Monday, November 7

Browns! Texans! Blogs!

There's been a serious dearth of Browns coverage here on FCF so far in 2011, which I think stems from 1) them being one of the dullest NFL teams one could imagine so far, and 2) our lead Browns writer sleeping on the job.

Luckily, I'm here, and after three days of serious birthday partying, I'm fully detoxed and ready for some Browns. Because of said parties, I'm relaxing at home today instead of seeking adventure downtown, and thought I'd liven things up with some real-time observations about the Clevelanders today as they battle the Texans.

By the time you read any of this, the game will long since have ended. It could have been a thrilling Browns win, another desultory loss, who knows. That's one of the reasons sports are so fun - no matter what, they remain unpredictable. Editor's note: having now seen this game, I realize that it was in no way representative of why sports are fun.

The Browns have a habit of using Sunday afternoons as an opportunity to ruin the goodwill built up by a college football Saturday, and today finds them set up nicely to do just that. The Buckeyes scored their third straight victory yesterday, a nice 34-20 win over Indiana, and michigan's ineptitude finally caught up with them in a 24-16 loss at Iowa. I can't think of a sequence epitomizing a player more than Can't-tie tossing four straight incompletions from two yards out to effectively finish off the wolverines' hopes of winning their side of the Big 10. Things are good in the football portion of my mind.

And then there's the Browns, a team that obviously I love, but one that is perpetually looming on Sunday, as Timothy Olyphant's character put it in Go, "just waiting to suck." There doesn't seem to be any amount of Buckeye goodwill they can't erase - even when Ohio State notched the program's biggest win of my lifetime in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl (Jan 3, 2003), the Browns promptly went out and lost their most heartbreaking game of the past 20 years (Jan 5, 2003).

But hey, maybe today will be different, and maybe the Browns will consolidate some of those gains with a surprise win over the Texans. Ed: nope. We're 10.5-point 'dogs missing our top two RB's, so things aren't exactly set up well for the Browns to even their mark at 4-4. But hey, things didn't look great heading into the New Orleans or New England games last season.

On the field
I have no problems with the Ian Eagle - Dan Fouts broadcast tandem.

We've been outscored 44-3 in the first quarter of games this season. How is that even possible?

Someone advanced the theory to me earlier this week that the Browns are the worst team in the NFL, a classic case of someone saying something into which they have put absolutely no thought. I mean, we're not good, but the Browns are 3-4 and have better point differentials than eight other clubs, a quarter of the league. There remain two winless teams in the NFL, both of whom the Browns have defeated head-to-head. At the very minimum, you have to put the Browns ahead of those two clubs. Calling the Browns the absolute worst in the league is just silly.

1st quarter
Texans @ own 18, 15:00

Seeing Lawrence Vickers makes me miss...Lawrence Vickers.

I also miss the days when the Browns used to wear brown jerseys. This all-white all-the-time is nonsense. If Shurmur wants to pay tribute to Paul Brown, wear a fedora or something.

The Texans march 82 yards with ease against the Browns to take a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard TD run from perrennial all-pro Ben Tate. Browns tackling on that drive was absolutely terrible.

Browns @ own 25, 9:43
I didn't even have time to write about how we seem to have more negative-yardage opening drives than positive ones before Ogbonnaya fumbled the Browns' first offensive play. But: we gained three yards!

Texans @ Browns' 28, 9:37
Matt Schaub to a comically-open Owen Daniels makes it first and goal Texans, before noted speedster Schaub runs in a QB draw from the two to make it 14-0 Texans. It's entirely possible that, between the time zone change and Daylight Savings Time ending, the Browns were unclear about the actual start time of this game.

In a related story: the Browns have now been outscored 58-3 in first quarters this season. That's unreal. I'm raiding my fridge already.

Browns @ own 48, 6:59
Not we're getting called for face mask penalties on ballcarriers. This I have never seen. It takes some of the luster out of Cribbs' 66-yard kick return, but still decent field position. Offensive face mask, wow. Nick correctly txts me, "what a crock of shit."


We should have plowed into the line there on 3rd and 1, twice if necessary. Shurmur is one of the least bold coaches I've ever seen operate. His sideline manner makes Jim Caldwell look positively histrionic. He (and you) should read Joe Posnanski's article about playing to win from a few days ago.

Thankfully, Phil Dawson is an absolute monster, banging through a 50-yarder to cut the gap to 14-3 while doubling the Browns' season-long first-quarter output. Seriously, between him and the suddenly-amazing Drew Basil, I can't remember the last time I was upset by a missed FG. A blocked FG - that's another story.

Texans @own 25, 3:36
I continue to be amazed by how many holding violations occur in football. You know it's illegal. You know it's a 10-yard penalty that kills drives. So why do you keep doing it? This seems to me like the deterrent provides more than enough incentive to pretty much eliminate holding, but apparently not.

Another dumb punt - thanks, Gary Kubiak. Your club has run the Browns up and down the field all day so far, and you just kick it away instead of trying to get a half yard? The Football Gods duly punished him with a touchback.

That guy in the McDonald's commercial is going to have a horrible rest of his life.

2nd quarter
Browns @ own 20, 15:00

Another punt on 4th and 1. We're bad AND gutless. I actually forgot the game was still happening at this point, probably because we're not particularly interested in winning. Shurmur wants to keep these games close and maybe keep his job another year.

Texans @ ~own 35, ~11:00
Yes, Pat, this is the defense in whose hands you are frequently so eager to put the game.

Arian Foster runs through a bunch of arm tackles an route to a 19-yard TD run making it 21-3 Texans. I'm really, really regretting having started this blog effort.

Browns @ own 31
Three plays, negative one yard. Poor McCoy. I've heard a million times about how this season is about finding out whether McCoy is our guy, but all I've really found out is that it's hard to play quarterback with the likes of Artis Hicks and Jason Pinkston in front of you.

I don't deserve Browns football this bad, nor do I deserve talking baby commercials. This just seems gratuitous.

Texans @ own 40, 5:30

Browns @ own 20, 4:55
Third and long seems to be this club's motto.

The Browns collect one nice first down on this offensive drive, then allow a 50-yard return from Houston's Jacoby Jones. Sounds about right.

Hey, can I tell you something? I've been working on this spreadsheet to track my athletic training week by week. It's going to be bad-ass - I've got all sorts of color coding and formulae and stuff. Really cool. I mention this because I didn't want you to think I was only watching the game, because there's three hours gone forever.

A TURNOVER! AN INTERCEPTION! Mike Adams lays the wood to Owen Daniels as the ball arrives; D'qwell Jackson grabs the ensuing pop fly and takes it back to the Cleveland 41. Maybe we can grab a few points and some momentum before half?

Browns @ own 41, 2:13
One-yard rush to start. Then incomplete pass.

I will now stop complaining for a while because the Browns actually went for a 4th and short and got it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish to express my sincere hope that Coach Shurmur learned something from having done so.

Bad pick by McCoy (possibly because Little wasn't looking) and moronic penalty from the useless Shawn Lauvao gives Houston three more before half, making it 24-3 Texans at the break. Ugly.

3rd quarter
Not going to lie to you - I zonked out on my couch after Dawson made yet another 50-yarder, woke up and saw the 30-12 final score, and shut off the TV.

Go Browns!

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