This here is my initial column for Bernie's Insiders, and I plan to letter rip. (A word on puns: if you don't like to groan, avert your eyes. Also, consider rooting for another team.) Throughout the season, I'll be foisting my fanaticism from this formula:
AIRING IT OUT:
passing along observations on the latest game and goings-on
CONJURING IT UP: evoking a historical echo to aid the Browns in spirit
EXTRA CREDIT: featuring a link to some site, post, or article of interest.
So, like a new tri-fold wallet getting loaded with cards, let's shoot with this ACE formula from the hip pocket.
AIRING IT OUT: The loss to the Bengals was neither tragedy nor comedy, just history. Any Browns fan wearing rose-colored glasses got them knocked off early with the damaging hit on rookie phenom Josh Cribbs. What's with rookies and opening kickoffs anyway?
Reuben Droughns ran hard, and the offensive play calling seemed nearly inspired for a brief few minutes. But while I was reaching down for my rose-colored glasses, the Browns dawdled on fourth-and-one and had to punt. I stomped on the shades.
Much of the Browns' new offensive playbook looks promising -- more sweeps, motion, and well-conceived pass routes. But I'm not alone in expecting more power running with our upgraded offensive line. On Sunday the Browns had 11 plays with one or two yards to go for a first down. They ran just once. Of the ten passing plays, only four did the job.
Running tough to move the chains on those short-yardage plays should be a core mission of this team. Those force-of-will plays build confidence, control the clock, and rest the defense. Or, if they fail, they establish a glaring weakness to solve. But try you must, early and often. Reuben and William and Terrelle too. They kept two fullbacks for a reason, and it wasn't to pass 91% of the time with less than a body length to gain.
Everybody is still adjusting, coaches included, and we'll doubtless see a much more polished performance from the Browns at their three-month follow-up appointment in Paul Brown Stadium.
Growing pains are to be expected. It's the other kind that more worrisome. About a dozen players are dinged to some degree, and we're just getting started. That Week 4 bye never looked so good.
Anyway, if Sunday was not
to be a glorious debut for Romeo Crennel and company, let's hope it was at
least a happy birthday for Cleveland sportwriting legend Hal Lebovitz, who
is now completing his ninth decade.
CONJURING IT UP: A knee injury made him a doubtful starter, but back on October 19, 1980, Brian Sipe's arm was OK. He ravaged the Green Bay defense for 391 yards, plus another 33 rushing. The Browns were down by eight in the fourth quarter, but Sipe found Ozzie Newsome for a 19-yard score, then Dave Logan for the 47-yard game-winner with 16 seconds on the clock. The home victory gave the Kardiac Kids their first winning record of the season and began a string of four wins by six points or less.
Here's wishing that Trent Dilfer won't even need to approach 424 yards at Lambeau on Sunday. And that
a few doubtful starters will be able to go, get in sync with their
teammates, and win their matchups. And that the exciting aura of the #17
jersey will emerge in the clutch at Lambeau on Sunday.
EXTRA CREDIT: This could be your last chance to ever own something you probably never knew existed.
For the click-impaired: it's a hand-painted montage of some famous Browns scenes. I swear I have no connection to the seller or artist. I can't see myself ever being so impressed with an internet photo of a painting that I'd bid $400 or more for it. This one is actually a pretty nice size, and nobody else has one. So if you're flush with cash (or already an ardent admirer of this column), here's a way to feed your Browns passion with something that you get to keep, doesn't shrink or wear out, was created locally, contains no advertising, and won't frisk you on the way in.