Browns-Saints: Tales from a Notebook

John Taylor doesn't mess around when offering up his analysis of a football game. Direct, funny, occasionally profane, and always on-target, there's nothing like him anywhere else on the Browns scene. Here are his notes from the Browns, um, less-than-stellar showing against the Saints...

Here are a few jottings from yesterday's embarrassing 19-14 los to the Saints.

Weren't the Browns supposed to have their regular-season opener yesterday or something?  Thought I'd heard that or read that somewhere.  I must've been mistaken.

Memo to Phil Savage: if you're going to attempt to call out the fans, you need to make sure the team you built doesn't take a collective dump all over Cleveland Browns Stadium in the first game following the call-out.

Going on eight years now, and it's meet the new boss, same as the old.  One game you say?  Try 113 and counting.  And the fan base is supposed to help give this team home-field advantage?

Speaking of the fans, for those that had 7:45 of the first quarter of the first game for the first resounding chorus of boos, you can come collect your money as the winning office pool entry.

One play did not make this loss.  You can point to the Kevin Shaffer holding penalty on the first play from scrimmage through the Braylon Edwards drop on the last, but this game was lost in between.

In between the tackles on both sides of the ball.

In between Charlie Frye's turnovers and Maurice Carthon's inexplicable play calling.

Try and pin the loss on one thing all you want, you're just tossing darts at a feather, a downy lot that's proved elusive going on eight years now.

It's short-sighted and foolhardy to point fingers at "this" or call out "that".  Collective suck knows no singular digit.

It's all-inclusive.

If you want a microcosm of this game, you need to look no further than the second offensive possession of the second half.  Following a Sean Jones recovery of a fumble caused by Brian Russell, the offense took advantage of that turnover by limping and vomiting their way to a three and out.  The drive began with a sack of Frye on first down, followed quickly by a three-yard loss on a Reuben Droughns running play on second down and culminated with a Dennis Northcutt drop of a perfectly thrown ball that would've given the club a first down.  The Browns not only looked the gift turnover horse in the mouth, they punched it Blazing Saddles style.

If the offensive line performed this way against the woebegone Saints, what are they going to do when they come up against the likes of the Steelers and Ravens and Panthers?  I have one word for you Charlie: AFLAC.  Benny, cue the duck…

To get the same kind of treatment rookie Reggie Bush received from the broadcast duo of Ron Pitts and Terry Donahue, you'd have to spend a hefty chunk of change at an Asian massage parlor.  Or twenty dollars on Ninth St. in downtown Cleveland.

There was some talk earlier in the week about the potential for clashes involving the egos on offense and whether there would be enough opportunities to keep everyone happy.  That may be the case eventually, but if I were head coach Romeo Crennel, I'd be more concerned about the defense turning on the offense.

I feel bad for this defense.  Really bad. For the sake of this season, they had better stay in shape and, more importantly, healthy.  I mean, seriously, how is this defense supposed to perform at an optimum level with the constant flow of three-and-outs and turnovers forcing them back on the field?  This is a good defense, but it's not the '85 Bears.  It needs some help from its offensive counterparts.

(The word "offensive" is meant to be taken both literally and figuratively.)

Third and less than one, and you not only run a pitch sweep with a rookie fullback once, you turn around and do it a second time.  Maurice, my man, what goes on inside of that scowling melon of yours?  That's like hitting yourself in the head with a sledgehammer, then, unsure of whether it really hurt or not, hitting yourself again for confirmation.

There just seemed to be no fire, no sense of urgency yesterday, particularly in the first half and especially on the part of the offense. And that starts with Frye, five career starts or not.  Part of the reason for the hitching of the organizational wagon to Charlie was his leadership.  Where was that aspect in the first half?  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  There were penalties and miscues and missteps, not all of which can or should be placed at the feet of the young quarterback.  But, as the leader of the offense, he has to be held accountable.

Counting the pre-season, Frye has been the quarterback for 24 drives this season.  Thirteen of those possessions ended with three-and-outs, three with interceptions and one with a fumble.  The first-team offense has totaled 28 points in what amounts to two full games.

Finally, Kellen Winslow is healthy enough to show glimpses of the 2002 and 2003 Miami Hurricane form that allowed him to become the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft.  He looks just as fast as he was pre-injuries, and he showed tremendous strength on numerous plays.  It boggles the mind to think of what he could accomplish in a real offensive system.

Speaking of Winslow, the broadcast showed a couple of shots of his wife during the course of the game.  She is… ummm… slightly attractive.  Wow.

Who scripted Shaffer's debut, M. Night Shyamalan?  A holding penalty on his first play in a Browns uniform wiped out an Edwards' touchdown pass, then followed that up by allowing sacks on consecutive plays.  Other than the assassination, how'd you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

One of the knocks on Dave Zastudil in Baltimore was his inability to consistently knock punts dead inside the 20-yard line.  Those inconsistencies were apparent in the pre-season and continued yesterday in the home opener.  It's something that Zastudil needs to continue to work on because, given the direction the offense seems to be heading, the Browns are a team that will need to be on the good side of the field position battle more times than not in order to be successful.  Zastudil can help—and hurt—that battle.

Best line of the day, from Terry Bradshaw on Fox's pre-game show: "I like boobs."  Ummm, thanks for sharing, Terry.

It's kind of funny listening to fans on sports radio blast Ted Washington for his play yesterday.  Washington's job is to take up space and eat blockers in order to allow the linebackers to make plays.  Washington did his job yesterday.  The LBs, not so much.  If you're looking for a stuffed stat sheet, you're not going to get that from Big Ted.  However, if you're looking for a nose tackle who allows the inside linebackers to do what the 3-4 scheme calls for, he is your man.  He did that in game one and will continue to do so for the remainder of the season, provided he stays healthy.  The onus for the success of the Saints' running game yesterday rests, in part, on the shoulders of Andra Davis and D'Qwell Jackson.

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