The Browns 2006 schedule is out, about three weeks after season ticket holder got their invoices, and, once again, the schedule makers don't believe that the team is worthy of national exposure. It's not as bad as the first couple of years of the return of the franchise when the Browns were given their bye week before the season hardly was underway. Ideally the bye week should be in 8th-10th week of the season. This year the open week is Week Number Six.
While there will be some television flexibility in the last five weeks of the season, the schedule currently does not call for any Sunday or Monday night games, although the Browns will travel to Pittsburgh for a Thursday night game in September.
I am sure it has happened, bu I can't remember the last time, if ever, that the team has a stretch of three straight home games, they will beginning November 19 against the Steelers. We have always talked about trying to build a team that can play in Cleveland in December, but this year three of the final four games will be on the road. I also can't remember if there were three home games in a season scheduled to start at 4pm. Two of those games are in September and I thought it was a concession to season ticket holder to both the Browns and Indians, but as it turns out, the Indians are out of town on those days.
One thing that is for sure is that if the Browns can get off to a decent start and stay in contention through the mid-point of the season, they can determine their own fate the rest of the way, facing Pittsburgh twice, Cincinnati and Baltimore in the AFC in the final seven weeks.
With the draft approaching, we all know that there won't be anywhere near the immediate impact from the draft as there was from the free agent signing spree. But it still will be interesting. I get the feeling that the Browns hope that Texas quarterback Vince Young does not fall out of the top ten. If he is still around, the Browns will be faced with the decision of what to do about him, and while I think they would pass on the talented player, they will be forced to really stay focused on what they really need.
The Browns probably feel they are in good shape offensively, assuming Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, Jr. are healthy, and I don't believe that offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon wants to tear up the playbook and re-design one to display the talents of Young. But that being said, it would be awfully tempting to go for him if he is still on the board.
There is always the danger for college basketball teams who sign a local player that the player won't work out as speculated. While there are tremendous recruiting benefits to that school if it works out, the negatives outweigh the positives if it doesn't. It is not so bad, for example, if the Ohio State football team takes a kid from Columbus who doesn't live up to expectations. You can also hide him, or recruit someone else at his position.
That is not a problem for the Browns who have just picked up some quality local free agents, including LeCharles Bentley, Joe Jerevicius, and Dave Zastudil. First of all, they are proven players with plenty of years left. Secondly, they will be given every chance to succeed, and if they don't, the fans will be totally understanding. The Browns roster has never had as many local players on it, especially ones who ‘get it'. Since the return in 1999, there has not really been a ‘face' or personality to this franchise. This trio will change that.
|Les Levine is the host of 'More Sports & Les Levine', which can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeast Ohio, and ‘Cleveland Rants' is seen and heard after Indians games on FSN Ohio and WKNR. Les is also the lead Sunday columnist in the Lake County News-Herald and Lorain Journal. E-mail email@example.com or www.leslevine.com|