Taylor's Pregame 12-Pack

Exactly the right combination of fear, humor, loathing, panic, and free beer (references) for your pre-game viewing. Read now, read often, count the lil' mugs of beer that go down the page.

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns continue to amble aimlessly toward the end of the 2008 season with a Monday Night "showdown" with the equally reeling Buffalo Bills:

  • Staph infections. A staff infection. A tight end calling out his general manager. The same GM hinting at some tawdry things regarding the same TE. A running back calling out his teammates. A Pro Bowl return specialist echoing said RB's comments. A head coach who is too stubborn/loyal/in over his head to make needed personnel moves in a timely manner. A Pro Bowl quarterback crashing back to earth with a resounding "thud". Blown double-digit, fourth-quarter leads in back-to-back games – at home. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Cleveland Browns!!!

  • On Nov. 13, 2005, the Browns stood at 3-6 in the first year of Romeo A. Crennel's tenure as the Browns' head coach. On Nov. 17, 2008, the Browns stand at 3-6 in the fourth year of Romeo A. Crennel's tenure as the Browns' head coach. Did you catch a whiff of that? That's the sweet smell of progress, my friends. Progress I say. As an aside, why do I continually think of the Donner Party when thinking about the Browns attempted trek toward consistent playoff contender?

  • I just happened to be wandering around the Dictionary.com website earlier today, and came across the listing for the word "scapegoat". It read "See: McDonald, Brandon". Listen, I understand he's been somewhere south of awful the past two games, but, for the better part of the season – and with the exception of Shaun Rogers and, possibly, Brodney Pool – he's been this club's best player on the defensive side of the ball. And Willie McGinest is still starting and seeing the bulk of the snaps at outside linebacker. Yep, makes sense to me.

  • Then again, we'll have Shantee Orr shuttling into the rotation, so they have that going for them, which is nice. At least they're trying something to shake things up, right? RIGHT? RIGHT?!?! Hello (taptaptap), is this thing on?

  • People – including Sean Jones himself – can get their unmentionables all wadded up all they want over talk that the safety's knee is an issue in his play of late, but there is one simple truth: the knee is bothering and hampering Jones. Much like defensive teammate Corey Williams, Jones is not 100% healthy and he won't be until after the season. It's not an excuse; it's simply the reason behind his poor level of play in 2008. The move to take some of the load off of Jones and his knee by rotating him with Mike Adams (shudder) is actually one of the smarter moves made by this coaching staff this season. Jones will be better off for it, and, hopefully, so will the defense as a whole.

  • Romeo A. Crennel's Knute Rockne moment for the week of 11-16-2008, when asked if there was anything that could be done to help Kamerion Wimbley's production: "We might experiment with moving him around some. We've talked about it a little." This is just now occurring to you? Brilliant!!! This is… I can't begin to explain… when you think that… ahhh, screw it. It doesn't really matter anymore.

  • So, what will Brady Quinn do for an encore? Here's a hint: a lot more of the same, with a little verticality thrown in for good measure. The weather may be a factor in the vertical passing game, but the Browns will take their shots down the field more than they did ten days ago – which won't be a hard feat to accomplish as they threw a pass over twenty yards in the air the exact same amount of times I turned down a beer. None.

  • Look for the Bills to attempt to take Kellen Winslow and Jamal Lewis out of the game early, and force offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to take a shot or two deeper down the field. Even if they aren't successful in completing the long ball, they must show that the threat is there to open back up the short-to-intermediate passing game, as well as the running game. Here's a hint for Braylon Edwards: be ready. Early.

  • I'd say something about Jerome Harrison right about now, but I promised that I would cease and desist from running that situation further into the ground. However, if I hadn't promised, I'd probably have said something along the lines of "I swear, as God as my witness, if Harrison doesn't get at least ten touches in this game, I will scream like a banshee woman scorned." But since I made that promise, I'm not gonna say it. And we can all be thankful for that.

  • Hands down, the injuries to Ryan Tucker have been the single biggest blow to this team on the field this season – well, that, and DA's implosion and his head coach's inexplicable delay in yanking him. But that's a tangent not related to the matter at hand, so let's get back on point, shall we? Anyway, Tucker's presence in the lineup made both Hank Fraley and Kevin Shaffer better offensive linemen. Rex Hadnot, Tucker's replacement at right guard, simply doesn't carry that ability or aura. There has been some talk that Hadnot would be replaced in the lineup by Seth McKinney; however, that will not happen until Eric Steinbach is back on the field as McKinney has started in his place the last two games.

  • Do you think the agent for Josh Cribbs noticed the spate of articles in the last ten days praising the special teams greatness of his client? I have this image of the agent channeling Cuba Gooding Jr. after reading Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback a week ago today. And you know what? Cribbs deserves every ounce of praise that comes his way, as well as every last cent he'll get in a renegotiated contract this offseason. If I were the Browns, I wouldn't even want to consider where this team would be if he weren't around.

  • Only 103 and 159 shopping days left until the start of free agency and the 2009 NFL draft, respectively. Prepare your budgets and mark your calendars accordingly. Feels like old times, doesn't it?

LAST CALL: Browns 23, Bills 17 – Don't ask me why. Much like the head coach, I don't have a clue. It just seems like the thing to do; just trying to shake things up a bit, I guess.

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