MMQB Mailbag: Browns look awful, Jets fans have their say and more
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The problem with preseason football, other than the fact it's preseason football, is you never have any idea what it means. Never. Having said that, I am questioning all the love I've thrown the Browns way this off-season. It would impossible not to, after being in the house for the first 17 minutes -- which took about four days -- of Cleveland's preseason loss to the Giants here Monday.
Keep in mind that in the second preseason game, the starters usually play a quarter, or a little more than a quarter. Or 17 minutes, roughly. So this wasn't the 78th guy on the roster screwing up for 17 minutes. It was the third, and 11th, and 15th.
In the first 17 minutes, the Browns fell behind 30-3. Derek Anderson was off-target and inaccurate on even the dumpoffs, screwed up a handoff with Jamal Lewis (looked to be equal blame on both sides) that the Giants picked up and ran for a touchdown, felt pressured constantly behind a line that's supposed to be very good, and finally got steamrolled into a concussion on a vicious Osi Umenyiora sack 90 seconds into the second quarter. The special teams were so awful I don't know where to begin. Maybe on the worst two consecutive plays in preseason history in the first quarter -- a punt Dave Zastudil kicked into his own blocker, Travis Thomas. Followed by Zastudil's free kick that Domenik Hixon ran back 82 yards for a touchdown -- and he was touched by exactly one Brown. The secondary, particularly under-pressure corner Eric Wright, was strafed by Eli Manning for a touchdown and a 53-yard interference penalty when he was badly beaten by Sinorice Moss. Cleveland had 128 yards of penalties, 15 coming when linebacker Andra Davis took a wild swing at a Giant after a play.
And Josh Cribbs injured an ankle. I don't know how long he or Anderson will be out.
Other than that, Mr. Crennel, how did you like the play?
"We didn't have enough poise,'' Crennel said. "We're not very good right now.''
A few things worry me about Cleveland now. The secondary, obviously. The Browns knew it was going to be a work in progress, especially at corner with young starters Wright and Brandon McDonald. They've got to get Shaun Rogers (shoulder) back healthy, which he should be for the opener so he can push the pocket and help take the pressure off the corners. Rogers and Corey Williams containing the rush is a worry, because we haven't seen them do it yet (though Rogers was stout early against the Jets last week) and the Browns gave up 4.5 yards a carry last year. And Anderson simply has to be more accurate than he was late last season (he completed 53 percent in his five December games), particularly with a rush in his face. That was troublesome Monday.
"What do you think?'' I asked Phil Savage, the Browns GM, outside the Cleveland locker room when the debacle was over.
"I don't know,'' he said. "You never know. It's preseason.''
True. But I sure hope the Browns have a big drawing board. They need to get back to it.
Seems I touched a nerve here (item No. 4), criticizing Jets fans for not showing up to see their conquering hero in his New York debut. Let's give the angry masses their say, and then I'll respond:
From Jake Nichols, of Winston-Salem: "You're criticizing Jets fans for poor turnout? Don't preseason tickets cost the same as regular season? I can't get on anyone in this economy for not going to a game, let alone a preseason one. Who can afford it? Gas at $4 a gallon, bread at $2.25, milk at nearly $4 and you're going to razz people for not paying $50 bucks to sit in the nosebleeds and watch a guy for two series? Seriously?''
From Steven Fishman, of Plainview, N.Y.: "Congratulations on writing the single most ridiculous point in all your years of MMQB. I am a season-ticket holder to the Jets. What stuns me is last week, you specifically wrote about how absurd it is for NFL teams to force fans to buy tickets to MEANINGLESS preseason games. Now you mock Jet fans because they don't want to travel two hours and give up a wonderful summer evening to sit in a football stadium and watch Brett Favre play two series of football in a game that means nothing? Sorry, we are not Green Bay. This is not the only thing to do here. ... Football preseason games are pointless. It is a way for all the owners to fill up their stadium twice and nothing else matters. The average Jet fan does NOT live in New Jersey and the trip is long and not easy. The new construction and lack of parking makes it worse. Your statement should have been the opposite -- 35,000 fans for a meaningless preseason game is actually more impressive then you think. Please take back your dumbest comment ever. (But I still love your columns.)
From Patrick Alexander, of Chicago: "Not a Jets fan, but even if my team lined up Jesus, Confucious, Lao Tsu, Moses and Mohammed, I wouldn't show up to a lame preseason game.''
Okay. Here are my five responses:
1. I love the anger and the bitterness and the raw feelings. Shows you all care, which I appreciate, and I do appreciate your heavy response.
2. Let's say in four years, when Kobe Bryant is considered one of the 10 best players of all time, he migrates to the Knicks in free agency, and the Knicks play their opening exhibition game at Madison Square Garden against the Wizards. You think there'd be an empty seat in the house? Dream on. That's what this is. Brett Favre, the legend, playing his first game outside of Green Bay after being the sole focus of the sports world for three weeks. I don't care if he plays 14 snaps -- which he did -- or 40. If you're a real Jets fan, and you've got tickets, and you're not out of town, you'd be there.
3. The fans aren't doling out extra money to see this game. They've already paid for the tickets. We're talking about 45,000 season-ticket-holders who chose not to come to the game. They chose to say, "We'll stay home rather than experience one of the great moments in the recent history of our franchise.'' Sorry. I've got a problem with that.
4. And to Steve, the season-ticket-holder from Long Island: It is a crime that you have to pay regular-season prices for these fraudulent games. You are being abused. I sympathize with you. But you've paid for the year, right? The tickets are in your possession, right? You've sat through so dismal days in the Meadowlands in recent years, right? I guess my question is: What's your level of devotion to this team, really, if you won't give up half of a Saturday to see Brett Favre quarterback your team on your home field with tickets you've already paid for, even if it's only for two series? Sorry. I don't get it.
5. I take nothing back.