Doc Gonzo: Bodies Choke the Freeway

The good doctor continues to cling to the Browns franchise, for reasons that baffle him and observers of insane behavior everywhere. Here is what is going through his diseased mind as the Browns prepare to take on the Broncos at Cleveland Browns Stadium...

There's a new danger menacing drivers this morning along Interstate 75 as it snakes its way through downtown Detroit: the bodies of thousands of Tigers fans who leapt off the bandwagon in the wake of Saturday night's 7-2 loss in Game 1 of the World Series.

A city that had long ago relegated the Tigers to the ash heap of relevancy, along with the toothless Lions, had suddenly embraced its resurgent baseball team only to be sickened by a noxious display of baseball against the wobbly St. Louis Cardinals.

It's a nasty love-hate cycle new to most Detroiters, a city of besotted, Arthur-like drunks spoiled by the winning ways of the Pistons and Red Wings. Enamored by the Tigers' unlikely run to the Fall Classic, Motown this morning is left jilted, disgruntled and disconsolate.

It's a feeling Browns fans have long known (except for the winning part).

The bodies have mostly been cleaned up from the highways leading out of Cleveland because this team has been disappointing since the final preseason game two months ago. The final diehard zealots may make the leap this afternoon if the Browns succumb to a listless Denver team, although there's a desperate cadre of us who will cling to this franchise as it sinks to whatever is below the final level of Hell.

The Browns, simply, are not very good. The reasons for that are legion, and have been discussed ad nauseam on this site and elsewhere. Everyone has their pet theory for the perpetual losing, and all seem equally valid. For me, what it boils down to, aside from the usual untimely catastrophic injuries, is an offense in the hands of three rookies, and that trio is hamstrung by an offensive coordinator who takes the team's best player out on critical third downs.

At 76 Lou Groza Boulevard, there appear to be no consequences for such baffling stupidity, zero demand for accountability. Instead, we're witness to a stream of absurdities on the field and ludicrous decisions off it.

The Illegitimate Entity™ responding to going a lackluster 4-2 by firing its offensive coordinator, Jim Fassel, a move that shows even a team addled with syphilis-induced brain rot can muster the occasional spark of intellect.

Cleveland responded to going 1-4 by doing absolutely nothing. If they did do anything, no one would ever know because of the Belichickian curtain of secrecy that shrouds the team's every decision, which comes off more as cheap theatrics in Cleveland than Orwellian. Or effectual.

To call this franchise a ship adrift without a rudder is an insult to rudderless ships, because some of those vessels eventually drift into port. The Browns are headed right for the jagged rocks.

This team still is one Charlie Frye sack away from Derek Anderson or Ken Dorsey at quarterback. And at one point, the team was forced to start someone calling himself Jason Wright at running back. Let's not even bother to ask why Ol' Leper Hands, Dennis Northcutt, was starting in front of Joe Jurevicius, who caught 10 touchdowns last year and actually is a good player. Only an injury rectified that utter nonsense.

Alone, those three situations are inexcusable on the part of the front office and coaching staff. The owner, general manager and head coach are all to blame, although casting blame and 50 cents will get us a cup of coffee (but not at Cleveland Browns Stadium, where 50 cents will get you nothing).

Normally, this is the point where I'd begin railing loudly for the aforementioned demand for accountability. But it's 5 a.m. Sunday, and I'm simply too tired. And you've heard it all before. We know it's not going to happen. Yeah, maybe they'll ditch Mo Carthon at some point, but that's no substitution for the experience that Charlie Frye, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II need, together, to become effective. And firing Mo isn't going to make the line open holes or keep Frye out of the morgue. Only time and more effective drafting and free-agent signings can do it. But firing Mo would help, so let's get on with it.

Can things be fixed? Sure, but not this season. This season was done before it even began. It ended the moment our $36 million center broke his knee on the first play of training camp, and an embarrassing parade of nonsense happened at the position for several weeks thereafter.

One could point to 2002, when Cleveland started the season 2-4 before mounting a dramatic run to the AFC Wild Card. But that was a veteran offense, and no matter what you think of Tim Couch, he had significantly more experience by then compared to Charlie Frye today. Oh, and when Couch went down, Kelly Holcomb was available as an effective, veteran backup.

That's not happening this season, even if the Browns topple the house-of-cards known as the Denver Broncos. Cleveland simply doesn't have the experience on offense among its three key playmakers to make that sort of rebound. The defense and special teams, while looking great at times, aren't enough to carry this team this year.

That said, looking at the schedule, it's not unreasonable that this team finishes 8-8, with a few breaks. But that's far from enough to even sniff a Wild Card this year.

Better days are ahead, I just have no idea when. The laws of probability say that the Browns eventually will rebound. Tampa Bay and Cincinnati did it.

And hey, so did the Detroit Tigers.


Former Ohio newspaper editor and reporter Bill Shea has written the Doc Gonzo column each week for The Orange and Brown Report for six years. He now writes for a business magazine in Detroit and was recently named vice president of communications for the Port Huron Pirates of the Continental Indoor Football League. You can learn more about his, frankly, disturbing life at or e-mail him at

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