Les: What Happened to Expectations?

According to Les Levine, ask yourself not how your team has changed, but why you changed...

Your expectations shouldn't have changed!

Prior to the beginning of this season, I asked numerous Browns fans, on and off my television show, about their expectations for the upcoming season. The most optimistic prediction of this unscientific poll---and I'm not sure what it was based on---was that the Browns would finish at the .500 mark. Most guesses were in the 5-6 range of wins for the upcoming. Las Vegas was more skeptical , with most sports books putting the over/under at 4 and a half wins.

While people are frustrated in the way the Browns have lost four of their first six games, they need to know that this is what a 5-11 or 6-10 team looks like. They lose games, albeit close, to teams that you think they should beat. They lose games because they can't come up with a big play at the right time. And they lose games because of penalties and dropped passes.

But mostly, they lose games because they are changing their offensive and defensive schemes, and they don't have enough talent to win a lot of games. It takes a lot of good coaching to keep teams like that into positions where they could possibly win. That is why a 13-10 loss is so frustrating. But, in reality, some of those close losses by the Browns could have been blow-outs.

The reaction of Browns fans is similar to that of the Indians fans during the last month of the recent baseball season. Nobody in their right minds thought that the Indians would win their division, and in a normal year 93 wins would win the Central Division handily. Sure, you would think they would do better than win one of their last seven games, but the expectation for the season was in the 85-89 win range. Other than the timing of their great run (which many teams have at different points in the season), what would make anyone think they were a 95-96 win team?

If you thought the Browns would win 5 or 6 games, you are suffering through what a 5-6 win team looks like.

On one hand, I think this whole quarterback controversy is totally contrived by the media. Romeo Crennel and his players have never talked about it unless they were asked. I guess some members of the media think that there HAS to be a QB controversy. There always has been one here since the early 90's, beginning with the ‘Vinnie/Bernie Thing', and ending with the Couch/Holcomb debate.

I asked Crennel if part of the concern in turning over the reins to the rookie, Charlie Frye, at this point of the season, would send a bad signal to the veterans by essentially saying that the season was over. Crennel thoughtfully answered that that was a consideration.

And then it dawned on me. If that was the case, then some of the veterans who came here by choice were working under the same delusions that many fans have. Do you really think any of the talented free agents actually came here thinking that this was a Super Bowl team? The came here for the money---and nothing else. They might have bought into the idea that something good would be built here, but none of them realistically should have thought that this would be the year. Joe Andruzzi, the veteran Super Bowl lineman, actually signed before he knew that Trent Dilfer would be brought in to be the starting QB. The defensive players who signed on knew that there was a total turnover on the D-Line, and that a new system would be installed. So they couldn't have expected a championship year immediately, either.

So, if Crennel and his staff think that a change is needed at QB, the timing should be concerned only with how it will affect the team in the future---2 to 3 years from now. Common sense says that Frye has to see some action so the team will have an idea what to do next year, but common sense also tells you that Dilfer should be able to keep the Browns in the next two games, at Houston and home against Tennessee. And there is no way that Frye should make his starting debut in a Sunday night game at Pittsburgh.

Nobody asked me, but if they did, I would to them to let Dilfer play the next three games, and if they don't win at least two, the change should be made prior to the Miami game.

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

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