Many people I talked to today about the Monday nighter shared a common view – it was painful to watch. I couldn’t agree more, but I love football too much to let the Cleveland Browns ruin my Monday night. The Browns are an interesting franchise right now, noticeably worse than they were when the season started. With George Kokinis fired as General Manager just a couple of weeks ago (for ’cause’), owner Randy Lerner is searching for a football czar – a Bill Parcells-type figure who can come in and oversee a reemergence at the Dawg Pound. The only problem is, would anybody want to do it?
Looking at the Browns’ roster, there’s a huge lack of overall talent. Offensively, the team is pathetic. Brady Quinn returned to the starting lineup last night, but the 2007 first round pick hasn’t looked the part of franchise signal-caller just yet. I’m all for giving Quinn more time, but he hasn’t shown much to inspire confidence. Looking at the other skill positions, and I can see why. Jamal Lewis is used up as a running back, and he plans to retire after the season. Promising rookie James Davis, taken in the fifth round out of Clemson, had his season derailed by a questionable practice injury, and Jerome Harrison doesn’t look to have the makings of a feature back. At wide receiver, Cleveland dealt its only surefire talent in Braylon Edwards, and now entrusts its future to rookies Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi, both second round picks. Massaquoi flashed considerable potential at Georgia, while Robiskie was considered the most pro-ready receiver in the draft. While the former has one stellar game on his resume, the latter hasn’t even been the best Ohio State rookie wide receiver this season (I’d give that to Brian Hartline of Miami, a fourth round pick). There is no talent to speak of at tight end, and apart from left tackle Joe Thomas, the offensive line is suspect for the long term.
On the defensive side of the ball, inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is an elite NFL talent. He covers a lot of ground, makes tackles, and is able to shed blocks when rushing the passer. Nose tackle Shaun Rogers is probably the best in the league at his position – when he tries. Rogers has always had motivation problems, dating back to his days in Detroit. But apart from those two players, there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. Rush linebacker Kamerion Wimbley has regressed since his rookie season, and Eric Wright has talent at the cornerback position, but is too inconsistent. The rest of the unit is in serious need of a talent upgrade.
And then there’s the head coach. Eric Mangini demonstrated in New York that he wasn’t head coaching material, and he’s out to prove it again. He is the epitome of the moniker ‘mistake by the lake’. Any senior executive willing to take on this mess of a franchise would surely want to bring in their own man to run the show, much like Bill Parcells did with Tony Sparano. Now that the NFLPA is in town to investigate Mangini’s practice policies, it’s only a matter of time before the hammer falls on “Eric Man-genius”.
The only saving grace for Browns fans is that the NFL is a league ripe with quick turnarounds. Teams can turn the page in just a season or two (ex: the Atlanta Falcons), and Cleveland is still only two seasons removed for a ten win campaign. Help is on the way to the Dawg Pound, it’s just a matter of when.
TWO POINT CONVERSION
– farewell to Dick Jauron, who made some questionable personnel decisions in Buffalo, but also wasn’t blessed with the greatest collection of talent in the world. He managed to live with Terrell Owens, and for that he deserves a slow clap into the sunset
– wasn’t it just two offseasons ago Cincinnati was purging its roster of troubled players? Now they bring in Larry Johnson? I guess winning does right everything