John Taylor's Pre-Game 12-Pack

The world needs at least one pre-game analysis article that tells it like it is. Just one. It's here.

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns attempt to get their season back on track against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers.

  • I think I think that the Browns aren't as awful as they showed last week versus the Cowboys, and the Steelers aren't nearly as dominant as they showed versus the Texans. Then again, I also thought the Buckeyes could go into Los Angeles sans Beanie Wells and beat the best team in the country last night. And we all know how that worked out.

  • For whatever reason, I have a good feeling about this game. Sure, go right ahead, point to the beer to the right of me or the drugs I ingested earlier in my life as reasons behind said feeling. You probably wouldn't be completely off-base with that assumption. It doesn't seem right, having any confidence in the Browns heading into this primetime matchup. But it's there, and I'm not going to fight it.

  • The last time the Browns beat the Steelers at home, Chris Palmer was the head coach, Errict Rhett was their leading rusher, Rahim Abdullah was their starting strong side linebacker, and he-who-should-not-be-mentioned threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns. They have lost seven straight at Cleveland Browns Stadium since, and nine in a row overall. I believe that's what those in the statistical community call a "trend". And not a good sign for the head coach when your general manager labels this a must-win game.

  • Speaking of Phil Savage, how out of character was that interview this past Thursday? If there was a dictionary definition for "putting the onus on your coach", that was it. One thing is certain: if the Browns get blown out today, it will be the beginning of the end for Crennel in Cleveland. He's coaching without a net right now; Savage made sure of that with his words this past week and the organization's willingness to forego adding veterans to prop-up injury-depleted positions.

  • If something can be clear after just one regular-season game, it's the following: if the Browns have any chance of coming close to matching their 2007 success, the offense will need to carry this team yet again. The big-ticket defensive line signings in the off-season have been negated by injuries in the secondary and the utterly abysmal play of the linebackers. The offense needs to step up right now. The defense is what it is, and will continue to limp along until they get healthy at safety and get some quality play from their inside 'backers.

  • Memo to Derek Anderson: if Kellen Winslow is good enough to lock onto in the first quarter, he's good enough to get some looks in the other three quarters as well. To the best of my knowledge, it is not against any type of National Football League rule or regulation to look for the most talented tight end in football throughout the course of sixty minutes. Make use of your most reliable and dependable weapon for more than fifteen minutes. Thanks in advance.

  • Here's an interesting statistic from last week's season-opening loss for those who want the Browns to bring the house play after play today: the Browns blitzed Tony Romo on 15 occasions. He was hit once, threw three incompletions, and completed the other eleven for 211 yards and a touchdown. Somehow, someway, this defense needs to find a way to put effective, consistent pressure on the quarterback.

  • The good news on the above is that Steelers' motorcycle test dummy Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked approximately 472 times the past two seasons, so the defense will be afforded the opportunity to get some pressure. Question is, though, do they have the talent to take advantage of it? If they could just make the Pittsburgh quarterback feel a little bit uncomfortable in the pocket, it would go a long way toward notching their first win of the 2008 season.

  • For the love of all that's precious and holy, can we please see more of Alex Hall and less of Willie McGinest? Honestly, what would they have to lose? I have no idea what kind of player Hall is or will be, but I do know what kind of player McGinest is at this point in his career. And is not the kind of player who needs to be on the field for damn-near 80% of the defensive snaps as he was last week in the opener. Throw Hall into the mix even further and give him some on-the-job training. As a player, McGinest makes one helluva mentor for the rookie.

  • Control James Harrison at all costs, Joe Thomas. Last week versus the overmatched Texans, the linebacker was responsible for three sacks and numerous other pressures on quarterback Matt Schaub. If the Browns cannot contain Harrison, it's going to be a long, long day for Mr. Anderson & Company.

  • Getting Josh Cribbs back for this game is a HUGE plus for the Browns. While Syndric Steptoe and Gerard Lawson filled in admirably for Cribbs, they are simply not at his Pro Bowl level. The return specialist is a game-changer and is capable of breaking a long one anytime he's on the field and has the ball in his hands. Additionally, he should be able to help in the passing game as Donte' Stallworth is expected to sit out do to a labia strain.


LAST CALL: Browns 31, Steelers 27 – All signs point toward a loss, possibly even a blowout. Me, I'm all for ignoring signs. Sure, my brain's pissed off at my gut and heart right now, but it is what it is. I just have this feeling the offense will step up under national spotlight and quash the growing groundswell surrounding Crennel's immediate future.  Then again, that could just be gas.  Guess we'll know for certain by about 11:30 tonight.

The OBR Top Stories