Tales From a Notebook

The passion of Browns fan runs deep. But how much more dry can they be wrung? Has that well been tapped? We don't know the answer to that, but we do know that John Taylor is back yet again, ready to offend and inform one and all with his offerings, jottings and scribblings.

Another week, another three hours of my life that I'll never get back. Or, as I affectionately refer to it as, "180 Minutes of Belt-Sanding My Testicles".

Irregardless, here are a few things I happened to notice during the course of yet another loss. Your opinions and mileage may vary, of course.

---Two weeks to get the offense organized and energized, and Browns fans get... this?

---True story: 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and my die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool Browns fan girlfriend grabs the six-month-old and announces that she's gonna give her a bath. I remind her that there is still time left, and she looks at me and says "this is just too (very bad non-Christian word) sad. I can't take it anymore. What did we do to deserve this?"

---Is there anything more appropriate for a Browns fan right now than "What did we do to deserve this?"?

---Mr. Lerner, that was a pretty cool idea by your marketing department, dressing up the fans as empty seats and all. But Halloween is still a week away, so they might've jumped the gun a wee bit. Or was this just a dress rehearsal? Better to be jolly good than a loo squatter, eh Mr. Futbol? Tally-ho, fans. Cheerio and stuff.

---This team, this organization, is the flagship for Suck Cruise Lines, LLC, a rudderless bunch whose captain seemingly spots the iceberg but can't get his crew to steer clear. "If we miss that big chunk of frozen water, it's a good steer. If we don't, it's a bad steer," says a matter-of-fact Cap'n RAC at yet another post-sinking press conference. At the very same moment, Romeo's offensive coxswain condescendingly flicks the ice flakes off his tattered uniform, kicks aside the rather large 'berg remnants scattered about his feet, and heads below deck to upbraid the ensigns. After ordering a Tuna sandwich on the way down, of course.

---Bill Simmons nailed it. The Broncos pulled out just enough to win. And that's sad because it was cold and shrinkage was involved.

---Why in the name of Paul Brown would Jim Tressel willingly relinquish his God-like status in C-bus to take over... ummm... this? No, seriously. Why would the thought even be entertained and the trial-balloon floated?

---Wait. I can think of one reason. This is the most talented on-paper roster this team has had since the '99 return. Yes, even more so than the '02 "playoff" team. More paper talent + worst start since expansion season = culpable coaching staff. The formula seems simple. But the answers are from easy. Especially when a respected nice-guy, sixty-odd-year-old is involved.

---Speaking of Tressel, nice plant Mr. Savage. Extremely well played, good sir. Wasn't very Christian-like, though. "Tsk, tsk" said The Man Upstairs when reached for comment.

---OK, lemme get this straight. Not only can Ralph Brown NOT cover and NOT tackle, but he unveils the fact that he can NOT catch the football. Not once, but twice. That's a Thistledown-worthy cornerback trifecta right there. Now collect your winnings and kindly leave the premises. Security will escort you out.

---To paraphrase Adrian Cronauer, the Browns are in more dire need of an interior OL servicing than any white team in NFL history.

---It's funny, though, because in pass protection, the offensive line has become utterly serviceable. With "utterly serviceable" being used to compare against "relatively contemptible" and "this way to your seat, Mr. Defensive Lineman" OLs of the past.

---Then there's the run-blocking aspect of the line. "Ugh" with a capital "WTF". No interior push at all, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of the two starting guards. Joe Andruzzi is Old Yeller on the verge of white foam spewing out of the mouth, and Cosey Coleman is... well... "he's not Scott Rehberg" is all I can come up with at this time.

---Something has to be done on the interior of the line this off-season. Free agency and first-day draft addressed. Has to be done. Hank Fraley--should LeChuck not be healthy in time for the '07 opener--is more than serviceable. Especially if the guards are upgraded.

---I would not be the least bit shocked if Andruzzi announced his retirement at the end of this season. The fuel gauge light on his football SUV is a bright orange and he's miles from the nearest fillin' station.

---As an aside, I would not be the least bit put off if the Browns had an opportunity to draft one Brady Quinn and they decided to not pass on the Notre Dame QB. Sorry, Charlie.

---"Frye", not "Weiss", by the way.

---First-round competition was good enough for a former PAC QB in playoff-bound Denver, so why should a MAC QB in playoff-less Cleveland be immune from a threat?

---All the questions about Carthon and the OL and the drops, and nary a discouraging word in regard to Charlie possibly being a problem with the offense. That's utterly amazing, if you actually wanna think clearly about it. Just put the BK-poster-above-the-bed feel-good BS to the side when the clear thinking kicks in, and you'll be amazed by what you see.

---I still feel bad for this defense. 19, 34, 15, 20, 17. Those are the points allowed in their five losses. Four of those totals scream "win", except for the fact that the offense was incessantly chanting the "LA-LA-LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" adolescent mantra normally reserved for bedtime or "turn off (very bad word) Dora NOW" at the time of the defensive wailing.

---Phil and Romeo nailed it when they selected Kamerion Wimbley. Watch out next year when he has one season as a 3-4 'backer under his belt.

---Jerome Harrison couldn't help jump-start this offense at all? Really? Then why the prolonged looks in three of the four pre-season games? I think somebody's fullback envy is holding the rook RB back.

---Gary Baxter, pre-Browns DB: zero games missed because of injury in the three seasons prior to signing with Cleveland.

---Gary Baxter, Browns DB: missed 14 of a possible 22 games due to injury, which will likely reach "24 of 32" once it's announced that he blew out his knee and will miss the rest of the 2006 season.

---Don't hate the player, hate the jinx. Or curse. Or whatever word you wanna use to side-step Phil's "woe is me" boiling point.

---With all of the above said, there's a part of me--the non-jaded, sober twelve-year-old portion--that keeps saying "this team is young and has some talent. Give it some time. Don't blow it up just yet. Stay the course." The thing I just can't get past, though, is the "been there done that" mentality that's steeled into the very soul of every Browns fan. How many more years of "wait 'til next year" can this fan base stand? Or, better yet, how many more will it stand?

---For eight seasons, the one thing Browns fans have had is hope. That well has damn-near been sucked dry. When the "H" word is gone, what's left?

---This team should not be as bad as their record says they are right now. Every ounce of football sense I've gained in 38 years of being around this game tells me that.

---The difference between Romeo and Chris Palmer? Unlike Palmer, RAC wasn't a railroad aficionado growing up.

---The record of the five team's the Browns have lost to this year? 22-9. And they've been blown out in exactly one of those losses. That's gotta count for something, I guess.

---Is the above something to latch on to, like a lifevestless passenger desperately grasping at the rearranged deck chairs?

---Dunno 'bout you, but I'm thinking that it's quarter past high time that the upper echelons of Browns' management come out of their collective holes and address their paying customer's concerns. No, they don't need to buckle to the whims of a fickle fan base; they do need, though, to assure that fan base that everything that could be done is being done. Give a "stay the course, 1K points of light" speech. Something. Anything. Anything that shows you actually care, anything that shows you're willing to piss into the wind, wipe yourself off and continue on. The silence is deafening, and adds to the "locomotive careening down the tracks" persona this 2006 season is becoming every single Sunday.

---If not all of these thoughts dovetail and make sense, it's apropos. Neither does this team nor the organization.

Questions, comments, comments about questions, questions about comments or drunken ramblings can be directed at xxjohntaylor@theobr.com, with the "x's" nixed as Mr. Taylor needs no more hints given by e-mail spammers as to how to "increase his performance" or "widen his girth" because they don't work. Or so he was told.


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