Pig Ben could start season against Browns

April 21, 2010

 

NFL rumblings Wednesday morning have Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger receiving a four- to six-game suspension.

It sounds like he’ll get six games for being a douchebag, which could be reduced to four games if he stops being a douchebag. So the jury’s still out on if Pig Ben will actually be able to get that suspension reduced?

What’s it mean for Browns fans? Well, it means the Browns might entirely miss Roethlisberger when they visit Pittsburgh on Oct. 17 for the Steelers’ fifth game of the season. Or it means they could be returning for the very beginning of the Pig Ben Reunion Tour.

If you take a look at the Steelers’ schedule, it’s set up to accomodate both a four- and six-game suspension for Roethlisberger. In their first six games, the Steelers play all 1 p.m. games. Without Pig Ben, one would assume Pittsburgh won’t nearly be the national draw they are with the two-time Super Bowl winner at the helm of the offense. But if the six-game bans goes through, Roethlisberger comes back in a Halloween-night game against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on NBC’s game of the week.

That one won’t hurt for ratings.

The Steelers two games following that are primetime affairs as well: Monday Night Football at the Bengals on Nov. 8 and a return to Sunday Night Football the next week against at home another premier team, the Patriots. Pittsburgh also has a Sunday night game at Baltimore scheduled for Dec. 5 and a Thursday night game on the NFL Network against Carolina two days before Christmas. Throw in a 4:15 p.m. game on CBS on Dec. 19 against the New York Jets, and you’ve got six out of the Steelers’ final 10 games set for national broadcast vs. zero of their first six.

Oh, and that Browns game on Oct. 17? It follows the Steelers’ bye week, giving them extra time to prepare for life with Roethlisberger once again.

So ladies, if you plan on going to the game in Pittsburgh on Oct. 17, don’t get drunk in a bar, or anywhere else Pig Ben might be. The NFL’s set it up perfectly for the Steelers. Roethlisberger can return after six games to a flurry of nationally televised broadcasts which will bring in boatloads of money for the NFL. Or, if he starts eating his dinner at home and praying before he goes to bed every night, he’ll get to return after a bye week at home against his team’s most bitter rival.


Here they come, Steelers, here they come

April 20, 2010

 

The NFL schedule comes out Tuesday night. If you’re here before then, you know two things:

The Browns visit Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 17, and the Browns play host to Pittsburgh on the season’s final day, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011.

(If you’re here after Tuesday night, you probably know more.)

That is, if Pittsburgh radio station WDVE is correct. The Steelers’ flagship station posted the schedule on its website earlier today. It was removed, but not before the Steelers’ part of it was memorialized by ProFootballTalk.com.

So fortune smiles on the Browns. A sure-to-be bitter cold final weekend of the season will now be soldout thanks to a post-New Year’s Day game which features the team’s biggest vial.


DA? DOA more fitting for Browns

October 26, 2009

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The worst season in Cleveland Browns history is playing out in front of our eyes. You thought “Paranormal Activity” was scary? You thought “Saw VI” was disturbing? Try watching the last 10 games of this season.

If you can, that is. Three of the last four home games threaten to be blacked out in the Cleveland area. You think games against the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars are going to sell out in December and January? Heck, Jigsaw contemplated making going to Browns games a choice in one of his traps in the latest “Saw” movie but decided even that was too horrifying. Who wouldn’t rather gouge out their own eyes than watch what’s going on on the football field this season?

The Browns have scored six touchdowns this season. Six!  The New Orleans Saints have scored six touchdowns in a game FOUR TIMES this season. The New England Patriots scored five touchdowns IN A QUARTER last week. Six players have more touchdowns than the Browns. How bad is it for the Browns? Their leading scorer, Billy Cundiff, hadn’t played in a game since 2006 and hadn’t scored in one since 2005. His bank-shot field goal for the Browns’ only points in Sunday’s 31-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers was as form-fitting as an Olympic Speedo. Nothing has symbolized the Browns season any better than that kick.

We thought we left this behind when the Browns jettisoned many of those responsible for the six-game streak with no offensive touchdowns that ended last season.

  • Bruce Gradkowski, gone. (Though he miraculously resurfaced today in Oakland, one of the few places with a worse quarterback situation than the Browns — mostly because Bruce Gradkowski is the backup. And because JaMarcus Russell is the starter. But no matter how bad JaMarcus Russell has been — and he’s bad — he still has a better passer rating and has completed a better percentage of his passes than Anderson. Oh, and Gradkowski did not produce a touchdown today. Again.)
  • Ken Dorsey, out of the NFL. (And currently serving as as quarterbacks coach of a high-school football team, although an article warns that Dorsey is still a free agent and could come back to the NFL at any time. Yes, that is a warning.)
  • Donte Stallworth, suspended from the NFL. (Remember him?)
  • Kellen Winslow, shipped to Tampa Bay. (No, not a lot of it was his fault. But still, now he’s on a worse team than the Browns. That’s a true sentence.)
  • Brady Quinn, benched. (He’s nailed there by the $11 million incentive clause in his contract. You don’t think he’s stuck on the pine because DA is so good, do you?)
  • Braylon Edwards, escaped to New York. (And the Jets picked up their first victory with Edwards today, although he caught only one pass today. Hmmmm, correlation?)
  • Romeo Crennel, out the door. (And into a pretty funny couple of Coors Light commercials.)

So many causes of the problems from last year’s 4-12 season, gone. And yet the problems are worse. The Browns are in the bottom three of the NFL in points per game, yards gained per game, and yards allowed per game. Their leading receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi, has 50 more receiving yards this season than Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Miles Austin had in one game.

Not many expected a Super Bowl season this year. Most of the rest figured a winning season would be nice and weren’t even thinking playoffs. But this? The possible worst season in franchise history? And don’t think it won’t be. To date, here’s the worst records for a Browns squad:

  • 1981 Browns: 5-11
  • 1974 Browns: 4-10
  • 1975 Browns: 3-11
  • 2008 Browns: 4-12
  • 2006 Browns: 4-12
  • 2000 Browns: 3-13
  • 1990 Browns: 3-13
  • 1999 Browns: 2-14

Packers Browns FootballAnd that’s it. That’s all the atrocious records in Browns history. Half of them have come since the team returned from the dead in 1999. The 2009 Browns have the bottom of the list targeted. Even should this year’s edition of the Browns win two or three or even four games, it ranks as a worse season than either 1999 or 2000, simply because those were the first two years of an expansion team. Even should they match the four-win Browns of 2006 and 2008 this season will be much worse because those seasons were supposed to be left behind in the dust. Those seasons were supposed to be building blocks, especially with the 10-win 2007 season stuck in the middle. Now that season sticks out like a sore thumb.

The 1990 season probably goes down as the worst Browns season. The team was coming off five straight AFC Central Division titles and three AFC Championship Game appearances in four years. And they simply collapsed. Bud Carson, who had taken over for Marty Schottenheimer the year before, didn’t make it through the season. They were next-to-last in scoring. They had the worst defense, which must have been a nightmare for Carson, a defensive guru. They lost eight straight games. They were shutout three times, losing all three games by 34 points or more. Bernie Kosar completed just 54.4% of his passes and threw more touchdowns than interceptions. It was the beginning of the end for Bernie, who went 11-21 as a starter the rest of his career.  But at least they beat the Steelers, something this year’s edition won’t be able to claim when the season ends.

So it’s looking more and more like a repeat of the disastrous 1990 season. The worst season in Browns history. And it’s not even half over yet.


Blackout that preseason

August 30, 2009

This Personal Browns Blackout stuff is serious business.

Would I go out for a half-hour run during a Browns game if I wasn’t serious? Sure, it’s a preseason game and all. But a half-hour is the most I’ve run at one time since Bernie Kosar was the Browns quarterback.

Plus the Indians were playing at the same time. That’s two Cleveland teams for the price of one. And I was running around the block.

Oh, the Personal Browns Blackout is real. All that awful play at the end of last season has to be punished. A couple of preseason wins won’t let the Browns out of their room early. They need to stay in there until they score a regular-season touchdown. On offense. Josh Cribbs’ kick returns don’t count. Interception returns don’t count. (Save that for the regular season, Mr. Hall.) Phil Dawson field goals don’t count. Saw enough of them  in the final six games last season to last a lifetime. No, the Browns need to score an offensive touchdown in the regular season in order for me to start watching their games again. Someone’s going to have to call me up and tell me it’s safe to turn on the TV again, cuz I’ll probably be out running again when Brett Favre makes his latest comeback in the opening game of the season. I’ll be nowhere near a television.

Really, though, a Personal Browns Blackout during the preseason isn’t much of a punishment. It’s kind of like taking the car keys away from your 14-year-old daughter. It might sound good, it might make you feel good, but c’mon, just how effective is it? She can’t drive anyway.

Because really, you don’t need to watch a single minute of the Browns preseason games in order to know that:

* Brady Quinn must absolutely be the Browns starting quarterback. He’s the Matt LaPorta of the Indians. If drafting Quinn three years ago was a mistake, the Browns will be starting over yet again next season. Getting LaPorta for CC Sabathia a year ago was the signature move of the Indians as they head into a new era. Similarly, Quinn is the future for the Browns. Derek Anderson has had plenty of time to prove that he’s as effective as a flyswatter without a handle. Come on, a 54.6 career completion percentage? A career 75.1 passer rating? He’s settled into mediocrity. If Quinn didn’t prove that he’s ready with his 11-for-15, 128-yard, one-touchdown performance in Saturday’s 23-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans then the jury is rigged.

* Shaun Rogers must be healthy and perform at a Pro Bowl level again for the Browns to have a decent defense. So far he’s stood on the sideline and watched. You don’t need to watch a game to know his 6-foot-4, 350-pound body needs to be in there for the Browns to even pretend they’ll have a decent pass rush. Defensive ends Corey Williams and Kenyon Coleman combined for 103 tackles and one whole sack last year. Rogers contributed 76 tackles and 4½ sacks himself. Rogers’ backup is second-year man Ahtyba Rubin, who is as likely to be driving a cab as making a sack in the NFL at this time next year.

* Braylon Edwards can’t lead the league in drops again. Someone said he caught a touchdown pass from Brady Quinn tonight. Quinn to Edwards. If the Browns are to do anything other than drive even more people from their seats this year, Quinn to Edwards must become as musical a phrase as Kosar to Slaughter or even Montana to Rice. OK, maybe not quite that musical. But it needs to be the theme song of the Browns. Another 55-catch season won’t get it done.

* Head coach Eric Mangini has to go Patti LaBelle on this team and instill a new attitude. Last year the players got a bit too cozy at Camp Crenell. This year reports are that some players are liking their new taskmaster coach too much. This following the banishment of Kellen Winslow and Shaun Smith. Mangini’s in control and while his worries aren’t few, a new attitude can only move this team forward.

* Someone needs to emerge as a legitimate second receiver threat, and it can’t be Joshua Cribbs. The Browns need his spark on the kick return teams. Of 2008’s top return men, only Darren Sproles, Leon Washington, Andre Davis, and Ahmad Bradshaw played any type of notable role on offense. And for all of them it was as a complementary player. Perhaps Washington could be used as a model for Cribbs’ usage. Last year he was the Jets’ second-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver based on number of catches. You know who coached the Jets last year, right? In other words, one of the Browns rookie receivers or perhaps Steve Heiden or even veteran receiver Mike Furrey must make himself into a legitimate threat this season. Cribbs caught two passes and got a touch in the running game. Four others caught more passes, and that sound just about right.

* No pass rush means no chance. The Browns have only two sacks in their three preseason games. After finishing next-to-last in sacks last season, the Browns must find a way to change this. At least Kamerion Wimbley landed Saturday night’s sack. But guess how many sacks two in three games comes out to over a 16-game season? Just 10½, which is only a half-sack more than the Browns had a year ago. If this doesn’t improve, neither do the Browns.

* Phil Dawson is good. Really, does anyone pay attention to kickers in the preseason? Except in the case of injury, they might as well just show up the weekend the regular season starts. Seriously, the Bengals pretty much plan to let Shayne Graham rest his strained groin all preseason. The Saints are going with 45-year-old John Carney. Dawson was 3-for-3 on field goals Saturday night and is 5-for-6 overall. Hey, Phil, let’s go out for a run during the game next week!

So there you have it, all the reasons why everyone should install a Personal Browns Blackout during the preseason. What are you really missing out on? Next week you’ll see Brett Ratliff throw more passes than he will for the rest of his Browns career. (At least we hope so, because his next regular-season pass in the NFL will be his first.) Next Thursday night at 8 p.m., make plans to do something other than watch the Browns. Go out for a run, read a book, watch a movie, heck, take a nap. When you wake up, it will be the regular season and whatever the Browns have to do to win, well, you’ll already have known it.


The city of meaningless wins

August 24, 2009

It was Throw Back the Clock Weekend in downtown Cleveland the last couple of days.

The Browns scored an offensive touchdown. The last time they did that nearly predates the time this nation had a black president, Nov. 17 of last year against the Buffalo Bills. No scores and seven games ago. Obviously the Browns were not created equal.

Then Fausto Carmona picked up a victory. He hadn’t earned a win since May 14 over the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, you have to look even deeper into the time capsule to find the last time Carmona actually pitched really well and earned a victory. Sunday’s eight-strikeout, one-walk, five-hit, one-run performance was his best since his complete-game, 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in the 2007 American League Division Series. Carmona’s eight whiffs were the most he’s put up since striking out nine Royals in a 6-0 victory on Sept. 15, 2007, and the one walk was only the second time in 17 starts this season that he’s allowed so few.

A Browns offensive touchdown and victory. TWO Indians victories. Never before in the history of sport have three meaningless games brought one city so much joy. The last time two of our teams won in the same weekend was when both the Cavs and Indians won at home on Sunday, April 12. Even one of those games was basically meaningless as the Indians won their first of the season against the Blue Jays after six straight losses while the Cavs whipped the Celtics 107-76 to cement home-court advantage throughtout the playoffs. At least neither was a preseason game.

You actually have to go back to April 14, 2007 for two meaningful wins in the same weekend day by Cleveland teams. On that day in Cleveland sports history the Indians beat the Chicago White Sox at home 4-0. The Cavs followed with a 110-76 win at the Q over the Atlanta Hawks. Those were the days. The Cavs were heading to the NBA Finals while the Indians were heading for Game 7 of the ALCS.

Now we’re just heading over a cliff, getting excited over preseason touchdowns in a win over a team that went 0-16 the previous year. And more people enjoyed the Tribe’s 2009 Rock ‘n Blast fireworks show after Saturday’s win than enjoyed either of the two weekend victories. Or at least they should have, considering that even with the two weekend wins the Indians are 15 games under .500. Or more accurately, six feet under. But at least they are two days closer to getting rid of manager Eric Wedge.

The Indians are now on a 10-game road trip and certain to be forgotten once they return home Labor Day weekend. Even if they win all 10 they’ll still be five games under and not nearly as close as they would appear in the Detroit Tigers’ side-view mirror. The Browns will be wrapping up preseason and the Cavs will be at least moving to the tip of our tongues.

Until then we’ll recount Braylon Edwards’ one catch against the Lions, the 81-yard touchdown run straight up the middle by rookie running back James Davis, and an actual passing grade for quarterback Derek Anderson. All against the Lions! (Hey, at least we’re not Detroit — in football.)


Where the hell have you been?

August 16, 2009

Hi there. Again. Welcome to God Hates Cleveland Sports.

Or welcome back.

You may be new to this site. Or maybe not.

You see, this is really God Hates Cleveland Sports 2.0. Call it a rebirth.

Back in January 2006 (even I didn’t realize it was that long ago) I started God Hates Cleveland Sports on Blogger. January 25, 2006 to be exact. The inspiration? The Pittsburgh Steelers had just made the Super Bowl. One For the Thumb was only a week and a half away. Cleveland looked nowhere near just one. The Browns had wrapped up a 6-10 season with a 41-0 loss to the Steelers in the next-to-last home game. The Indians were still hacking after choking away a playoff spot against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the final week of the season. The Cavs were in the middle of a solid season in which they’d go 50-32 and make the Eastern Conference semifinals, but they hadn’t made the playoffs in seven years at that point.

And my girlfriend had just decided she didn’t like me anymore.

Art2_0cowher-super-bowlSo what better way to wallow in my misery than to wallow in Cleveland sports misery? The first God Hates Cleveland Sports post featured a picture of Art Modell celebrating with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV. Freud would say posting that picture symbolized the ultimate breakup. It was like looking at your ex-girlfriend’s wedding pictures just to make yourself angry.

Problem is when it comes to Cleveland sports we’re looking at an old girlfriend’s wedding photos almost every day. Leave us and fare better. Right, Charlie Manuel?

The Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XL, beating the Seattle Seahawks. Now we had a picture of a beaming Bill Cowher celebrating a Super Bowl victory to go along with those of Art Modell. Stomachs in Cleveland churned.

It grew from there. LeBron James gave us some moments. But ultimately the Cleveland in him rose to the occasion. The Cavs made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons but began a stretch of four straight disappointing playoff defeats that many believe simply serve as a countdown to LeBron leaving town. Meanwhile the Indians played through a dismal 2006 season — who can forget Fausto Carmona losing four straight games as the closer in July and August? — before truly ripping our hearts out by choking against the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS. The Browns have been just plain bad since GHCS began, save for a false-hope, 10-win season in 2007 which saw them fittingly miss the playoffs despite posting the same record as the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

God Hates Cleveland Sports was there, all throughout 2006 with 108 posts and for most of 2007 with 73 posts. We were recognized with mentions on Andrew Siciliano’s FOX Sports radio show, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Denver Post, The St. Petersburg Times, even a short feature on WKYC, Cleveland’s NBC station. We crossed into Canada with a mention in The Toronto Star. Oh, and one of my posts has been appropriated by a virus. Don’t go to any sites that feature a GHCS interview with the Magic Number, even though it’s damn funny.

And then, pfft, we was gone. Wallowing in Cleveland sports misery could only go on for so long. The plan was to celebrate an Indians World Series victory in 2007 then wrap up the blog in a big bow because God obviously didn’t hate Cleveland sports anymore. And even though it was fun, I sure as hell didn’t want to keep looking for the dark cloud in front of every silver Cleveland sports lining. And what with LeBron James in town and the Indians looking like an up-and-coming team, the silver lining was overtaking the dark cloud anyway. I mean, how can a blog focus on God hating Cleveland sports when the world’s best basketball player was right here?

Except.

Except the Indians didn’t win that World Series. They didn’t even make that World Series. Instead the last two posts for 2007 featured a list of area bridges from which Indians fans could jump, followed by a PDF file of my 2007 World Series tickets for Jacobs Fields. Sigh. My plan was thwarted. But I didn’t have the will to go on. I didn’t throw myself off one of those bridges, no. But I basically threw the blog off. A half-hearted attempt at a comeback during the Cavs playoff run earlier this year was as successful as the Knight Rider remake.

But here we are again. It’s a brand that just won’t die. God hates Cleveland sports sums up everything so well when it comes to our teams. It’s an end-all, be-all answer. Seriously, can you think of a better answer than “God hates Cleveland sports” to these questions:

* “Why did the Indians trade Cy Young winners in two straight seasons?”
* “Why haven’t the Browns scored an offensive touchdown in over a month?”
* “Why didn’t that shot that LeBron made in the playoffs mean anything in the long run?”
* “Why does everyone say LeBron’s leaving Cleveland when his contract is up?”
* “Why won’t the Indians fire Eric Wedge?”
* “Why did the Browns pass up Mark Sanchez in order to draft Alex Mack?”

Why, God hates Cleveland sports, of course.

What we’ll be doing in version 2.0 is presenting new material, of course. We’re back at 2006 levels for that, even with the Cavs as one of the NBA’s premier franchises. And we’ll be archiving some of the best posts of GHCS Version 1.0.

A lot has changed since GHCS began. Facebook has exploded. Twitter is growing. Embedded videos have become easier to use. The web has become much more mobile thanks to improvements in cell phones. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Cleveland sports teams still make their fans miserable. Here’s to using all the new social media to share our pain. Hope you come along for the next ride.


Can I get a touchdown?

August 15, 2009

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The Cleveland Browns are starting their season tonight with an exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers.

I have no idea what’s happening.

It’s not because I don’t have a TV. Nothing like that. In fact, I love my TV. I love the things I watch on my TV. It’s old — got it in the fall of 1991, pretty close to exactly 18 years ago today — but it still works just fine. Heck, I watch all kinds of Browns stuff on it. Watched that game against the Buffalo Bills last year where Phil Dawson made a career-long 56-yard field goal with a minute left and then Bills kicker Rian Lindell missed one at the buzzer. Saw the game a couple years ago against the Arizona Cardinals when Kellen Winslow caught the ball in the end zone on the last play but was knocked out of bounds before he could land; Browns lose. Laughed my ass off trying to figure out what Bernie Kosar was saying on last year’s preseason broadcasts.

And I’ve got a radio. Not tuning in hoping to hear Jim Donovan proclaim, “Touchdown, Browns!” I’ve got internet access, too; that’s obvious. I could phone a friend, or at least text someone, to get an update. Heck, maybe I could even go on Facebook; some of my friends have to be status-updating the Browns. I’m not following Zac Jackson’s tweets, either. I’m trying — trying, I say — to stay away from message boards (although in a moment of weakness I did find out another die-hard is prepared not to watch any games this season either if Derek Anderson is the quarterback).

Why have I declared a blackout on the Browns preseason game tonight? It’s quite simple. I’m boycotting the Browns.

I haven’t forgotten how the Browns finished last year. Following the Buffalo game where Dawson played hero, the Browns lost six straight while scoring only 31 points. Six of those came on a Brandon McDonald interception return. The other 25 came from eight Dawson field goals and one extra point. Not an offensive touchdown to be found. The last two games were embarrassing shutout defeats at the hands of division rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. It was the first time the franchise suffered back-to-back shutouts. Six games in a row without an offensive touchdown — no, six games in a row WITHOUT GETTING INTO THE RED ZONE! Jamal Lewis called it the worst season he’d ever played in. No one argued.

Now don’t throw your shoe through your computer screen. It’s not a total boycott. The Browns do have an opportunity to win me back. No, not by hiring a new coach and treating outspoken players like the Soviet Union used to treat political dissidents. Heck, if that’s all they had to do I’d already be watching again. Actually, there’s nothing the Browns can do between now and the start of the regular season to get me to end my Browns-watching boycott. I have drawn that line in the sand.

In order to win me back — in order to get me to watch another minute of Browns football, another dropped pass by Braylon Edwards, another Lawrence Vickers sweep on third-and-2, another Derek Anderson interception in the red zone — the Browns need do only one thing. They’ve got to score a touchdown. On offense. During the regular season.

After enduring six games to end the 2008 season that were worse that any trap sprung on a “Saw” victim, I’ve had to turn my back on the Browns. They’re used to being the pretty girl in the room who gets attention no matter how awful she acts. But no more. In 2009 the Cleveland Browns have to do something to regain my fan loyalty. To do that they have to do something they haven’t done for 20 straight quarters. Score a touchdown.

This being Cleveland and all, the most likely scenario is this: Browns take the opening kickoff in the first game against Minnesota. Josh Cribbs returns the ball to the 35. Brady Quinn starts and throws a couple nice short passes to Braylon Edwards and Steve Heiden that get the ball past the 50. Jamal Lewis busts off a nice gainer to set up a Quinn-to-Brian Robieskie completion off play action into the red zone. A couple of plays later Lewis barrels over from  yards out and five minutes into the season the Browns are up 7-0.

And then they don’t score another touchdown for 3½ games, all while I’m watching.

Oh, and it’s 14-0 Packers. Both Anderson and Quinn have thrown interceptions. Doesn’t seem like my boycott’s all that effective. Oh, well, there’s always next year.