Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I post jokes about Cleveland sports. Not much more, not much less. I cover sports in my own weird way. I caption pictures in the same fashion as you would in a meme generator website. Some are funny, some are not. You guys usually will tell me which is which.
I don't take myself super seriously. While I consider myself a minor member of the sports media, I don't need a press pass to do what do. I'm not trying to change the world. I think I can entertain you without dealing out endless false information to try to get a major scoop, or regurgitating old stats. I cover sports. Covering sports really can be as simple as who scores more points.
There have been some moments that it hasn't been that simple. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson were necessary diversions. I think many of us can agree we really don't need to pay to see scumbags like that have the perks of being a professional athlete. And the media did their part to ensure the league held individuals like that accountable.
But I'm not really going to sing the praises of the media here. It was simply a rare positive byproduct of sports coverage (particularly the NFL) moving so far outside the lines, that it finally ventured behind closed doors. Don 't forget that before Ray Rice the narratives for the NFL were simply Johnny Manziel's personal life, and Michael Sam's sex life. No football playing, but a tabloid inspired trash fest of garbage news.
I quit ESPN when Tim Tebow came into the NFL for this very reason. The only reason that I know that ESPN was obsessed about these issues is because nobody else seemed to have quit them. Every time I read my feed on Twitter somebody is complaining about what ESPN is covering, but they don't quit watching. So if nobody else quits watching I guess I can't expect this ever to change.
For this very reason I depend on our local reporters for Browns news. I've carried a bit of pity for many of these folks, because how fun has it been to cover this team? I remember when I started this, every joke was so negative. At the time what did I have to celebrate? Someone asked me what I was going to do if the Browns ever were good. I said, "simple, make fun of the other team." I think yesterday was a great example of my evolution. Apparently our jaded local boys were not ready to evolve.
During victory Monday, someone had the gall to stick a microphone in Brian Hoyer's face and try to drag some contract drama out of him. They succeeded, and managed to spin his answer into a narrative to him not signing with Cleveland unless Johnny Manziel is gone. Happy birthday Brian. Way to beat the Steelers. Have fun dealing with the media driven backlash this is about to cause.
The fact is that common sense would say that this sensitive contract situation will not be handled until this offseason. It is the smart way to go. We should wait a full season and see the body of work that Hoyer can put on the field. We should observe how hard Manziel works this season to improve his status and go from there. Not ruin the most joyous day in recent memory by falling into the negative, trashy media hole the rest of the world seems to have fallen in.
So once again the media stirs the pot, I get it when the going gets tough but this time completely baffles me. This fragile fan base that still has a portion that loves the winning, but can't be satisfied with the personnel we are winning with has a new soapbox to cry from. And frankly it pisses me off.
Does the joke guy need to step his game up? Because right now some of the media is better at telling jokes than me. The issue is that those guys don't realize they are telling them. Be careful guys, because too much more of this and the jokes will start falling on you...
Monday, October 13, 2014
To be fair the Browns and Steelers rivalry has never been that good. The Browns dominated the 50's and 60's. But 1970 brought on a new day and the "Three Rivers Jinx" took hold for the Browns as they watched the Steelers move on to be a dominate dynasty in the NFL. The mid 80's finally shifted in the Browns favor, and once again they were the better team. Then the mid 90's the rivalry shifted back into the Steelers favor. From there the Browns moved to Baltimore, which for Steelers fans replaced the rivalry with Cleveland. And since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 they have failed to recover the passion in the rivalry, making losses to the Steelers a nearly bi-annual tradition for us for the past decade and a half. It has dampened a rivalry that still has passion and fire, but also is marred by the fact that Steelers fans see the Browns games as a guaranteed win.
That was until 2014. The season series started with the same old vibe. In two quarters of play the Steelers made mincemeat out of a seemingly overwhelmed Browns squad. And after going into the locker room leading the game 27-3, Steelers fans smugly gloated while Browns fans licked their wounds in an all too familiar scene. But that was the moment the "same old Browns," died.
For all the errors the Browns committed in the first half of that football game, the team came out of the locker room and punched the Steelers straight across the mouth. The team rallied to tie the game in the 4th quarter, and the Steelers only barely escaped with the win on a last second field goal. But instead of leaving with their heads held high, the Steelers were left with a win that felt more like a kiss from their sister.
While at least that was progress for the Browns, it wasn't a win but it was something. Knowing we had a rematch just a few weeks away, many of us hoped that maybe the 2nd half of that game was something more than the Browns just catching a Steelers team who had fallen asleep at the wheel.
When Pittsburgh unholy football team made it's visit to the shores of Lake Erie there was something that felt different. Excitement for Browns football as reached a level that hasn't been seen since the 80's. Gone were the sections of terrible towels and black jerseys. An army of orange and brown arrived instead to greet the Steelers into town.
And we were loud, obnoxious and ready to have a reason to scream. The Browns entered the game with incredible momentum, and it showed as they cruised to a 21-3 halftime lead. In normal situations this would usually be enough to feel very comfortable, but being a Browns fan it is a normal reaction to wonder how things are going to go wrong. But this day was different. The Browns kept the pedal to the medal, and very quickly turned Pittsburgh's hopes of their own comeback into garbage time.
The Browns 31-10 rout of the Steelers was a showcase. A four quarter display of a new look Cleveland Browns team that is crawling out of the large shadows cast upon them by the other teams in the division. A team that Cleveland can finally be proud of. So for that I will spare you the same old recycled analysis you can get anywhere, and just celebrate with the rest of you. Enjoy...
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the first four games of the 2014 Cleveland Browns season. And yes this team is insanely bipolar, unpredictable and crazy to watch. There is a theory that this team could very easily be 4-0 right now, but the same theory applies to the fact that this team could very easily be 0-4 right now. They probably should be 2-2 right now, but the thing is they haven't won both games they probably should have won, but didn't lose both games they should have lost.
Twice this team has completed the largest comeback in team history. They are 1-1 in those games. They completed a 70 yard bomb to all but seal the Ravens games, and literally didn't do one single thing right for the rest of the game to ensure a loss.
When this team is good it is great. When this team is bad it is unpalatable. At times the "same old Browns" show their ugly faces, Yet the offense isn't the problem, which is new for the Browns. The defense is a huge problem, which wasn't supposed to be the case.
Yes it is very hard to deny that Brian Hoyer has finally managed to make believers out of many people. Hoyer has a 6-1 TD to INT ratio and has a higher QBR than Brady, Brees, Flacco, and Stafford. While there is still the painfully biased Johnny Manziel faithful still calling for Hoyer's benching, the consensus finally has agreed to stay the course with Hoyer for the foreseeable future.
While Hoyer hasn't been perfect, he has done a fine job of making his receivers better, not the other way around. He isn't leaning on any one guy. Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins have been very solid, but many of the biggest plays have been left for guys like Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin.
But the real strength has been the fine core of running backs that the Browns amassed this offseason. Gone are the days of watching a back smack into a rear end of an offensive lineman for a minimal gain. This team can run, and run well.
Call them what you will the running backs have been awesome. Ben Tate ripped off a huge run in the opener and got injured. All that did was show us that we have two more awesome running backs in Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. Each guy is just different enough from one another that it has made for a tremendous opportunity to rotate and keep our running game fresh all game long.
So what is the catch? Yes it is Browns football so there has to be a catch right? The catch comes in the 31st ranked defense. Yes the vaunted "wait until you see what these guys can do" defense that came with into town with Mike Pettine has been awful.
Each game has came and gone with large chunks of games exhibiting some of the poorest tackling you can hope for. Running backs flow through our front seven like water passing through a strainer. Receivers routinely run wide open through our secondary. Our defense is a big play factory. Their 6.1 yards allowed per play is tied for the worst in the league.
So no I can't tell you what to expect for the rest of this season. I am not even going to embarrass myself with a guess. If the defense improves we have a good chance. If the offense stalls we are probably screwed. It is as simple as that, now hopefully the games will be less stressful.