John Taylor's Pre-Game 12-Pack

Cleveland Browns, listen up: There's only one thing you need to do in order to make John Taylor permanently move to West Virgina. Or so he says.

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns attempt to get their season back on track – yet again – in the Land of Rats and STDs.

  • A very good portion of this piece is being written from the friendly netherlands of the great state of West Virginia (State Motto: The Land Where Taxidermery Trumps Dentistry). Normantown – not to be confused with the college "city" of Morgantown – to be specific. You know where Normantown is, right? Right there on Route 5, up a piece on Gassaway Road. Just don't take a left onto Steer Run Road. Or Eliza Run Road. Or a right onto Turtle Run Road. Or SHEEP, RUN!!! Road. You'll miss it. Anyway, I apologize for any grammatical errors or y'alls that get thrown in here. Even for a short period of time, you tend to adapt to the culture surrounding you. Now, y'all pardon me while I run to play a quick game of "real" corn hole – men versus livestock – before finishing this piece…
  • OK, I'm back. Their version of corn hole is… ummm… interesting and quite different from the Ohio version, to say the least. I'd hate to see the official rule book. Anyway, onto the in-depth analysis you've come to expect from the Pre-Game 12-Pack. And, yes, I damn-near wrote that last sentence with a straight face…
  • If last week was a must-win game in the eyes of Phil Savage, what the hell does that make today's? Double-dog must-win? Triple-dog? Lose this afternoon, and the Browns will drop to 0-3 overall and, perhaps more importantly, 0-2 in the division. That's not a hole; that's a Grand Canyon-sized pit out of which this club would need to dig itself.
  • And injuries? You wanna talk about them? OK, let's do. Injuries are like opinions, which are like rectums: everybody's got ‘em. How the Browns deal with their admittedly plethora of injuries will be THE determining factor in the way this season ends. Not so much the play of DA or the in-game strategy of Romeo Crennel – although both are contributing factors which can certainly exacerbate an injury issue – but rather how the players and, more importantly, the coaching staff adapts. If either group uses it as a crutch, might as well mail the rest of the season in now. They have more talent and depth than they've had since The Return. It's up to the staff to turn this season around with what they have, and integrate the injured as they return. And they need to start that process today.
  • During the two games raw second-year player Brady Quinn started for the Browns this pre-season, both the Lions and the Bears gave him a liberal dose of blitzes, stunts and all-out aggressive defensive calls. That was for a couple of meaningless fake games. With the Browns facing a very raw rookie under center with exactly one career start, will they return the favor? Will they attempt to rattle Joe Flacco with multiple looks and blitz packages in an effort to rattle the rookie? If not and they don‘t, I know exactly where my post-game column will begin and end. Win or lose.
  • All those who thought the Browns would enter Week Three of the 2008 regular season as 30th-ranked in total offense and 31st-ranked in points scored, raise your hands. Yeah, OK. Pinocchios, the whole lot of you. Liars. Time for Chud & Company to step up. The defense showed you the way last week; follow their playbook. Except the whole "lay back, bend over" philosophy at key points in the game. Forget that part of it. Just put it out of your mind. Concentrate on the aggressiveness and fire that unit showed for the vast majority of the loss to the Steelers.
  • Poor Braylon Edwards, can't seem to catch a break from the local tabloid news station. Or a pass from his quarterback, for that matter. Really, numbered footballs with bright, shiny colors? That's what it's come down to? How ‘bout this bit of precision professional instruction: see the football, and catch the mother f*****. Those hands are good for something other than waving to the red-carpet cameras, Braylon. Then again, at least you are out on the football field. Which is more than we have been able to say for…
  • Having Dainty Stallworth in the lineup certainly would help a struggling Derek Anderson go Stella on the field and find his groove. Either way, though, DA must find some way to fight through these injuries and his own inconsistencies. And yes, for those keeping score at home, I used this particular note for the sole purpose of busting out the "Dainty Stallworth" moniker. And, trust me, I didn't come up with it.
  • Before this season, seven Browns teams have started the season 0-2. Only one of those clubs – the Kardiac Kids in 1980 – turned their season around and made the playoffs. Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs. F*****' up the scenery, breakin' my mind...
  • Since we are on a sign tangent, let me throw this at you. The last time I was in West Virginia was last November. It was during the Thanksgiving weekend. In a little garage with a cable wire from the Dish meandering across the yard and driveway – with a perfectly good heated living room available, by the way – I watched the Browns snatch one of their most improbable victories in this franchise's storied history away from these very same Rats. As Bill Engvall is wont to say, there's your sign. And, if they win this weekend, I may seriously have to consider moving here permanently for the sake of the franchise.
  • Notice how there is very little related specifically to the Rats in this 12-Pack? There's one very good reason for that: simply put, the Browns are the better team on paper and should be able to handle the Franchise Thieves if they play up to their own talent. Go up and down the roster, and get an overall look at what the Browns bring to the field as compared to the Rats. There should be no consternation and wringing of hands over this contest. None. Yet, here we are, pacing back and forth over one of the least-talented teams in the league like an expectant father awaiting the arrival of his first newborn who‘d received a cloudy test results on an amniocentesis. And that's sad, four years into the RAC regime and coming off a 10-win season.
  • Savage put the onus on RAC last week, and I'm doing it this week. You lose to this wasteland of NFL talent – this bastard franchise – even given your own injuries, you don't deserve another week on the sidelines as an NFL head coach. 0-3 is not – or at least should not be – an acceptable start to a 2008 season that held so much promise.
  • LAST CALL: Browns 27, Rats 14 – Phil Dawson sets an NFL single-game record for most field goals with nine, including two from inside the five-yard line on third down. And I call U-Haul immediately afterwards to begin checking prices.

 


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