If the rest of the Cleveland Browns' fans are like me, the holidays seem a bit blue this time around. You're slightly bummed because of how helpless the team looks, holiday lights just don't shine as brightly as they used to, and whatever Browns ornaments you used to decorate your Christmas tree seem to hang lower than all the rest.
In attempts to brighten the rough times, I've decided to try and cover this dismal season holiday style. We've spent the past 14 weeks venting on the Bleacher Report about how awful it's been, so I'll attempt to discuss the 4-10 term with a different route.
I figured I might as well try and inject some Christmas spirit into these gloomy days, and I do so with the Twelve Days of a Cleveland Browns Christmas
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Brownies gave to me:
12 Seconds of Free Time
This is actually a gift we give opposing quarterbacks who spend the entire game dropping back and, whether or not we blitz three guys or 16, still end up feeling more protected than the Pentagon itself.
For those of us watching at home, we could see the snap, surf through every channel our television has to offer, and come back to see the QB going through his seventh, eighth, and ninth reads of the play. And if you zoom out, you can see Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald getting burned so badly they need skin grafts.
11 on the Field
I don't mean 11 players, I mean No. 11 Ken Dorsey. He shouldn't be there. In fact, simply saying "Ken Dorsey is starting Sunday" really describes 2008 in a nutshell for the Browns. As good as the "third stringer comes in and leads the team to glory" routine would've been, no one seriously figured on seeing that here.
No offense, Ken, but I struggle to believe you even start yourself when you're playing Madden NFL '09. So you'll have to forgive the entire NFL Fantasy Football audience for not leaping out of their seats and cutting Drew Brees so they could sign you to their teams when Derek Anderson went down.
10 Too Many Field Goals
If anyone on this year's team deserves to break records, it's Phil Dawson. Yet, you have to assume that even he was wondering, "Is it really a good thing if the only person on this team lighting up the scoreboard is the place kicker?"
He should be pretty thankful for this offense though, as they are usually nice enough to give him a generous spot to kick from. Typically it's the one-yard line.
9 Total Starts
That would be the glaring stat of Donte Stallworth, our supposed big free agent signing last offseason. Stallworth missed the majority of his games due to an injury sustained during a pregame warmup (15 weeks later, it still sounds pathetic).
However, it's not like he does much when he's actually on the field either. Often when watching games and seeing the lineups scroll across the screen, I find myself saying, "Wait, we have Stallworth? When did that happen?" Then I try to imagine just what exactly he does during his pregame routine.
I figure he walks up to the trainer, saying, "Well I'm all stretched out, now hit me seven times in the chest with this aluminum baseball bat. I'm going to show these guys how tough I really am."
8 Minutes of Offense
Anyone else wondering why exactly our first drive of the past couple games can get us all the way to the redzone and then, once Dawson puts us up 3-0, we cease participation in the game?
I guess Romeo gets all the guys together after the drive to say, "Alright, well we've scored all we can, start stalling so we can pull out a win." Only after the score shifts from 3-0 to 31-3 do we stop taking a metaphorical knee and start forcing passes into the defense's hands.
I'm still just so caught off guard about the idea of Crennel's job security being in trouble.
7 Decent Tackles
That's the combined total for the entire season. Other than that, we watch our defenders look like they're trying to create their own version of football follies. Pretty good stuff from our "improved defense."
Look, I love what Shaun Rogers is doing, but he can't be the only weapon. That's basically like trying to protect your yard by putting up one fence post. The majority of the teams will end up walking around the post, while the Lions will take multiple games to try and develop a strategy on how to outsmart it.
6 Points per Game
Remember when sports analysts fawned over our offense, claiming we could score on anybody? If anyone made such a claim these days they'd probably be fired before finishing the sentence. Said offense is apparently seeing a brick wall in front of the endzone which is only visible to them.
Making it all the more disappointing is the fact that our defense still somehow creates turnovers. I doubt they're thrilled when they march back to the sideline after picking off their third of the day, just to see Phil Dawson warming up on first and ten from our own 14-yard line.
5 Stupid Comments
"We've got our swagger back," - Derek Anderson after only beating the Bengals by eight (Good call, DA, good call).
"The Giants started last year 1-3 and won the Super Bowl, so can we" - Everyone on the team (umm...no).
"We just didn't get the job done today" - Romeo Crennel after every loss (motion to have this as our 2008 slogan instead of "The Name on the Door is Cleveland").
"Go root for Buffalo, F&*% you" - Phil Savage (just exactly how were we supposed to react to this?)
"You guys are on crack," - Derek Anderson when asked if he thinks Josh Cribbs should start at QB (I guess you'll have to consider me one of those doing blow).
4 Chudzinski Call-Outs
On Monday night, Josh Cribbs claimed he was upset with the play calling. Add that to Jamal Lewis' three "Give me the ball" speeches and it seems like the team thinks Chud doesn't have the magic anymore. Maybe he got drunk the night after the Giants game and forgot all the plays he called.
Amazingly, he came away complaint free after the game against Tennessee. This is shocking because of Lewis' impressive stat-line that day - seven carries for 3.5 feet.
3 Coaching Changes
This one won't happen until the end of the season, but I'm starting to wonder if even Romeo Crennel's friends and family are asking him if he thinks the Browns can land Bill Cowher next year. That's still unknown, but what we do know is Chris Palmer + Butch Davis + Romeo Crennel = Zero head coaching experience.
Sure do hope this trend comes to a halt this offseason, and, in attempts to help with that, I chose to send my Christmas list to Randy Lerner. Unlike most boys and girls, my list wasn't filled with gift requests, just a crumpled piece of paper with the words "Make it Stop" written in all caps.
2 Possible Targets
This would be in reference to whenever Derek Anderson was the starting quarterback. He had one good game this year, and I'm still convinced that was somebody else. Every other game, his accuracy was pretty miserable.
Whether it was a Hail Mary or a screen pass, your guess was as good as mine when it came to figuring out just who exactly he was throwing the ball too. It could've been Braylon Edwards on a fade route, or maybe Jamal Lewis on a shovel pass, or he could just be trying to hit Hank Fraley in the back of the head. Didn't matter, though, he missed.
And a Wideout on a Temper Tantrum
Happy Holidays, Braylon Edwards. From me, you'll be receiving the end of my support. Earlier this year, I wrote an article attempting to defend your blunders.
But now, you're showing off your immaturity yet again, saying things that make Phil Savage's email responses sound like they were written by Winston Churchill. So, I'm sorry, the wheels have fallen off the Braylon Backer.
I'd toss you various points as to why this had to happen, but you'd probably catch a couple, drop the rest, then claim the only reason I'm really upset is because I'm an Ohio State fan. Oh Braylon, you can read me like a book. Here's hoping that book also has some sort of self-help strategy or the offensive plays for another team in 2009.