<B>El Greco Speaks</B> is the name for the column and what happens today as El Greco looks at how the hope of a resurgent Browns team livens the Summer sports doldrums.
American Idol…click….Real World…click…Braves on TNT…click …World League Football…(pause, see if any Browns players are playing).… click…WNBA..click,click ….ESPN…drop the remote and surrender.
Sound familiar? It should if you are a Cleveland sports fan. We are now officially in the time period that I refer to as the "Black Hole." There is not much that can save Cleveland fans from falling victim to the Hole's powers. All Cleveland fan's can do from the middle of June until training camp is sit around and pray that the Indians don't transform themselves back to the team they were in the 80's and pray for a magical Browns season. As you twist and turn in the hole you begin to lose faith. You begin to gasp for your last breath and feel your body starting to shut off. But wait! What's that in the horizon? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Butch coming to the rescue with a Browns team that looks hungry to challenge for the playoffs. You're rejuvenated. You feel good enough to eat two Michael Dean Perry burgers from McDonald's. Now you can sit back, relax and get ready for what should be a great Browns season, courtesy of Butch Davis.
Like any good optimistic Browns fans, I have visions of grandeur for several Browns players this season. Not only do I feel that these players can have break out years, but I feel their combined efforts can lead us to the playoff wonderland that has eluded Cleveland entirely too long.
Has there ever been a war were a great leader did not emerge? Has there ever been a team that has persevered without a leader? The answer is no and the same applies to the Browns. On offense, Tim Couch needs to be the Golden Child. After enduring three years of more punishment than Mike Tyson took against Lenox Lewis, it's fair to say that the Browns did not do a good job of protecting their franchise. That excuse in my mind has expired. The Browns have taken the obvious next step and are surrounding Couch this year with the best line he has ever had. Not only should it be a solid line, but also for the first time the Browns have given the offensive line some needed depth. Additionally, the Browns added William Green and Chris Sanders to give Couch some playmaking ability. It's obvious that Tim has matured immensely from his days in Kentucky where he was drawing up plays in the dirt for the Wildcats. I expect Couch to be poised this season and able to make the necessary reads that he did not make last season. I don't think it would be unrealistic for Couch to have a Pro Bowl season, considering he threw for three thousand plus yards last year while running for his life.
With the draft and the players acquired through free agency, James Jackson has been ignored and almost forgotten. Last year I felt that James "shoe string tackle" Jackson was effective running to the outside, but inefficient running up the middle. Opposing players only needed to slap Jackson on his leg and he would crumble to the ground like a little girl with a skinned knee. Enter Buddy Morris. Jackson has now added at least 10 pounds of muscle and I feel he will make a huge impact on the Browns running game. The improved offensive line will open up holes for Jackson; he just needs to be able to break some tackles. He learned that lesson many times last year against the Steelers and Ravens and should come into training camp with more confidence than last year. I don't think Jackson will be the feature back by the middle of the season, but his production will only help develop Green.
Big Money is heated! That's right; Gerard "Big Money" Warren is heated. After a sub-par first half of the season last year, Warren made it known to the league that he is a force that will be reckoned with for many years to come. While I was a little disappointed that he could actually attend a party thrown by Plaxico, I knew that Butch would be able to settle the man down and get him going. I mean, how can we win the division if Warren and other members of the Browns are "allegedly" partying and funneling beers with the Squeelers? I have nothing against throwing down some brews, but in Pittsburgh? With the Squeelers? What's next? Is Butch going to drive down to Washington DC, pick up Spurrier and go meet Bowden at his summer home in Tallahassee? Sorry, I got a little fired up. Bottom line is that Butch has challenged Warren and he strikes me as the kind of guy that puts it all on the line for his team. Look for Warren to lead the charge on a defensive line that will dominate games all season long.
While I am excited for the season, there are a few players that I am still a bit weary of. I must admit that I am a stubborn Greek and can forgive but will never forget. Once a player makes the bust list, a player must prove himself in order to dig himself out of the hole.
Being a Big Ten fan, I never thought much of the Pac-10. So when Dennis "allergic to the ball" Northcutt was drafted, I thought to myself "who the hell is this?" And till this day I am still wondering who Northcutt is, except for a fumbling idiot. The season hasn't even started and Davis has already taken over his punt return duties and has bumped him down the food chain at receiver. What's left form Dennis? Other than being the next water boy, I'd say package him up with somebody and ship him out before he damages his stock even more.
I feel bad for J.J. Johnson. It seems to me that the Browns have put him in a position to fail. One of the biggest comments about Johnson is that he is not picking up blocks adequately. Well, I'm not a football coach, but what good is he going to be at fullback if he can't pick up a block? Since he only cost us a seventh round pick, I don't feel as bad, but if we are going to utilize a fullback, we need to bring somebody in that can, I don't know, BLOCK.
I find it difficult to rip on the Browns, considering they have yet to play a game this season. While I don't think the following will disappoint, I feel that they have some issues that they need to put to rest. Hopefully, their play this season will do exactly that.
Earl Holmes. The Squeelers let him go without much of a struggle, which makes me wonder why they let their leading tackler the last three years leave that easily. Will his knee hold up? I hope so, but we will have to see.
Jamir Miller. I don't think he could have made his situation any worse with Cleveland fans. Sorry Jamir, I find little sympathy for a man who is not happy pocketing close to 4 million dollars. Keep your mouth shut, realize that the Browns are not going to adjust your salary this year, play like an animal and make a statement.
Aaron Shea. I love this guy, but his ties with Michigan always make him a possible disappointment. Memo to Aaron, keep Couch out of the Big House. He doesn't need that kind of guidance.
Overall, the Browns organization has shown Cleveland their dedication to building a championship caliber team. Had Butch been in charge since the beginning, we would be talking about home field advantage in the playoffs. Finally, things have been settled in Cleveland, the Browns are the team of the city, while the Indians and Cavs constantly disappoint. Don't worry Cleveland, in Butch we trust.