Sunday, December 27, 2009

Browns impressive again

Jerome Harrison today proved once again he can carry the load for the Browns, but on a broader scale the Browns showed they are headed in the right direction. The 23-9 victory over the Raiders was a team effort of offense, defense and special teams.

On Monday we will talk to Mike Holmgren. He will probably dodge questions about Eric Mangini's future. Mangini has earned the right to coach another season, but the problem is his philosophy doesn't coincide with Holmgren's. That doesn't mean they can't work together. It won't be an easy decision for Holmgren.

Critics will say the Browns three-game winning streak came against three inferior teams. Since handing the Steelers their fifth straight loss Pittsburgh beat Green Bay and Baltimore. Last week the Raiders beat Denver.

The Browns are getting better. Give them credit.

Holmgren isn't here

Contrary to some radio reports, Browns president to be Mike Holmgren is not in Cleveland Browns Stadium to watch the Browns play the Raiders. The players believe they are auditioning for their new bosses nonetheless.

Mike Furrey is starting at safety and Mike Adams is starting at right cornerback in place of Brandon McDonald. That is a statement about what Eric Mangini thinks of Hank Poteat (23) and Brandon McDonald (22).

It is bitterly cold, but the wind is not a factor; the ribbons atop the goalposts are barely moving.

The Raiders won the coin toss. Here we go. Phil Dawson's kick resulted in a touchback. Charlie Frye's first pass was intercepted by David Bowens. The Browns turned the takeaway into a 17-yard touchdown run by Jerome Harrison.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Browns make a point

Too bad only two games remain in this crazy season. The Browns are looking more like a team each week, despite their 3-11 record, and it is looking more and more as though Eric Mangini deserves a second chance.

There has been a lot less negativity in the locker room since Jamal Lewis went on injured reserve with post concussion syndrome. Jerome Harrison looked like a feature back today. He might get only 10 carries next week, but his 286 yards on Sunday is the third best all time performance in the NFL. Josh Cribbs returned two kicks for touchdowns and now has eight, an NFL record.

The Browns play hard every week. Mike Holmgren could become their director of football operations today. If he is going to be the head coach, the timing of the announcement is all wrong. Mangini deserves to keep his job.

The Holmgren buzz

The Browns and Chiefs are getting ready to kick off on a beautiful, sunny day in Kansas City. That isn't what everyone in the press box is talking about, though.

It's looking more and more as though Mike Holmgren will be named director of football operations for the Browns as soon as Monday. The clincher came Saturday when he turned down an offer to be president of the Seattle Seahawks in his home town.

The only question is - will Holmgren want to coach, too? It's looking that way. Holmgren could be president and coach and then hire an adept talent evaluator to run the draft and free agency. Holmgren would be his own boss and the boss of the general manager. It would be a unique setup.

I just don't see Holmgren sitting behind a desk. Coaching is in his blood. If it goes that way, Eric Mangini is obviously out. Some of his staunchest critics expect him to resign today. I don't think that will happen. He certainly deserves the right to finish the season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It is freezing here

As I turned right on East 9th off the Shoreway around 5 p.m. it looked more like Pittsburgh than Cleveland, judging by all the black and yellow clothing fans on their way to the stadium were wearing.

It is freezing - and we're in the front row of the glass-enclosed press box. I cannot imagine how cold it must be in the stands. Kickoff is 30 minutes away and the stands are nearly empty. The wind chill is minus 6. Wind gusts of 46 miles an hour are forecast.

. . . We just got the inactive lists from both teams. Hines Ward is playing for the Steelers despite a pulled hamstring. After calling out Ben Roethlisberger for not playing against the Ravens because of a concussion, Ward had to play against the Browns.

Brian Robiskie is on the active list for the Browns. Brady Quinn can not ignore him. The cold weather works against the Browns. The Steelers have the No. 1 rush defense and the Browns don't have anybody to equal Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Browns hang tough

Give the Browns credit for not quitting. The defense was banged up so badly even the backups got hurt.

Firing Eric Mangini is the easy way out for Browns owner Randy Lerner. If he listens to the fans and median critics, Mangini will be toast. But there is no denying the Browns are playing better, particularly Brady Quinn. Quinn has seven touchdown passes in his last three games and no interceptions. He has thrown 127 passes without being picked. That was his trademark at Notre Dame.

The Browns lost because they could not cover Antonio Gates. He caught eight passes for a career high 167 yards.

The 30-23 final was a true reflection of how the Browns played. They shut down the San Diego running game better than expected. The Browns are improving. It just isn't showing in the win column.

It's a ghost town here

Fifteen minutes before kickoff, and Cleveland Browns Stadium looks like it normally does at 3:45 p.m.; the place is nearly empty. The difference is in a 1 p.m. kickoff the Browns are usally being clobbered and the fans are headed to the exits. Kickoff is 4:05 p.m. today so fans in San Diego can watch at 1 p.m. PST instead of 10 a.m.

The crowd could be in the concourse staying warm until just before kickoff, but I doubt it. The better guess is the crowd is in the mall Christmas shopping, putting up the tree or taking advantage of no television blackout.

Hank Poteat is starting for injured (concussion) Brodney Pool at safety and C.J. Mosley is starting for Kenyon Coleman (knee) at end. Mosley expects the Chargers to run the ball down the Browns' throats, but with Poteat at safety don't be surprised in Philp Rivers throws three touchdown passes.