I'm heading down to a very cold Cleveland Browns Stadium this morning to enjoy a little tailgating with my family, and prepare for what should be a win against the Panthers. Being a Browns fan, however, I know that this still-young team could be susceptible to a letdown against a struggling Panthers squad.
Corey Fuller has had a picture of a mousetrap hanging in his locker all week which says "Don't Get Caught" on it. Hopefully, the rest of the team has internalized that message this week, and the Browns will come out thinking that the Panthers are ferocious and angry. The NFL is nothing if not inexplicably weird. It's a place where the unexpected is normal, and seeing a Panther resurgence wouldn't be a surprise. The Browns will attempt to remain focused in a situation where continuing to win gives them an opportunity to control their own destiny.
Today's Newswire has plenty of this type of analysis, as the Browns look to avoid a letdown. The Panthers, despite their tumble into the lower echelons of every Power Ranking I've seen, still have a threatening defense that could give Tim Couch fits if he doesn't get the protection he needs. Harried quarterbacks lead to turnovers, and turnovers lead to upsets. Ask the Saints.
One of their challenges will be to play in front of a cold crowd at the Stadium. CBS has been a lackluster home for the team in the best of situations, as PSLs, three years of bad football, and the seeming "sit down, shut up, and eat your brie" policies in force at the Stadium has blunted the hometown edge the team used to have. As a denizen of the upper decks, I look forward to seeing plenty of empty club seats today as their owners huddle in the war confines of the bar. Hopefully enough stalwart fans will come out to make the place somewhat fearsome for the team.
In a somewhat related story, Browns President Carmen Policy is offering up mixed statements on whether or not next year will be his last in Berea. The Man from San Fran is rumored to be heading back out west, presumably taking his cronies with him, but is putting some doubt around the edges of his previous statements. It's basically up to Randy Lerner, one suspects, although it would be interesting to see if Policy would give up his 10% ownership to take a gig with another team. If an LA slot opens up, it would be hard to see Policy resisting the opportunity to work once again with the, um, more "laidback" fans in that community against continuing to take some of the grief which has been directed at him in Cleveland.
A couple of little site notes:
1. Since I'm heading down to the Stadium, my rambling in-game commentary won't be happening today, unless you're unfortunate enough to be sitting near me at the Stadium. Since I'm mostly surrounded by different faces every week (not sure why), you'll have to chance it if you scalped your ticket. After the game, I'll be back to slap up a photo gallery and pretend that I actually tracked everything at the game while actually looking for beer vendors.
2. I got a new crate of autographed footballs to ship out for folks who signed up during the offer last month. Boo-yah! They start flying out again Monday.
Later folks! GO BROWNS!!!!!!