Six Points on the Cleveland Browns (Dec. 12)

Christopher MaherCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2009

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 10: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 10, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Six Points is done basking in the afterglow and/or nursing the hangover from this unexpected victory on the lakefront Six Points also considered to be well within the realm of possibility.


And while some of the yinzers in attendance may have had a long drive back to the Burgh, other yinzers may have felt their postgame drive back to Twinsburg from Cleveland Browns Stadium took just as long, sans turnpike tolls. How sweet it was.




1. A Rivalry Reborn


Many yinzers, previous to Dec. 10, 2009, considered the Steelers-Browns rivalry to be nonexistent.


They had turned their attention to the Baltimore Ravens, arrogantly referring to them as “the real Browns,” and claimed there is no more rivalry between two former industrial juggernaut American cities.


In the wake of a 1-11 team knocking the defending Super Bowl champions out of the playoffs, the yinzers now have reason to turn their hatred back to the orange helmets.


Before Six Points ’ time, the Steelers were the NFL’s poster child for ineptitude in the 1950s and 1960s, but when Cleveland and Pittsburgh’s professional football teams met, it was on.


Back when “Johnny U” was “Johnny Who?,” Ohio license plates at Forbes Field would most likely have you headed out to your Studebaker to find four flattened bias-belt tires.


Even in the days of Paul Brown and Otto Graham, inferior Steelers teams could rise up, if only for one Sunday afternoon, and upset the Browns.


For most of the 1970s, the Browns had markedly inferior teams, and the Steelers owned the Browns in Three Rivers Stadium. But “Pittsburgh at Cleveland” was always a hammer-and-tong war.


Without much else to cheer about, Steelers fans had memories of John Henry Johnson running over the hated Browns, and Browns fans in the 1970s cherished the memory of Joe “Turkey” Jones piledriving Terry Bradshaw into the turf of Municipal Stadium.


Before the age of YouTube, Six Points enjoyed a video of Jones driving Bradshaw’s noggin into the painted dirt of Municipal Stadium set to the “1 812 Overture .” Yep, someone had done some creative splicing of audio and video tape to make Bradshaw’s head hitting the turf sync to every cannon blast.


Well, yinzers, forget the “1812 Overture .” Try singing “Home For The Holidays ” after an inferior team knocked the Soot and Urine out of the playoffs.


As Bob Dylan sang in “Like a Rolling Stone ,” How does it feel?


It’s back on.


And that’s good for both cities, and good for the NFL.




2. Hell, Unleashed:


Who are these guys, anyway?


With almost half the defensive starters on IR, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan took the fused, processed pieces parts he had left and threw the kitchen sink at the Steelers, bamboozling Ben Roethlisberger to the point of ineffectiveness.


Man coverage with Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald? What?


On that night, Six Points thought he was having a flashback to the days of Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield.


Pittsburgh’s receivers were about as open as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is to the use of caffeine.


The sack bell tolled for Big Ben eight times that night, and most of the perpetrators were players you never heard of or wish you never had. Even Hank “Got Beat” Poteat joined in the fun.


Without Shaun Rogers, the expectation was that Pittsburgh’s running backs could gobble up acres of real estate against the 32nd-ranked rushing defense in the NFL.




The term “Dawg Pound” came from the “Dawg Defense” circa 1984, led by the secondary consisting of Dixon, Minnifield, Al Gross and Felix Wright.


With wide receiver Mike Furrey playing at safety, the Hounds of Hell were unleashed Thursday night, and while Six Points has had rare occasion to pass out game balls, if he had but one to give, it would go to Rob Ryan and his entire defense.




3. Managing The Game:


That’s NFL Corpspeak for “Don’t screw up badly enough to lose.”


And, that’s what Brayden Tyler Quinn did.


He completed six of 19 passes for 90 yards, showed the inaccuracy which dropped him down to Cleveland via Dallas in the 2007 draft, threw two near picks, but still did not lose the game.


He didn’t win it, either. His team did.


At the end of the day, the “W” in the standings is all that matters, but in the long term, Brayden Tyler Quinn will most likely need to be replaced.


But not this year, and probably not next year.


Winning ugly, after all, is still winning. 


Going back to a time closer to diapers than a driver’s license, Six Points remembers Billy Kilmer of the Washington Redskins, who may have been the guru of winning ugly.


Watching Kilmer, all one could think was “This guy sucks! Why doesn’t George Allen play Sonny Jurgensen?”


If PETA had existed at that time, they would have protested outside RFK Stadium over Kilmer throwing wounded ducks.


Well, Kilmer got the Skins to a Super Bowl. And Trent Dilfer, of all people, even won a Lombardi Trophy.


Six Points says winning ugly, if done with consistency, can be beautiful.




4. The Great Equalizer:


Approaching Thursday’s game, it was probably of more interest to the Weather Channel than ESPN.


As Six Points called it in the last edition, the winds off of Lake Erie could have been that which allowed an inferior Browns team to rise up and smite the Goliath from the Burgh.


However, the Steelers also play in these conditions, so this cannot be written off as a freak accident of weather. This wasn’t Miami coming to the lakefront in December, it was Pittsburgh.


As of this writing, the finder bar on Six Points ’ Macintosh shows 22 degrees.


If you want a meltdown, go listen to Pittsburgh sports talk.




5. Lost And Found:


Browns fans know what it looks like when a coach has lost his team.


Hell, we even know what it looks like when a city loses its team.


Six Points has seen Forrest Gregg lose his team, Bud Carson lose his team (with a major assist from David Modell), and Butch Davis lose his team.


But, the much-maligned Eric Mangini may have found his team after 12 agonizing weeks.


Mangini has been widely criticized for bring a plethora of former New York Jets into Berea, and the bulk of them are marginal players.


Remember that while football is entertainment for most of us, it’s a business. Just like the publishing business or the movie business or the music business.


At the end of the day, it’s business.


If Six Points were given a managerial position in his field, he’d be digging through his Rolodex, melting his cell phone down, and stealing some former colleagues from other companies who know what he wants and how to get it done.


They may be marginal performers and not intended to be keepers, but they could help implement the “process” from within the ranks.


Maybe someone else with a more impressive résumé might be a stronger performer in the long run, but until the template is established and the system is in place, the talent can wait.


And when the time came, Six Points might have to have HR tap some of his old colleagues on the shoulder, walk them down the hall and talk to them about COBRA.


It’s just business.


If Mangini stays, or even if he doesn’t, not many of these former Jets will be here in 2011.


NFL stands for Not For Long. Mangini knows that, and so do the former Jets.


It’s just business.




6. Pay The Man!


There’s no Grand Poohbah of Football Operations in Berea yet, but Randolph Lerner did make a significant hire this week.


His name is Fred Nance, who will be the Browns’ legal advisor, an attorney with Squire, Sanders and Dempsey who not only represented the City of Cleveland in its negotiations to bring a NFL franchise back to the city, but was one of five finalists to succeed Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner.


While Nance may not be the Grand Poohbah, he certainly knows how to negotiate a contract, and there’s one that needs to be done yesterday.


In what’s left of the American middle class, there’s a time-honored tradition known as the mortgage-burning party. After the last payment is made on the homestead, the owners break open their beverage of choice, toss the legalese into the fireplace and celebrate.


The euphoria lasts until the county auditor sends them their property tax bill.


Joshua Cribbs needs to experience the same euphoria. He’s earned it.


Brayden Tyler Quinn was drafted to be the “face” of the Browns, but with Cleveland’s hard-working background and image, no one has earned that title more than Cribbs.


We love people who give that mathematically impossible 110 percent, and Cribbs has never given anything less.


Rip the contract of this undrafted free agent up, toss it into the Yuletide fire, and pay the man.


Few earn the ridiculous salaries of professional athletes, but Cribbs has.




Extra Point: Kelly’s Heroes?


Like everyone else, the United States Postal Service is laying off employees.


But some postal worker might keep his or her job for another day processing a change-of-address form from Cincinnati to South Bend, Ind.


Brian Kelly has taken the head coaching gig at Notre Dame, and predictably, Cincinnati Bearcat players, fans and alumni are, well, urinated.


But, Kelly took the Notre Dame job for the same reason Rich Rodriguez left Big East competitor West Virginia for Michigan.


It’s a better job.


Do you want to stay in your cubicle or have the corner office? Would you rather wear the headset on the sidelines of Nippert Stadium or Notre Dame Stadium?


For Notre Dame fans who thought they would lure Urban Meyer or Jim Harbaugh, those guys were non-starters.


Meyer is better off at Florida (see Six Points , Dec. 9) and if Harbaugh leaves Stanford to take the head coaching reins anywhere else, it’s likely to be his alma mater Michigan after Rodriguez wears out his welcome in Ann Arbor.


In Kelly, Notre Dame is getting an accomplished recruiter who built the Cincinnati program from scratch. While the Bearcats are suspect defensively, Kelly has put electrifying offenses on the field.


Notre Dame football will never be what it once was, but the Domers should be happy with Kelly.


And, Six Points , a Buckeye fan, is happy he didn’t wind up at That School Up North.











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