- Two tickets to Sunday's game against
- Hotel room with Jacuzzi and sound-proof walls in downtown
- Speeding ticket on I-480: $200.
- Turd-like Browns performance against the youngest team in the league: Worthless.
No, not the feeble ramblings of Roger Brown or Bill Livingston. Instead, it was the inane collection of quotes fed to reporters by players and coaches of the Cleveland Browns.
Here's a sample: "I didn't realize there was a public outcry (to start Jamel White over William Green)" coach Butch Davis was quoted as saying after Sunday's game.
Either he's lying, or completely out of touch with reality. I like Butch a lot, and am convinced he will win a Super Bowl in
If he truly didn't know, I shudder at his worrisome level of isolation and grieve a coach could be that out of touch with his team's fans. After all, without fans, there is no wonder called "pro football" and Butch would be back in
William Green is not among those personnel right now. He may be next year or even next month. But not right now.
White can move the ball. He's faster, has a better burst through the hole, has a better feel for when the brief gaps appear, and knows how to finish runs. Green isn't there yet.
White added to the litany of falsehoods in the paper: "I agree with it," he said of the team's decision to start Green.
I've played football. I've yet to meet a player who will say privately the guy in front of him should start when the stats don't bear it out. Green's carries aren't measured in yards, but feet. Wanna guess which player has rushed for 262 yards on 52 carries and which has just 97 yards on 44 carries?
White knows his stats. If he doesn't want to be the starting running back for the Cleveland Browns, he shouldn't even be playing the game.
Yes, players and coaches are paid to play and say the right things. White is a good soldier, and won't cause controversy by telling the truth. But the odor of lies still befouls the newspaper. No one believes it, except perhaps small children and public/media relations flunkies (you can only tell them apart by height). Of course, this is the kind of reporting you get from sports writers: a mile wide, an inch deep. One can't imagine the White House or Pentagon press corps letting their sources get away with such obvious lies. Of course, as readers, we never demand serious reporting from sports writers, so we have only ourselves to blame for such flimsy, milquetoast garbage.
In the meantime, there is much to consider.
Booing a player performing poorly is OK. Cheering an injured player is not. More on that later. For now, let's address the issue of quarterback performance that led to the boos.
Certainly, Tim Couch has the right to be angry at fans for cheering when he went down with a concussion. He does NOT have the right to complain about them voicing their distaste for his play.
Couch wasn't good. For that matter, Holcomb wasn't very good, either. Some blame can be dumped on an unimaginative game plan, tentative play calling and poor play by the offensive line, running backs and receivers.
But the quarterback is paid millions of dollars to overcome all that. Dan Marino did it in
For the Cleveland Browns to advance to the next level, Couch must dig deep and perform as Marino. He doesn't need to put up the same numbers, but he must find it within himself to find a way to win. Slant patterns to the flanker while the linebacker is sitting on the route isn't the way. And that goes for both quarterbacks.
Sunday night, Couch looked buffoonish at times. He delivered bad throws and made very poor decisions. His reads looked terrible. There were open receivers (open during the play, not the post-play openness fans mistake for open once the defender has left to make a tackle).
It's worrisome that four years into his career, Couch is making rookie mistakes. The comparisons to Bernie Kosar are unfair because of the talent level around Kosar at the some juncture in his career, but it's the best comparison we have. Both are/were the team's franchise quarterback.
Drafted in 1985, Kosar had been All-Pro and a Pro Bowler by his fourth season. Heck, he led the entire AFC in passing in 1987. Couch hasn't approached that level. He has the most talent yet of his career around him this season, but makes throwing errors that make one question his command of the scheme. And why, while in the grasp of a Raven defender, does he uncork that wounded duck down the sideline? It was almost like a punt, and a stupid decision that snuffed out a potential score.
Holcomb has the cujones to play – and nearly win the game – on a broken leg. Flashbacks to that 1992 game against
It gets worse.
In the week prior to the game, reports out of Berea left the distinct impression that Couch and the Browns were worried and scared of Baltimore middle linebacker/former murder suspect Ray Lewis. True, Lewis is an all-world talent. But to come off as scared is inexcusable. The coaching staff gave off the same stink of cowardice. Perhaps I'm misreading it, but the entire offense seemed designed Sunday not to win, but to avoid crossing paths with Lewis.
Show fear in the NFL, you're done for.
If we can take any positives from the game, they breakdown like this:
- The Baltimore Ravens are in first place in the AFC North, but the odds say they won't be there for long. The team has neither the experience nor depth for the long haul. And the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Injuries will catch up with the Ravens, and expose them as a house of cards.
- Tim Couch has proven he has the talent. The
game was no fluke. Tennessee
- The non-scumbag fans left the stadium bowed but unbroken. In fact, it was rather reminiscent of a vanquished army retreating in good order, bloodied but defiant. The post game cries of "
sucks" didn't ring completely hollow. Baltimore
- The Browns and Ravens each have distinct fourth-quarter personalities.
has shown a propensity for scoring points when the chips are down. Cleveland can't stop other teams. The Ravens know they dodged a bullet Sunday night. Two weeks ago, they allowed the Broncos to storm back. A sign of things to come. Baltimore
- There are 12 games and a bye week remaining.
- The Steelers are 1-3.
- To twist a quote from our old friend Sam Wyche, you live in
. You don't live in Cleveland . Cincinnati
- The ribs at Dick's Last Resort in the Flats are still the best in the world. Nothing takes the edge off defeat like chowing down on the salty innards of Babe and Wilbur from
's Web. Charlotte
- The Texans come to town in two weeks. I'll be there.
- We have the toughest, most ballsy kicker in the entire league. Phil Dawson was a man Sunday night.
GUS FREROTTE WATCH: Gus didn't play, and Jon Kitna tossed a trio of interceptions in a surprisingly close 28-21 loss at
THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK: Take heart. The loss Sunday only slightly delays Brian Billick's inevitable firing. And each passing day brings us a little bit closer to the morning we open the newspaper to read Art Modell's obituary.
Here's my report card. I'm only giving out a single grade this week:
Cleveland Browns fans helped the Baltimore Ravens win Sunday. Good job, gang. Booing the team lustily, and cheering when Tim Couch stumbled to the ground with an injury was not only disconcerting and immoral, but treasonous. The Ravens used the self-inflicted boos as ammunition. It pumped them up.
Drunkenness is no excuse. Neither is frustration. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy – especially Baltimore – is a death penalty offense. In my book, fans who cheered Couch's injury are no better than those two trailer-trash freaks that attacked that baseball coach a few weeks back.
Be ashamed, Clevelanders. You came across like uneducated, immoral apes on national television. You made
When the team returns in two weeks to play the Texans, you'd best cheer loud, long and hard for Couch. I'll be in the stands, and if I hear some knucklehead express glee if Couch gets banged up, you'll have 250lbs of me and Marine Corps hand-to-hand combat training to deal with.
On a personal note, each ill-fated William Green carry Sunday prompted my
She gets an F, too.
Doc Gonzo is a former