John Taylor's Pre-Game 12-Pack

Belly up to John's cyber bar once again, where the laughs and 411 flow almost as freely as the hops. Almost. But bring your own beer. John doesn't share. That's just how he rolls.

    Thoughts, notes, questions and suggestions as the Cleveland Browns head into the second of their four preseason games. 

      For the second consecutive weekend, the biggest question heading into tonight's game is: will the Taylor beer supply last through the entire game?  Following last week's debacle, changes were made in the pre-game preparations that, we hope, will prevent the embarrassment of last Saturday evening.  Just keep your fingers crossed.  I'd ask you to offer up a prayer, but I think that'd be sacrilegious or something.

    • Now, the second most important question is, obviously, whether or not a starter at the quarterback position will emerge out of tonight's game.  While Charlie Frye's statistics seemingly screamed "Pick me! Pick me!", the two boneheaded plays—the poorly thrown lateral returned for a touchdown and the scramble with no timeouts at the end of the first half—have the Browns, still, concerned over his long-term viability as a starter.  The door is still open wide enough for Derek Anderson to slip through and become the unquestioned starter, but he must start to play on the field in game situations as he does on the practice field.

    • Needless to say, the National Football League debut of rookie first-round pick Brady Quinn is a close second in importance to most club observers.  Some, though, would even say it's as, or even more, important than the starting QB competition.  Quinn will see action at some point during the second half of tonight's game; the only question is when that will occur.  Don't be surprised if his first appearance comes sooner in the half than expected.

    • What's the over/under on when fans at Cleveland Browns Stadium will start the "Brady! Brady! Brady!" chant?  My guess is at some point during halftime, while the better half thinks it will be at the end of the second quarter.  So, feel free to play along at home.  It's fun for the whole family!

    • Detroit quarterbacks threw for damn-near 500 yards in their preseason-opening win versus the Bengals last week, so the Browns secondary will face a stern test tonight after all but having the night off against the two-headed Chiefs monster of Croyle/Huard.  This should be a good learning experience for rookie Eric Wright, who has all but locked down the other starting corner spot and could make it officially official with a good performance against the pass-happy Lions.

    • Speaking of rookies, Detroit speed rusher Kalimba Edwards would have been a good test for left tackle Joe Thomas, but reports out of the Motor City indicates that the defensive end will not be available for the game.  While the Browns were pleased with Thomas' overall debut, the rookie was not happy with himself for the two holding penalties in a half of action.  Look for the tackle to make up for the slips with a laundry-free day.

    • What happens if both Frye and Anderson stink up the joint, while Quinn lights up future UPS drivers during what's expected to be limited playing time?  It won't make a spit bit of difference to the coaching staff, but the fans and some in the media, on the other hand, would have some ammunition for a continued push of the start of the Quinn Era.  The Browns want no part of a media/fan-contrived QB controversy—especially involving a rookie who held out for nearly the first two weeks of camp—which is why they desperately want one of the two "veterans" to grab the starting by the throat and drive the team like they stole it.

    • I know, given his injury history, that the Browns are being careful with Jamal Lewis, especially during what amounts to meaningless fake football games.  Still, I would like to see a little bit more of the punishing back.  During training camp, and even in the first preseason game, there was an extra spring in Lewis' step, one that hasn't been there for the last couple of seasons.  And I'll continue to run the following into the ground until proven wrong: Lewis, if he can remain healthy, could do some very, very special things on the football field this season.  That will help whoever is under center as much or more than the revamped offensive line.

    • The Browns must, must find some way to stop the run, and they might as well continue that quest tonight.  Giving up nearly five and a half yards a carry to the Larry Johnson-less Chiefs last week was unacceptable, although the lack of any semblance of an NFL-caliber run defense has been pretty much SOP for the Browns since their return.  Yes, the loss of Orpheus Roye hurts, but for this defensive front seven to reach the next level, they have to find some way to stop the run.

    • With Andra Davis likely out due to injury, Leon Williams will step into the veteran's starting shoes.  Williams just oozes athletic ability, but, unlike the other linebacking oozer Chaun Thompson, he actually has the mental capacity to make a consistent difference in real-game situations.  If I were Davis, I might worry about getting Pipp'd as Williams has the talent and ability to go Gehrig on the inside linebacker position.  

    • No more injuries to starters.  That's a must as the preseason grinds toward its still-too-distant conclusion.  The dings suffered by Eric Steinbach, Davis, Roye, et al are more than enough to satisfy Jobu.  Hopefully.  If the team can show some improvements, particularly when the starters are in the game, and avoid any type of serious injury, the game should be considered a success regardless of the final score.

    • Given his propensity for change, will head coach Romeo Crennel send himself out for the pregame coin toss?  Will he at least be tempted?  Enquiring minds want to know, especially ones who are searching for a 12th note to complete a story for a game that, for all intents and purposes, is only important through the first quarter and a half.  I, for one, cannot wait for the day that the NFL announces the addition of a 17th game to the regular season, thus knocking the preseason slate down to three games.  Absolutely, positively cannot wait.

     
    LAST CALL: Detroit Lions 28, Cleveland Browns 17.  And, once again, neither quarterback clearly pulls ahead in the Great American QB Race, which means six more weeks of winter.  No, wait, that's the groundhog and his shadow.  What it will mean is yet another week of speculation and Crennel yanking everyone's chain.  Can't wait.

     


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