Taylor's Tales From A Notebook

Minus the courage and heart and inner fortitude, the Browns are the Gabrielle Andersen-Scheiss of the 2008 NFL season. John Taylor has chronicled each awkward and halting step toward the finish line, and his notebook contains no reason why this whole thing shouldn't just be blown up. Again.

--How many different ways can you say this team is rotten from skin to core? How many different ways can you attach a derivative of the word "suck" to this commitment to excrement?

--There's almost nothing left to say. This abortion of a season seems to hit absolute rock bottom on a weekly basis; yet somehow, someway, this "team" summons up the courage and fortitude to find a new way to dredge itself even lower the very next week.

--If this organization is not at least partially blown-up beginning a week from now, I want a new and revised thesaurus for Christmas. I'm beginning to run out of words.

--I'm not "mad" at yet another loss, even as it's the fifth in a row for this abysmal franchise. No, I'm not irate or angry or verklempt or anything else. How could I be? The owner refuses to care enough to put the head coach out of his inevitable misery. The general manager doesn't care enough to give his lame duck head coach help at positions of need when they would in no way affect the 2009 salary cap. The head coach cares enough but is in over his head when it's game time. Given that, why the hell should I care?

--"An exercise in futility" doesn't begin to describe these last five weeks specifically or the last four years in general. Offensively, defensively, organizationally, this franchise is in over its collective heads.

--But, wait a minute. Take a deep breath, then exhale, as we need to see this season crawl to its inevitable and excruciatingly painful death before there is an organizational review. I gotta ask, though. What exactly will you be reviewing? Reviewing what's as clear as the record hanging over your head? Reviewing failure after failure both on and off the field?

--"The sooner the house is cleaned, the sooner the stench will begin to dissipate." I believe that was Aristotle opining on the state of the Athens entry in the formative years of the NFL. And I think it's just as apropos now as it was back in the day.

--Blow it up. Just blow the whole stinking, rotten thing up. Trying to salvage anything from this mess would be like relying on an alcoholic, chain-smoking, blind-and-deaf-at-birth, diabetic leper as an organ donor.

--Brady Quinn and Shaun Smith – allegedly – getting into a weight-room altercation; Braylon Edwards possibly wearing a (gasp!) maize-and-blue mouth guard out of spite; embarrassment as far as the eye can see at every turn for the next week or two; empty seats disguised as ticket buyers in the season finale. Randy Lerner, this is what's left of your 2008 Cleveland Browns. Be proud. Be very, very proud.

--Nobody is blameless, either; there's nary a chef who didn't have a hand in turning chicken salad into a steaming chicken shit sandwich. There's something inherently wrong with the current kitchen and its staff, and a major renovation is needed. New personnel, new equipment, new management, the whole nine yards – that number, oddly enough, is also the effective range of the current starting quarterback.

--Honestly, what's the point anymore? Right here, right now, what the hell is the point of the three hours on Sunday? When Quinn and Derek Anderson went down with injuries in back-to-back games, the remainder of the season became a meaningless exercise exacerbated by a lame-duck head coach who should have been canned weeks ago.

--"Pull Ken Dorsey, put in Bruce Gradkowski" the fans scream. "We need to see more of Josh Cribbs under center" others wail to no one in particular. But, again, what's the point? It's like scooting a Titanic deck chair two inches to the left or right.

--The Browns just got rolled – at home no less – by the 2-11-1 Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns just got bent over by a quarterback named Ryan Fitzpatrick, who matriculated at Harvard. The Browns just got Bubba'd by a team that was winless on the road. If the 2008 season could be condensed into a greeting card, this game would be the Browns' Hallmark moment.

--I don't care who is under center; it is inexcusable for an NFL team to go nearly 315 minutes – five-plus games – without an offensive touchdown. At what point does the blind squirrel/nut theory kick in? At what point does the offense morph into Lyle Lovett and stumble into Julia Roberts' bed? The magnitude of this offensive ineptness is staggering.

--And historic. What we are witnessing is the most prolonged offensive touchdown drought in the history of the National Football League, based on the latest word. Take THAT, Detroit Lions. One team has thrown up an 0-fer for a season before you; no team has thrown up an offensive 0-fer over five games.

--If the empty seats didn't send a message to – and chills down the back of – every single member of the organization, then nothing will. In particular, that was directed at you, Randy Lerner. Did you notice the wide-angle shot of the stadium with 1:40 left in the latest abomination, Randy? That nearly brought a tear to my eye, as it is sad what has become of this franchise under your stewardship.

--Records be damned; this is the worst team in the NFL right now. There is not a single team in this league the Browns could beat right now. And this is a league with the aforementioned – and 0-15 – Lions in it. Thank you, Randy Lerner, Phil Savage, Romeo A. Crennel, etc.

--Just for the record, this isn't the worst team in the history of the Cleveland Browns. However, it is the most underachieving, worst-coached, dysfunctional Cleveland team in the last 63 years. So the latest regime has that going for them, which is good.

--Wasn't it ironically appropriate that the tremendous defensive play by Eric Wright came on the back-end of a 46-yard run by Cedric Benson?

--Speaking of Benson, he rushed for 171 yards. I did not make that statistic up.

--Second-year player Leon Hall trailed only Jason Wright (6) and Braylon Edwards (4) in receptions with three. Unfortunately for the Browns, Hall plays cornerback and is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.

--The Bengals threw the ball nine times the entire game, and only once – ONCE – in the second half. Again, I did not make that statistic up.

--Cheerleaders in miniscule Santa outfits? Brilliant!!! I love this game…

--The Browns are now 2-6 versus the Bengals, and 0-7 versus the Steelers, since Romeo A. Crennel and Phil Savage took over in 2005. I wish I were making that statistic up.

--One thing I noticed about the coverage leading up to this afternoon's game: at no point in time did I see any variation of the phrase "…they're coming off a short week…" when it came to the Browns. And that is amazing to me. Seems like everybody surrounding this team has mailed it in when clichés such as that are so easily tossed to the side.

--As a fan of football, and as a human being, I was absolutely appalled by the scene that took place in Dallas last night. At the end of the final game in the history of storied Texas Stadium, with their team standing at 9-5 entering the night, those fickle fans had the audacity to boo – yes, you read that right – the home team. How dare they!!! That's just wrong. Everybody knows that the fans in Cleveland have the copyright on "bullshit", "abhorrent" fandom.

--You thought the 41-0 Christmas Eve massacre was bad? Wait ‘til you get a load of the post-Christmas slaughter the Appalachians lay on this team. Season's greetings, y'all. Good tidings all ‘round.


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