John Taylor's 'Tales From A Notebook'

What's this? Mr. Doom & Gloom as the voice of reason amidst the tumult of the season-opening disaster? You'll need to read it to believe it for yourself. And, yes, you are welcome for the pic to the left of this text. It's the least The OBR could do for the fans who sat through that...

-- If you are looking for somebody to rip the Browns unmercifully, stop reading now and go look somewhere else. No evisceration to see here, people. Move on. I just do not have it in me right now. I might actually sever my tongue in not doing so, but I'm just not feeling it.

-- Given the injuries and subpar play in the pre-season, the grandiose hopes that enveloped Browns Nation entering training camp had somewhat subsided entering the season opener. After today? They are back, at least in my lil' corner of the NFL world. What's that you say? They got it handed to them and came out on the short-end of the winning stick? Doesn't matter. At least to me, right now. Today, this team showed me flashes that they belong and that they will be in the North race all season long. More so than they did at any point during the fake-game portion of the season.

-- And that's what matters, the race for the AFC North crown. Keep that in mind as you replay this game in your mind over the course of the next day or two.

-- Even given the Bataan-like schedule in front of them, they will not face a more talented team all season long than they faced today. Dallas is absolutely loaded. And, even given that and the margin of victory for the Cowboys, I never once thought the Browns were out of the game. Yes, even when it was 28-7 early in the fourth quarter.

-- So, that means all is fine in Browns Town, right? Of course not. Far from it. But they came to play and gave one of the best teams in the league a helluva fight that belies the final score.

-- I'm surprisingly at peace with the state of the Browns right now. For the most part. For the other parts, you'll need to continue reading the ensuing notes.

-- Warning to kids in the audience: the above is what happens when you consume alcohol while watching football. Or write for the official Browns website. Or both. Consider yourself warned. Now, onto the most pressing concern for the Cleveland organization…

-- Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Browns were not able to consistently put pressure on the quarterback. Hahahaha!!! What a knee-slapper that lack of pass rush is. Second… third… tenth verse, same as the first. Until this team can apply some pressure to the QB, and collapse a pocket or two every once in awhile, it will not matter if the Browns bring back Lester Hayes in his prime. The talent in the secondary is not the primary concern; the fact that the opposing QB has all day to pen the follow-up to War & Peace is.

-- You are down 21 with ten minutes left, and you trot out the field goal unit? WTF??? Mr. Head Coach Romeo Crennel, you have quite a few packs of wolves laying in wait around you; you don't need to forget you are in possession of a set of testicles and give said packs even more reason to pounce. Utterly asinine decision, and inexcusable to boot.

-- I wrote the above roughly an hour ago, and I still don't get it. If my hands weren't busy with other areas, I might've opted to continue scratching my head instead.

-- Mark it down right now: Kellen Winslow will carry the moniker of "Best Tight End in the NFL" by the end of the season. And it will be unquestioned. There is not a more talented and naturally-gifted player at his position.

-- Kudos to the offensive line for their play today, especially in light of how they performed in the pre-season. In a related note, Rex Hadnot did not play. Coincidence? I think not.

-- Much like the defensive line was this off-season, and the offensive line was in 2007, the inside linebackers had better be the focus this upcoming off-season. All of the gains in talent made on the DL are being utterly wasted by Andra Davis and, to a point, D'Qwell Jackson. The word "pedestrian" comes to mind when thinking of the player who so magnanimously accepted a pay-cut this past off-season. Based on his production, do you not see why he did? I guess another year with your feet in the fire in Cleveland beats having those same feet standing in an NFL unemployment line.

-- Given the level of competition across the line of scrimmage, Brandon McDonald played a tremendous football game. Yeah, he got "beat" for a long touchdown pass – safety help? Anyone? Anyone? – but, for the most part, he held up remarkably well against arguably the best receiver in the game.

-- Bullspit call on both the McDonald hands-to-the-face penalties. Where was the one on Winslow in the second quarter? That was more egregious than anything #22 laid on Owens. And then you don't call a blatant shot to the head on the QB? Gimme a break.

-- Braylon, Braylon, Braylon. Yer killing me here. It goes without saying, but you really need to make that catch. Every. Single. Time.  Your game as a whole wasn't exactly one you'd want to hang your hat on.

-- God bless him and his leadership and his likely Hall of Fame career, but Willie McGinest does not belong on an NFL football field at this time of his life. Screw cowbell; gimme more Alex Hall.

-- When the hell did Donte' Stallworth hurt his groin? He was not on the injury report all week and pulls up lame – insert your own joke – for the opener? Very prescient move by the Browns yesterday, waiving rookie Paul Hubbard and signing the more-experienced Steve Sanders off the practice squad.

-- Mark it down, the sequel: Stallworth will go down as one of the biggest free-agent busts since the Browns returned in 1999. Kudos to the front office – in particular salary cap guru Trip MacCracken – for making his seven-year deal a very, very club-friendly one.

-- Awesome camera angle on Marion Barber's touchdown run at the end of the first half. I want that option available to me at all times. Somebody, make that happen. Please and thank you very much.

-- Ex-Rat or not, I love Jamal Lewis in the most heterosexual way possible. You give me 53 Jamals, and I'll take my chances every single Sunday.

-- It pains me to say it, but the Pittsburgh Steelers looked hella good against an up-and-coming Houston Texans club today. Despite the pre-season prognostications of doom and gloom for the Steel City – mine included – it doesn't look like they are going to go quietly into the AFC North night.

-- I had Michael Turner and Donovan McNabb on my FF team today. And I have Adrian Peterson tomorrow night. Oh yeah, The Slushing Cooters™ kicked some serious fantasy ass this week.

-- Calvin Broadus never fails to make me laugh, regardless of what he's doing. Give me a reality show following him 24/7, and I'm there. The contact buzz obtained through viewing could be an issue, but I'll take my chances.

-- Natural Ice is a surprisingly good beer. Color me surprised. And not sober. Which may explain my review.

-- Remember in my Pre-Game 12-Pack, I wished for FOX to take over the AFC television package? Scratch that. Never mind. I forgot that would include a copious amount of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman invading my Sunday afternoon television space. They annoy the Buck out of me.

-- To the "source" who told me Josh Cribbs would be a "go" for the opener: Thanks. Thanks a lot. Really appreciate it. You da man!!! That being said, Cribbs could have played – wanted to play and was beyond incensed that he was being held out – but the Browns' medical staff was being extra cautious given the sensitive nature of a high-ankle sprain.

-- This is what we've come to as a country? Where "Hole in the Wall" is considered suitable television programming? The premise of the show is having people jump through holes in moving walls. Read that last sentence again. A couple of times. WTF is wrong with TV executives, and the viewers they pander to?

-- My most favorite non-Browns moment of the day? Junior putting Shrub into the Richmond wall. I don't care if it was intentional or unintentional or whatever. All that matters are the words "Shrub", "into" and "wall" in the same sentence. And the fact it was Junior doing it? That's the stripper on top of the cake. ABK everyone. ABK.

-- OK, let's bottom-line this first game of the season: it was but one game versus a non-divisional – hell, non-conference – foe. Would they have liked to have pulled off the upset? Of course, but this game was not life or death. Unlike next week. Step back from the ledge, step down off the chair with the noose dangling above it, put down the Glock; the season starts seven days from now.

-- After further review, nope, still don't get the field-goal attempt…



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