Saturday, October 31, 2009

10 questions I'd ask Randy Lerner
If I got to talk to the Browns' owner, here's what I'd want to know:

1. What do you think of the team Eric Mangini has assembled?

2. What were your expectations coming into this season?

3. Has Mangini met those expectations?

4. What has been your best decision since taking over the Browns in 2002?

5. What has been your biggest mistake?

6. What did you learn from your father about owning an NFL team?

7. Did you learn anything from Art Modell?

8. How much football do you watch that isn't the Browns?

9. Do you expect to be owning this franchise in five years?

10. What have the last seven years taught you about being an owner?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Panel: Week 7
Yeah... It's really late. My high school teacher is taking five points off.

Green Bay at Cleveland 1:00 PM
Taking Green Bay: Zach, Aaron, Joel, Phil, Andy, (C), Vivek, Curtis, Nihar

San Diego at Kansas City 1:00 PM
Taking San Diego:Zach, Aaron, Joel, Phil, Andy Vivek, Curtis, Nihar
Taking Kansas City: (C)

Indianapolis at St. Louis 1:00 PM
Taking Indianapolis: Zach, Aaron, Joel, Phil, Andy, Nihar (C), Vivek, Curtis

Minnesota at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM FOX
Taking Minnesota: Aaron, Joel, (C), Vivek, Nihar
Taking Pittsburgh: Zach, Phil, Andy, Curtis

New England at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
Taking New England: Zach, Aaron, Andy, Joel, Phil, Nihar (C), Vivek, Curtis

San Francisco at Houston 1:00 PM
Taking San Francisco: Aaron, Andy, (C), Vivek
Taking Houston: Zach, Joel, Phil, Curtis, Nihar

Buffalo at Carolina 4:05 PM
Taking Buffalo: Aaron, Andy, (C)
Taking Carolina: Zach, Joel, Phil, Vivek, Curtis, Nihar

NY Jets at Oakland 4:05 PM
Taking New York: Zach, Joel, Phil, Andy, Nihar Vivek, Curtis
Taking Oakland: Aaron, (C)

Atlanta at Dallas 4:15 PM
Taking Atlanta: Aaron, Joel, Phil, Andy, Vivek, Curtis
Taking Dallas: Zach, (C), Nihar

Chicago at Cincinnati 4:15 PM
Taking Chicago: Joel, Vivek, Nihar
Taking Cincinnati: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Andy, (C), Curtis

New Orleans at Miami 4:15 PM
Taking New Orleans: Zach, Aaron, Joel, Phil, Andy, (C), Vivek, Nihar
Taking Miami: Curtis

Arizona at NY Giants 8:20 PM
Taking Arizona: Phil, Andy, (C)
Taking New York: Zach, Aaron, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Curtis

MON, 8:30 P.M.
Philadelphia at Washington
Taking Philadelphia: Zach, Aaron, Joel, Phil, Andy, (C), Vivek, Curtis, Nihar


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Steelers 27, Browns 14
No one can tell me this was a step forward. The Browns were kind of, sort of, maybe competitive, though the game itself reminded me of the last time the team went to New England. The score wasn't bad, but there was never a time when I thought the Browns could win.

Hey, it could be worse. I just watched Tom Brady throw five touchdowns in a quarter against the Titans, who are dressed like the Oilers, in an October blizzard in New England.

The Browns are 1-5. The receivers can't catch. The secondary can't cover or tackle. The pass rush was a non-factor after one quarter.

Even the officials seemed hell-bent to humiliate the Browns. It sure looked like the Browns had made a fourth down stop. The camera even showed the ball was short of the chain. But the refs gave the Steelers the first down anyway, and they tacked on a field goal.

It didn't matter. The Browns have lost to the Steelers 12 straight times. This isn't a rivalry. It's a bye week.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Panel: Week 6
Aaron Rund: Dateline Washington
Andy Barch: Dateline somewhere in West Virginia
Joel Hammond: Dateline Clevelandish
Nihar Vasavada: Dateline wherever LeBron is
Phil Prusa: Dateline Tempe, AZ
Vivek Vasavada: Dateline WCW Special Forces
Curtis A: Dateline: Akron St. Rob Ryan
Zach: Dateline Northwest Ohio Mancave

Houston at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
Taking Cincinnati: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel,Vivek, Nihar, Andy, Curtis, (C)
Comment: Kroger had to buy tickets to show this game on TV in Cincinnati. Wonder if you need a Kroger Card to see the game.

Detroit at Green Bay 1:00 PM
Taking Green Bay: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Andy, (C), Curtis
Comment:Detroit is on the road, meaning we have to get it on TV.

Baltimore at Minnesota 1:00 PM
Taking Baltimore: Zach, Andy
Taking Minnesota: Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, (C)
Comment: Ray Lewis and Brett Favre-- which one of these has-beens has had their legend prolonged more by talent around them?

NY Giants at New Orleans 1:00 PM
Taking New York: Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar
Taking New Orleans: Zach, Aaron, Andy, Curtis, (C)
Comment: Yes, we get the Lions here instead of this.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM
Taking Cleveland: Joel, Curtis, (C)
Taking Pittsburgh: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Vivek, Nihar, Andy
Comment: The Browns are not allowed to beat the Steelers under the latest Obama stimulus plan. Not that it'd make a difference.

Carolina at Tampa Bay 1:00 PM
Taking Carolina: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Andy, (C),Curtis
Comment: "Good news Kellen, we traded you. Bad news, we actually found a team worse than us to take you. Think about that the next time you go on a tirade."

Kansas City at Washington 1:00 PM
Taking Kansas City: Aaron, Nihar
Taking Washington: Zach, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Andy, Curtis (C)
Comment: Bet this win won't stop hatred towards Jim Zorn. Tim Tebow just texted me and said he hates him.

St. Louis at Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Taking St. Louis: Andy, (C) Curtis
Taking Jacksonville: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar
Comment: Lost in the Rush Limbaugh discussion-- his ownership of the Rams could never be as embarrassing as the team's play.

Arizona at Seattle 4:05 PM
Taking Arizona: Aaron, Vivek, Nihar, Andy
Taking Seattle: Zach, Phil, Joel, (C), Curtis
Comment:Will these teams just decide if they'll be good already?

Philadelphia at Oakland 4:05 PM
Taking Philadelphia: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Andy, Curtis, (C)
Comment: Really, I'm surprised Tom Cable hasn't punched out more assistants. And players.

Tennessee at New England 4:15 PM
Taking New England: Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Andy, Curtis (C)
Comment: Jevon Kearse would rather spend time with his family than watch his team lose 31-9. Jerk.

Buffalo at NY Jets 4:15 PM
Taking New York:Zach, Aaron, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Andy, Curtis (C)
Comment: Braylon Edwards catches 13 passes and Jon Gruden spends 3 hours praising him to an audience of a television and a couch. The couch desperately tries to turn off the TV, before realizing that it won't shut Gruden up, because he isn't on TV. But the couch realizes long before Gruden does.

Chicago at Atlanta 8:20 PM
Taking Chicago: Aaron, Curtis (C)
Taking Atlanta: Zach, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Andy
Comment: I bet 2 1/2 minutes until the first Michael Vick reference.

Denver at San Diego
Taking Denver: Aaron, Phil, Nihar, Curtis, (C)
Taking San Diego: Zach, Joel, Vivek, Andy
Comment: Josh McDaniels' celebration last week reminded me of watching that Saved By The Bell episode where the cast raps to Snow White.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Interview with NFL expert Andy Barch
1. What's been the biggest surprise so far?

It’s a toss up between the Titans starting 0-5 and the Bengals starting 4-1. I figured there would be a drop off for the Titans without Albert Haynesworth in the middle to stop the run, but I never thought they’d go 0-5. They look inept offensively and the play calling has been so vanilla offensively that they’ve become all too predictable.

As for the Bengals, not only are they 4-1 and all by themselves in first place, but they’ve beaten some very good teams along the way, and they’re just a fluke play away from being 5-0. They’ve defeated the Packers in Lambeau, and the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. They also cured their home curse against the Steelers. One cant help but be impressed with their incredible start, and their 3-0 record in their division. After watching the HBO Special “Hard Knocks” on this team, I never saw this coming. That special revealed a lot of interesting things to me, which at the time re-assured my thoughts on the way that team runs their business. After watching a few episodes, I thought sure that team would be 1-4 or 0-5 at this point.

2. The Braylon Edwards trade: Your thoughts?

He had to go. It just wasn’t going to work in Cleveland. As a third overall pick, especially at that position, there is a lot to live up to. He has dropped way too many passes, he’s scored just a few touchdowns since that incredible 2007 season, and he quickly became a cancer in a locker room full of tumors. The fact that they were able to get a special teams player, a half decent receiver and a pair of draft picks for him is pretty impressive. They were probably going to lose him via free agency next year anyways. That team is in need of some bodies, and some hungry players looking for opportunities to thrive.

3. Do you expect Eric Mangini to last in Cleveland?

In the short term, yes. I don’t know what people expect from Mangini. He inherited a group that was completely awful a year ago, and found lightning in a bottle in 2007. He’s trying to change the culture of that team, and so far, it just hasn’t worked. He’s not going to make this thing work overnight, though I know Cleveland fans are expecting that to happen because they’ve been waiting so long for it, and are growing impatient, which is understandable. I think folks don’t buy the excuse that he cant make it happen overnight because they’ve seen other teams go from worst to first a few times over the last five years. However, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen to Cleveland, because it’s a snake bitten city when it comes to sports.

4. Is Jim Zorn really as incompetent as everyone says?

I don’t think so. As you said on your blog a while ago, they are 2-3, and there are a lot of teams that look a lot worse. I think people lost their minds when the ‘Skins lost to Detroit. Look, Detroit was bound to win at some point, and it just happened to be against the Redskins. There are 13 teams who have a similar record or worse than the Redskins at this point. What I’d also like to know, is what has changed so drastically over the past year? Where there that many people lobbying for his departure last season? If so, I don’t remember that. I think people expect more out of this offense, and they just aren’t getting it. They don’t have a lot of explosive playmakers and Clinton Portis is nearing the end of an incredible run.

5. What coaches are in trouble?

Dick Jauron is the first name that comes to mind. They’re extremely conservative on offense, the offensive coordinator he fired after training camp claimed that Jauron wanted him to reduce the number of formations and plays in his playbook, and ultimately the failure to do so is what got him fired by Jauron. Jauron doesn’t have any more scapegoats, and this team has done NOTHING under him since he got the job.
Tom Cable is on the hot seat, not because of the way the Raiders have played (which has been surprisingly competitive and somewhat respectable), but because of these allegations that he injured an assistant coach and threatened to f’ng kill him.
John Fox, for all the obvious reasons. They did a lot things in the off-season to try and keep themselves at the top of the NFC South, but they are treading water at this point and are dangerously close to falling out of the playoff race. He’s been on the hot seat down there for a few years it seems, and I think its about time to turn the page on Jake Delhomme. That’s the kind of decision he’ll have to make here relatively soon if he’s going to keep these guys competitive. A bold move that gets this team back in contention.
Wade Philips-The pressure is there every year in Dallas, and they still haven’t won a playoff game in well over a decade. The way they are playing right now, they might miss the post season for the second year in a row. Jerry Jones doesn’t just want to brag about his new stadium, he wants to brag about the team that calls it home. This team is way too talented to be a .500 team, and that’s what they’ve been for far too long now. If they don’t make some significant strides soon, Phillips is gone.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Panel Standings (Through 4 weeks)
Phil 11-3 (45-17)
Zach 11-3 (45-17)
Curtis 11-3 (35-27)
Vivek 11-3 (41-21)
Joel 10-4 (44-28)
Aaron 9-5 (45-17)
Andy 9-5 (39-25)
Nihar 8-6 (45-17)
Coin 6-8 (30-32)


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Panel
The coin is a 1988 nickel. Ah, the Reagan years.

Cleveland at Buffalo
Taking Buffalo: Zach, Vivek, Curtis, Joel, (C)
Taking Cleveland: Nihar, Andy, Aaron

Dallas at Kansas City
Taking Dallas: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron, Joel, (C)

Minnesota at St. Louis
Taking Minnesota: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron, Joel (C)

Oakland at NY Giants
Taking New York: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron, Joel (C)

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia
Taking Philadelphia: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron, Joel, (C)

Pittsburgh at Detroit
Taking Pittsburgh: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron
Taking Detroit: Joel, (C)

Washington at Carolina
Taking Washington: Aaron, Joel, (C)
Taking Carolina: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy,

Cincinnati at Baltimore
Taking Cincinnati: Aaron
Taking Baltimore: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Joel, (C)

Atlanta at San Francisco
Taking Atlanta: Nihar, Andy
Taking San Francisco: Zach, Vivek, Curtis, Aaron, Joel, (C)

Jacksonville at Seattle
Taking Jacksonville: Zach, Vivek, Curtis, Joel (C)
Taking Seattle: Nihar, Andy, Aaron

Houston at Arizona
Taking Houston: Joel, (C)
Taking Arizona: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron

New England at Denver
Taking New England: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Joel, (C)
Taking Denver: Aaron

Indianapolis at Tennessee
Taking Indianapolis: Nihar, Vivek, Curtis, Andy, Aaron
Taking Tennessee: Zach, Joel, (C)

NY Jets at Miami 8:30 PM
Taking the Jets: Zach, Nihar, Vivek, Curtis
Taking the Dolphins: Andy, Aaron, Joel (C)


Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize
Look at who has won it. Yes, there are great people on there, like Martin Luther King. But in recent years, Al Gore has won it, as has Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan.

Henry Kissinger even has a "peace" prize.

The point is, this award means less in practice than in theory. President Obama winning it doesn't bother me at all.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

UFL opener, Las Vegas v. California --TIVO Blog
California coach Dennis Green gives a speech in the first scene of the UFL. His players are ... not really listening. One guy is listening to headphones, another is drinking Gatorade and waundering around.

In the second quarter, after Cory Ross scores a TD to put California up 14-3, Green tells his players to keep "pounding the sh**" out of them. See, this is why players and coaches can't be mic'd. Though I'm not sure Green was... still heard it, though.

UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue joins Dave Sims and Doug Flutie in the booth, and says there are 1,500 people in the stands. I'd wager 1,500, but whatever. Huyghue also says he wants to expand next year. Hey, Cleveland doesn't have a pro team, expand there and play at The Prog. I'm only 10 percent joking. I wish the league well, because I have learned I can NEVER have enough football.

-Even in this league, J.P Losman looks overmatched.

-Ex-Brown alert: California punter Derrick Frost, a Butch Davis find who I think went to Washington after that.

-Versus has done a good job making its coverage professional. Much better production and fewer rough spots than in the XFL debut in 2001.

-Even though it's a new league on a network I never watch, I STILL can't avoid the Progressive commercials with Flo, who reminds me of a broken answering machine -- never informative, always annoying. She is only slightly less problematic than Chad and the Alltel cellphone guys.

-Dede Dorsey catches a TD pass in the closing seconds of the first half for Las Vegas. Wasn't he in a supporting role on Hard Knocks?

We actually go inside the locker room, with the Redwoods offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek actually actually giving away his plan in the second half, which boils down to... throw the ball.

Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel (who'd be coaching the Browns if I were in charge) does the same, telling his guys that the defense hasn't really stopped them.

A lot of this stuff is hardcore football talk, stuff most (including me) will have trouble getting, when they discuss specific plays with code names. But the UFL does appear to be football for football fans, which I'm a huge proponent of.

- Adam Bergen catches a TD pass from Losman to give Las Vegas a 17-14 edge. Losman looked really good on that drive.

-Denzel Washington's son, John David, is in the game for California. He's a running back who played for St. Louis in the NFL. The cynic in me says he's only there so Kordell Stewart can interview Denzel. Hey, big get. As the interview ends, John David goes off the field.

- An old usher asks to see Denzel's ticket. Tickets are $20. I think he can afford it.

-With less than a minute left in the third quarter, it's 20-17, Las Vegas.

- Las Vegas moves to midfield, then there's three consecutive procedure penalties. I don't even think Derek Anderson's offenses have ever done that.

-In the end, Las Vegas wins, 30-17.

Here are some observations:

-It wasn't nearly as sloppy as I expected, and I think that might be because of the quality of the players involved. Many of these guys are former NFLers who are in season shape -- some just got cut a month ago. That's an advantage of running in the fall.

-Sims and Flutie were decent.

- Not a fan of the uniforms, since they all have similar schemes to them. What was worse was that California wore white and the Locos gray, which made it hard to differentiate at times.

- I still wonder if four teams will be enough to hook a fan, since they will essentially see the same teams every week. For people in unused markets, this could be an issue.

-Overall, I enjoyed it. Not sure if it's a good idea to start planning expansion before the league knows if it can sustain itself. The XFL honchos talked expansion too after first week.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Bengals 23, Browns 20
How a few days can change things.

For a few hours, it appeared Browns fans would finally be able to talk about football. The conversation wouldn't be about Eric Mangini fining players, or whether he was the worst NFL hire of the last 25 years.

The Browns could lick the wounds of a competitive loss to the Bengals and focus on Buffalo.

Then Braylon Edwards allegedly punched someone.

Then the NFL and the police said they'd look into it.

Than Braylon was traded to the Jets.

Isn't being a Browns fan fun?

More Mangini talking, more moves, more adjustments. What does it mean?

It means Sunday's game against the Bills will be about more or less than football again. That's been the norm here.

The loss to the Jets had bright spots. Jerome Harrison rushed for more than 100 yards. Mohammed Massaquoi went way over 100 yards receiving. Shaun Rogers blocked two kicks, and the defense was strong.

But here we are three days later, talking about the trade of the No. 1 receiver. Chansi Stuckey, who the Browns received in the deal, doesn't have Edwards' talent, though he'll be less of a headache.

The Browns also received Jason Trusnik, who I got to cover when he was at Ohio Northern in 2004. At that time, Trusnik was a beast who overmatched everyone. In the NFL, he's a gritty special teams' player.

Two years ago, the Browns offense was high-octane and fun to watch. But Kellen Winslow was traded, Edwards was traded, Joe Jurevicius got hurt and was released, and Jamal Lewis is hurt.

What was so promising has become a memory.

The trade probably was a good move. The Browns got value for a guy who wasn't going to re-sign, and picked up two decent players and draft picks.

But we're starting over again.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Panel: Week 4
The coin is a 1996 dime... well, it was until I flipped it too far and lost it. It's now a 1998

Detroit at Chicago
Taking Chicago: Zach, Andy, Curtis, Joel, (C), Nihar, Vivek, Aaron

Cincinnati at Cleveland
Taking Cincinnati: Zach, Andy, Phil, Joel, Vivek, Nihar, Aaron
Taking Cleveland: Curtis, (C)

Seattle at Indianapolis
Taking Seattle: (C)
Taking Indianapolis: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Vivek, Aaron

NY Giants at Kansas City
Taking New York: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Joel, Nihar, Vivek, Aaron
Taking Kansas City: (C)

Baltimore at New England
Taking Baltimore: Zach, Andy, Phil, Joel, Nihar, Vivek, Aaron
Taking New England: Curtis, (C)

Tampa Bay at Washington
Taking Tampa Bay: Joel, (C)
Taking Washington: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Nihar, Vivek, Aaron

Tennessee at Jacksonville
Taking Tennessee: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Joel, (C), Nihar, Vivek, Aaron

Oakland at Houston
Taking Houston: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Joel, (C), Nihar, Vivek, Aaron

NY Jets at New Orleans
Taking the Jets: Vivek
Taking New Orleans: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Joel,(C), Nihar, Aaron

Buffalo at Miami
Taking Buffalo: Phil, Curtis, Joel, (C), Nihar, Aaron
Taking Miami: Zach, Andy, Vivek

St. Louis at San Francisco
Taking St. Louis: Andy
Taking San Francisco: Zach, Phil, Curtis, Joel, (C), Nihar, Vivek, Aaron

Dallas at Denver
Taking Dallas: Andy, Joel, Nihar, Vivek, Aaron
Taking Denver: Zach, Phil, Curtis, (C)

San Diego at Pittsburgh
Taking San Diego: (C),Nihar
Taking Pittsburgh: Zach, Andy, Phil, Curtis, Joel,Vivek, Aaron

Green Bay at Minnesota
Taking Green Bay: Zach, Andy, (C), Nihar, Aaron
Taking Minnesota: Joel, Phil, Curtis,Vivek