- Seeing as this is the final pre-season game, I will be writing the first two notes of this piece, and then will take the rest of the column off. My back-up will take you home for the remainder of the gibberish as I rest-up for what will likely prove to be a long and grueling season.
- The Have's and the Hadnot's, otherwise known as the Browns' offensive line, need to step it up this week. And, yes, that means you to left side. While not as stiff a test as Fake Week #2 versus the Giants, the Bears do possess a very formidable starting front seven and will present a considerable challenge to the righting of the OL ship. Start now; don't wait for Week One to attempt a flipping of the regular-season switch.
(Coach McBride – citing the uneven performances of my articles since the start of pre-season – decides I haven't written decent enough thus far in this piece, so he leaves me in the column until I become decent.)
- Can we just see a well-played, hard-fought contest tonight? Please? I'm getting tired of watching and writing about crap. I don't even need to see a win, fellas. Just show some fight, some spirit, some spark. Play well and execute at a better clip than you have the last 21 days. Again, nobody needs to see a win – although one wouldn't be kicked out of bed for eating crackers. Just show people that, buried somewhere amidst the rubble of a wasted pre-season slate, there is still reason to maintain the optimism that was running rampant for the past eight or so months.
- You think the Browns' secondary is looking forward to facing the two-headed quarterback known as Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman? Then again, they got lit up by Brett "Freaking" Ratliffe in Fake Week One, so who knows. Wait, I do know: if this secondary gets torched by that, Ty Law had better be on his way to Cleveland before the final gun sounds tonight. Or, at the least, have his boarding pass in hand and headed for the airport.
- No. More. Injuries. If the Browns have any hope of tossing aside their pre-season performance once the regular season begins, coming out of this game relatively unscathed is critical. As it stands now, their injury list is the envy of personal injury lawyers all across Northeast Ohio; any more dings, particularly to a starter or two, could spell disaster.
- I'm really getting tired of writing about Travis Wilson needing to "step up this week and this time, dagnabbit, I really mean it Buster!" He either needs to perform or get off the pot. Period. One or the other. I'd prefer the first option, but the second would afford me the opportunity to make this a Wilson-free zone for the remainder of the season. Tough call, that one is. I believe Yoda said that at one point during the swamp scene. Or maybe it was Gandhi. I dunno, I get those two mixed up sometimes. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking.
(I'm not ever getting out of this particular column, am I coach?)
- Barring the signing of Joe Horn or someone of his ilk, tonight will be the final chance for the three receivers battling for the #3 wide receiver position to display their wares in a real game situation: the aforementioned Wilson, Syndric Steptoe and Steve Sanders. Based on their performances thus far this pre-season, Steptoe would seemingly have a slight edge over Wilson, although the latter has started the two games ahead of the former. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that if none of the trio distinguishes or separates themselves tonight, the Horn-to-Cleveland rumor mill will be cranked up in a big way. The Browns could be using this pre-season finale as a gauge to where their young receivers stand before determining whether or not to pursue a veteran wideout.
- Last year, the Browns went into their season opener with the Steelers carrying six defensive linemen on their 53-man roster. If that holds true again this year, there will be four players fighting for two spots as four of the slots – Shaun Rogers, Corey Williams, Robaire Smith and Shaun Smith – are already written in ink. Based on his play thus far in training camp and limited pre-season action, Louis Leonard would seem to have a leg-up for one of the spots, although a poor performance tonight could put a place on the roster in jeopardy. That would leave Chase Pittman, Ahtyba Rubin and Melila Purcell fighting for the final roster spot. All three should receive copious amounts of playing time tonight, and it will be interesting to see how each reacts to the pressure of battling for a job.
- Kamerion Wimbley: come out, come out wherever you are! This game of hide-and-seek is really getting old, to be quite honest. The flashes become fewer and farther between, and worry is beginning to set in that you may be a (gasp!) wasted draft pick. Not that one meaningless pre-season game is going to alter the growing perception, mind you, but it would be nice to see a glimpse of your rookie form heading into the real season.
- Last Saturday, we got the highly-anticipated debut of Brady Quinn as a NFL starter. This week, we get… Travis Daniels' debut in a Browns uniform? Somehow, I'm thinking, the coverage of the latter won't exactly reach the level of the former.
- If there's anyone out there who hasn't seen this picture from last Saturday's loss to the Lions, I would strongly urge you to do so now. I'll wait… taptaptap… OK, you're back? Good. Anyway, I would also strongly urge people to set that picture as your desktop background. There's nothing like getting up in the morning at 5 a.m., turning on the laptop, and have those huge chillin' behemoths staring you in the face as you try to wipe the sleep out of your eyes.
- I would be remiss in not mentioning the winner of the first annual "Guess What Vulgarities John Is Spewing After a Crappy Browns' Performance and One (12-pack of) Beer Too Many" contest from last Saturday's post-game article. And the winner is? shakadawg, aka It'sScaryThatHeGotItRightDawg!!! Kudos to you, my fellow swear-monger. A 12-pack of Cleveland's finest brews would be on its way to your location, if you hadn't respectfully declined said offer. And thanks to all who sent in their contributions – I think I learned a couple of new words I can use in future articles. In particular, I'd like to give a shout-out to Ed, Chad, David, Kevin and Jeremy, who were thiiis close to costing me a buttload of money in both beer and shipping. And, for those who are wondering, here is the correct answer to the word puzzle: "**** this mother ******* ****. **** me. ****. ******* ***********."
(Note for Kevin, Jeremy and Chad: I sent you an e-mail thanking you for the responses, but it came back undeliverable. In particular, Jeremy, I must've really pissed your e-mail server off as I got about six or seven bounce-backs. Turn off your snot filter. Anyway, sorry about that if in fact you all didn't receive them.)
LAST CALL: Bears 98, Browns -14 – I've picked each and every one of the pre-season games horribly wrong, so I figured I'd use reverse psychology on myself this time around. See how I did that? That's just how I roll. OK, enough with the pleasantries. Bring me a beer, woman…