Ah yes, Hump Day. Unless you satiate your football cravings with half-filled stadiums and Wing-T MAC clashes on Wednesday night, or speculative Fantasy rankings-rubbish from “experts” after you smash 3 Silver Bullets with your ribeye, you need something to get you to weekend kickoff…
Sound the klaxons; we’ve created the Hump Day Fire Drill to get you through the week until the sweet symphony of gridiron warfare fills the air again. These are our takes on the previous week’s action, with a little more sauce than your average ESPNchilada…
Don’t get sprinklered, dig in!
Brown to the Future
By Ricky Minno
I am about to say words, and these words might initially come off as barbaric and quite possibly even blasphemous, but hear me out…
**Ahem** The Browns of Cleveland are a model franchise for the NFL of the Future. Now, you might be saying to yourself “Yeah right. Get real. Mr. Balloon hands. No way. Have you seen their records over the years?
Or their unexplainable front office decisions?
Or their epic draft failures?”
Great points, imaginary person responding to me. Allow me to counter-refute. The Browns you know are not the Browns your children will know. Have you seen the movie Moneyball? Remember how a robust Jonah Hill (hes like a Pufferfish film-to-film) and Brad Pitt assembled a baseball team with ~$44 million and successfully competed against the rest of Major League Baseball when many teams had payrolls of $125 million plus? Yeah, that actually happened, and it’s happening with the Browns as we speak. Paul DePodesta (aka Jonah Hill) is better known amongst NFL circles as the Browns’ Chief Strategy Officer because, well, that’s his job, and he’s money-balling the F out in Cleveland. Then, they landed head coach Hue Jackson. This is one of those “if you don’t know him yet, you gon’ learn” situations. The guy’s a frickin’ mastermind. Look no further than his week one game plan against the Pittsburgh Steelers for evidence. He’s been in and out of various coaching positions in the AFC North since 2004, and, as you might have guessed from my writing topics this week, the AFC North is where my expertise dwells. On the field, the Browns’ current 53 man roster has an average age of just 24.24 years. That’s the youngest in the league. Where does one get young talent in such a league? The Draft. The Browns had three first round draft picks this year. Three. Out of thirty-two total picks. Then, in the second round they grabbed DeShone Kizer, who certainly has a long way to go before being giving the keys to any kingdoms, but after watching him closely in the preseason and week one, he sure as hell has the makings of a future franchise QB. To top it all off though, in next year’s draft the Browns have another two first rounders, three second rounders, a third rounder, and two fourth rounders. After just two NFL drafts, they will have taken fourteen players in the first four rounds. This is your friendly reminder that only eleven players per team are allowed on the field at any given moment of a football game. How did they get all of these picks? Moneyball, baby. Moneyball. While most of the NFL has been chasing butterflies, the Browns have been iterating over their front office, detoxing their figurative football body, developing an intense analytics-driven system, and assembling young talent with future draft picks. If the NFL was Game of Thrones, the Browns are the White Walkers. The Patriots are the Lannisters, Belichick as Cersei, of course. He bends the rules, everyone hates him, but damnit he always wins. Peyton Manning was Ned Stark, but, as we all remember, the Patriots decapitated him (SPOILERS!). And the Browns, as the White Walkers, are just chilling way up AFC North stacking bodies for a future war they’re probably going to win. You might laugh at the notion, as we all have laughed at the Browns in one way or another over the years. In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for all the joy their titilating tribulations have brought me. Enjoy it now while you can though, the giggles, the knee slaps, and jokes about how their mascot is not just a color, but a different color than the one on their uniforms, because it will come to an end. The Browns will laugh last.
Andy Dalton Still Sucks
By Ricky Minno
I imagine Scott Tolzien and Tom Savage woke up Monday morning, poured their glass of OJ half-full and said:
“Well, at least I’m not Andy Dalton.”
It seems like yesterday I was telling people that AJ McCarron should be the starter in Cincinnati. Oh, wait. That was yesterday….and the day before….and tomorrow too. Ok, ok… before I go any further, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Andy Dalton’s hair is red. One of the themes of this blog is fire. The jokes are endless and frankly too easy, so we’ll try to stick to his football performance. In case you missed it, the Red Rifle came out blazing in week one against the Ravens, going 16/31 for 170 yards, 0 TDs, and 5 turnovers. He had 3 interceptions in the first half alone. Then, after going back to the drawing board at halftime, he threw a fourth. His second half redzone fumble that almost surely would have saved his team from being shutout and embarrassed at home against a rival is just the icing on this proverbial carrot cake. Granted, the Ravens have a stellar defense, one that has top five potential this season even with their inexplicable litany of injuries, but no starting NFL quarterback should ever turn the ball over FIVE times in one game. “Starting quarterback” and “five turnovers” go together like Taylor Swift and healthy relationships (Seriously Tay? Another album about your man problems? Pull yourself together). Let’s put this all into perspective. One could argue the Bengals have had one of the best rosters in football over the past few years. They have talent from their front seven to the back end on defense, they have a top-five wide receiver in AJ Green, they have the slightly less talented and slightly more injury-prone version of Gronk in Tyler Eifert, and they have not one, not two, but three starting runnings backs whose skills all compliment each other. Who else is there to blame for such an abysmal performance? Well, there’s a lot to be said that head coach Marvin Lewis, who has also never won a playoff game during his Bengal tenure, has outstayed his welcome in Cincy by like, uh, eight years. One could also blame the front office for giving their employees such a long leash. I mean, if you give a child the keys to your car and they crash, that’s on you buddy. With all of that being said, bad owners have won Super Bowls, bad GMs have won Super Bowls, and bad coaches have won Super Bowls, but while there have been one or two anomalies to this natural law (queue the Trent Dilfer haters) bad QBs don’t win Super Bowls. They just don’t. The Bengals are a burning house, and Andy Dalton is frolicking in the front yard, flamethrower in hand. Week one literally just ended, and their season is over. Lock it in.