Taylor's Pregame 12-Pack

The Cleveland Browns are at the top of their game, yep, so John Taylor is similarly focused. Every comment, every sentence, every quip has been fine-tuned for the maximum appearance of organization and professionalism, and with a minimum of car-door-related injuries.

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns attempt to get their season back on track – one final time, honest. I really mean it this time. – against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

  • Genius. Sheer genius. This Browns organization is on top of things and so far ahead of the curve it's sickening. For six days following their fourth loss of the season, we heard nary a word on the crappy state of the on-the-field football team. One good game out of the six played, and we get nearly a week's worth of "As the Staph Turns". That is simply brilliant. Bravo, Cleveland Browns! Bravo! I am currently giving you a cyber standing ovation and… oops, forgot to put pants on. Again. My bad. And, just for the record, we have the heat turned down and it's cold in here.

  • Is it just me, or does anyone else long for the halcyon days of the Butch Davis Era? Would it be possible to combine the head coaching of Butch Davis with the player procurement skills of Phil Savage? I'm just tired of being a fan of a crappy football team. I'm just tired of spending more time following off-the-field stories than writing about how huge the playoff implications are for (insert matchup here). Can they just win, and save the drama for some other team's mama? Please?

  • Now, as for the game today: both teams need this win in the worst way. Neither team's play has matched the pre-season expectations foisted upon them, although the Jaguars have won three of their last four after losing the first two games of the season. It may be simple and trite, but this game will come down to who wants it more. It will show me a lot about this football team, how they respond today with all of the "distractions" of the previous week. Romeo A. Crennel, people continually laud your steady hand and even-keel nature; this is your time to shine and stave off the firing squad. If not, and your team continues their play of late, well…

  • Only one time this season has Derek Anderson thrown for more than 170 yards in a game. Last year, Anderson averaged 240 yards per game and, in 15 starts, was held under 170 yards twice. I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to have my doubts about this DA character. Could it be time to (gasp!) possibly think about maybe, at some point in the near future, taking a quick look-see at Brady Quinn? Boy, I hope I'm not jumping the gun with that statement.

  • The Browns are 2-8 all-time versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. So they've got that going for them. Which is nice.

  • The Jaguars average nearly 120 yards a game on the ground, and have Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor in the backfield. The Browns give up 146 yards rushing per game, and have Andra Davis at linebacker. Ummm, uh-oh? Add in the fact that Shaun Smith will be out yet again with a broken hand, and that adds up to the Jaguars doing what they do best: pounding the football on the ground and going deep on occasion to keep the Browns on their heels.

  • Speaking of Jones-Drew, he's officially listed at 5-7, 208 pounds. Cleveland's Jerome Harrison is listed at 5-9, 205 pounds. Both came out of the Pac-10 in 2006. Jones-Drew has carried the ball 398 times in his three-year NFL career, while the Browns have only managed to get the ball into Harrison's hands 53 times on a running play. What does all of this mean? I dunno. Just throwing it out there for the sake of discussion.

  • Over the last few seasons, Jacksonville's defense was not one that a struggling, anemic offense could right itself against. This year, however, is a different story as the Jaguars have struggled in all facets on the defensive side of the ball. If there were ever a time for DA to get his offense back on track – again – this would be it. There will be no excuses for another poor performance today. None. Feh, who am I kidding. There will be excuses galore if he shats all over the field yet again. What was I thinking?

  • Friendly piece of advice to Braylon Edwards: "See ball, catch ball." It's really not that hard. Or, to put it into terms you may better understand: "See camera, seek out other cameras in the same general area." Same basic principle as catching a football, I guess.

  • Not all is negative surrounding the Browns, mind you. Case in point: the secondary. Coming into training camp 2008, there were more questions surrounding this unit than any other on the depth chart. Now, six games in, they are arguably the best starting unit on the club – and, yes, I'm leaving out the nickel and dime packages for the sake of this argument. (Thank you very much Terry Cousin, Nick Sorenson, Travis Daniels, et al). They are far from perfect, but have made genuine strides during the first six games. Brandon McDonald, Eric Wright and Brodney Pool have been mentioned to me by league-types as playing near a Pro Bowl level this season; Sean Jones, who is just returning to full strength following surgery early on in the season, is a Pro Bowl-caliber player when healthy. For all of the doom and gloom cast on this unit entering the season – and I was chief among them – they have been a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

  • You know the season's gone south when you see Mike Adams listed as "out" for a game, and are actually upset about that development. Good Lord, I picked the wrong season to quit smoking crack.  Now, where's that bridge abutment?  I'm in the mood to jerk the steering wheel...

  • Simply put, if the Browns lose today and the Steelers win, the season's over. Any shot at the playoffs will be dashed, and 2009 draft talk should commence in earnest. A four-game deficit with nine games remaining – given the Browns schedule and the way they are playing – would be too much to overcome. Nothing like a little bit of pressure on a nice, quiet Sunday afternoon, eh?

LAST CALL: Jaguars 20, Browns 10 – Now, honestly, do you think there's any way the Browns will be able to grab USC linebacker Rey Maualuga next April? Sure hope so.



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