Six Points on the Cleveland Browns (Dec. 19)

Christopher MaherCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2009


Cleveland Browns fans, already spilt into as many cliques who spread as many rumors as would be found in a typical suburban high school, went into speculation overload this week.


The afterglow of a victory over the hated Steelers was quickly replaced by another round of “he said/she said,” and the rumor mill was set ablaze by the media and the Intertubes.


Six Points apologizes in advance for pop culture references from the days when pop culture actually meant something to him, but going back to the first incarnation of Browns v 2.0 and the days of Carmen Policy, this franchise has been far more entertaining off of the field than on the field.


Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose.


1. Hot For Grand Poohbah:


Yes, that’s a reference to Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”.


Six Points never had that good fortune. While he had some excellent female teachers in high school, none of them could have been mistaken, even by Stevie Wonder, for Tawny Kitaen writhing on the car hood in the Whitesnake video.


Randolph Lerner and much of the fan base is now infatuated with Mike Holmgren to be Grand Poohbah of Football Operations, and the rumors are flying.


A dinner at Fahrenheit in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood became Holmgren’s own “we looked at houses,” per his Seattle radio interview, and that morphed into Holmgren allegedly having purchased a $450,000 home in the upscale Cleveland suburb of Bay Village.


A reported offer of $8 million a year for Holmgren to assume the position became “no money was discussed,” even though Holmgren’s agent also enjoyed a dinner setting at Fahrenheit.


In later interviews, Holmgren did not rule out coaching in addition to being Grand Poohbah.


Many fans of this 2-11 team are on board, basically thinking “(Holmgren)’s a lot better than what we have”.


But, the last time Lerner gave the reins to a coach who was also GM, the results were disastrous. While Butch Davis was decent as a game-day coach, his drafting and talent assessment were abysmal.


Add to that Holmgren's mediocre record as Seattle GM before he was asked to step down to coaching only, and this infatuation may not be worth it.


Six Points leans more to Han Solo in the Star Wars series.


“I have a bad feeling about this.”


2. East Coast/West Coast:


In the 1990s, it was alleged that rival NFL players were flashing “east coast” and “west coast” gang signs at each other during the height of the crack cocaine and gang war epidemic in the United States.


While Six Point s would not know a gang signal from American Sign Language, he’ll have to take the media’s word for it.


Speculation has it that Holmgren, if hired in Cleveland, would install some version of the West Coast Offense.


If Holmgren is indeed the incoming Grand Poohbah of Football Operations, one could expect him to do just that.


This is not a knock on Holmgren as much as it is homage to his background.


Holmgren was once at Brigham Young before Bill Walsh hired him as QB coach to both Joe Montana and Steve Young, and in three Super Bowl appearances, the Packers and Seahawks ran the WCO.


When rising through the ranks, you bring what you know with you and implement it. That’s human nature.


But, this is the AFC North. While the NFC West is the weakest division in the NFL and the NFC North guarantees you two away games in domes annually, the AFC North is a smashmouth division.


To win in the AFC North, you need road graders on the offensive line, enforcers on defense, a power running game and a quarterback who can stretch the field. A beast at tight end along with explosive receivers doesn’t hurt, either.


The West Coast Offense in the AFC North?


Cue Han Solo.


3. Opportunity Sessions:


Forget about players “quitting” on Eric Mangini, despite what his detractors say.


Whether or not Mangini is walked to the door after one season, the players he coaches will be busting their tails the last three games of the 2009 season..


This franchise is regarded to be largely bereft of talent, and most observers will run out of fingers before they name ten definite “keepers.”


Some of these guys are playing for Mangini, but almost all of them are auditioning for the NFL in 2010, no matter where.


Nonetheless, the Clash’s “Train In Vain” will apply to many of their 2010 prospects.


4. Dead Mangini Walking?


Ever see a guy in the office who’s about to be fired?


Maybe he knows it or he doesn’t, but he definitely is cueing his inner Han Solo.


He’s taking time for people he once ignored, and defends his own performance to any and all who will listen.


We’ve seen that guy. Maybe we’ve been that guy. And that guy looks a lot like Eric Mangini right now.


His new boss may or may not like him, and he’s saying all of the right things. 


In Corporate America, it’s part of the process.


Even though national media pundits report Mangini is a goner if Holmgren takes the reins in Cleveland, there are reasons to defend him.


Yes, the record is 2-11, but the Browns, in one season, have gone from one of the NFL’s most-penalized to one of the least-penalized teams..


While many fans may have considered the opening quarterback competition to be a false start, the number of actual false start penalties, which cropped up under the Romeo Crennel regime at the worst possible times, has dropped dramatically.


Club Romeo is closed. The team is far more disciplined, and for the long-term good of the franchise, Mangini cut cancers out of the roster, knowing that the immediate chemo he was administering made things look worse in the short term.


On Thursday, December 10, the Browns out-Steelered the Steelers, dominating on both lines of scrimmage and special teams.


This might be hard to remember after a week of Holmgren speculation, but they sacked Big Ben eight times.


One game does not make or break a season, but the last time Six Points saw this kind of power football on the lakefront, some guy named Schottenheimer was wearing the headset.


At the bye week, Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll installed the no-huddle offense, and the offense, while far from being a finished product, makes fewer mistakes and is generally more productive.


When the stars line up, a defense with almost half its starters on IR can give opposing quarterbacks fits.


To paraphrase Holmgren himself, a head coach deserves more than one season to implement his system.


As does Eric Mangini.


5. Now Departing, Gate 7:


Will be Derek Anderson’s one-way flight to Oregon at the end of this campaign..


Is Derek Anderson as inept as he looked this season? Most likely not.


Can you coach 6’6,” his rocket arm and quick release? No.


But no matter who is wearing the headset on the sideline or who the Grand Poohbah is, Anderson’s contract will cost $7 million next year, plus a $2 million roster bonus.


Numbers like that for a backup, in the words of an ancient country song, scream “Please release me, let me go!”


6. Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall:


Which team is as ugly as the Cleveland Browns right now?


Their upcoming opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs.


With similar offensive stagnation and porous secondaries, these teams look like mirror images.


Matt Cassell is looking like the Scott Mitchell of this millennium, there’s not much at the skill positions, and the offensive line also has its share of matadors.


Prediction? Cleveland 24, Kansas City 13. Against the 27th-ranked passing defense in the NFL with no pass rush to speak of, the offense should work well enough, and with most of the team in extended “opportunity session,” the Browns should take their second game in a row.


Extra Point: Goodbye, Faithful Watchdog:


The Great Recession has not been kind to the print media. Hades is also rather warm.


Among its casualties have been the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (way cool name and neon globe logo on the building) and the (Denver) Rocky Mountain News , along with countless other smaller dailies and weeklies.


But, last week, Editor and Publisher went and joined the mastheads in the sky, and that’s a bigger loss than most of us think.


If your local daily published something that did not pass your smell test, E&P was often on it. A weekly magazine, it was a de facto newspaper about newspapers, along with policing the broadcast media.


If you wanted a job in journalism (once upon a time, people actually hired in that profession), the classified pages of E&P were the place to look. Want to know how your hometown daily stacked up in circulation? Again, you turned to E&P .


Which media company overextended itself to buy properties and was forced to jettison staff and reorganize? You went to E&P .


Print journalism, even in the form of alternative weeklies, has long been more lapdog than watchdog.


For not only journalists, but for citizens who wanted accurate reporting on what reporters were feeding them, Editor and Publisher was indispensable.


Our media, full of toy poodles when Rottweilers are needed, often drops the ball.


But E&P was there to let us know they dropped it.



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