Monday, June 10, 2013

Grin and bear it, if you can

Now comes the hard part.

No football to speak of for roughly the next seven weeks.

The Browns are officially off the clock with regard to training. From an operational standpoint, the front office still has some contract work to do with a few draft choices.

Other than that, the silence that emanates from 76 Lou Groza Blvd. will be deafening. Fans will continue chirp and carp, however, because offseasons in professional football do not exist in their world.

That’s just the nature of being a pro football fan. There is always something to be discussed, to be argued.

For Browns fans, it’s whether Brandon Weeden’s strong minicamp and OTA performances will carry over into training camp late next month and beyond.

It’s whether Josh Gordon will finally take his career seriously after piling up his second strike with the National Football League drug abuse program. One more strike could mean a season’s suspension.

It’s whether Trent Richardson knows what it’s like to be completely healthy.

Same with Jordan Cameron, whose ability to stay healthy (problematical at best) hinges on what Norv Turner is able to do with the team’s offense this season.

Then there’s the fresh-scrubbed look of the new head coach. It’s always a risk to hire someone who has never been a big boss previously. It’s not nearly the same as being a coordinator. The key is coaching the coaches, letting them coach the players.

We won’t know for the next 47 days whether Ray Horton’s multi-front, high-blitz scheme on defense is more risk than rewarding.

And we won’t know whether there will be such a thing as a three-down outside linebacker this season. All signs point to a thunderous NO.

We’ll have to wait for what will seem an eternity to find out whether Joshua Cribbs is, indeed, irreplaceable. We became so spoiled by his outstanding success, his absence might seem palpable at first and unfair to those who will try to make you forget him.

And what about the defensive line? With all the high profile free-agent signings emphasizing the pass rush from the outside, the plug uglies up front have been relegated to second billing.

The offensive line, too, remains a mystery with the slots located on either side of center Alex Mack in the spotlight. Most effective running games rely on the strength of the interior line, i.e. the guards.

And what about the secondary? Lots of unanswered questions in Cleveland's defensive backfield. With Horton dialing up blitz after blitz after blitz, that part of the field might be the most fun to watch in training camp.

On and on the rhetoric will rage until then. Arguments will be won in some minds, lost in others. That’s the beauty of being a Browns fan.

Then before you know it, July 26 will be here, coaches’ air horns will blast, footballs will fill the air and everything will return to normal. Whatever normal is in Browns Nation.


  1. Rich,

    Maybe I must have missed something but did Gordon run afoul of the NFL drug policy last year? Does the NFL give a player and 'automatic' strike for offenses committed in college? Or does a player only get one strike for the punishment of 4 game (max) suspension then second strike one year suspension?

    1st Anubiis

  2. Hi Anubiis,

    It's the automatic strike thing with multiple offenses in college. The same goes for Tyrann Mathieu with the Cardinals. The next stumble by Gordon results in a one-year suspension.

    Personally, I think punishing a player who is innocently taking medicine laced with codeine for strep throat in the offseason is a bit harsh. I realize it's the letter of the NFL law, but c'mon. A little common sense here would be welcome. Maybe a fine, not a suspension.

    I had strep throat in the Army and took medicine laced with codeine and it knocked me for a loop. Made me so delirious, I forget how difficult it was to swallow.