Six Points on the Cleveland Browns (Dec. 22)

Christopher MaherCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2009


In a move some Browns fans see as an early Christmas present, Randolph Lerner has opened his checkbook and named “The Big Show,” Mike Holmgren, as Grand Poohbah of Football Operations, or “President,” officially.

Will this be the great gift Browns fans have been pining for since 1964, or will it be the same old lump of coal in a different package?

Six Points , viewing through the lens of healthy skepticism present in Browns fans since the Warfield-for-Phipps trade, has a few takes.




1. Across The Pond:


As reviled as Randolph Lerner is in Cleveland, Ohio, he is as beloved in Birmingham, England.

Since Lerner assumed ownership of the Aston Villa Football Club, the Villans have risen from also-ran status in the Premier League to perennial contenders.

Alfred Lerner, Randolph’s late father, former president of MBNA, once the second largest credit card company in the United States, was known for saying, “Hire good people, get out of their way, and let them do their jobs.”

Randolph Lerner has taken the same approach, installing Martin O’Neill as “manager” of Aston Villa (that’s Grand Poohbah of Football Operations in soccer-speak), and O’Neill has AVFC playing on a level pitch with powerhouses such as Manchester United.

Lerner is undoubtedly hoping the same lightning will strike on this side of the Atlantic in shelling out an alleged $50 million for the services of Holmgren. 

Like O’Neill, Holmgren also comes highly regarded.

While Six Points has often doubted Lerner’s competency, Lerner’s desire to field a competent team has never been questioned in this corner.

Like Six Points , Lerner spent part of childhood wearing Browns pajamas.

Lerner’s jammies came from Saks. Sears sold the bedtime togs to the parents of Six Points .



2. The Peter Principle:


Yes, there was really a Dr. Peter (cue middle school jokes here).

Dr. Laurence J. Peter, professor at the University of Southern California, is best known for his 1969 book “The Peter Principle.”

The well-known premise of the work is, “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

Yes, the corrective lenses of skepticism are now in place.

Holmgren, while wearing both general manager and head coach hats in Seattle, was not a complete failure as GM, but was relieved of his GM duties in 2002 to only wear the headset.

Only after Tim Ruskell was buying the groceries did Holmgren cook up a Super Bowl appearance in 2006.

If the Peter Principle applies in this case, it’s the same old lump of coal.



3. The Odd Couple:


For all its faults, the United States is truly a great nation, and Six Points is proud to be an American.

Cats sleep with dogs, Catholics marry Jews, Democrats marry Republicans, and only children befriend offspring of large families.

Maybe our inner desire for equilibrium drives this, as we are often drawn to those different from ourselves in a desire for completion and fulfillment.

But, will this play in Cleveland?

Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini are from two different schools. Not just two different schools, but two different philosophies.

Think Ohio State and Michigan, or Auburn and Alabama.

Holmgren, schooled in the West Coast Offense as a quarterback guru, is not from the same tree as Mangini, who hails from the University of Parcells.

Like his former mentor Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells himself, Mangini is first and foremost a defensive coach, who stresses game management, smashmouth play and a 3-4 defense.

The Parcells approach is more akin to the preference of Six Points , whose first exposure to football came from watching the Ohio State Buckeyes of Woody Hayes.

The Holmgren Seahawks, on the other hand, have been called “soft.”

Can these men coexist, or will Lerner again open his checkbook to buy out yet another coaching contract?

Most pundits have Holmgren calling security to walk Mangini to the door, but for now, it’s wait and see.

In an ideal world, Mangini would get at least one more year to build on what he has already accomplished, but the philosophical differences may be too deep.

If the Walrus and the Penguin can work together, their respective strengths could complement each other well.

But then again, in the wild, walruses eat penguins.



4. Pay The Man! (Again!):

Josh Cribbs now holds the all-time NFL record for kickoff returns for touchdowns, besting the previous benchmark by two touchdowns.

Cribbs did it on 100 and 103 yard returns against Kansas City, and achieved an eye-popping 44.8 yards per kickoff return.

Kick the ball to Cribbs, and give up almost half the field. Pay the man!

Back up the Brinks truck to Josh’s crib.

If all 53 men on the roster played with Cribbs’ fire and work ethic, the legendary Bears of Halas and the Packers of Lombardi would be mere footnotes.




5. Off JaMarcus:


That’s the sobriquet given to the beleaguered Oakland quarterback, one Mr. Russell.

Yes, Browns fans, things could be worse. Former Cleveland GM Phil Savage was enamored with him in the 2007 draft.

When a former first overall pick in the draft is benched for none other than Charlie Frye, the word “bust” is more than apropos.

But, Brayden Tyler Quinn does not look much better.

Against Pittsburgh, Quinn did enough not to lose the game.

If not for Cribbs and Jerome Harrison, Quinn’s play against the Chiefs would have sent the Browns home with a 2-12 record.

Six Points counted three poorly thrown deep balls by Quinn, two of which were intercepted. 

The final line on Quinn was 10-of-18 for 66 net yards with two picks for a 27.7 QB rating.

If the West Coast Offense is indeed en route to Cleveland, the WCO requires far more accuracy than Quinn has shown in either his college or professional careers.

It’s not only the long ball with Quinn. Short and intermediate passes are often thrown behind the receiver or at his shoelaces.

As of this writing, Charlie Frye is listed as “questionable” with a head injury. Russell relieved Frye against Denver and actually rallied the Raiders to a win at Invesco Field.

Six Points is wishing Frye the best of health, as the Dec.27 clash on the lakefront could very well be between present and future ex-quarterbacks of the Browns.

This just in: Quinn is out for the season with a foot injury sustained on a bootleg run in the fourth quarter of the Kansas City game, and Derek Anderson will get the start against Oakland. 

The game could still be a clash between present and future ex-Browns quarterbacks.



6. The Galloping Ghost


Six Points also has to give props to Jerome Harrison, who now ranks third in NFL history for most rushing yards in one game.

Harrison lit up the Chiefs for 286 yards on 34 carries and three touchdowns for an incredible average of 8.4 yards per carry.

The Big Show and his yet-to-be-named GM will have a tough call in the offseason, as Harrison will be a free agent.

While Harrison looked like the second coming of Leroy Kelly, how much of that was stellar play from the offensive line, how much was attributable to a porous Chiefs defense, and how much was Harrison himself?

Jim Brown also deserves accolades for congratulating Harrison on breaking his own single-game Browns rushing record.



Extra Point: The War on Christmas:

Like a fruitcake best used as a doorstop, the bleatings of a certain Fox News commentator about a fictitious “War on Christmas” are with us once again.

There is no War on Christmas. There never has been.

For longer than Six Points has been breathing, holiday advertising has used the phrases “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.” This is nothing new.

America’s greatest strength may be its diversity. E pluribus unum and all that.

Not all of us celebrate Christmas, and here’s a news flash:

Those who do not have no desire to rain on the parade of those of us who do.

If one could possibly concoct a War on Christmas, it would have to be a guerrilla war, fought not with brute force, but with guile and stealth.

Look! He drove past the big box store! He must be a Godless socialist!

In these economic times, Christians and non-Christians alike would do well to notice that nowhere in either the New or Old Testaments is written “To honor the Son of the Father’s birth, thou shalt maxeth thy Visa.”

Despite what the incessant barrage of advertising tells you.

The best spending one can do this season is quality time with friends, family, and loved ones.


Warmest holiday wishes to all in the Bleacher Report community from Six Points .



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