Taylor's Pregame 12-Pack

The Cleveland Browns have finally done it: They've driven John Taylor to drink. Not that they needed much help. JT ponders the epic collision of suck in Detroit, and speaks to a player we'll just call "Player X"...

Thoughts, notes, questions, suggestions and random snottiness as the Cleveland Browns prepare to get their asses handed to them by prepare to face the Detroit Lions.

  • Here it is, less than 24 hours before a Browns game as I type this, and I couldn't be any more excited about those three hours than if I were about to spend the same amount of time getting probed by my proctologist.  Yes, not only has this team sucked throughout the entirety of the 2009 season, they have sucked the fun right out of football.  Randy Lerner, you know you have a problem when a lifelong fan – and one who gets paid to cover the team – was overjoyed the last two Sunday afternoons that he got to watch the RedZone channel instead of being forced to watch Cleveland Browns football.  Mr. Lerner, there's your sign.

  • How many times in the last 11 years, at this point in the season, has more attention been paid to what might happen off the field the next offseason than what's happening on the field in the still-in-progress regular season?  Six times?  Seven?  What an indictment of this organization, from the very top to the very bottom.  If Lerner does not get this executive hire right, I have no idea where this team will go from there.  It is, hands down, the most important decision this organization will have made in the 11 years since the city was awarded (saddled with?) an expansion team.  And, actually, that's an understatement.  An entire generation of fans – teetering perilously close to becoming full-time Yinzers – hangs in the balance.  This thing needs turned around post haste, or it will see itself lose a large slice of the potential fan base.  More so than has already happened. 

  • Through nine games in 1999, the Browns had scored 80 points.  The 2000 team, 98 points.  The 2009 team?  78 points.  Sometimes, there are things… I mean, you just… when you look at… ahhh, screw it.  I'm gonna go and pound a coupla beers.  Be right back...

  • OK, I'm back.  Now, earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak to a member of this team who has been in the league for quite a few years.  One of the things we discussed was the offense.  Here's a brief snippet of our conversation:

    Me: So, what exactly is wrong with the offense?
    Player X: They're scared.

    Me: Scared?

    Player X: Yeah, scared.  They're playing scared.  It's drilled into them constantly "don't make a mistake, don't make a mistake, don't make a mistake".  So they're not out there playing football and trying to win; they're just out there trying not to make mistakes.  And you can't play football that way, ya know?  At least not good football.

    Me: So, they're paralyzed by fear?

    Player X: Yeah, that's it.  That's a good way to put it.  They're so fearful they get paralyzed out there and just don't make the plays we know they can.  It's almost like they freeze for a split-second because there's this voice in the back of their head screaming "don't make a mistake!"  In my [number taken out to protect player's identity] years in this league, I've never seen [a coaching staff] put their foots on player's throats and just not let off.  Take that foot off every once in awhile, let ‘em breathe, let ‘em make plays.  Let ‘em breathe, man.  It can't get any worse. 

    Me: Are you talking specifically about the quarterbacks?
    Player X: That's a big part of it, but we have so many [young skill players] that they're not trying to get better so much as they're just trying not to [very bad word] [feces] up.  You just can't play that way.  You have to have some confidence when you're out there, and they can't get any confidence because the staff don't trust them, don't believe in them, and they show it how they coach everybody.  Maybe they're not Pro Bowlers [on offense], but they're a helluva lot better than what everybody is seeing.

  • In the last 25 games, the Detroit Lions sport a nearly-spotless 1-24 record.  The Browns are the underdogs today.  Let me repeat that just so it really sinks in: the Browns are underdogs against a team that has lost 24 of their last 25 games.  Sometimes, there are things… I mean, you just… when you look at… ahhh, screw it.  I'm gonna go and pound a coupla beers.  Be right back...

  • OK, I'm back.  On the bright side for today's game, the Lions are giving up just over 29 points per game.  Browns' offense vs. Lions' defense.  Resistable Force vs. Moveable Object.  Yep, sound like naptime to me.  Is anybody in the greater-Detroit area actually upset over the fact that this game is being blacked out?  Didn't think so.

  • Another season, another installment of the long-running "Curious Case of the Disappearing Ghost" miniseries.  Seriously, what the hell is wrong with Jerome Harrison?  What exactly did he do?  When the Browns practice their punt coverage, does Harrison pull out a litter of puppies and start booting them downfield to Josh Cribbs?  Two regimes, and each one has deemed Harrison not worthy enough of serious, consistent playing time.  Chris Jennings is taking time from him now.  Seriously, WTF?  Every single person I've ever spoken to about Harrison raves about his ability, his attitude, his work ethic, but when it comes time for those sixty minutes on Sundays he invariably disappears.  At the bare minimum, I want a Senate subcommittee to hold hearings on this issue.  Screw health care, this is something that needs delved into sooner rather than later.

  • At this point in time, we interrupt our regularly scheduled column to bring you the following public service announcement:

    Thank you.  That is all.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress…

  • The Jets are 1-4 since trading for Braylon Edwards ahead of the trading deadline.  The Browns are 1-4 since trading Braylon Edwards ahead of the trading deadline.  I don't know what exactly that means, but I think my head attempted to explode/implode a coupla times as I was attempting to figure it out.  I think there's some type of space-time continuum thing going on here, and it's really starting to creep-freak me out.  Continually. 

  • I was thinking the other day how cool it might be to root for a team whose front office is run by a man who bears a close, physical resemblance to Craig Stadler.  I don't know whether that's good or bad, or whether I should be concerned about pondering that angle, but I know I was thinking it. 

  • Ohhh, we don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan
    The whole state of Michigan, the whole state of Michigan
    We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from O-hi-o
    We're from Ohio...O-H!
    We're from Ohio...I-O!
    Ohhh, we don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan
    The whole state of Michigan, the whole state of Michigan
    We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from O-hi-o
    (rousing round of applause…)

    2,190 days later, and Ann Arbor is still Columbus' whore… 

  • I don't even want to begin to fathom what it will be like if they lose today, to this team.  And if they get embarrassed?  All bets are off when it comes to Eric Mangini's long- and short-term future in Cleveland.  I don't think Lerner wants to pull the trigger in-season, but I think yet another debacle may leave him with no choice but to kick the chair out from underneath Mangini and let the noose do its work.

Last Call: Lions 6, Browns –11.  The Browns have been historically bad on offense, so why can't they become the first team in the history of the NFL to have a final score on the wrong side of zero?  I understand it's not possible, but if there were to ever be an offense to achieve the impossible, it'd be this team.

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