Browns Preseason Game 1 Awards
I was all buzzed up on Saturday while watching the Browns preseason game. That’s what you get for attending a beer tasting event in the sun with never ending samples of 3 oz. high alcohol microbrews being shoved in your face. “This is our Imperial Peanut Butter Porter! But wait; try this Black Rye IPA on Cask!” With the sun beating down, things start to get woozy. Those beer events have too many big guys with beards swaggering around like Beer Nazis. Look dude, no one cares about the percentage of citra hops in that beer. Leave the poor people behind the tables alone. Let them provide party juice to the dorks with their pretzel necklaces. A band plays a terrible version of “Jumping Jack Flash”, completely ignored by the crowd. At a certain point, it becomes necessary to drop a tear gas canister and exit in the ensuing madness. Let the chaos of the crowd clawing at themselves like rats provide the cover to slip out of the area. The first “real” NFL action of the season needs to be absorbed in relative peace.
Each season the population of NE Ohio has somehow forgotten how frustrating and terrible it is watching the Browns attempt to play football. The team has been consistently terrible every single year with only slight variations in their inability to reliably score. The defense has never had a real personality. The team exists primarily to provide other teams someone to play and create highlights on their trip to the Playoffs. Yet, each August there is a collective lapse of memory as otherwise rational people decide en masse that the Browns will somehow be competitive in the upcoming season. It’s across the board too. From sports talk hosts to local television news to season ticket holders in the cheap seats, every single person every single year thinks there is reason that THIS YEAR is going to be different. It’s sad really…
Now as I have outlined, I was in no condition to really analyze the football that was played on Saturday. I just sort of let the whole scrimmage wash over me. It sure looked like the regular old Browns with just a few names changing on the backs of jerseys. Ben Tate is to Rueben Droughns is to William Green. Brian Hoyer is Brady Quinn is Kelly Holcomb is Tim Couch. The Browns looked like a 5-11 football team, which is to be expected as they are generally a 5-11 football team. As the team enters into Year 15 of what appears to be a 25 Year Rebuilding Plan, there is one shining light.
Cleveland is the center of the Sports Universe right now. LeBron’s decision to return here and inevitably blow his knee out or dislocate his neck or something equally horrifying is huge for the city. However, that is all child’s play compared to the next three months of the Johnny Manziel Saga. I have never seen an unremarkable appearance in a first preseason game broken down with the vigor of Manziel’s. While Hoyer’s time on the field has been waved away as a poor to barely competent performance, Manziel’s equally lackluster time on the field has been called “electrifying” in one media report I saw. Maybe it’s just me, but if those two QBs had switched jerseys, the national media would be shitting themselves over the amazing poise shown by Hoyer and rue the missed opportunities of dropped balls. The 16 yard scramble by Manziel would not even be noticed had he had “Hoyer” on his back. It’s all about what we choose to see, isn’t it?
Manziel is going to play. I don’t know if it’s going to be because he actually wins the job, or Haslam makes the decision. He’s playing. It’s what EVERYONE wants. Nobody gives a shit if Brian Hoyer could take this team to 7-9 if they can go 5-11 with Johnny Manziel putting them front and center of ESPN highlights all year. If I am Brian Hoyer, I do whatever I can to put together a strong 40 minutes of tape showing that he can play QB in the NFL. There is no one in the NFL that needs to have a great preseason like that guy. If he can make some plays, and actually win a couple of real games early before the angry mob of Browns fans demands John W. Football under center, he will sign a nice contract that sets him up for life financially. We aren’t talking private plane/supermodels fellating you on your Malibu compound money, but something along the lines of “play a round of golf in the morning, and maybe swing by the high school and help out on the coaching staff” money. That’s nothing to sneeze at. I could see myself shuffling around in Adidas shower shoes with my biggest concern the occupancy levels of some strip plaza I own in Boca Raton. I’m well suited to that and I’m guessing Hoyer is thinking he might be too.
Ultimately Hoyer will probably be part of the wreckage of the Johnny Football Train. This thing is happening. The Browns are going 5-11. Manziel is going to be quarterback. It’s going to be really exciting until The Public becomes bored when they realize that Manziel is just another one of these great college players that can’t quite transition to the NFL. Maybe I’m wrong. I barely knew what I was watching by the time the third quarter rolled around. Did the game even finish? I sort of lost track. However, based on the hubbub (or is it “hoopla”?) surrounding Game 1 of The Johnny Manziel Era, I think we can all agree that John is starting. Maybe it’s not Game 1, and maybe not Game 3, but it’s going to be before the leaves fall off the trees. This offense is going to suck (again) and every dipshit in town (and across the country) is going to be howling wildly about how Johnny needs to play. Get ready. Here comes John W. Football Jr.
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