John Taylor's Tales From A Notebook

Befuddlement at the man pictured notwithstanding, John Taylor goes Marty and sees a gleam, men, in tonight's performance. Even after yet another loss, the flicker of hope still burns, and John scribbles exactly why that is. And why the latest addition to the roster is the newest breakfast craze. Confused? So are we, but read on anyway...

-- Don't know about anybody else, but this game, in spite of it being yet another mark on the wrong side of the W/L ledger, allowed me to let out a relatively healthy sigh of relief. More healthy than the back-end of the roster ended up, as it turned out.

-- This was a little bit more like it. It wasn't great, but it wasn't craptastic either. Certainly there are nits to pick, but, for the first time since the initial drive of the first pre-season game, there was a real live football team sporting the brown & orange on game day. There was a spark, an intensity, which had been missing for the prior 170 minutes of football played entering tonight.

-- All phases of the team were clicking, for the most part and relatively speaking based on the last two weeks, through the first two quarters – especially when the first teams for both sides were in the game. At least for one night, the questions that suddenly and unexpectedly cropped-up regarding the offensive line were quieted. Jason Wright ran like somebody did something way more than piss in his Cheerios. Brady Quinn showed exactly what the front office saw when they traded up in the 2007 draft. The first-team defense was "OK", which is a step-up from the "didn't suck that bad today" that's been the goal of defense's past.

-- Does that mean all is well in Brownstown? No, of course not, but the taste in their mouth is much more palatable heading into the Dallas showdown than it would've been if we'd seen anything close to a repeat of the last two-and-a-half games.

-- Joe Horn, don't call us, we'll call you (pending the severity of Syndric Steptoe's injury, of course). In the biggest games of their respective professional careers, both Travis Wilson – save for that one utterly inexplicable drop – and Steve Sanders answered the call and stepped-up. Huge. Now, will it be enough for the coaching staff and front office to overlook Wilson's inexperience, inconsistency and sudden plummet in performance the past two weeks? Or enough to overlook Sanders' lack of experience? I don't know if it will be or not, but I do know this: when they needed it, both played the best games of their young careers.

-- Getting back to Wilson: if his tremendous catch in the first quarter and the drop on a perfectly-thrown pass were not a microcosm of his two-plus years in Cleveland, I don't know what is. If you, as a fan, are maddened by him, imagine how maddening he is to the organization as a whole? And what a tough decision it will be for the Browns to make when it comes down to having to pare the wide receiver position.

-- People like to talk about how Josh Cribbs has been missed on the kick return units, but what about how his absence has affected the coverage units as well? People forget that Cribbs was the leading tackler on special teams last year as well as being selected to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. A speedy return is of the utmost importance for all phases of the specials.

-- The above takes on an even greater import as Cribbs' replacement on returns, the previously-mentioned Steptoe, suffered a shoulder injury early on in the contest.  Godspeed with your health, Josh.  Godspeed.

-- Speaking of special teams and injuries, hopefully the injuries sustained by Darnell Dinkins and Kris Griffin are minor in nature and will not linger more than a day or two. Special teams were a big part of last year's ten-win season; losing mainstays on that unit could potentially have a devastating ripple-down effect on the entire season.

-- Not to be callous or anything, but the injury to Rex Hadnot caused nary a spike in my blood pressure. Seth McKinney is more than capable – some would say he was more than capable to begin with – replacing whatever it is Hadnot brings to the table should he be out an extended period of time. Additionally, presumptive starter-when-healthy Ryan Tucker should be back in short order as well. Of all the injuries to starters suffered this year, this would be the least devastating. By far.

-- That whole roster projection article I was working on? It's been sent to the cyber scrap heap. Thank you injuries suffered in absolutely meaningless exhibition games. Is it any wonder that nearly everyone in the NFL wants to reduce the slate of pre-season games?

-- Kind of interesting to see Romeo Crennel pull Quinn after just two drives. Could that be a clue as to the progression Derek Anderson is making from his concussion, and that RAC is saving Quinn for a start in the season opener? Nah, not really; DA was on the sidelines, after all. Now, if DA hadn't on the sidelines AND Quinn was pulled after a quarter or so, THEN the switch could've been flipped on the rumor mill.

-- I'm officially washing my hands of Jerome Harrison. No more angst. No more "WTF?" as far as he is concerned. I don't know what else he needs to do. I just get the feeling there will be a lot of coulda been's tossed around when his career is over and his time in Cleveland is viewed in hindsight.

-- Feh, who am I kidding? I'll be back to bitching about how Harrison is underutilized next week. I should know myself better than that.

-- I really, really love this city and their fans. What other place would pre-empt the acceptance speech of the first African-American being his party's nominee for President of the United States in favor of the fourth and most meaningless of pre-season games? Like I said, I just love this town.

-- And now, we begin the pithy picking-of-the-nits portion of the program…

-- Memo to Jim Donovan: Joe Jurevicius will not be eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list and play Week Six of the regular season; he will be eligible to come off the PUP list after Week Six. Nice try, though. You'll get the hang of these rules and regulations one of these days, lil' buddy.

-- I really like and enjoy the Donovan/Bernie Kosar broadcasting duo, but would probably like and enjoy them more if Donovan were broadcasting from a concrete bunker incapable of sending or receiving any type of television signal.

-- Thanks, MkCap'n Obvious. Brilliant!!!

-- Good sign, seeing Braylon Edwards prowling the sidelines before the start of the game. Boy, does this team need him back and close to 100% for the season opener.

-- Wow, was Kellen Winslow ever wide open on that third and four in the first quarter. You throw it at the numbers – let alone in stride – and it's an easy six, Quinn. Have to make that pass every time, especially when there is no pressure at all.

-- What a beautifully conceived, designed and executed play on Harrison's first-quarter score. It's stuff like that, Rob Chudzinski, that will have teams knocking on your door this coming off-season.

-- Nice hit by Travis Key on A.J. Davis. Too bad Davis is a defensive back for the Browns.

-- Travis DanielsButtered, Hot Out of the Toaster: It's What's For Breakfast!

-- If the Browns think they can go through the entire sixteen-game slate with the refuse behind the starters in the secondary, they are seriously and, possibly, fatally deluding themselves. Once you get past Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Sean Jones and Brodney Pool, there's nothing but pabulum as far as the eye can see. This is not the Ellis Island of the NFL. Don't give me your poor and tired huddled masses of crap in the secondary. We don't want any wretched masses anywhere near our teeming sidelines. Let the tempest keep tossing ‘em far away from Berea. Just slam that golden door, Browns, and snuff out whatever porous flame is flickering in the lamp.

-- Third and 17, and the Browns resurrect the Ghost of Lorenzo White. What a bunch of derricks…

-- Does Bernie owe Ken Dorsey money? I fully expect Dorsey to walk on water and turn Gatorade into wine at some point in the very near future based on Kosar's analysis of his play.

-- All in all, I couldn't give a McBride less what transpired after the first half. There was a gleam in the first half, and that's all I was looking for heading into tonight's "game". Get the injured studs back to practice this coming week, and all that has transpired the past couple of weeks will slowly make its way into a back corner of the mind. Not completely gone, mind you; I am a lifelong C-town sports fan, after all.

-- But, after tonight, that flicker of hope is still there. For now.



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