Big$ - Excuse me folks, I’m still suffering from that metallic, pre-pukey taste in my mouth that was left by being subjected to Weeden vs. McCoy on Monday. I will battle through it though. My thoughts on the Raiders game: bad team, double-digit win, move forward. Now on to the 5 foot 10, 180 lb. elephant in the room: Johnny F’n Manziel. Rather than getting to bask in the joy of a 4-3 record, I spent the majority of last Sunday fielding tweets from the delusional Johnny Football camp. So I will break up my final response to them for the week into two parts: 1st, young people of Northeast Ohio and beyond, Johnny doesn’t represent you, relate to you or resemble you. He is the superstar athlete son of an oil tycoon. He would be much more inclined to clown you to his butler or weekly swimsuit model lady friend than to split a Four Loko while playing Madden with you. You know who gets you, young Cleveland? A YOUNG GUY FROM CLEVELAND (cough). Now on to grown people who are riding the Johnny train. Do you not think that there is pressure from Jimmy H to play his prized southern belle? Yet, he remains on the bench week after week. This tells you that Johnny is not producing at an NFL level in practice. His lack of professionalism is also on display each week that he chooses a stocking cap over a headset on the sideline. This observation is coupled with the coach’s revelation that he has been fooling around while running the scout team. How anyone defends their belief in Johnny is beyond me, but it is definitely without warrant.
K-Dubs, the Soldier – As a long-suffering Browns fan, I am not sure I know the meaning of an “ugly win.” Despite some of the chatter floating about Browns Nation this week, I am of the opinion that all wins are dime pieces. I know fans are worried that what is viewed as the easy stretch of the schedule has seemed like a grind, with the loss to Jacksonville and a game against Oakland that was close for three and a half quarters. Let’s not lose perspective, gang. This is a team that was 4-12 last year, and now they are without their star wideout or their Pro-Bowl center. The Browns are 4-3 approaching the halfway point of the season, and they remain in the playoff hunt. And if nothing else, this team has not made me turn off a game out of frustration yet. I am confident that this is the dawn of the New Browns. I do say that recognizing, in football, there are always things to improve on, though. The running game floundered against a bad defense for the second straight week, gaining just 39 yards on 25 attempts. And the defense gave up 328 yards to rookie quarterback Derek Carr. The important thing, though, is that team made plays when it needed to, especially where Donte Whitner forced a fumbled that Joe Haden picked up and returned for 34 yards to set up the touchdown that put the game out of reach.
Q) It’s time to declare who you would rather have LeBron James start in place of this week. Who you got?
Big$ - Now of course The King has some serious responsibilities on his plate with the newborn and championship run, but I believe if Jimmy H. would spring for the Deion Sanders helicopter, he could be flown in each time he’s needed to return a punt.
K-Dubs, the Soldier – LeBron attacks the rim as tenaciously as anyone in the NBA, that is why we need him to play in place of outside backer Kiki Mingo this week. Mingo was drafted as a pass-rusher, but has zero sacks this season as the Browns enter their eighth game. We need LeBron to lead the blitzkrieg on Tampa Bay quarterback and Napoleon Dynamite look-a-like Mike Glennon.
Q) The Browns take on the Bucs this week. Thoughts?
Big$ - Even though I’ve relied on pessimism to make it through the last 15 years, I truly think that the Browns are heading in the right direction. How many wins that will mean at the end of the season remains to be seen, but I do believe they are poised to make short work of the hapless Bucs. I see a 24-3 Browns victory.
K-Dubs, the Soldier – Remarkably, for the third-straight week, the Browns play a team at the bottom rung of the NFL. The Buccaneers come into this week ranking last in the league in total offense and defense, and they are led by a young quarterback in Glennon, who is in his first full year as a starter. Glennon has played respectably (58.8 completion percentage, 8 TDs, 4 Ints), and he keeps his composure in the pocket. The key for the Browns on defense is to pressure Glennon and make him throw on the run, as he has a tendency to float some ducks when his feet aren’t set. Although the Browns defensive line has underachieved this year thus far, they may be able to push Glennon out of his comfort zone. The Buccaneers have surrendered 10 sacks in the last two games, and starting left tackle Anthony Collins is out with an injured foot. The Browns front seven, led by Paul Krueger, should be able to get to Glennon, especially as D-lineman Billy Winn returns from injury. The Buccaneers do have a size advantage on the outside, with a pair of 6ft.-5in. receivers in Vincent Jackson and Johnny Manziel’s partner in crime from his Texas A&M days in Mike Evans. These giants are matching up against Haden, Buster Skrine, Justin Gilbert and NCP favorite K’Waun Williams. But the good news is that Haden has historically played better against the big wideouts, like Bengal A.J. Green, than against shiftier dudes, like Antonio Brown of the Steelers. Starting running back Doug Martin will also be out on Sunday because of injury. I think with Winn rejoining the front-seven rotation and the banged-up Ahytba Rubin likely to play, the Browns can bottle up the Tampa running game and register a couple of sacks, while forcing Napoleon Dynamite into a pair of picks on their way to winning the battle of field position.
On the offensive side, the Browns will be taking on the Tampa Two, a defensive scheme that relies on getting pressure on the quarterback with four defensive linemen while dropping seven into coverage with two safeties playing deep over the top. I expect them to put eight or nine defenders in the box, as the Jaguars and Raiders did, in an effort to stop the Browns’ previously dominant running attack. To combat this, I think the Browns need to spread the defense out with three- and four-wideout sets to open up running lanes, or utilize more quick screens and jet sweeps to set up short yardage situations on third down. Gaining yards on the ground will be hard against star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who this week became the highest-paid D-lineman in the history of the league, but he is a standout on a team that ranks last in the league in defense. I expect the Browns to be in control of this game from the get, chalking up a 24-10 win in front of the Dawg Pound. Even though if it is closer and the Browns win in a scrap, I stand by the belief that all Browns wins are hot, Kate-Upton-in-a-whip-cream-bikini hot.