John Taylor's 'Tales From A Notebook'

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The Notebook has returned, and The Notebook is not happy. Well, for the most part. For Taylor's take on tonight's gloomy, yet not-so-gloomy, loss to the Lions, click away.

Notes, thoughts and quips—presented in Banalvision2000—on tonight's exhibition/preseason/fake match-up with the Lions, straight from The Official Notebook of The Orange & Brown Report, available in book stores and office supply outlets nowhere.

---"Clock management".  "Formation snafu's".  "New offensive philosophy (the last word could be substituted with "coordinator")".  "QB competition still on".  Sorry, just getting an early jump on this week's buzz phrases.  Or excuses, depending on your particular point of view.

---Yes, I have been a major Brady Quinn pimp since the final gun signaled the end of the 2006 regular season.  Yes, he played better than anyone could have expected, especially considering the fact that it was his first NFL game.  Yes, he did it against and with guys who will be driving brown trucks by the end of the month.  Yes, he was the Febreze on the port o'john smell wafting throughout CBS for the greater portion of the evening.  However…

---And it's a Ted Washington-sized "however":  During the time when the majority of the players on the field consisted of starters, the Browns looked out-classed, out-coached and out-played by the Lions in nearly every phase of the game.  That would be the Lions of the "3-13 Detroit Lions".  Oy.  Veh.

---When's the 2008 NFL draft?

---I was just kidding on the above.  I think.

---Of course, the final score of a preseason game does not matter.  It means very little in the grand scheme of things, actually.  However, the fact that the starters at nearly every positional group were overwhelmed and showed little or no improvement or development from even last Saturday is certainly a cause for great concern in every corner of the Browns organization.

---If Romeo Crennel wants to keep his job throughout the 2007 season and beyond, he had better hope that Quinn develops much, much quicker than expected.  As in "before-the-bye-week" quick.  Because, simply put, neither Charlie Frye nor Derek Anderson offer any semblance of hope that they will even become serviceable QB's, let alone NFL-starting quality types.  They are the masked, two-headed hangmen looming ominously at the gallows, with a sturdier-than-normal rope awaiting the ample neck of their head coach.

---The worst part of this whole debacle?  Frye and/or Anderson had the opportunity to grab the starting job by the throat.  Neither did.  In fact, it was the complete opposite.  They seemed overwhelmed at the opportunity that was in front of them.  And that's a scary, sobering and depressing thought for all of the members of the Browns inner and outer circle to digest. 

---Still, a grande'-sized "daaaaayum" at Brady's performance.  Two possessions, two touchdowns.  And he just has the look, the air, of an NFL quarterback.  He looks the part, replete with a cool nature coupled with a competitive fire that belies his youth.  It was not a coronation by any stretch of the imagination, but it was the first of many steps that will eventually lead to the Notre Dame product having a very long and successful NFL career.

---In today's "Pre-Game 12-Pack", I wrote the following: "
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? ... 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."   Ummm, uh-oh?  While the Browns will undoubtedly be pleased with the play of Quinn, the very last thing they wanted, I'm afraid, is about to happen.  If it isn't already under way.

---Nice ole' on the opening "drive", Kevin Shaffer.  And, short of throwing an interception that's returned for a TD, could a QB fighting for the starting job have a worse start?  Yeah, I didn't think so either.

---What the hell kind of dysfunctional BS was that inside of the five?  Burning two timeouts, taking a delay of game and false start penalty in a span of about five plays?  I could go to any local high school football field and never, ever see that type of "execution".  What transpired was inexcusable, and falls squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff.

---Then, of course, to cap off the drive, Anderson throws a pick.  Two possessions, two turnovers, almost zero chance at the starting job.  Priceless.

---In fairness to Anderson, however, either Joe Jurevicius or Braylon Edwards ran the wrong pattern on that particular play.  For some reason, I'm leaning toward the latter as the culprit.

---The above couple of notes were written before Frye entered the game.  Needless to say, after Frye's performance, the QB game is still on.  Hooray??? 

---I've forgotten how difficult it is to truly concentrate on a football game with a sixteen-month-old wild child running around the house.

---If Jon Kitna were wearing brown & orange, not only would his first pass have been picked off and taken yard, but he would've also suffered a career-ending shoulder/elbow injury.

---Kudos to the defense for holding the Lions to a field goal in the face of a short field.  Sad part is, regardless of whether Frye or Anderson drunkenly stumbles into the starting job, this defense will face that very same situation throughout much of the 2007 season.

---If the Browns can get any semblance of a passing game that demands even a modicum of respect, Jamal Lewis will have an absolute monster season.  (Note that I'm continuing to run that same general theme into the ground.)

---Here's an actual transcript of a conversation between myself and the better half at approximately the 8:50 mark of the second quarter – Me: "The Browns are playing like complete and utter (euphemistic expletive for equine feces)."  The better half: "Color me shocked." 

---Browns Fever!!!  Catch It!!!

---One of the few bright spots from a rather gloomy first half?  Antwan Peek.  The free-agent acquisition was all over the field—in a positive, productive, non-Chaun Thompson-like way—during his stint, and gave further indication that the loss of Willie McGinest to back surgery will be softened by the presence of Peek.

---We can put a man on the moon.  We can operate on the human brain with amazing success rates.  Can someone associated with that very same human race invent a pair of football pants that does not allow half a man's ass to show during the course of a football game?

---For the second week in a row, Edwards made a hellacious block on a play that broke down.  Could that be a sign the wide receiver is indeed in the process of making good on his offseason proclamations?  I dunno, but it certainly bodes well.  Stay tuned…

---Travis Wilson has a golden opportunity to grab, at the very least, the third WR spot.  However, the ability to hold onto a thrown ball is a prerequisite for success at his position.  Unfortunately for Wilson, at least during the first two games of this preseason, the Oklahoma product has not shown to be particularly adept at that position-specific skill.

---At this time next season, we will not be talking about a battle for the starting QB job.  Instead, we will be having The Great American PK Race.  Competition is good for every position on a Crennel-coached team.  Except placekicker.  It has never made any sense to me that Phil Dawson goes unchallenged season after season, especially in the last couple of years.  That will change next year.  Mark it down.

---I get the feeling that one of the two battling QBs has just played his second-to-last game in a Cleveland Browns uniform.

---How will Crennel divvy up the playing time amongst the QBs next week?  That will be yet another intriguing sub-layer amidst the QB questions.

---I don't know if anybody else noticed it, but who was the first person to greet and congratulate soon-to-be-unemployed kicker Jesse Ainsworth after he "tackled" the return man?  None other than future Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow.   That right there says a lot about the man.

---In closing, and as a non-objective, lifelong fan of the Browns, what Quinn did in the fourth quarter was just really, really cool.  The newness, and production, was very much a breath of fresh air.  Even after the abysmal performance in the first half, it gave me some hope that there is some semblance of future for this organization.  Finally.

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