Browns-Lions: John Taylor's Notebook

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Just some random notebook thoughts from last night's 20-16 win over the Lions:

---That Kellen Winslow II fella could end up being a player, eh?  Sure would be nice, though, to see what he looks like… oh, I don't know… more than ten yards down the field.

---On that same tangent, offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon is not near-sighted, is he?  I hope he eventually realizes that the grass can indeed be greener on the other side of the ten yards past the line of scrimmage.  I'm sure, at some point in the future, Reuben Droughns and his brethren will appreciate it.

---Rookie Kamerion Wimbley showed at least a glimpse of the speed and talent that made the Browns brass target him early on in the draft process with his sack of quarterback Jon Kitna.  A nano-second of confusion in protection on the part of veteran offensive tackle Jeff Backus allowed Wimbley to use his tremendous speed off the edge to get around Backus and to the QB. 

---In the past seven years, the Browns have not had that kind of raw speed to take advantage of a misstep by the opposition's offensive line.  Now, they just may have found that difference maker in Wimbley.

---Any game now, we'll get to see the Charlie Frye that general manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel have hitched their collective wagons to for the foreseeable future.  Right?  Right?  Bueller?

---In defense of Frye, that pick he threw is something I've witnessed time and time again on Sundays.  Of course, 99% of those throws came in early morning pickup games at the local park, so he's got that going for him.

---In making his first start for the Cleveland Browns, center Ross Tucker not only didn't embarrass himself or get brought up on manslaughter charges for aiding and abetting a QB homicide, he looked downright more-than-serviceable.  If Tucker can continue his play of the last nearly two weeks—observers say he has looked solid during practice as well—Savage may not be forced to bend over and take it like a GM to acquire a center of starting-caliber quality (see: Fraley, Hank).  Savage may, in fact, be able to completely abandon the trade route and see what serviceable scraps he can grab off the roster-cut scrap heap.

---And, yes, I know it was just a quarter and a half of a pre-season game for Tucker.  But—and I'll have to go back to the tape to check—I cannot recall more than one, maybe two instances of the Lions collapsing the middle of the line during Tucker's stint.  Of course, it was the Lions and they were without starting defensive tackle Shaun Rogers but, still.  After the roller coaster ride that has been the center position over the last three and a half weeks, it looks like Tucker may be able to bring a sense of stability and professionalism to the position.  He won't make you forget LeCharles Bentley, but he will make you forget Bob Hallen, which is a good thing.

---Of course, Tucker could have been struck by lightning or run down in a tragic horse-mounted policeman accident between the end of last night's game and now, so I guess I should hold off on the platitudes until reasonably certain that he is indeed still breathing and among the living.

---Ken Dorsey actually somewhat resembled a borderline NFL QB last night, but he is still not the answer to the Frye backup question.  And neither is Derek Anderson.  Savage needs to get a veteran with ability in here because if he doesn't, and Frye goes down, a top-five pick in the 2007 draft could be looming. 

---Get well soon—really, really, really soon—Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon.  That's all I have to say about the sorry state of the cornerback position, so let's move on. 

---Except to say that when you pine for the halcyon days of Derrick Strait's 18 hours and one-half of meeting as a Cleveland Brown you know the position is in trouble.

---A 10-10 tie at the half, with both teams using starters for most of the first two quarters and the Browns allowing three rushing yards on nine attempts seems like a "W" to me, especially coming off the debacle that was last Thursday against the Eagles.  They may not have resembled anything close to a juggernaut, but the Browns did offer a glimmer of hope to a fan-base desperately in need of one since Bentley's season-ending knee injury on the first day of camp.

---What on earth did Ross Verba ever do to Brian Brennan?  Did the Lions offensive lineman kick his dog or punch his kids in the head or something?  The venom in Brennan's voice when Verba was called for holding on a screen early in the first quarter was downright… well… creepy.

---I wonder when teams will stop allowing players like Jerome Harrison to fall through the cracks of their scouting and stop outthinking themselves.  If the running back were an inch or two taller—with the same collegiate credentials—he would've been a first-day draft pick.  As it stands, he ended up going in the fifth round and looks like an absolute steal for the Browns.

---Speaking of Harrison, is it any wonder why the back has a.) all but locked up the third-down, change-of-pace role, and, b.) made Lee Suggs expendable? 

---Said Crennel of the rookie back following last night's win: "He's made a lot of improvement since training camp started. He's quick and provides a change of pace. If he continues to improve, he's gonna cause some problems for people."

---The Browns special teams partied like it was 2005 as not one, but two penalties on a Josh Cribbs punt return negated a seventy six-yard touchdown.  Last season, the Browns had seventeen return touchdowns called back because of penalties.  OK, it was "only" two but it seemed like the higher number.

---When you heard sideline reporter Andy Baskin comment that Ross Tucker had to have his ankle re-taped, did the thought "Oh my God, they're gonna have to amputate his foot!" immediately pop into your head?  Yeah, me too.

---C'mon, Matt Prater.  A place-kicker whose arms are littered with tattoos?  Isn't putting inked barbed wire around a kicker's guns kinda like putting headers on a Yugo?  And where is Christina Applegate to tell me to please stop referring to arms as "guns"?  These are questions that need to be addressed and answered.

---I love Bernie Kosar to death.  Like Charlie Frye, I grew up worshipping at the altar of St. Bernard.  His analysis of the finer points of the game is invaluable 411 for fans of the game of football.  But, what exactly is the cause of him going from his regular Bernie voice to his Popeye Bernie voice in the course of a single sentence?  Coming down from an all-night helium bender?  Yikes.

---Not wanting to stir anything up here, but saw this little jab in this morning's Detroit Free Press and felt it needed to be shared with the masses:  "Remember: It's just an exhibition. But losing to the awful Browns tempers our enthusiasm." First the Tigers, and now the Detroit scribes.  Ouch, babe.

---In response, The OBR has obtained an exclusive comment from former Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown, who offered his thoughts and unique insights on the jab from the Free Press: "Every newspaper in the country has picked them to finish last. The local press seems to think they'd save everyone a lot of time and trouble if they just went out and shot themselves. Me, I'm for wasting sports writers' time. So, I'd like to hang around and see if they can give 'em all a nice big &%$#burger to eat."

*****

QUOTE OF THE DAY:"If we hadn't been able to do that (rebound from last week), it would have been distressing. That's the reason you play preseason games: So you can knock the rust off."—head coach Romeo Crennel.

QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE SEQUEL: "We feel good about getting the victory in front of the home crowd. We polished up the offense and looked a lot smoother. It looked like the defense stopped the run and defended the pass a little bit. If we can continue to improve the areas of weakness, hopefully the team will come along and be a decent team."—once again Coach Crennel, this time positively gushing over the Browns' performance last night.

SPORTS WRITER LINE OF THE DAY: "It was promptly picked off by Dre' Bly. It could've been intercepted by Dr. Dre'."—the Canton Repository's Todd Porter, on Charlie Frye's first-quarter interception.


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