Taylor's Pregame Twelve-Pack

It's the hours before gametime - and you know that means! Yes, it's time to pop the top on another cool, refreshing twelve pack of intoxicating insight from the one, the only, Mr. Snoop Snotty Snot himself...

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns open both the 2009 season and the Eric Mangini Era with the Minnesota Petersons at home.

  • Finally.  After nine long months, real football is back, taking the place of all the ridiculousness that's transpired since that embarrassing season-ending loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  No more do we see the general manager trying to throw his head coach under the bus -- repeatedly.  No more RAC faces or emotionless crossed arms littering the sidelines.  No more free agency or draft or what-kind-of-asinine-three-way-trade-can-I-come-up-with talk.  No more incessant and misplaced whining about a moved mural or rookie bus trip.  No more quarterback controversy.

  • Nope, all that other BS is behind us and real football is right at our fingertips. While expectations are somewhat tepid and reserved at this point in time, mine aren't.  I expect good things from this team this year.  Not contending for an AFC North crown or even a wildcard berth, mind you, but I expect the building blocks to be firmly in place by the time the clock hit's "0" on the 2009 season.

  • You want specifics?  7-9, with a win over either Pittsburgh or Baltimore at home.  I see a team that will be in nearly every game, with a blowout or two thrown in for some balance since, you know, this is still a four-win team until proven otherwise.

  • Of course, a good portion of the success of the 2009 Cleveland Browns will rest squarely on the shoulders of the starting quarterback.  Until we actually see him step under center a little after one this afternoon we won't know for certain, but for the sake of argument we'll assume that it's going to be Brady Quinn.  This is a huge season for Quinn specifically and the Browns in general.  Quinn needs to lock down the position, or else he could see his football trade being plied in another NFL city come 2010.  The Browns need someone, anyone, to lock down the position for years to come.  While you can rightly talk about failed drafts of years past for the misery of the last ten years, the fact that this team has started 37 different quarterbacks since the return is huge part of the problem with the organization.  Quinn's development is crucial and will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the season in all the NFL.  Provided he's the starter, of course.

  • Forget about Brett Favre and the umpteen million stories that have been and will be written about the future Hall of Famer leading up to this game.  As Adrian Peterson goes, so goes the Vikings.  Contain him, and you have a chance.  He's going to get his, but the Browns just have to some how, some way, stop him from getting his play after play after play.  Based on the past ten years, that's an impossible task -- hell, why not just ask them to turn Lake Erie into a giant winery while we're at it? -- but it's what needs to be done.

  • I have a good feeling about the front seven this year, though.  I like the way the rotation will seemingly set up along the defensive line, and the fact that Andra Davis is no longer patrolling the area 7-9 yards beyond the line of scrimmage warms the cockles of my heart -- either that, or the Taco Bell from last night is kicking in.  Hard to tell.

  • The worst development in the week leading up to the opener?  The fact that the Williams Brothers From a Different Mother weren't suspended for the first four games of the season.  Now that would've been the boost to the running game the Browns needed.

  • I really hope James Davis' one-man impersonation of Talladega is not a sign of things to come.  Given how The Return has played out, though, one can't help but wonder if that's God channeling his inner Engvall and saying "here's your sign, Browns fans."

  • One fearless prediction: barring Davis playing crash test dummy yet again, he will be the starting running back by midseason at the latest.  You will gradually see Jamal Lewis' carries drop -- and his production go up, by the way -- and Davis will become the focal point of the running game.  Or not. 

  • It still astounds me that the Browns have not scored an offensive touchdown in six straight regular season games.  You could try to accomplish that feat and still not do it.  I mean, really, six straight games???  That's one of the most mind-numbing statistics you will ever come across in any sport.

  • The first thing my three-year-old daughter said to me when she got up this morning?  "Daddy, can I wear my Browns jersey today?"  The second thing?  "How much longer until the Browns play?"  Oh yeah, life is good.

  • All in all, color me cautiously optimistic at this point in time that Eric Mangini has already started the process of turning this listless ship around and heading it in the right direction.  I don't know if his is the right course, but I do know he actually has a plan and he will, by any means necessary, stick to the course he's charted.  Unlike the rudderless suck of the last ten years.  One way or the other, it's going to be an utterly fascinating 2009 season, and I for one can't wait to see how it plays out.


LAST CALL:
Browns 27, Vikings 24.  Oh yeah, I went there.  And I really don't know why.  They're due in an opener?  I'm drunk already?  They might actually have a better shot than anyone's giving them credit for?  Can I possibly put one more question in a single paragraph?  Maybe?

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