Browns ‘Improved? How much so?’

By: Michael Reghi

*** I am reflecting on***

Whether or not the ‘improvement’ I’ve noted in the Browns first six games of the year is as meaningful as appears on the surface. I present the cases for and against, and let all of you have at it!

Eric Mangini and Tom Heckert

On the plus side, they have held leads in the second half of five of the six games played, four of those they’ve led in the 4th quarter…as opposed to 2008’s misery, and last season’s 1-11 stench, in which they were completely outclassed and done by halftime. The word ‘Competitive’ comes to mind. And yes, the vast majority of Tom Heckert’s first go round in free agency, trade, and the 2010 draft class, is a definitive upgrade over their predecessors. Lastly, Browns opponents have commented on the tenacity, and toughness this team shows…..while all of that is tangible, and should count for something….bottom line….1-5, with a roster that seems to reflect Eric Mangini’s penchant for ‘blue collar, hard-working, team oriented players’, who don’t question the philosophy or the system used to achieve results.

That’s the ‘plus side’….Flip that over, and it shows a team that still has many holes where skilled, talented NFL players should be, especially on the offensive side of the ball, a 2009 Mangini picked draft that shows just Alex Mack as anything of significance, a ‘three selection’ second round, that has garnered virtually close to zero, one released in year two, David Veikune, one who can’t show enough talent to earn a consistent starter’s role, and be productive, Brian Robiskie, and one who starts…because, by default, this team is devoid of talent in one of the positions most crucial to offensive success in the NFL, wide receiver, in Mohammed Massaquoi. It very well could prove to be the Mangini undoing ultimately. That decision now in the hands of Mike Holmgren.

Bottom line says 1-5, with a trek to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints Sunday before embarking on the bye week. Do we hear from Mike Holmgren then? Can’t imagine the bottom line pleases him. You are what your record says you are, Bill Parcells influenced….is the only criterion in the NFL. A suffering business for head coaches who have to look at the numbers, and be responsible for, and possibly bear the consequences they reflect.

***I’m reflecting on***

Rookie qb’s Colt McCoy performance Sunday in Pittsburgh, hamstrung by limited repetitions for the first five weeks of the season as the Number 3 qb, an offense that many around the league consider to be archaic, due to lack of difference makers to play with, and further curtailed by the loss of Joshua Cribbs in the first half, and having to get his NFL baptism against Dick LeBeau’s wrecking crew of a defense….and the young fella from Texas…impressively went about his business in the face of what all the prognosticators and pundits laughed away as ‘total disaster’!

Consider if you will the intangibles checklist from McCoy. Would he fall prey to staring at the vaunted Steelers pass rush, instead of staying eyes locked downfield, allowing receivers routes to develop? Would he, at 6 feet tall, be able to ‘sidestep’ in the pocket to create passing angles and lanes to deliver the football? Would he be prone to ‘leaving the pocket’ too quickly, not allowing plays chances to develop in the pass game? Would he hold the football too long, and be devoured by the ever-changing Steelers blitz packages and secondary schemes?

The intangibles!!! My checklist was very, very satisfied by Colt McCoy’s performance yesterday. It leaves me desiring to see more…much more…from the heralded Texas qb.He assured his football team Saturday night that he was oozing with confidence in his abilities, and asked them to share that belief with him…Nicely executed, Colt! Both the bravado with your ‘mates, and the way you gained more respect and confidence through your efforts! Don’t think for a moment that’s not huge!!!!!  Big, enormous ‘plus’ for the young qb in that Browns locker room!!!

Now, as I cautioned you beginning Thursday, I was going to stay even keel with my forecasts for McCoy, regardless of the outcome. Wouldn’t go over the top with ‘franchise qb’ yak if well, and WOULD NOT bury him, as another ‘bum, who can’t play’ nonsense, like many of you would, had it gone poorly..It’s one performance, that you use as a starting point of reference for assessing his skills, and leadership qualities. One performance men and ladies..period!

That said….damn, I can’t wait to see more! Many of the qb guru’s that I respect, speak of that ‘it’ factor…you can’t pinpoint tangibly, and it goes way over and above a kid’s number’s, or who he has playing around him….McCoy is intriguing as hell, isn’t he! He doesn’t scare..isn’t timid, and is willing to put in all the work to make himself ‘;big time’….I love that quality about him!

Remember the ‘Reghi Mantra’, that holds true for me with EVERY qb that wants to be a successful NFL starter…Do you make everyone around you better? I’m willing to believe, as I have since he was drafted, that eventually, Colt McCoy can be that type of results professional, in the most significant of all positions in team sports!

*** I’m reflecting on***

How Jim Tressel and his Ohio State Buckeyes ‘didn’t’ handle their affairs in Madison, Wisconsin Saturday night…

Correct me if I’m wrong here..didn’t Tressel proclaim that he would get his special team units up to speed, get rid of the alarmingly poor breakdowns, and not have the dramatically negative results continue to occur in that phase of the game??? Believe he did. You just can’t have that opening kickoff returned to the zone for 6, as David Gilreath did to rock the house in Mad-town!!

inexcusable, Senator Tressel!

You know what crystalized to me that Ohio State wasn’t ready to play?? Wisconsin’s first series with the football…announced with a thud, as in Ohio State ‘d’ lineman and linebackers being dominated, blown off the ball, on 6 play, 58 yard td drive…14-0, and lights out! I know, you’re going to tell me at 21-0, Ohio State opens the third with 15 ponts, cut the lead to 21-18.What happened next? Another Wisconsin mauling at the line of scrimmage, big td drive, go up 10 at 28-18, and if it were a day at the beach, would have been the town bully, kicking sand in the face of the conquered.

Look, as much as it displeases, Tressel didn’t have his top ranked team in America ready to play..on him, from this viewing. 5 football games to play, one of them on the road in Iowa City, against a more physical, formidable squad then they, in Iowa. And now, as if Kirk Ferentz needed any blueprint for success against the Buckeyes, he’s got on tape for his Hawkeyes, how you blast Ohio State in the mouth, get your home crowd whipped into a frenzy, and take down the Buckeyes…..who are a very fine football team, just not an elite squad, and certainly not worthy of the title as ‘best in America’…too bad, it brings the entire Big Ten down once again..unless you believe Michigan State, Iowa, or even Wisconsin are legitimate national championship timber!!!

See you at 3, Cleveland!




1 Comment

  1. Very fair Reg…. However, the fact that we burned through 3 QB’s by game 6 is not good at all. and we cannot keep harping on Mangini’s draft last year… He was essentially fired from that job so we must move on from that…

    As a long time season ticket holder I want to see this thing one more year with Mangini. The schedule lightens a lot next year, Colt hopefully can go into the year as a starter with a full summer of training camp as starter and Heckart hopefully will address more of the draft issues. To fire another coach this year would set us back further… and finally, odds are we don’t get Gruden or Cowher.. Super Bowl winning coaches don’t work for other Super Bowl winning coaches… we would get some first time coach who would be Holmgren’s lacky

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