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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “hoople heads”

James Haslam steps down as CEO of Pilot Flying J

James Haslam III – incoming owner of the Cleveland Browns – stepped down from his position Tuesday as CEO of Pilot Flying J, the company his father built into a nationwide series of truck stops.

Haslam, who has been CEO of the company since 1994, will now take on the role of chairman, with PepsiCo President John Compton taking over as Pilot’s CEO, according to knoxvillebiz.com.

And in newsrooms and on bar stools all across Cleveland, people started reading the tea leaves because this has to mean SOMETHING.

Perhaps Haslam is out shopping for bubble wrap and duct tape to help team president Mike Holmgren pack up, as people have been insisting for weeks now that Holmgren is packing up his office, even as we speak.

Or he could be shadowing coach Pat Shurmur, attending every meeting and press conference with Shurmur. Reports after Sunday’s game had Haslam sitting in the back of the room during Shurmur’s press conference, perfecting the knot on a noose (we may have made that last part up).

Or maybe he’s doing what we’ve been told he would do all along – listen, observe and learn about the Browns operation in particular and the NFL in general. The last thing he needs to do is start making changes just to mollify the hoople heads. We’ve had enough of that over the years from this team.

As fans, shouldn’t that be what we want?

(Photo courtesy of The Plain Dealer)

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Mr. Holmgren? HBO is on line one for you

Turns out, HBO is having a problem finding a team for this season’s version of the popular series, Hard Knocks.

According to The New York Post, the cable channel expects to have a team in place by June 1. The Jets, Broncos, Falcons, Texans, 49ers and Redskins have all reportedly turned down a chance to appear on the show.

Well, how about the Cleveland Browns?

Read more…

Browns a hot mess in Oakland

The Autumn wind is a Raider
Pillaging just for fun

He’ll knock you ’round and upside down

And laugh when he’s conquered and won.

The Browns learned on Sunday that the Autumn wind truly is a Raider, falling to Oakland 24-17 in a game that featured one ugly performance from the offense.

Let’s start with the good stuff.

Phil Dawson kicked a 47-yard field goal and executed a perfect onside kick. Punter Brad Maynard had a nice day.

See where this is going?

Actually, the defense had another solid effort. After giving up a touchdown on the Raiders’ opening drive (and forcing Oakland to use two timeouts in the process), the defense held the Raiders to just three points the rest of the way.

The Browns held Darren McFadden – the NFL’s leading rusher – under 100 combined yards and did their best to keep the team in the game.

After ranking 22nd and 31st the past two years, the Browns currently sit 7th in the league in defense, so they have that going for them.

Unfortunately, the offense continues to be a considerable work in progress.

After another slow start, the Browns looked like they were ready to play, finishing a seven-play, 56-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Alex Smith, making the score 7-7.

But the special teams squad gave the momentum right back to the Raiders as Jacoby Ford took the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown. Another special teams breakdown – this time in the third quarter when Oakland scored on a 35-yard fake field goal – put the Browns into a 24-7 hole that the offense was not able to dig out of.

The Browns were supposed to use the bye week to figure out what works and clean the playbook of what doesn’t. Instead the offense staggered through the game, never getting anything going until it was too late.

This team has no identity on offense, no consistency in the play calling – it seems at times as if the coaches are using a roulette wheel to call plays in the hopes that something works – and is struggling considerably to pick up the West Coast offense.

For the second game in a row McCoy threw to many passes – 45. On one level that is understandable as the Browns were trailing 24-7. But we can’t shake the feeling that the current offensive strategy is to abandon the run at the first sign of trouble.

McCoy also struggled when the Raiders blitzed, which they did on 22 of his pass attempts. On those plays, McCoy only completed 35 percent of his passes for 56 yards (according to ESPN Stats & Information). McCoy entered Sunday averaging 3.1 yards per attempt when the defense blitzes a defensive back, the fourth-lowest average in the NFL this season.

“There were a couple times where we had pressures that should have been picked up that weren’t,” coach Pat Shurmur said on Monday. “It may have appeared Colt didn’t see it coming. He saw it coming and thought it was picked up.”

All that does is ensure that McCoy will continue to see a steady diet of blitzers in the coming weeks.

The Browns couldn’t run the ball as Peyton Hillis gained only 14 yards before hurting his hamstring (what Madden Curse?) and Montario Hardesty only added 35 yards and two more dropped passes.

Things have gotten so bad that Josh Cribbs is volunteering to play more on special teams.

“I’m very insignificant on offense, so I need to be out there heavily on all special teams,” Cribbs said after the game. “I got the ball only twice, so that’s insignificant right there. Snaps, it’s insignificant. I want to help my team win. You get the ball to your athletes. I feel like where I’m an asset on this team is special teams and I want to re-focus on what got me into this league.”

So now what?

This year was never about the final won-loss record for the Browns. Rather, it’s about developing the young talent and finding out which players fit into the offensive and defensive system.

And it’s not as if the Browns were a well-oiled offensive machine under the previous regime, finishing last year 29th in overall offense and 31st in points scored.

But we expected the offense to show us something five games into the season – be competitive, be able to sustain more than one drive a game, be consistent at something.

Instead we have an offense that does nothing well, with an injured No. 1 running back, and the hoople heads calling for the coach to be sacked already.

“We fought till the end,” McCoy said in published reports. “Eventually, we thought, we’re going to catch a break. In the huddle, after we got the onside kick, we thought we had a chance. We had a minute, that’s a long time. We got it on the 50. We just didn’t capitalize.”

Yep, that about sums it up.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Browns preseason opener is first step

Preseason games in the NFL are tricky things.

The players are almost in a no-win situation with media and fans. If they do well, “it’s only preseason” against an opposing team that is playing under its own agenda.

Struggle, and it’s “man the lifeboats” time (which is only true if the team you are talking about is the Bengals).

Having said that, there were some positives to take out of the Browns win against Green Bay on Saturday in the exhibition opener:

  • Colt McCoy looked sharp, completing 9-of-10 for 135 yards and a touchdown. “I’ll be the first to tell you we’re nowhere where we need to be,” McCoy said in published reports. “It’s a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
  • Josh Cribbs caught a 10-yard pass on third down and a 27-yard touchdown pass from McCoy. “It’s a great sneak preview of the West Coast offense, especially with the way we moved the ball down the field at will,” Cribbs said. “It was so beneficial for us to work all summer long … and we’ve got the timing down pat.I don’t want to say too much, but with the talent on this football team and the winning tradition that Colt had in college, it’s starting to look like that now.”
  • Defensive tackle Phil Taylor drew the first of what should be several holding penalties.
  • Defensive end Jayme Mitchell finally had a chance to show Browns fans what Tom Heckert saw on tape last season, sacking backup quarterback Matt Flynn in the first quarter.
  • The starters on the offensive line looked really good. We all know Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach and Alex Mack are going to be solid, but Shawn Lauvao and Tony Pashos looked like they can do some damage if they stay healthy (a big if in Pashos’ case).
  • Coach Pat Shurmur finally saw game action as a head coach and he came through it in one piece. “Even though this one doesn’t really go in the record books as a regular-season victory, that feeling you get when you win is something we all long for,” Shurmur said. “Somebody that’s teaching young men, to see them respond to some of the things we’ve been talking about, I thought it was good.”

Having said all that, it’s good to remember not to get too carried away.

Green Bay didn’t dress four of their cornerbacks, including Charles Woodson, which helped make things easier for the Browns offense.

And on their second drive, the Packers went 73 yards in seven plays pretty easily, scoring on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings.

“We did some good things and we have to improve on some things,” tight end Ben Watson said. “Don’t take it any further than that. We’re still in training camp, we’re still working out the kinks and we’re still going to face some adversity. When that happens, it’ll be important to see how we respond.”

But the Browns still accomplished everything you could want from the first game. They got their first-team offense on the field under game conditions, rookies Taylor, Jabaal Sheard and Phil Taylor all got their first taste of NFL action and, most importantly, the team came out of the game without any major injuries.

It’s also evident that the players are responding to Shurmur in a way we haven’t seen with the Browns in quite a while.

“It all starts up top,” lineback D’Qwell Jackson said in published reports. “Shurmur) has created a winning environment. The coaches are relaxed and it trickles down to us players.”

“Coach Shurmur is real calm,” Ward said. “He expects you to do your job and be a professional. He lets us go out there and be men. We really appreciate that because he’s not riding us all the time. As men we have to knuckle up and know that this is our job. We’re not just here to play football. We’re here to win and play football. He let us know that right off the bat.”

“I like his aura,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “It’s really good and it rubs off on the players.”

So while this was just the first step in what is sure to be a long journey, at least the Browns made that step in the right direction.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

***

Finally, this one is for the few remaining hoople heads who think the Browns should sign Troy Smith to play quarterback simply because he used to play for Ohio State.

San Francisco got rid of Smith in the off-season, choosing to keep Alex Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick instead. Now, after one preseason game, the team is so desperate for quarterback help that they are bringing in 34-year-old Daunte Culpepper for a workout.

Culpepper hasn’t played in the NFL since 2009 and spent last season with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.

Further proof that Smith isn’t an NFL-caliber quarterback and the last player the Browns need to bring to the team.

Just Braylon being Braylon

Browns fans have obviously know for some time that Braylon Edwards is a hoople head.

New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan know it too, but after Edwards was a starter the past year and a half on a Jets team that went to consecutive AFC Championship games, New York decided to try to make it work with him.

After all, it’s hard to find a team in professional sports more player-friendly than Ryan’s Jets.

But Braylon being Braylon, he decided he could get a better deal elsewhere, because why should he take less money than Santonio Holmes to stay with the Jets?

So the Jets turned to Plaxico Burress , a 34-year-old wide receiver with the ankles of an 80-year-old who spent the past two seasons in prison. And they waved goodbye to Edwards.

Turns out, though, that the rest of the National Football League has been paying attention.

Edwards hit the open market thinking a big payday was waiting for him. Turns out he was wrong.

Edwards finally found out just how the league values him when San Francisco signed him this past week for a one-year, $1 million contract – with no guaranteed money. The deal can max out to $3.5 million if Edwards catches 90 passes and makes the Pro Bowl this season.

Of course, only three players in franchise history have ever caught 90 or more passes for the 49ers – Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Roger Craig – and they had Joe Montana and Steve Young passing them the ball, not Alex Smith.

So it’s pretty much a lock that Edwards won’t be seeing any of that extra cash.

Edwards didn’t help his cause any after allegedly being involved in a fight that broke out at a bar in Birmingham, Mich., early Monday.

The fight, at South Bar in downtown Birmingham, Mich., saw two of Edwards’ cousins charged with felonious assault after allegedly attacking two bouncers with a pocket knife and a fork.

The (Detroit) Free Press also reported that “privately, employees at South Bar said Edwards was spurring on his cousins rather than trying to get them to stop fighting.”

Sounds like just the kind of guy you’d want in your locker room, doesn’t it?

Even with the current state of the Browns wide receivers, not a day goes by where we aren’t glad that Edwards is some other team’s problem.

Turns out, their is an I in team

With their victory over the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat continue to disprove the old adage that there is no I in team.

By making the finals in the first year of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh playing together, the Heat are creating a new model for the NBA where the individual is more important than the team.

The Heat deserve some credit, we suppose. They manipulated the system to their advantage, the players colluded to play together, and now they have been rewarded with what could be the first of multiple trips to the NBA Finals.

As for the Bulls, the writing is on the wall. They learned the same lesson the Cavs learned the past two years: one superstar player and a supporting cast of role players isn’t going to get it done in today’s NBA.

And really, how are the Bulls any different than the Cavs of ’08-’09 and ’09-’10?

They both were led by a dominant player (Derrick Rose and James), with a group of role players (Carlos Boozer/Antwan Jamison, Joakim Noah/Anderson Varajeo, Keith Bogans/Mo Williams) and a head coach that preaches defense first (Tom Thibodeau/Mike Brown).

How long before Rose decides, rather than looking for help, that he can’t beat the Heat and leaves Chicago? Does anyone really think that in a couple of years, when Kobe Bryant is done in LA and Dwight Howard and the Lakers come calling, that Rose won’t head out west?

The Heat haven’t won the title yet; the Mavericks still have a say in this.

But we’ve seen the future and it doesn’t look pretty, at least in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

***

Former Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse, who suffered the most inexcusable injury in baseball history, feels sorry for San Francisco catcher Buster Posey but doesn’t join the hoopleheads in calling for a rule change to protect catchers.

“The game has been around more than 100 years, and now they’re going to start protecting catchers?” Fosse told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I can’t see anything that can be changed. In high school, you can’t run over a catcher. But that’s high school. This is professional baseball. The idea is to score runs. If the catcher has the ball and he’s standing there, the runner has to stop? Is that the protection?

“I can’t believe anything can be done, and I don’t see how you could regulate something like that.”

***

The football season comes to and end on Saturday when Manchester United takes on Barcelona in what should be an exciting final of the Champions League.

Will the game by the last hurrah for Barcelona and Spain?

Can Manchester United learn from the mistakes of 2009?

Can Edwin van der Sar go out a winner?

Finally, six of the best matches between the two teams.

And just think, with a 2:45 p.m. kickoff from London’s Wembley Stadium, we’ll be able to watch the final and only miss a couple of innings of the Tribe game vs. Tampa.

Browns need to pass on Sanders

Before the hoople heads start getting riled up, we need to put the kibosh on any talk of the Browns signing safety Bob Sanders, who was released Friday by the Colts.

Fans are going to see Sanders’ name on the transaction list and some will immediately want the Browns to pursue him simply because they’ve heard of him. But the team needs to stay far, far away from him.

Injuries have limited Sanders to just nine games over the past three years. He played six games in 2008; missed the first five games in 2009 then, in his second game back, tore his left biceps and missed the rest of the season; last year he tore his right bicep on the first defensive series of the season and missed the rest of the year.

With that kind of injury history, why would anyone think Sanders would be able to stay on the field for any significant amount of time?

***

Is former coach Eric Mangini heading back to the sidelines?

The UFL’s Hartford Colonials are “interested” in Mangini to replace another former Browns coach, Chris Palmer. Palmer recently became offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.

“He is one of the people we would hope to talk to,” Colonials owner Bill Mayer said of Mangini this week, according to ESPN. “What comes out of that, I don’t know. I’ve been looking at our Facebook site, and it certainly has generated a lot of conversation. He’s a Connecticut native and he’s had experience. Whether we end up doing anything with him or not, we haven’t sat down yet, so it’s not at all clear whether this timing would work for him.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re in negotiations or that he’s going to be the next coach, but he’s certainly on the list.”

Well, it’s not as if Mangini is on the list for any NFL jobs.

***

As spring training gets underway for the Indians, manager Manny Acta expects the bullpen to be one of the strongest parts of the team – if not the strongest.

”It was last year, and there’s a very good chance it will be very good again,” Acta told The Beacon Journal.

The bullpen struggled early in the season, putting up a 4.69 ERA, but after the All Star break the relievers posted a 2.95 ERA, second best in the American League. Closer Chris Perez led the way, as he posted a 0.53 ERA after June 18 and converted 18 of his final 19 saves on the season.

If the bullpen can turn into a reliable asset for the Tribe, that will make Acta’s job a lot easier, take some of the pressure off the team’s young starters – who can’t be expected to go very deep into games – and maybe give the team a chance to surprise some people this season.

***

Finally, check out the latest from Uni Watch for something on the birth of the Browns facemask.

The story behind the development of the facemask is well known to longtime Browns fans: a late hit on quarterback Otto Graham in 1953 led to the first protective Lucite mask on the Browns helmets.

But it’s definitely worth reading about again, especially for the photos.

Reading is Fundamental – NFL edition

With the end of the NFL season just around the corner, we thought we’d pass along some book recommendations for anyone needing a football fix.

Here are some NFL and college football related books that are worth checking out (we’ll do Browns-specific books later in the week). Some may no longer be in print, but if you can find a copy it will be well worth your time:*

  • Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders, by Peter Richmond. The Oakland Raiders of the 1970s were some of the most outrageous, beloved and violent football teams every to play the game. Peter Richmond tells the story of Oakland’s wrecking crew of castoffs, psychos, oddballs and geniuses who won six division titles and a Super Bowl championship under the brilliant leadership of coach John Madden and eccentric owner Al Davis.
  • Johnny U: The Life & Times of John Unitas by Tom Callahan. Johnny U is the first authoritative biography of Unitas, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with teammates and opponents, coaches, family and friends. The depth of Tom Callahan’s research allows him to present something more than a biography, something approaching an oral history of a bygone sporting era.
  • Saturday Rules: A Season with Trojans and Domers (and Gators and Buckeyes and Wolverines) by Austin Murphy. No two programs are more storied than Notre Dame and USC. With the inside scoop on these top-ranked teams, Murphy closely follows their arcs through the 2006 season, up to their late-November showdown in the L.A. Coliseum. Murphy puts you in the field, in the meeting room and in the huddle as both teams fight to keep alive their national title ambitions.
  • Boys will be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty by Jeff Pearlman. In Boys will be Boys, award-winning writer Jeff Pearlman chronicles the outrageous antics and dazzling talent of a team fueled by ego, sex, drugs – and unrivaled greatness. Rising from the ashes of a 1-15 season in 1989 to capture three Super Bowl trophies in four years, the Dallas Cowboys were guided by a swashbuckling, skirt-chasing, power-hungry owner, Jerry Jones, and his two eccentric, hard-living coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer. Together the three built a juggernaut that America loved and loathed.
  • Going Long: The Wild 10-year Saga of the Renegade American Football League in the Words of Those who Lived It by Jeff Miller. From its inauspicious beginnings through its improbable Super Bowl victories and its ultimate demise, the American Football League had a colorful and sometimes bizarre 10-year history. Going Long takes you back to that thrilling decade with the men who made the AFL – and who made it great.
  • Take Your Eye off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look by Pat Kirwan. This is not a beginner’s introduction to football, nor is it a technical manual for only the most studious of fans. Instead, it clearly and simply explains the intricacies and nuances that affect the outcomes of every NFL game. Take Your Eye Off the Ball explains the pros and cons of different personnel groups, tells you what to look for when projecting a college quarterback’s success in the NFL and gives fans a simple, easy-to-remember checklist to help them understand the action on the field. Baseball claims to be America’s national pastime, but football is its passion. Take Your Eye Off the Ball will make fans feel like they’ve got their own personal head coach by their side each and every Sunday, enhancing the fan experience by making football more accessible, colorful, and compelling than ever before.
  • The Last Coach: A Life of Paul “Bear” Bryant by Allen Barra. The Last Coach traces Paul Bryant’s rise from a family of truck farmers to recognition as the most successful and influential coach in the game’s history. At the height of the Depression, football took Bryant to the Rose Bowl with Alabama’s 1934 national champions and on to a career as an assistant and, finally, a head football coach, where he matched wit and grit with the greatest coaches of two generations, men like Tennessee’s General Robert Neyland, Oklahoma’s Bud Wilkinson, Notre Dame’s Ara Parseghian, Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Penn State’s Joe Paterno. Through it all, Bryant’s influence has not only endured but prevailed as his former players and assistants continue to define the best in not only college but professional football.
  • Perfect Rivals: Notre Dame, Miami and the Battle for the Soul of College Football by Jeff Carroll. College football is a sport of rivalries – and no two teams were ever more perfectly matched than the Miami Hurricanes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In Perfect Rivals, award-winning sportswriter Jeff Carroll takes us inside the locker rooms and onto the gridiron, as two storied programs with very different cultures battle for national supremacy, school pride and the soul of the game itself.

If you do decide to check one of these out, you won’t be disappointed. And remember to shop at your local bookstore. If you don’t have one in your area and are in the Hudson area, it’s worth a stop at The Learned Owl.

If you missed it, our basketball book recommendations are here and our baseball books are here.

*Summaries are all taken from the individual book jackets.

***

Thanks to Scott at WFNY, who found this column by Clay Travis at Fanhouse.

After writing about how the Terrible Towel is Terribly Stupid, Travis posted a column with the response of Steeler fans.

We especially like the one hoople head who was considerate enough to leave their phone number in the death threat they sent to Travis.

***

Speaking of Terrible Towels, we’re pretty sure this constitutes child abuse.

***

Fox Sports Florida is the latest to pile on the Cavs.

***

If we had known Liverpool were going to turn into the Cleveland Indians

***

Alex Mack thinks touchdowns, not field goals.

What Should We Do?

Much has been written and spoken over the past few days, weeks and months about LeBron James returning to Cleveland tonight. The key question in all the discussions has been how will/should Cleveland fans react?

Some are expecting a scene reminiscent of 10-cent beer night at the old Stadium, which would play into the hands of the national media who have portrayed Cleveland as a wasteland filled with roving mobs of angry fans.

Others have called for chants, songs and other forms of disapproval vented at LeBron. There’s little doubt that will occur tonight at the Q.

What should we do?

The best way for the fans in attendance to treat LeBron is to show him what he gave up when he left town: a passionate fan base that supports their teams through (infrequent) good times and bad times.

Cheer for the Cavs, reward them for the past few years when they turned the Q into a nightly showcase for exciting NBA basketball and made Cleveland relevant again in the NBA. Remind LeBron what the cheering sounds like when it is authentic and from the heart, rather than the result of a team’s marketing plan.

Cleveland fans, for the most part, are a solid bunch. You still have your hoople heads who are easily influenced by what passes for sports talk radio in this town, but overall we know what we’re talking about.

And most importantly we care about our teams. And for those of us born after 1964, we all carry the same fear that we will never see a championship in Cleveland in our lifetimes.

But we are still there, game after game, season after season. Boston fans cried over the Red Sox while watching the Celtics and Patriots win titles. Chicago fans whine about the Cubs, forgetting the titles the Bulls and Bears won.

Cleveland fans have no such reprieve, but we persevere. Tonight offers a perfect opportunity to show ESPN, TNT, CNN and the rest of the national media watching just what a Cleveland fan really is: dedicated, passionate and educated.

Ultimately tonight’s game will have little bearing on how the Cavs and Heat finish the season. Win or lose, the Cavs will probably finish the season out of the playoffs; while the Heat will be trying to fight its way through Boston and Orlando.

But for one night we can show the world that, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

Let’s rise up one more time Cleveland.

Final Thoughts on the Browns-Jaguars

A day after the Browns last-minute loss to Jacksonville and it turns out we may have not seen the last of Jake Delhomme after all.

Quarterback Colt McCoy sprained his left ankle during the game against Jacksonville and, as of today, it’s not clear how long he will be out.

“I’d like to wait until Wednesday to see how it does shake out in terms of where [McCoy] is,” Coach Eric Mangini said in The Plain Dealer. “That’s really what I’d like to do. We’ll figure it out at that point.”

If McCoy can’t go, the Browns could return to opening day starter Delhomme, who is “back to 100 percent, or as close to 100 percent as anyone is,” according to Mangini.

Unless McCoy is 100 percent for Sunday’s game, there is no reason to play him. Delhomme or Seneca Wallace, who was warming up on Sunday when McCoy was injured, should take over. Quarterback is one of the few positions on the team where the Browns have actual depth and they shouldn’t be afraid to use it.

***

After wondering why defensive back Sheldon Brown didn’t try to tackle Maurice Jones-Drew on Drew’s 75-yard catch and run, it was interesting to read Brown’s rational.

“I’m trying to tackle with one hand and reach and rip the ball with the other hand, and he just runs out of it, kind of full speed,” Brown said in The Plain Dealer. “If I tackle him and just get him on the ground, uh-uh. The way I play the game is I’m trying to figure out a way to create a turnover.”

So … with the clock running down and your team leading by three points, tackling the opposing player with the ball is not a priority? OK then.

***

Like we said yesterday after the game, this Browns team is still learning how to close out games and hold on for the win.

Linebacker Scott Fujita agrees that, like anything else, learning to win is a process.

“The last couple weeks it’s just a play here and a play there, and when you don’t make those big plays at those critical moments in the game, that’s what prevents you from winning,” said Fujita in published reports. “It’s disappointing. This team has shown a lot of progress. There are a lot of things to be proud of, but it’s just that the margin of error is so small in this league, and I feel like we’ve learned that more than anybody this season.”

***

Finally, we have to comment on the hoo-haa that was clogging the Internet today about Eric Mangini and the temperature of the office furniture in Berea.

First, there was this in Bleacher Report:

  • After the fifth Browns loss this season in the fourth quarter, the question now has to be asked again: Will Eric Mangini survive to coach another season in the NFL?

Really? Why does that question need to be asked? So one bad game, where the team played without Josh Cribbs and two starters (Fujita and Eric Wright, lost on the first series of the day) and with an injured rookie quarterback, wipes out the previous three games? Seriously?

Later in the day news came out that hoople head Colin Cowherd had “inside information” that Mangini would be fired today. Well, the day came and went and Mangini is still in town.

What possible reason would the Browns have for making a move like that? Even if the team was playing poorly (they’re not), or worse, like the Bengals, in-season coaching changes don’t solve anything.

And they certainly don’t occur with teams that are making discernible progress everywhere but the win column.

And there was this Tweet from the PD’s Tony Grossi: “Browns Mangini back on hotseat after uncanny loss to jags. He looked it too after the game.”

Unbelievable.

***

We guess that, on some level, its good that the passion still surrounds Browns football and people are talking about a 3-7 team. But that passion needs to be grounded in reality and people need to not go off half-assed just because the Browns lost another close game.

After all, it’s nothing a trip from Carolina can’t fix.

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