Les: Random Thoughts While Waiting for the Opener

Here are the random thoughts going through Les Levine's mind as he awaits the Cleveland Browns opener...

…..When the Cleveland Browns played the Chicago in the exhibition final last week, I was wondering what former NFL stars with names like Bronco Nagurski and Bucko Kilroy would have thought about a game coached by guys named Romeo and Lovie.

…..Did Charlie Frye earn the backup QB position, or did Doug Johnson lose it?  After the draft, we were told that the Browns still were looking for a veteran backup to Trent Dilfer, which made a lot of sense.  Is Frye better than they thought?  Or was Johnson brought in, not as insurance for Dilfer, but as insurance for Frye, in case he wasn't good enough?

…..I like what I see in Charlie Frye.  Hopefully I won't see much of him, however, until next season.  Dilfer's history of injury doesn't make that likely.  Hopefully, the fans will be patient with Dilfer, and hold off on the ‘Charlie, Charlie, chants', as a quarterback controversy is the last things this team needs.  You don't have too have too long of a memory to know what panicking did to Tim Couch and the rest of the team back in 1999, which continued throughout his career here.

…..The schedule makers didn't do the Browns many favors.  If the Browns don't win the opener against Cincinnati, things might look pretty bleak for a while.  Following the Bengals game, the Browns travel to Green Bay and Indianapolis---games that could get ugly--- followed by the bye week.  If the Browns are 0-3 at the bye week, and not looking very good in the process, fingers will be pointed, which wouldn't be very fair to anyone.  Hopefully, nobody will press the panic button, because, at first, there are potential wins in four of the next five games following the bye week.  On paper, the Browns could compete, and wins games against Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Tennessee, with three of them coming at home.

…..The schedule makers hurt the Browns again at the end of the season (unless they are in the thick of things in the AFC North) with home games against their biggest rivals, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, in the thick of winter.  If the games mean something by then, it would be good to have those home games.  If not, the stands might be half empty.

…..How can Pittsburgh be better offensively this year, if the running game is weakened, and Plaxico Burriss is gone, and Quincy Morgan has arrived?

…..The Browns offense should be able to keep them in a lot of games this year, and Braylon Edwards will be a main reason.  You wonder, however, if the Browns would have drafted him with the third overall pick if they knew Kellen Winslow, Jr. would not be available.  That combo, assuming Winslow gets back to full strength, could be tough for opponents to defend for a lot of years to come.

…..When the rookie free agents were signed in the off-season, I had a pretty good feeling about Kent State's Josh Cribbs.  Unlike other college QBs who have changed positions at the pro level, I don't think he was set too far back by pursuing his dreams of playing quarterback.  But the biggest surprise on the final roster is Ohio State's Simon Fraser.  Northern Ohioans remember his standout performance for Upper Arlington in the State Championship game against Solon.  He had a very good freshman year at OSU, but was pretty much a disappointment after that.  I don't think many people would have figured that he would make the Opening Day roster.

…..The Browns front office, from Randy Lerner on down, has taken the right approach concerning this 2005 team.  There seems to be a quiet confidence about the direction in which the franchise is headed, but nobody is making any promises.  The front office is well aware of the distrust that the fans had for the previous regime, and will do whatever is necessary to avoid a repeat.

…..I've never bought into the notion that Browns fans are the ‘greatest in the world'.  I don't think we are that much different from other good football towns.  But we have stuck around.  Think about it…after a good run in 1989, the fans lived through a bad year in 1990, and five years of turmoil guided by Bill Belichick, which ended in the ‘Move'.  Then there was a three year gap, followed by a bad expansion team.  This led to the optimism brought in with the arrival of Butch Davis and Pete Garcia (and Jeff Garcia).  As a result, it has been 15 seasons since most of the fans have been able to feel good about their Cleveland Browns.

‘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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