Notes, thoughts and other assorted inanity from my notebook following the Cleveland Browns third win of the season.
It's a whole helluva lot more enjoyable--and easier--to write a notebook following a win than a loss. It doesn't matter that the second half looked like some kind of auburn-haired, ward-of-the-state kid getting the Red Foreman treatment. A win is a win is a win. Especially on the road and especially after all this team--and the fans--has suffered through this season.
In last week's "Tales From A Notebook", I was highly critical of Charlie Frye. Some e-mails suggested that not only was I critical, but I was unfair and harsh to the point that I should do something to myself that is physically impossible for even the most limber of gymnasts. Well, this week, I will praise Frye. And you know why? Because he deserved it.
Phil Savage continuously points to Frye's intangibles--as opposed to his physical skills--as something on which the organization can hang their collective hats. Today, Frye unveiled yet another intangible: resiliency. Coming off the worst outing of his 13-game starting career, Frye put together a solid performance. Not one that would cause the bustmakers in Canton to bust out their... ummm... bustmaking equipment, but a solid one nonetheless.
(As an aside, why can't sentences end in a preposition? That first sentence was a pain in my ass.)
For the first time all season, Frye looked positively comfortable standing and stepping up in the pocket. In the past eight games, even when he did have a pocket, he'd rev up his happy feet and lay down some rubber toward the nearest opening. Today, he looked somewhat stoic, even veteran-ish. Did somebody flip a switch? Did a light bulb go on today? It's hard to throw away a significant body of work based on one game, but it was a positive step and, at least temporarily, stemmed the regressive tide.
With the above being said, it was one uptick in a season full of regression. Let's not get crazy with the "it" talk. It doesn't undo 13 games of whatever the hell it was. However, the man deserves his due based on the way he played today, and I'll be the first to give it to him. So, Charlie, here's your due. You earned it.
I have no desire to listen to national pundits and talking heads explain away the Falcons' loss and Frye's performance as some sort of result of the injuries that have hit the Atlanta secondary. Last time I checked, which was during today's game, the Browns have an injury-laden secondary and handled The Great Michael Vick just fine. And, speaking of the secondary...
I don't know if the NFL has an "Assistant Coach of the Year" award, but if they do, Browns defensive backs coach Mel Tucker should win it. Hands down and running away. What he has done with this roster of misfits and castoffs is nothing short of miraculous. For crying out loud, he's coaching Ralph Brown up and made him somewhat less nauseous.
I would be remiss in not mentioning defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. He's not long for Cleveland--for the Cleveland faithful's sake it'd be later rather than sooner--but he's putting his imprint on this entire defense. And it's an imprint that will last long after he's gone.
Grantham and Davidson and Tucker. Those are three head coaches waiting to happen. Romeo might have himself a tree of his own.
Kellen Winslow is no "soulja". The man is a "playa". He's the Cindy Crawford of the Browns. You ignore the omnipresent mole and look at the entire, spectacular body of work. This town has not seen a football player with this kind of game-changing, game-dictating talent since the great Jimmy Bown.
DOWNER ALERT: Willie McGinest is just slow. Painfully slow. Slow as in "white guy with black socks pulled up to his knees and Bermuda shorts yanked up to his Adam's apple" pedestrian. Age plus injuries have left him with nothing but veteran guile to get him through.
Mad props must be given to Falcons head coach Jim Mora Jr. for going away from his team's strength. As his father once famously said, "Running game? Don't talk about a running game! Are you kidding me? Running game?"
Tremendous decision by Romeo Crennel and Jeff Davidson to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. The touchdown was the icing on the cake; it's the fact that they instilled some confidence, some fire into their squad that gives the decision two big thumbs-up.
When it comes to NFL players and the Pro Bowl, there is usually a lag of a year from performance to actual invitation. A player puts up a Honolulu-worthy performance one year, then gets voted in the following year even if he's not as worthy as the season previous. Well, Sean Jones is putting in a serious bid to shatter that path and that mold. Jones is playing as well as any safety in football. Not in the AFC North. Not in the AFC. IN ALL OF FOOTBALL.
And the man Jones outlasted for one of the starting safety spots, Brodney Pool, is making it very easy on the organization to think about foregoing the re-signing of Brian Russell and allocating his money to other areas of need. This team is set at safety for the next three or four years, pending Jones' renegotiation.
Chris Crocker who? And to think, there were some that got eight ways of discombobulated over the trade of Crocker to the ATL. I'd chuckle right now, but that would be more effort than the situation deserved then and deserves now.
In today's Pre-Game Twelve-Pack, I talked of Kamerion Wimbley having a breakout game against the Falcons. While it may not have been a statistical breakout--he did have one sack, though--the rookie was instrumental in keeping Vick under wraps. His athleticism borders on the freakish, and was a major reason why Vick looked utterly human on most possessions.
The Browns have six young players around which they can build an above-average defense. Wimbley, Jones, Pool, Leigh Bodden, Andra Davis and D'Qwell Jackson. That's a solid six-some to build around for at least the next four years.
Notice, though, that there are no defensive linemen mentioned above. That'll need to be addressed in the off-season. In a big way.
Attacking the deep middle of the field with the forward pass. What a concept. Stretching the defense with a wide receiver encased in a tight end's body. Brilliant.
Ralph Brown made two plays. And they were positive ones and everything. You go, Ralph. I take back 1% of the negative things I've ever written about you.
For those keeping score at home, the above is the fourth or fifth sign of the apocalypse. Adjust your future plans/vacations/retirements accordingly.
"FBS" is the only way that I could describe the personal foul on Orpheus Roye at the end of the first half. Although, to be fair, I did see the hint of a lacey thong and micro-mini peeking out of Vick's uniform. In these politically correct times, you just can't hit a chick like that, I guess. Even if she's downfield and deserves it.
Speaking of which, where was the unnecessary roughness on a Falcons defender late in the game? What, Frye's head is not as valuable as Vick's? He's not as feminine?
Memo to Charlie: on a "Hail Mary" pass at the end of a half, you do not have to read the defense. You don't have to search for an open receiver. What you have to do is THROW THE BALL REALLY HIGH AND REALLY FAR. See ball, chuck ball, so to speak. Just a little quibble. Sorry if that offends anyone.
Memo to Charlie, The Sequel: four or five seconds is plenty of time to make a decision, especially when you are throwing out of your own end zone.
I hate DVR's and I utterly despise Time-Warner Cable. Would it be possible for your (bad words grouped together) equipment to work as (bad word) advertised, (plural bad word)? And while I'm here, (bad word) you too CBS. We can get Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State in hi-def, but an NFL game is not worthy. Very nice, (same plural bad word).
FAST FACT: CBS play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan set an unofficial world's record for most times uttering the phrase "the Browns/Falcons starting offense/defense is on the field." during the course of a sports contest. That record also led my better half to set the world's record for uttering the phrase "why the (bad word) does he keep saying that?"
BUCKEYE UPDATE: It's less than 141 hours until THE game, and Michigan still sucks.
The Browns are 2-1 since the "resignation" of offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon.
The Browns, pending the finish of the Steelers game against the Saints, will enter next week's tilt against their rivals either tied or one game ahead of them in the standings.
The above two notes make me smile. Broadly. Especially the second one.