How About Those Browns?!

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I can’t even really describe what I have been watching these past four weeks.  All I know, is that finally, after years of suffering, the Cleveland Browns are showing signs of progress.  It hasn’t been pretty by any means but, it is October 11th, and the Browns are still very much in the thick of it.  At the end of the day, this all a Browns fan can really ask.  After Sunday’s miraculous overtime victory, the Browns improved to 2-2-1 on the season.  There is hope.  There is also quite a bit of frustration, as they should really be 5-0.

Week 1, The Browns played to an ugly, 21-21 tie with divisional rivals, Pittsburgh.  Tyrod Taylor looked beyond pedestrian in this one.  Taylor finished with a measly 15 completions, 197 yards and 1 touchdown.  He did the bulk of his damage on the ground, as he rushed for 77 yards and  1 touchdown, on 8 attempts. Josh Gordon caught his last ever Browns touchdown as time expired, to tie the game at 21.

Despite generating 6 turnovers, the Browns weren’t able to break the tie in overtime, and the Steelers whiffed on their chances as well.  In the pouring rain, the Browns had tied.

Despite not losing for the first time in over a year, the Browns still entered week 2 with a bitter taste in their mouth.  I was expecting the doors to be blown off courtesy of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, and countless other weapons. I was dead wrong.  The Browns not only showed up, but they carried the play for the majority of the game.

Once again, the Cleveland Browns came up short.  Having gotten off to a 12-3 lead in the third quarter, the wheels fell off.  Right now, you can count on the Browns to blow a two possession lead the very second they get one.   Multiple missed field goals by Zane Gonzalez lead to the Browns dropping a heart-breaker, 21-18.

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Tyrod had a better performance in Week 2, but still left so much to be desired.  Taylor finished 22-30, 246 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. He didn’t cost the Browns the game, but as the Quarterback, he didn’t go out and win it either.  The Browns remained winless at, 0-1-1.

The following week, the Browns season was on the brink already.  Sure they were only 0-1-1, but they desperately needed to get a win.  They needed to end the worst losing streak in team history.  The New York Jets came into Cleveland, riding the chosen one, Sam Darnold.  Again, Tyrod Taylor was miserable.  The Jets had absolutely zero respect for his ability to read the defense, step into the pocket, and fire it to an open receiver down field.  The Jets blitzed on almost every obvious passing situation.  They were shutting the Browns rushing attack down, save for one big Tyrod run, and a few Carlos Hyde runs for first downs.  With just under 5 minutes to play in the 2nd Quarter, Tyrod Taylor was taken to locker-room to be evaluated for concussion.  The Browns were down 14-0, and reeling.

Enter, 6.

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Right from the get-go, The Browns looked like a totally different team.  Suddenly, the Browns were marching. They were able to muster up a field goal drive to end the first half, cutting the score to 14-3.  The Jets got the ball to start the half, but sensational Rookie Corner, Denzel Ward forced the Jets, Robby Anderson to fumble deep inside Jets territory.  Ward ran the ball deep down inside the Jets 10 yard line.

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The Browns would have to settle for a field goal, making it 14-6 Jets in the 3rd.  Sporting a stout, playoff caliber defense, the Jets would be forced to punt again on the ensuing possession.  Mayfield responded, leading a  7 play 69 yard touchdown drive, when Carlos Hyde rumbled in from the 1 yard line.  How did the Browns get to the 1 you ask?

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Holy shit!  The Browns don’t make plays like this.  Jarvis Landry displayed some fantastic concentration and hands to haul in Mayfield’s frozen rope. Down 8 points, Baker had the stadium buzzing.  Carlos Hyde capped off the drive with a 1 yard touchdown run, to make it 14-12 New York.  Surely the Cleveland Browns will botch the 2 point conversiton.  A sack, fumble, interception, penalty, or drop will surely be the outcome.

Wrong.

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And the game was tied!  Similar to the Landry catch, the Cleveland Browns do not execute plays like this.  Especially in a live game.  Yet Jarvis Landry tossed a beautiful left handed throw to Mayfield in the endzone.  Darnold and the Jets did not waiver, as Sam lead a 12-play 65 yard field goal drive to make it 17-14, J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.

Never fear, 6 is here.  Not flinching one bit, Mayfield 15-play, 65 yard touchdown drive.  Carlos Hyde rumbled into the endzone for his second score of the game, and the Browns chopped 6:52 off the clock.

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The following possessions saw Darnold through interceptions to Joe Schoebert and Terrance Mitchell, which iced the game for the Browns. Off the schneid at long last.  The worst year of football finally came to an end.  While Tyrod was knocked out of this game with injury, everybody knew it was going to be Mayfield the rest of the way.  He finished the game 17 of 23, 201 yards, and no touchdowns or interceptions.  Not bad for a half of play.  The Browns were feeling good about themselves heading out to Oakland the following week.

Feeling good alright!  Those 1-1-1 Cleveland Browns!  Oakland sucked the good feelings about the Jets win out of me.  I don’t want to talk too much about this game, I would just get pissed off.  The Browns won this game.  Period.  They won it.  Carlos Hyde got that fucking first down, you know it, I know it, and that sackless fucker Walt Anderson knows it too.

Baker Mayfield played fairly well in this one finishing, 21-41, 295 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  He also fumbled twice, but still the Browns had the ball with under 2 minutes to play, only needing a first down to ice the game.  On 3rd and 2 from the Browns 19 yard line, Carlos Hyde powered his way to the 21 yard line.   He made it to the marker, not past it.  The officials measured it and the ball was a pube hair past the marker for a first down.  For absolutely no reason whatsoever, the booth reviewed the spot.  Not a single replay showed the ball not making it to the sticks, where they originally marked it.  The officials decided to move it back a full yard out of nowhere.  This forced the Browns to punt, and from there they would give up their 8 point lead, and eventually lose in overtime.  Fuck Walt Anderson.

That brings us to this past Sunday.  The Baltimore Ravens came into Cleveland riding high, after dismantling Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Browns were coming off a brutal loss, one in which they should have won.  For the first time in what seems like 20 years, the Browns proved me wrong.  Coming in, the thought was they would get their teeth kicked in by John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Captain Elite Joe Flacco.   Not to mention, Baltimore has an insane track record against rookie QB’s.

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Since 2008 the Ravens are a whopping 15-5 against Rookie Quarterbacks, and 7-0 against Browns rookies.  The Ravens are always no joke on defense, but their offense is so Jekyll and Hyde.  This leaves you never knowing if you’ll get blown out, or play them close.

Early on, things looked like they could get hairy, as Baker threw a pick on the Browns first possession.

Tough one here.  This wasn’t a poor read, or forcing it into coverage, but it was miscommunication.  Mayfield was expecting Rashard Higgins to continue his route across the middle (a deep 10 yard in-route).  Higgins broke his route off and continued straight up the seam of the field.  Baker threw it expecting the crossing route, and it was picked off easily.

With great field position after the takeaway, Justin Tucker nailed a hit a 44 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Ravens, after the Browns dug in to force a three and out.  The remainder of the half saw the teams trade three-and-outs.  In the Second Quarter, Flacco and the Ravens managed to drive inside the Browns 10.   Sensational Rookie Corner, Denzel Ward picked an arrant Flacco pass, for his third interception in 4 weeks.  This kid has been everything you would ask from a number 1 Corner, and then some.

Wouldn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, as both teams punted twice a piece in the following 4 possessions.  Finally, with under two minutes to play, Baker Mayfield began to march the Browns in their 2-minute offense.  Two big gains from David Njoku of 19 and 24 yards had the Browns with 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 19 yard line.  Mayfield stood in the pocket and fired a 19 yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins to make it 6-3 Browns.  Of course new Kicker, Greg Joseph drilled the extra-point off the upright.

This gave the Ravens some time to march down the field, and potentially tie the game before the half ended.  Flacco managed to march the birds 45 yards on 7 plays to set up a Tucker attempt to tie the game.

Denzel Ward making a big time fucking play to keep the Browns in the lead.  This guy has done nothing but make play after play.  He just gets the ball, doesn’t matter how.  What a fantastic pick.  All the Browns fans bitching like school girls because they passed up on Bradley Chubb.  Gimmie the lock-down corner who has a nose for the football every single time.

The second half was a complete snoozefest.  The Browns managed to add a field goal to make it, 9-3 in the third quarter.  The Ravens countered with two field goals to tie the game.  As per usual, the Browns were unable to put away a team they were beating fairly soundly.

For the 3rd time in 5 games the Browns were playing an Overtime Period.   It continued much like the second half did, with each team exchanging punts and three-and-outs.  Finally with just over 2 minutes left to play in the stalemate, the Browns got the ball back at their own 16.  On the very first play of the drive, Todd Haley called one of the worst play’s I have ever seen.   A jet sweep to Rod fucking Streater.

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It was an 11 yard loss, and they were staring a 2nd and 21 from their own five yard line.  A 13 yard scramble by Mayfield helped gain a huge chunk of that loss back.  Then the magic happened.  On 3rd and 8 Baker Mayfield scrambled in the pocket, and found Derrick Willies at the first down marker, Willies slipped the defender covering him, and was off to the races.  He was finally brought down inside Raven territory.  It was a 39 yard catch and run, leading the Browns to 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 43.

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Two Duke Johnson runs later brought the ball to the Baltimore 19, with 6 seconds remaining in overtime.  The Browns took their final timeout, and we prayed.

Well I’ll be, the Cleveland Browns won on Sunday.  Can’t even describe the feeling of relief that was felt after this win.  The Jets win can be be spun as, “well it’s the Jets”.  This one is a quality win against a quality team.  I could give two fucks if it was ugly, pretty, or sexy.  All wins are sexy.  So now your 2-2-1 Cleveland Browns matching up against the 3-2 L.A. Chargers.    A winnable game by all means.

Will the Browns continue to win, and contend for the playoffs?  Probably not.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think they can, but I just feel like they are still a bit too young.  With the roster as it stands, they should have 5-7 wins by the time the time this year will be all said and done.  Could more be on the table?  Absolutely.  Could less be on the table?  Absolutely. In the meantime, we are getting some wins, and we are getting positive Quarterback play. No disrespect to Tyrod Taylor, but he was fucking dreadful. If Baker can continue to play at high level, and cut down on the turnovers, than we are in some serious business. But for now, let’s ride our top 5 defense to the gates of Hell.

For now enjoy whatever wins come from this season, because the schedule is fucking brutal Who knows, maybe they’ll catch fire with Six at the wheel?

Let’s go Browns!! October 11th, and they’re in the thick of it. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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16 Years Ago Today, Tom Brady Won His First Playoff Game

Snow Bowl. Tuck Rule Game. January 19, 2002. Whatever you want to call it, it was the debut of the greatest quarterback of all time in the playoffs.

The game, of course, was not very high scoring with the Patriots winning on a Vinatieri field goal 16-13 in overtime.

Nobody hated the Patriots back then but this was the game where we learned of the tuck rule where Raiders fans will take to their graves that Brady got away with a fumble.

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The rest is history — the Patriots went on to upset the Rams in the Super Bowl and start a near 20 year dynasty while the Raiders went on to lose the Super Bowl the following year and fade into irrelevancy.

Raiders Hire Their Next Head Coach

The Oakland Raiders have hired Jon Gruden as their next coach. According to Adam Schefter, the team will make it official on Tuesday when they hold an introductory press conference.

The move doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. This “news” was basically made official weeks ago but it was nice to finally get the conformation that both sides have agreed on a contract and we can put these rumors to bed.

Gruden, who coached Oakland from 1998 to 2001, is returning to the Raiders to replace Jack Del Rio, who was fired after the regular-season finale on Sunday.

At the end of the day this signing wont really make much of an impact. It’ll be funny and entertaining, but it wont really make that much of a difference. The biggest impact will be for the fans who watch Monday Night Football and the fans who love Hooters and Coronas. We don’t like change.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE –  Just broke that this is for 10 years, $100 million. What a joke to pay a football coach that much. The Raiders better hope it’s worth it because it’s probably not.

Oakland, How Could You Be So Stupid?

Insane.  On Sunday, cocky Adam Schefter strutted his stuff on Twitter, and SportsCenter reporting that Jon Gruden will be the next Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders.  I for one, cannot believe a team would make such an asinine decision to hire Gruden.  Not only are they going to hire him, they are offering him an Ownership Stake!  INSANITY!

What a complete, and utter gong-show.  Was Gruden once a very good NFL coach?  Absolutely, the man has won a Super Bowl.  It was clear by the end of his tenure in Tampa, that the game had passed him by.  Hi defense wasn’t what it once was, and he had an aging roster.  Since his win over Oakland in 2002, his teams toiled in mediocrity.  He was fired in 2009.  Since that time he’s done Hooter’s Commercials, and “Gruden’s QB Camp”.  They really want to hire this guy?  He is a goddamn media personality now.  He has been for quite some time, what makes the Raiders think he will do any better than Del Rio?

The Raiders pretty much pissed on Del Rio this past weekend.  He was fired after going 6-10, just one season after finishing 12-4.  Del Rio is a joke in his own right, but the man restored respectability to a once proud Franchise.  They canned him before they could even get on the flight home.  That’s the Oakland Raiders for ya!

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Overall I’d be super pissed if my team went after Gruden.  Granted, he’s probably (definitely) better than Hue Jackson.  Gruden is a media circus.  The internet lost it’s bonkers when the news broke.  Now imagine mini-camp, OTA’s, and Training Camp?  Going to be a fucking zoo.

I’d also be worried about how long he was removed from NFL coaching.  He hasn’t coached a game in nearly 10 years.  Long ass time to be removed from the best league in the world.  Back in ’09 it seemed like Gruden’s methods and schemes had gone stale.  Wonder how they will look in 2018-19?

Now, I think he could be a good coach for a still very young Derek Carr.  I think Gruden’s ability to connect with Quarterback’s on a personal, and coaching level is very real.  Spider 2 y Banana man!

I would also like to think that he is inheriting a pretty good roster.  The Tampa 2 defense he inherited in Tampa Bay was one of the best of all time.  He doesn’t have anything similar in Oakland, but they have Kalil Mack, Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Amari Cooper, Donald Penn, and many other good foundational players Jon can work with.   I still think this is an extremely asinine decision to mortgage so much on a man who’s been a TV personality for so long.  The Raiders had better hope this works out, or dark times will be ahead.

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