If you're a fan, you're an investor. You've invested your heart and soul into this team, and you've probably invested some body parts (e.g., arm, leg) to be able to afford the tickets, mechandise and, of course, the all-important Bernie's Insiders subscription that's part of being a Browns fan.
You deserve to know how your investments are being handled, and how they're doing. That's why we're happy to offer the Post-Game Stock Report to give you our quick analysis of which parts of your investment are doing well, and which aren't, after each game.
Here's our take on the players, team, etc, and how they're doing following today's game.
Chaun Thompson, LB: We offer a solid buy recommendation on Thompson, who is finally starting to come into his own following today's two-sack effort. This was originally considered to be a risky part of the portfolio, coming at the initial cost of a second-round draft pick. But Thompson is now starting to pay off, as defensive coordinator Dave Campo is starting to use the athletically gifted linebacker to go after the quarterback. Thompson now has three sacks in the last two weeks, after registering none in his first season-and-a-half with the Browns.
Dave Campo, Defensive Coordinator: While the value of head coach Butch Davis' stock seems to slide with each day, Campo is showing why he was such a terrific hire for Davis in 2003. Campo is loosening up the reins on the Browns defense, and today launched a variety of blitzes that saw a six-sack day from his unit. Campo's group played at a high level, and retained their focus despite the Browns 3-6 record and unlikely playoff chances.
Chris Crocker, Free Safety: Don't be swayed by backup Earl Little's interception or Crocker's trailing Justin McCareins on the touchdown catch. Crocker's stock is improving with his overall play and ability to get to the quarterback on a safety blitz as well as continued solid play on special teams. Crocker was fifth on the team today with five tackles, a sack, a pass defenses, and another tackle on special teams.
Richard Alston, Wide Receiver: How long will it be before Alston's stock rises enough to get him a look as a fourth receiver? The versatile speedster wasn't returning kicks prior to last season in NFL Europe, but has already proved that his opening kickoff returns against Baltimore and Pittsburgh weren't flukes with today's 52-yard burst against the Jets. Plus, he doesn't fumble. Alston provides the Browns with a dangerous kick returner to go with Dennis Northcutt. A definite buy recommendation.
GE Smith Band, Musical Interludes: After getting off to a stumbling start with a new Browns song with too much historical data and too few hooks, the band has hit its groove as a provider of bluesy time fillers while the game is placed on hold so that the TV networks can sell razor blades and automobiles. The music provided by the band is a welcome tonic, at least to these ears, to the numbing parade of over-played rap songs and brain-crushing high-volume commercials the Browns insist on using as a means of torturing fans. On the downside, giant fuzzy puppets tend to get in the bands little both and mime playing guitars. With the proper application of small explosives, this nuisance can be eliminated as well.
Dennis Northcutt, Wide Receiver: Remains the only offensive player who appears to strike fear into the heart of opponents. Northcutt had the longest reception of all the receivers again this week, with a 27-yard grab. In addition, Northcutt was electrifying during punt returns, exploiting any gaps he could find and repeatedly coming close to breaking returns. By the same token, Northcutt's fumble and inability to make anything out of two rushing attempts keeps his stock where it was prior to the game.
Derrick Frost, Punter: The Browns punter failed to improve his standing among fans with today's effort, which reminded Browns fans of why Chris Gardocki was so valuable in recent seasons. Following a strong start, Frost's stock plummeted against the Ravens, and only recovered slightly against the Steelers. Today's performance did nothing to enhance his standing, as Frost was unable to pin the Jets deep in their territory when he had the opportunity. He did get two punts inside the 20 and had a fifty-yarder. However, with field position being a central element in today's defensive struggle, Frost couldn't recoup as much as he needed from his mid-season slump.
Joaquin Gonzalez, Offensive Lineman: Not a particularly strong performance from Gonzalez, but on the Browns offensive line, his importance as a backup was shown again today. After winning over the coaching staff as being the best alternative to replace Kelvin Garmon at right guard, Gonzalez was given a field promotion to starting right tackle today after the loss of RT Ryan Tucker. Paul Zukauskas filled in for Gonzalez as RG after losing the starting left guard position earlier in the season.
Aaron Shea, Tight End: You have to love how Shea managed to get on the roster and stick despite the addition of three new tight ends in the past 18 months in Winslow, Heiden, and Heinrich. Given up for dead during Training Camp, Shea (one of the players that the local media truly seems to like) has stuck around and rewarded the team once more with clutch performances. Today, Shea's touchdown was all the team could put on the scoreboard. While we can't suggest Shea as a long-term investment, he has clearly rewarded patient investors with one of 2004's most unexpected performances.
Phil Dawson, Placekicker:We recommend holding this stock, and not getting off the Dawson bandwagon. After a team-record string of 27 consecutive field goals, Dawson had a horrible day against the Jets. We believe that this is just a blip in Dawson's career, and that he will return to being the consistent placekicker who was a possible team MVP candidate prior to this game.
Kelly Holcomb, Quarterback: Holcomb has failed to resurrect any of the magic which made him a fan favorite in 2002, and occasionally appeared during 2003's moribund campaign. Getting an entire half to work with, Holcomb was restricted in his pass attempts and mustered only a weak 48.8 quarterback rating during his time in the game. Holcomb's performance had a smattering of fans shouting for Luke McCown to be tossed to the wolves as a rookie. With his showing against Pittsburgh dismissed by most as a product of the Steelers' loose defense while holding a large lead, Holcomb needed to impress today.
Terry Robiskie, Offensive Coordinator: An quarterback who isn't allowed to audible? A "smashmouth" team that sends its fullback out on slants more than we care to count? Robiskie's stock, generally regarded as both high-priced and likely to increase to Head Coaching levels, has taken a serious hit in recent weeks as the Browns offense appears strategically deluded and often misguided. The inability to get plays in on time in recent weeks, and line of scrimmage confusion, hasn't helped. The possible long-term loss of Ryan Tucker could provide Robiskie and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein a chance to rise or fall with play of back-ups.
Butch Davis, Head Coach: Davis' stock is dropping with each loss, and it's at an all-time low as the Browns losing streak hit four despite playing perhaps the worst 7-3 team in recent memory. Today's time management mess at the end of the first half, along with his ultimate responsibility for the team's record, has many thinking that Davis won't last long after the season. Individuals deciding to hold onto Davis have a long-shot chance at redemption if the Browns can catch the Bengals by surprise following their emotionally deflating loss to Pittsburgh, and/or trap the Patriots in a couple of weeks. Only unexpected wins, preferably several in succession, can turn this stock around.