go the way the Browns want it to go, he won't make many
highlight shows---both teams figure to run the ball as often as possible. The
Ravens don't want to leave things to Kyle Boller, their starting QB, and the
Browns have had some success running the ball in the pre-season.
I figure the
clock will keep moving, the game will be shortened (by both teams), and the
passing game will be naturally curtailed. Deion hasn't played in three
seasons, meaning he hasn't made an open-field tackle in about five years.