Tuesday, November 28, 2006

That's what we've been saying

Ever since I can remember, the Browns' chief offensive limitation has been their offensive line. As far back as the great Couch-Holcomb debate (Lincoln-Douglas on the Lakefront), my opinion was always that it basically didn't matter, because whichever poor bastard went out there would just find himself on the run from large, angry men. Many sacks and maybe a closed-head injury or two later, that appeared to have been the case. Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer and Charlie Frye have received no better protection.

Meanwhile, the whole time, most of my Browns-fan friends and I have been pleading with the front office to draft offensive linemen as more than second-day roster filler. I'm pretty sure that, had the Browns drafted Tom Brady instead of Spergon Wynn, well, some finance firm on Wall Street would have a nice ringer for corporate challenge.

The best thing that anyone rational has been able to say about Frye, other than the fact that he grew up a Browns fan, is that he can avoid sacks. Clearly, this is a basic job-requirement when one plays behind the workplace-safety hazard that is the Browns' offensive line. But what the hell happened on Sunday?

I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the 30-0 loss to the Bengals. It might have been the single-most dispiriting sporting event I've ever been to. I wanted to take off my Browns shirt and throw it over the upper-deck railing, as I believe I saw one fan do with a jersey. I wanted to pretend the Browns had never existed.

I certainly didn't want to read calls for the head of Braylon Edwards on a pike along the Shoreway in the paper the next day. But I did. The Plain Dealer was out for blood. Tony Grossi's account of the game on Monday cited a "growing feeling in the organization" that Edwards should have been punished for earlier comments critical of a teammate.

Bud Shaw today all but demanded that Edwards be benched for his latest blowup. But then, in a typical moment of Bud Shaw cognitive dissonance, concluded that Edwards isn't close to the No. 1 problem on the Browns.

Well, then.

But what was Braylon so upset about? Did he think he wasn't getting the ball enough? Was he telling Frye "Man, I was OPEN!"? Was he getting in Frye's grille for throwing those ugly interceptions on consecutive drives in the third quarter?

Actually, he was upset because he didn't think his teammates were playing hard enough. For sure, they weren't playing well enough. The offensive line might as well have been wearing roller skates. Even the dunderhead sitting behind us in section 508 could tell that; I overheard him explaining it to his seatmate with relish and disgust.

But Braylon wasn't even angry about that. Here's what he said.

"If you're losing close games and you feel like you're giving everything, that's one thing," Edwards said. "But when you're just flat out not playing, that's another. That's something that a lot of guys around here don't like. But not every guy feels that way."

Edwards said the Browns definitely need a players-only team meeting to address the issue.

"We need to get to the bottom of this, and we need to find out what it's going to take for guys to give everything they have," he said. "That's all you can ask - that guys give everything they have."

Especially when you're as starved for talent as the Browns' offensive line is. I can't say I blame Edwards _ I've gone on embarrassing rants about the Browns' line myself. Of course, I'm not their teammate and I didn't do it in front of God and everyone on the sideline. That's not the right way to handle that, but I still don't think it's justified that everyone is so out for blood.

Personally, I think it's a good thing that someone on that team is as infuriated as I and most of the other Browns fans I know.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Still here

No, really. I just have nothing to say about the Chargers game _ boring as hell. I'm getting more and more troubled by the playcalling and game-planning, though. Romeo Crennel is headed toward that place reserved for players and coaches I thought and hoped could serve as saviors, but couldn't.

He's not there yet. But if things don't turn around, I'm going to be sad and disappointed. Not that this is anything new to me as a Browns fan.