Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Boundless optimism unwarranted

'Tis the season to be hopeful. And the season to look at the glass as half full. At least that's the way most Browns fans approach the 2010 season.

Jolts of realism can wait. Until maybe, oh, the sixth game of the season. That's when large doses of what actually is rather than what is hoped for kick in. That's when the light goes on and fans begin to realize that only the names -- in the front office and on the back of the uniforms -- change.

The reason for the optimism? Everyone looks good at the OTAs in Berea. Never mind that the club works out in shells, shorts and a helmet. Everyone, for goodness sakes, looks good at this time of the football year.

Jake Delhomme, a latter-day Tim Couch, is piling up lots of brownie points as he struggles to resurrect his career with the Browns. Confidence is his game. Front-office types can't gush enough about his leadership abilities. Runs a tight huddle. Great in the locker room.

He's the acknowledged leader of the offense. Not like the last two seasons when Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn adopted passive approaches to their job as the club's offensive leader. And he has more than shown that leadership on the field as well, displaying more accuracy than his predecessors.

Never mind the fact that Delhomme was an interception factory in his farewell season in Carolina. Aberration, Browns President Mike Holmgren must have thought as he waited in the weeds while the Panthers contemplated the quarterback's future. He can't be that bad. Can he?

Delhomme operated behind a decent offensive line in Carolina with better-than-average receivers and a strong running game. He won't have that luxury in Cleveland, although he has looked good in the OTAs. Very good. Almost too good in fact. Can't stress that enough for the optimists.

And that brings us back to looking good in shorts and shells with little or no pressure from the defense. It is so easy to fall in love with the Browns at this time of the season. Fickleness knows no seasonal boundaries.

But when Delhomme struggles with his receivers in the regular season -- and that 's not if, it's when -- that's when it will all kick in. That's when fans will realize there's a good reason the Panthers decided to part ways with the veteran quarterback. He will make Couch look like an All-Star by comparison.

That's when fans will unleash cries for Colt McCoy. That's also when Eric Mangini will be forced to make a command decision that could weigh heavily on his job security, assuming he's still around at the time.

Holmgren has stated that McCoy will not play in his rookie season, although he later amended that by declaring that if McCoy "is the man, he'll play." But if he turns out to be the man, then Holmgren has made a serious error in talent judgment with Delhomme.

But you must admit he looks awfully good in shorts and shells.

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