What's the story with OSU cornerbacks not looking back for the ball? Baver answers Mr. and Mrs. Gawel's questions - Purdue Week

Colin: Before diving into the defense, last week we talked about OSU suddenly having trouble running the football. Is it too late to add a package with the QB under center or a fullback, or is that just not how Urban rolls?

Baver: I would have to think they’ve worked with Haskins under center in practice and determined that this is not one of their better options. If we don’t see it this week at Purdue, then we probably won’t see Haskins under center at all this season. As for a fullback, I think you may see one in a short yardage situation here and there, but not regularly. I don’t know if OSU is tipping off some of the called tailback runs, but Dobbins and Weber are often running into tacklers the moment they get the ball. Seems to be a combo of the play calling and the run blocking. It has to be better Saturday night or this Buckeye team may very well have a “1” in the loss column come Sunday.

Colin: Nick Bosa completely dominated in what amounted to three halves of football this year. How bad does it hurt this defense knowing Nick will never don the scarlet and gray again?

Baver: It’s devastating. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised. But with what we were hearing up until Tuesday, it sounded like there was a decent chance Nick was coming back this year. Bosa was the most dominating player in CFB the first 3 weeks of 2018. It hasn’t been the same without him. Chase Young is struggling with consistency, and injuries have slowed down several other OSU D-linemen. This is a huge loss for this Buckeye team.

Colin: Question from my wife: Our cornerbacks never seem to look back for the ball? Is that the proper technique or is something wrong?

Baver: It depends whether or not the cornerback/DB is in an advantage position with the receiver. Some coaches call it being “in phase” with the receiver. That is, being stride for stride with him, and/or basically on the receiver’s shoulder. Then, often coaches teach the DB to look back and attempt to locate the ball. But if the DB is not in the said advantage position, coaches often teach them to NOT look back for the ball. A coverage man turning to play the ball could allow a receiver that is running full speed to gain more separation from a DB that isn’t in phase with him. 

It actually appears that the OSU corners have been in that favorable position many times this season, but have not turned around to play the ball. And that has led to several big plays for OSU opponents. That’s a problem.

….a good question Mrs. G. : )

Colin: Enough doom and gloom, for all of our flaws the Buckeyes only gave up 14 points, Haskins is throwing for a million yards and we are undefeated and #2 in the country. How concerned should Buckeye fans be about Purdue? 

Baver: They should be very concerned…no doubt about it. And about every OSU fan I have talked to this week is worried things are beginning to fall apart. Jeff Brohm is one of the great offensive minds in the game, and the Boilers are capable of lighting up a scoreboard. True frosh Rondale Moore will likely cause OSU some problems. He is a danger to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. 

Problem is, Purdue is going to have to count on the weather to slow down this Buckeye passing attack. And that may happen to some extent, with 20 to 30 mph winds in the forecast. In the end though, I see the Buckeyes outlasting Purdue, just like they have done to several opponents already this year. I like Ohio State 38 to 27, with Purdue wearing down in the 4thqtr. 

Colin: Does Harbaugh finally beat Sparty and what other games will you be keeping an eye on this week? 

Baver: Dantonio lives for this matchup…and Michigan can really struggle away from home. Still Michigan St has so many problems, and Michigan is the better football team right now. Shea Patterson has made some big strides, and Michigan will be tough to beat going forward. I think Michigan gets the win and the 7-pt spread looks about right to me.

Then you’ve got ESPN GameDay headed to Pullman, Washington to see Washington St squad face Oregon, the GameDay crew’s first trip to Pullman. The Cougs have covered the Vegas spread in all 6 games this year and are 5-1 overall. On the other side, the Ducks Justin Herbert, the potential #1 overall pick in the next NFL draft, is lighting it up right now. But Oregon is off the emotional upset win over Washington last week, and are going to have their hands full with Wazzu’s Gardner Minshew, who has thrown for 400+ yds in 4 of his last 5 gms. I like WSU in the strong situation spot here to win and cover the 3-pt spread against the Ducks.


EQUAL UA - by Scott Goldberg

I attended an event held by EQUAL UA.  You may have seen their yard signs around town—EQUAL Together We Are Better. EQUAL UA is an organization with the goal of fostering a welcoming and tolerant community.  A place where differences can be celebrated and appreciate rather than ignored or assimilated.  

Two brave young (especially when compared to me) black men raising their families in UA spoke about their experiences in our community.  They both spoke of racist encounters right here in UA. They then went on to discuss an incident involving a young black boy who was stopped by the police for suspicious activity in UA back in July.  The suspicious activity—delivering newspapers. I was embarrassed as they described these incidents that not only had they occurred in the community I call home, but that I wasn’t even aware that any of it had occurred.  

The young men described why they chose to live in UA.  Their answers weren’t very different than my own—Great schools, beautiful parks and homes, and safe neighborhoods in which to raise their families.   

I have always been fascinated by intersection of sports, race and politics.  I know for many sports is a place to escape and just appreciate athleticism or root zealously for their team.  Perhaps for them “Shut Up and Dribble” resonates. For me, the athletes I admire the most—those closest to being heroes have walked that tightrope.

For me, no one has stood taller than Arthur Ashe.  I grew up playing tennis and truth be told Ashe’s prime was already behind him by the time I began paying attention to tennis players like McEnroe, Borg, Connors and Lendl.  But Ashe was still sort of around most notably as Davis Cup captain for the USA team. And also as an activist; an early voice denouncing apartheid in South Africa.

Beyond that Arthur Ashe was super cool. Sort of Obama before Obama.  As Davis Cup captain, his attempts to reign in the volatile behavior of McEnroe (always) and Connors (on the few occasions he was willing to play for his country) were a struggle.  But with Ashe it was clear winning wasn’t everything; how you played the game, how you represented your country were equally if not more important than the outcome. That is why what happened in the Women’s US Open final, played on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court was all the more remarkable.

Serena Williams was attempting to win another grand slam title, her first since taking time off to become a mother.  Her opponent, Naomi Osaka, was seeking her first grand slam title at the age of twenty. I had seen enough of Osaka’s play earlier in the tournament to know this had the chance to be a really competitive match.

The young Osaka was the better tennis player that day, but unfortunately the match won’t be remembered for the outstanding tennis.  It will be remembered instead by the controversy between Serena and the umpire of the match. By the time the match ended, Serena had been imposed with three conduct penalties the last of which included a one game penalty that all but sealed the match for Osaka.  

But on this day, Serena was no champion (or was she a champion of some bigger cause?).  Her behavior closer resembled McEnroe than it did Ashe. And that seemed part of Serena’s frustration—that she was being treated differently because she is a woman.  What went unsaid was that perhaps she was being treated differently because she is a black woman.

Although the initial conduct penalty was for coaching which in her mind branded her a cheater.  The penalty stemmed from her coach’s actions, who admitted the infraction and so if anyone was cheating it was him, but that may be splitting hairs.

Her frustration mounted as the match continued.  Osaka had an answer for every shot Serena threw at her.  Eventually causing Serena to smash her racquet after losing her service game for which she earned her second conduct penalty.  As the next game began, Osaka began the game already leading 15-0. Serena was surprised to be assessed a penalty point as perhaps she believed the umpire had rescinded the initial conduct penalty for coaching, but he had not.  Serena’s frustration grew as her composure deteriorated.

The third conduct penalty was assessed after Serena called the umpire a thief.  Serena believed the umpire had stolen a point from her when assessing the second conduct penalty (mostly because she didn’t think she deserved the first conduct penalty).  Serena was shocked that her “tame” outburst caused a third conduct penalty and with it an automatic one game penalty. So instead of being down a set and 4-3 in the second set she was now down 5-3 and Osaka needed just one more game to win the match.

Remarkably, Serena regained her composure to hold her serve to make it 5-4.  More remarkably, the young Osaka calmly held her serve one last time and she was US Open Champion.  The two champions met at the net as the crowd booed—this was no way to celebrate your first Grand Slam title.  A feat all the more impressive because of who she beat.

In her mind, Serena wasn’t just standing up for herself, but all women, and as a new mother for her daughter.  It was if she wanted to create a record that her daughter could look back to and see her mother didn’t just accept injustice, but stood up and fought it.  And I think that is worth admiring—we should all be doing more of that in our lives when we see it.

Not too long ago I was in the check out line at the grocery.  The man in front was holding a plastic bag with groceries in it and was just buying one item which he indicated he had forgotten to buy when he checked out previously.  The cashier asked to see his receipt for the items he already bought indicating it was the store policy to do so. The man walked out without buying that additional item.  He was a black man.

I wish I had walked out with him.  Or at least asked the cashier if she would have done the same to me.  Even if she had said yes, at least I would have made her think about it.  Instead, I rationalized that I had spent the last hour picking out all these groceries and I didn’t want to start over somewhere else.  I checked out, paid my bill and walked out without saying a word. I failed my community that day.

Standing up (or kneeling) for injustice can be inconvenient and uncomfortable.  I guess that is why I admire it so much when I see others taking on these burdens.  The moderator of the EQUAL UA event reminded the mostly white audience that we too have obstacles in our lives we have to overcome, but those obstacles don’t exist because we are white.  People of color face obstacles in ways its hard for me to conceptualize, but on those rare occasions when I am confronted with it, I need to do better, I need to take a stand or say something.  I hope next time I won’t just Shut Up and Dribble.

Serena’s behavior over-shadowed what should have been a celebration of women’s tennis and the rise of a new, deserving champion. Serena’s behavior also has led many to consider or reconsider the double standards that exist for woman and people of color as athletes and more broadly in our society.  Perhaps there is a lesson for our local community as we reconcile the history of UA with the goals of groups like EQUAL UA to make UA a more tolerant and welcoming place.  A worthy endeavor indeed.



Are Buckeye Fans Spoiled? Baver Answers Colin's Questions - Gopher Week

Colin: This Buckeye team is 6-0, ranked 3rdin the country, and rises to the occasion when they need too. So before I get critical…are Buckeye fans too negative? 

Baver: We’re spoiled…no doubt about it. Dwayne Haskins has 25 TD passes on the season, while the next closest B10 player has 11. That’s absurd. But I get swept into the negativity too, and didn’t have a good feeling after the Indiana game. But, this Buckeye program has been the best in CFB over the last 25 years, and the fans of 120+ other FBS schools would gladly trade places with us. And this Buckeye team is a legit top-5 team this season…as is usually the case.

Colin: Okay onto the criticism….things don’t seem to be getting much better on the defensive side of the ball. Big plays left and right again this past weekend against the Hoosiers. Half the season is in the books. I may have asked this before….if so I’ll ask again….can this defense get to a championship level?

Baver: If a championship level means playing with or beating Alabama, my guess is probably not. Seeing the OSU corners take a big step backward against Indiana, a team that was missing its top two receiving targets, is alarming. But stranger things have happened, and I still think this is Urban’s most talented roster from top to bottom. Also, Isaiah Pryor is starting to turn the corner at the strong safety spot. Getting Nick Bosa back also would help matters greatly, and things are starting to look up in that regard as well.

Colin: With the backs we have and the arm Dwayne Haskins Jr has I would think the running game would be excelling right now. Defenses should have to respect Dwayne’s arm, which should open up the running game. But it doesn’t seem to be happening….why?

Baver: Yeah, OSU’s avg rush per carry (by game) has decreased every week this season. Urban has talked about the run blocking being more complicated than the pass blocking. I think the lack of a running threat at QB has probably hurt OSU’s tailback production. And this offense went from being almost assured of getting a yard when they needed it to having little confidence in picking that yard up. Of course, the insane numbers Haskins is putting up through the air has meant bigger offensive numbers overall. Still, the running game has to get better if the Buckeyes want to compete at the highest level.

Colin: So what is the story with Urban and what happened on the sidelines last Saturday? Someone ran into him by accident and knocked him down? Did I hear that Urban denied that even happened? 

Baver: It’s my understanding that multiple people saw a staffer accidently collide with Urban on the sideline, with Urban then falling to the ground. But this wasn’t caught on camera, and TV viewers only saw Urban being tended to, holding his head while down on one knee. Urban didn’t flat out deny a collision happened, but didn’t want to go there in the post-game presser….not sure why. Urban just isn’t himself, and I wonder how much gas he has left in the tank. It’s the same story every game watching his body language on the sidelines. I hope Urban can decompress at some point. He is going to need to, as there are not many more stressful jobs than the one he has here.

Colin: Anything worth worrying about with the Gophers coming to town?

Baver: As a 29 ½ pt favorite, if Minnesota beat Ohio St, they’d be the biggest dog to win a CFB game this season. Probably not happening. You can argue that Minnesota has lost their top offense player (RB Rodney Smith), their top defensive player (CB Antoine Winfield Jr), and top special teamer (again Winfield) to injuries. They’ve lost by 17+ in both of their B10 matchups. Their D is probably their strength, but they will still give up 6 or more TDs I think Saturday. I have OSU winning (and covering) 49-14. A guy to watch for them? How ‘bout true frosh Daniel Faalele at RT who goes 6’9”, 400 lbs. 

Colin: We’re halfway through the season. Who are your four playoff teams at this point?

Baver: This is based on what these teams have accomplished so far: 1) Bama 2) Notre Dame 3) Ohio St 4) Georgia. Clemson would be a close 5thright now. Too many talking heads are penciling teams in the playoff like it’s a done deal. Too early for that.

Colin: What games/lines will you be keeping an eye on this weekend?

Baver: Two of them: #15 Wisconsin at #12 Michigan, with UM giving 9 ½ under the lights, and Sparty at #8 Penn St, with the Nits laying 13 ½. The over/under in the Big House is 49 which makes laying 9 ½ a lot I think. I like the Badgers plus the pts. In State College, I think Penn St takes care of business over a struggling Michigan St team. James Franklin will want revenge….I like the Nits laying the 13 ½. 






The Best, Most Prolific Rock & Roll Band from Illinois Not Named Cheap Trick - by JCE

editor’s note: I fully realize that most readers perceive that the Pencilstorm writers & editorial staff all reside together in a communal household like the 1968 Grateful Dead, but that is only partially accurate: everybody lives together three weeks out of every month, and the fourth week we all go home to our wives & families.  (Mostly because we need a break from Big $ going on & on & frickin’ ON about the Cleveland Browns.)  Occasionally this leads to problems: just before the September break Scott Carr and JCE were listening non-stop to Enuff Z’nuff, and when JCE went home to Virginia, we wound up with double E/Z blogs. Since this is roughly the four-year anniversary of Watershed opening for Cheap Trick in Myrtle Beach, it would be a good time to post the second. (After all, since Pensilstorm has run approximately 1100 KISS entries, we didn’t think two Enuff Z’nuff were too many.) 

Our fearless Pencil Storm leader Colin might ban me for writing this blasphemous piece suggesting that I might love Chicago rockers Enuff Z’Nuff as much as I love Cheap Trick, but I’ll take a chance.  Let me start with this very accurate introduction to the band as found on Chicago’s Enuff Z’Nuff emerged in the late 1980’s during the waning days of the glam metal scene, but their sugary melodies and keen power pop smarts hewed more closely to artists like Cheap Trick and Badfinger.  Despite their obvious pop leanings, Atco (their record company) pushed hard to market the group as a glam metal act, much to their detriment.

Enuff Z’Nuff released what I believe is their fifteenth studio album on August 10, 2018.  They have at least two live records, and a couple of greatest hits compilations, but I am not including those here.  Upon release of the latest, “Diamond Boy,” I decided that I should follow in Colin’s footsteps and rank every Enuff Z’Nuff song, the same way he did for Cheap Trick.

After thinking about it for a day or two, I concluded that the task was too daunting for me, so I decided to rank their albums instead.  

Before I rank the albums and name the best songs on each, let me say that this band is one of the most underrated and misunderstood bands of all time.  As alluded to above, the reputation as a hair metal band that these guys got saddled with is absurd.  I have often considered Cheap Trick to be the perfect definition of a rock and roll band.  I always thought “power pop” was not the right description for them.  Enuff Z’Nuff is very similar—they are not really power pop, but they  certainly are not metal.  They are a rock and roll band.  Period.  They have other similarities to Cheap Trick as well.  Both are from Illinois, both record a ton of records, both have been around a long time and are still making excellent, relevant rock and roll music (I love “Summertime Looks Good On You,” the new Cheap Trick single by the way).  If you only know a handful of Enuff Z’Nuff songs, and you are a Cheap Trick fan, you owe it to yourself to dig deeper.  Much deeper.  The band has had a ton of personnel changes over the years, with the only absolute constant being Chip Z’Nuff.  His writing partner and co-founder of the band, Donnie Vie, has had a hand in almost everything up until the most recent 2018 release. 

Here Is My Ranking of 15 Great Records by ENUFF Z’NUFF,  ranked from one (best, awesome!) to fifteen (not the very best, but still really good):   

1 Enuff Z'Nuff - (Released 1989).jpg

1.  Enuff Z’Nuff  -  (Released 1989)

This is the one of my favorite records of all time.  It is the record that launched the band, it is the closest thing to a hit record they ever made, and unfortunately, it is the record that landed them in the hair metal conversation.  I still don’t know why, other than the look they had, which was clearly pushed by their record company in hopes of selling more records.  The best songs here are “For Now,” “I Could Never Be Without You,” “Fly High Michelle” and “New Thing” but every song on this record is excellent.  

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  2.  Strength  -  (Released 1991)

Strength was the follow up to the successful debut.  The band tried mightily to downplay the glam rock, make-up wearing reputation they had been saddled with and made a great rock and roll record which was critically acclaimed.  Unfortunately, it did not sell well.  The highlights here are “Hollywood Ya,” “Something For Free” and “Baby Loves You.”  It’s really good all the way through though.

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3.  Clown’s Lounge  -  (Released 2016)

This record is only two years old, but it is made up mostly of material written and recorded back in 1988 and 1989.  It is vintage Enuff Z’Nuff and does not sound at all like a bunch of B-sides or demos.  My favorite track is “Dog On A Bone” which interestingly is the only new track on the record.  Another excellent song here is “The Devil of Shakespeare” which features guest vocals by the late Jani Lane from the metal band Warrant.  That song is circa 2004.

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  4.  Animals With Human Intelligence  -  (Released 1993)

The boys just kept rolling along, churning out masterpieces for record number three.  “These Daze” is my personal favorite, but “One Step Closer To You” and “Bring It On Home” are other standouts on another great record.

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5. 1985  -  (Released 1994)

This record came out in 1994, but as the title implies, the songs were recorded much earlier.  If there is one Enuff Z’Nuff record that truly is power pop, this is it.  “Hollywood Squares,” “Aroused” and “Fingers On It” are the standout tracks.  “Fingers On It” also appeared on a Yellow Pills Power Pop compilation record.  The liner notes were written by shock jock Howard Stern.

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6.  Question  -  (Released 2004)

This record simply titled “?” includes some new material and some outtakes from prior recording sessions.  The best tracks on the record include “Home Tonight” which is just a beautiful song, as well as “Help” and “Man With A Woman.”

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7.  Dissonance  -  (Released 2010)

Donnie Vie rejoined the band for this release.  It is a solid effort.  My favorite track is “Lazy Dazy” along with the title track and “High.”

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8.  Diamond Boy  -  (Released 2018)

This is the first and only record that Chip Z’Nuff delivered with no Donnie Vie assistance and himself as lead vocalist.  The record is solid all the way through.  Frankly, it’s better than I expected.  The tracks “Metalheart” and “Faith Hope & Luv” are particularly good, and are definitely the rockers on this effort.  There is also plenty of softer power pop sounds here too.

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9.  Tweaked  -  (Released  1995)

This was the first independent release after the initial four records by the band.  The lead guitar is toned way down as they continued to fight the glam metal reputation they had been saddled with.  “We’re All Alright,” “Has Jesus Closed His Eyes,” “Mr. Jones” and “How Am I Supposed To Write A Love Song” are my favorite tracks.

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10.  Welcome to Blue Island  -  (Released 2003)

This record was the last with Donnie Vie fully involved in the band.  The record features the excellent “Saturday.”  Another favorite track from this one is “Roll Me.”

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11.  Paraphernalia  -  (Released 1999)

This record has guest appearances by Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) and Rick Nielson (Cheap Trick, Duh!).  It includes a cover of “Everything Works If You Let It” by Cheap Trick.  The best tracks are “Ain’t It Funny” and “Believe In Love.”

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12.  Ten  -  (Released 2000)

This would be the 10th release by the band (but only the ninth studio album).  It is on the pop side of the spectrum.  “There Goes My Heart” and “Holiday” are fine songs.

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13.  Peach Fuzz  -  (Released 1996)

This record, like 1985, was made up of older songs and B-sides of singles.  The songs were mostly recorded around the time of the Animals With Human Intelligence record, but these songs are much more pop oriented than that album, which is likely why they were left unreleased until Peach Fuzz.  The best tracks are “Let It Go” and “Make Believe.”

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14.  Seven  -  (Released 1997)

This, as the name implies, was release number seven by the band.  It was originally released in Japan under the title “Brothers” as a record by Chip Z’Nuff and Donnie Vie, rather than by Enuff Z’Nuff.  It is one of the most mellow releases, which causes it to be near the bottom of my list.  The best track is “On My Way Back Home.”

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15.  Covered In Gold – (Released 2014)

There’s a little bit of everything here.  “Everything Works If You Let It” is a Cheap Trick cover that appeared on an earlier record.  “She Sells Sanctuary” is a very well done cover of The Cult.  The Beatles are covered here, too.  It’s a mish mash.  There’s a version of Nirvana’s “All Apologies” and even David Lee Roth’s “Yankee Rose.”  It is my least favorite record by one of my favorite bands.

That concludes my list.  If there are any Enuff Z’Nuff fans out there that read this, please tell me what your favorite record is.  


Click here for Scott's entry: August 1989 / Enuff Z'Nuff Release Their Debut Album.


Ricki and JCE (John, to his friends & family) first bonded over their shared mutual love of Boston's Finest Sons - The Neighborhoods - and everything extended out from that rock & roll ripple.  JCE lives in Culpeper, Virginia with his wife & daughter, and thinks a long-rumored new Neighborhoods record being released in 2018 would make this a perfect year.

Was the Raiders Game Fixed? The NCP Answer Your Browns Questions.

The North Coast Posse is a top five Browns twitter follow. @northcoastposse

The season is one quarter of the way in and the Browns sit at 1-2-1. Can this be considered a success?

Punter Supreme: Improvement: yes.  Success: No. Viewing a losing record as success just speaks to how bad the Browns have been.  More than anything, there is hope now. Not just blind faith as in recent seasons. We can see real improvement on both sides of the ball and it is creating some real excitement.  If the Browns win this week against the hated Ravens, I will boof an entire 40 oz. of Bud Light. Dilly Dilly to the B.

Big $: In professional sports, moral victories carry very little weight. Success is measured in wins and losses and the Browns record still reflects a losing culture. True success will come when they can truly start finishing games.

Which loss has been most painful?

Punter Supreme: So far, last week’s Oakland game was hard to swallow.  All the losses hurt, but taking an L after having a very rare two-score lead was difficult to watch.  

Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward are shaping up to be the best first round picks the Browns have had in a long time. How excited should Browns fans be about the future?

Big $: Having the Baker Buzz killed hurt more than the Tyrod losses. However, it may be the dose of common sense us Browns fans needed moving forward.

People drool all over the defense but they don't exactly close games out. How good are they? 

Punter Supreme: The jury is still out on this one.  Only 7 teams give up more yards per game, and only 3 give up more time of possession.  But they are a top-10 defense in terms of 3rd-down conversions allowed, and they average more than 3 takeaways per game.  The defense needs more consistency, but I think that will come as the younger players continue to develop. Even though they gave up 45 points to the lowly Raiders, they get a bit of a pass, because the offense had a few turnovers inside the Browns own 20 yard line that gave the Raiders a short field.

The Browns lost starting CB Terrance Mitchell to a broken his wrist last week, but the team has so much more depth in the secondary this season compared to years past that the unit should be able to fill the void he left.  

Was the Raiders game fixed?

Big $: Do you mean, “Was the game the Browns just played against the franchise that is currently en route to the gambling capital of the universe” fixed? NFL wagering is a billion dollar business and 3 points is thin enough that a call here and there can swing the tide completely. I think it would be naive to think that officials aren’t cognizant of how their actions could move stacks of cash. So in a nutshell, yes I do think there is a reason to believe foul play made an appearance in Oakland.

Looking ahead, what games do the Browns need to win for Hugh to keep his job? 

Punter Supreme: Hue has to win games in the division.  If he goes 0-fer in the AFC North, he is out for sure. If he losses games against other teams at the bottom of their divisions, like Houston and Atlanta, his seat will get hotter.  

Big $. I stated before the season that 2-5 would get Hue fired, and I stand by it, regardless of games won/loss.