Sadly, today will mark the last game day post of the 2012 season. The Browns head into the finale in Pittsburgh bruised, battered, and knowing that the entire front office and coaching staff is about to be blown up yet again. Still, we don’t focus on negativity here, so I am going to stay optimistic (at least about the actual game).
Unlike the last matchup with the Steelers, Charlie Batch is not the starting quarterback for Pittsburgh. Also unlike the last matchup with the Steelers, Pittsburgh is no longer in playoff contention. Basically, they don’t have much to play for in this game, so this is a prime opportunity for the Browns to get after it and cap this roller coaster season with a Pittsburgh sweep. Honestly, I don’t care what circumstances a Pittsburgh sweep comes under, I care that it comes.
Forget playing for draft picks. The Browns are guaranteed a top 13 pick, and that will be plenty to secure another top talent that will help the team. Furthermore, there are good skill position players in place already that still need to grow. Finally, Thad Lewis is about to get his Matt Flynn on and startlingly throw all over the Steelers, making us wonder why we ever needed Brandon Weeden in the first place anyway (more on that in the BS1999 official prediction).
As far as the bruised and battered part, I’m OK with not pushing anybody too far and risking further injury/pain (i.e. Trent Richardson).
I was disappointed (but not surprised) when I got an ESPN alert on my phone saying that Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur will not be returning next season. If you’re a follower of the site, you may have read some of my thoughts on these two already earlier this season. The bottom line is that two years with them together (Heckert joined in 2010, Shurmur came in 2011) is simply not enough time to fairly judge progress.
Yes, the NFL is a league that demands quick turnarounds, and nobody wanted a quick turnaround more than Browns fans. Unfortunately, the reality is that there was no way that Heckert and Shurmur could accomplish this considering the state of the team when they took over.
So, here we are. A new owner, a new CEO, a new President, and a new General Manager/coaching staff on the way. Aside from that fact that the plethora of front office positions seems excessive, Cleveland fans are about to endure another rebuild. I’ve said this before, but I would like to reiterate once again that if Mike Lombardi is hired as the team’s GM, I fear for the future of the franchise. Why? Because during his tenure with the Oakland Raiders from 1999-2007, the team enjoyed 3 winning seasons and drafted JaMarcus Russell.
Before you start thinking that Lombardi couldn’t help that his owner was Al Davis, let me say that I understand that that put him at a disadvantage. Regardless of who he worked for, there’s a reason Lombardi is now a TV personality for NFL Network. The same NFL Network that thinks it’s a good idea to have Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin on the same set for a television program that is supposed to provide analysis. Even after all 32 NFL teams couldn’t find a good place for him, ESPN, CBS, FOX, and NBC couldn’t either.
With all of that said, I don’t have all of the answers, but the rumors of Lombardi being hired are getting far too strong for my taste. Usually, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and in this instance that scares me. A lot.
Pat Shurmur’s situation is a bit of a different story, even though I will always say that we will never really know how good of a head coach he can be seeing as he only had two years to work with. His game day decisions have been far from flawless, but it is pretty clear that his players at least respect him and play for him. I hope that that will show one last time today. Was he the perfect hire? No. Was he at a distinct disadvantage from the start? You bet.
No matter who ends up replacing Heckert and Shurmur, buckle up, because it’s going to be another bumpy ride. Here’s to hoping that Joe Banner is at least smart enough to hire somebody who has been an instrumental part of a winning organization and can competently hire a new coaching staff that has also been part of a winning organization. In the end, that’s all Cleveland can really ask for.
To wrap things up here on the last football Sunday in Cleveland for 2012, it’s time for one last BS1999 game day prediction. I’m pretty sure that this portion of the blog has been slightly re-named every single time I’ve written one. Apparently, the Browns aren’t the only ones who need to step it up in 2013. Anyway, here we go:
Inspired by his Duke Blue Devils actually making a bowl and having a lead at some point in that bowl, Thad Lewis throws for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns en route to a 27-7 domination of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gordon, Little, and Watson all reach pay dirt. Pro-Bowler Phil Dawson (how right does that sound?) nails two 50+ yard field goals and joins Joe Thomas as they pack their bags for Hawaii. Nobody cares how the Steelers score, but we’ll just give them a garbage time touchdown from Plaxico Burress (for old times’ sake). Steelers fans leave Heinz Field cursing Mike Tomlin and Duke football all at the same time (a first for any fan base) in a confusingly awesome turn of events.
This game has the beginning of an exciting new QB controversy all over it. How’s that for a story line that will likely never happen?
That does it for another season of Browns football. There will be plenty more to talk about as the NFL offseason (the most exciting part of the calendar for Cleveland) unfolds, and I will be dying to talk about all of it as it happens. Until then, beat Pittsburgh and don’t hire Mike Lombardi. I love this team dearly, and can’t wait until the day that they are a perennial contender. If the way to that end is with Lombardi as the GM, I’ll hold my nose and eat my crow when we get there.
For the last time this year, Go Browns.
Dear Pat and Tom,
Thanks for trying. I’m sorry it had to end this way. Just so you know, I really rooted for you guys. Good luck in the future.