Les: Don't Believe Anything You Saw

Les Levine takes a look at the Browns pre-season debut...

Exhibition games don't mean a thing, although I think Browns fans would agree that, all things considered, it is better that the Browns came out on top of the New York Giants 17-14 on Saturday night, rather than the other way around.  For a franchise that is trying to turn things around, under a new GM and head coach, I'm sure the win made things much more comfortable in Berea this past week.

But if Romeo Crennel was serious about getting the win, he certainly wouldn't have had (or at least I would hope that wouldn't have had) QB Lang Campbell throwing the ball when the Giants didn't have enough time outs to prevent the Browns from running out the clock at the end of the game.  In addition, the winning field goal was made by Tyler Jones, a guy who has as much chance of making the final roster as I do.

The main point is that nothing you see in the exhibition season, especially the first game, has any relevance to what you will see when the season starts.  It is totally erroneous to analyze what the Browns second or third string does against the opposition's second or third string, because they are not equal.

The game was penalty-plagued, to the point where the coaches had a tough time evaluating what they saw.  There was no chance to get a rhythm going, because the down-and-distance situations were rarely normal.  You have to wonder if some of the penalties could have been avoided if the Browns played in a controlled scrimmage, as they have in the past with Buffalo, or if the team did more hitting and tackling in practices in Berea.  It seems to me that the lack of hitting and tackling might have avoided some early camp injuries, especially helpful because of the lack of depth at certain positions, but it has also led to a problem with timing, especially along the offensive line of scrimmage.

Hopefully Trent Dilfer and the rest of the first unit will get to play longer in game situations.  Say what you want about Jeff Garcia, but his complaint during last year's pre-season was right on the money.  He didn't feel he had enough game experience with his linemen and receivers during the pre-season, and it turned out that he was right.  If the Browns are serious about gaining respectability this year, they need to get Dilfer ready for the season, and to see if Doug Johnson is the right guy to back him up.  Why Lang Campbell would get any playing time is a great mystery to me.

Having said all that about the exhibition season, I am reminded that it is a total rip-off for the Browns, and other NFL teams to charge full price for tickets.  Major League Baseball doesn't do it, even when their games are mostly over a thousand miles from the home cities.  In the case of the Browns, there is no choice.  They've got us over a barrel, starting with PSL's and continuing through the exhibition season.  Maybe I'd feel better if they raised the price of the regular season games, while lowering the exhibition game prices.  The total cost would be the same, but it might not sting as much, psychologically.

In addition, many fans tell me that I'm not alone in resenting the fact that part of my ticket cost goes to pay $12 million to Butch Davis, who quit on this team.  I realize that Randy Lerner can do whatever he wants to do with his money, but he's really doing it with my money, along with all other season ticket holders.

Much has been said, and not much of it positive, about the telecast of the opening exhibition game, and by the time you read this, a change will be made in the broadcast team.  While I am sure that Bob Golic would be a fine analyst, it was easy to predict that he would fail at play-by-play.  Channel 19 let the Browns make the call on the broadcast team, trying to avoid a confrontation during the first year of their deal, but the station is the one that wound up with egg on its face.  Everyone knows you only have one chance to make a first impression, and this one was a bad one.  Hopefully the Browns marketing department will learn from this mistake.

‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11pm-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeast Ohio.  E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com

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