Tuesday, October 13

Downtown report, fools

It's this simple: I open a can of OE, I write a Downtown Report.

- The day of the game against the Bengals, the Browns pennant that typically flies below the US flag was absent. I'm not sayin', just sayin'.

- I would be remiss if I didn't include this Twitter link from The Dawgfather. It's not the same as experiencing Robert in person, but it's a taste.

- This season of Browns futility will have many moments that sort of epitomize the club's plight, but so far I'm voting for me falling asleep in the 3rd quarter against the Buffaloes. In a tie game. Browns football: where late and close isn't particularly exciting.

- So maybe the Browns' first win of 2009 wasn't a thrill-ride (though it was a win!), but I'll tell you something from Sunday that was: me destroying the Towpath half-marathon in 1:37:42. Granted, that fast of a time left me marooned at the finish with fully 25 minutes before the beer tent opened, but I'm still pleased with the effort. I didn't fall asleep, anyway.

- Raise your hand if you remember how many games the Indians won this year. The correct answer: 65. You know what's great? Is how I'm going to be totally jacked up for the opener come April-time. Snow somehow completely erases my memory of bad Indians seasons, and that's a good thing.

- As novel as it is to see Shaq and our other new additions (Parker, Moon), I'm not really into Cavaliers pre-season hoops. I think this is, in part, a reflection on the expectations I have for this year's club. How am I supposed to get into pre-season games for a team getting a rather awkward 10:3 to win the NBA? This isn't the Browns, where poor regular seasons make pre-season wins seem almost winnish. Hell, I'm not even sure Cavs regular season games will be attention-grabbing. Of course, once the Browns hit 3-13, I'll change that tune.

- "Black Taco" guy kills me. I don't care how stupid that campaign is. Black taco.

- I cannot overstate the extent to which I want for Braylon Edwards to fall flat on his face tonight in his Jets debut. Football Gods, you've given Browns fans so, so little over the past decade - can we at least see Loser Boy clang Sanchez's first offering off of the blocks of stone attached to his wrists?

- Yeah, I've been giving the Brownies some flack so far in this column, but they did sack it up on defense and have been playing good special teams all year. Positives do not abound, but they've battled two straight teams to draws, and one of them was a genuine good team. Derek Anderson was beyond bad on Sunday; add even a mediocre game to the Browns' rushing attack and we might score double-digits. Yes, I said it: more than 10 points. Interestingly, I didn't see even one shot of Quinn on the sideline on Sunday. I think the NFL has to pay him escalators if they show him above a certain percentage of snaps.

But let's look on the positives: games the Browns are going to win this year. The 0-16 SPECTRE is off their backs, and at 1-4, what can we expect over the next 11 games? (Yes, we have to watch 11 more). Lots of losing, yes, but not unabated 2008 Detroit Lion losing. Let's go into three categories: Maybes, Winnables, and No Fucking Ways. I will now name the latter "Lloyd Christmases" after Jim Carrey's character in Dumb and Dumber. "So you're saying there's a chance." I'm fully cognizant that sometimes teams win Lloyd Christmases, but here I'm going to define it as any game where we're getting two touchdowns. Winnables have us as the favorite or a three-points-or-less dog, and maybes fall inbetween.

Winnables: @KC, Oakland, @ Detroit
Maybes: Jacksonville, San Diago, Green Bay
NFW's: Pittsburgh (2), Baltimore, @Cincinnati, @Chicago

You know how people talk about the strength-of-schedule adjustments the NFL makes and how it supposedly encourages parity? None of those winnables have anything to do with the Browns' last-place 2008 finish. The Buffaloes did. My point is: only two out of 16 games are affected by last year's performance - it's not such a big deal.

Quibble about the categories if you like; we'll go week to week. The Bengals and Bears might be Maybes, but we'll get at least 10 points from each of them. Statistically speaking, here's the most likely outcome:

We take 1-2 of the Winnables.
We take 0-1 of the Maybes
We take 0 of the Lloyd Christmases.

That means we're most likely to win two more games. 3-13 is this team's destiny, probability-wise. 1-15 is technically the basement, but we'll grab one more at least. If we really, really improve and start playing way above our potential, we'll run the table on the Winnables and steal two more from the tougher groups, giving us six wins for the year. That is your best-case scenario. But three looks like the winner. So, Browns fans, look on the bright side: you will, in all probability, see your club win two more football games this season. Yay!
This may not be a good time to point out that the Indianapolis Colts have won 14 straight contests.

- Nothing to do with being Downtown or any Cleveland teams, but I found the Dré Bly situation in San Francisco interesting. Trailing 35-10 in a game his team would lose 45-10 to Atlanta, cornerback Bly picked off a pass and was headed to what seemed like a sure, if unimportant, six. He showboated around his own 35 with a Deion Sanders move and was stripped of the ball by a hustling Falcon about 10 yards later. Really a bush league play by Bly. After the game he was defiant, but the next day word came out that he had approached coach Mike Singletary to apologize and took the podium on Monday and struck what seemed a genuinely recalcitrant tone. Recalcitrant? Is that a real word? Anyway, that was big of Bly, but more importantly: look at how Singletary commands his players' respect. Maybe it was the pants-dropping of a years ago, but that club really seems solid under his guidance. They're not super-talented (everyone, meet Shaun Hill, starting QB) but they can win nine games with fundamentals and make the playoffs. This is what the Browns could aspire to if the players respected Mangini instead of resenting him. Maybe that day will come. OK, maybe that had something to do with Cleveland.

- MNF is on. No, I do not know why the Dolphins are wearing the Hurricanes' jerseys. But I do know this: I want some serious sackage of Chad Henne. As the immortal Figgs would say:


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