Thursday, April 24, 2014

The schedule and Bernie

What to make of the Browns’ 2014 schedule . . .

At first blush, it looks like the kind of schedule the club can use as a springboard to becoming relevant again in the National Football League.

There are no loaded pitfalls or traps. It is a relatively even-balanced schedule that features only two late games, including the requisite Thursday night national appearance on the NFL network, this year in Cincinnati

The team does not go any farther west than Nashville, Tenn., or spend any more than two consecutive weeks at a time either at home or on the road.

From a competitive standpoint, it is a relatively easy schedule. It includes only four playoff teams from last season – Cincinnati, New Orleans, Carolina and Indianapolis.

Seven of the 13 teams on the new schedule had losing records last season, two others (Baltimore and Pittsburgh) played .500 ball and only four (the aforementioned New Orleans, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Carolina) had winning records.

The Browns (and New York Giants) play the NFL’s sixth-easiest schedule, facing teams that won just 46.5% of their games last season. Only Baltimore, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee and Indianapolis have it better and they’re all on the Cleveland schedule this season.

If the 2014 Browns do not finish at or near .500 this season based strictly on this schedule, then those who maintain this franchise is jinxed and will have to wait even longer for better times gain that much more credibility.

The friendliest stretch of games is from Oct. 12 through Nov. 2, during which the Browns play three home games (against Pittsburgh, Oakland and Tampa Bay) in the four-week period.

The most difficult stretch – four of the final six games are on the road – almost demands the Browns make the most of their first 10 games, six of which are at home. And the two home games in that period are against Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Other than the six meetings with division rivals Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati, the most intriguing matchup – at least for coach Mike Pettine – figures to be the Nov. 30 trip to Buffalo to meet the team for which he coordinated the defense last season. 

The home schedule is quite attractive from a quarterback standpoint. Throwing at the lakefront this season will be the likes of Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck (playing in his father’s hometown) and Andy Dalton.

Opponents from the NFC this season are from the South, which produced two playoff teams (New Orleans and Carolina) last season while Atlanta and Tampa Bay brought up the rear with 4-12 records. And you can bet the Falcons and Buccaneers will not replicate their 2013 performances.

It is not a difficult schedule. Then again, most of the schedules the Browns have faced in the last 10 years have not been difficult. And yet, with one notable exception (2007), they somehow continue to land in the AFC North basement.

One of these years, that is bound to stop.

~ It truly is sad to watch Bernie Kosar grovel after being told by WKYC Channel 3 in Cleveland that his services as the color analyst of the Browns during the exhibition season were no longer required.

Through the media, the former Cleveland quarterback – considered legendary by a large group of fans – is all but begging Channel 3 to reconsider its decision and reinstate him as Jim Donovan’s partner for the four meaningless games.

“Being able to share these preseason games with my fellow Cleveland Browns fans is truly one of the remaining joys in my life,” he wrote. “I would hope WKYC would reconsider utilizing my in-game talents and overlook my concussion-induced impairment. I want everyone to know that I still bleed Browns and Orange.”

It is beneath Kosar, who blames those concussion-related symptoms as a cause for his slurred speech, to lower himself to the point where he looks like a sad figure. He is better than that.

The bad guy in this little scenario is WKYC General Manager Brooke Spectorsky, who cited a change in production values as reason for the change and is understandably sticking to his guns.

“We have to freshen things up, too, as the team is changing,” he said in explaining his choice of Solomon Wilcots to replace Kosar. “It’s a whole different year going forward and I didn’t want to do the same old production I’ve done for so many years.” Stale doesn’t play well on television.

These things happen in the electronic industry. You can be king one day and gone the next. Personal feelings are set aside for the common good of the product. I know the feeling. I’ve been down that road numerous times in radio.

If you go into television or radio with your eyes open, and I mean extremely wide open, you realize incidents like this are commonplace. Kosar doesn’t realize it and thus is having problems dealing with it.

Spectorsky denies the slurred speech had any relevance to his decision. If that had been the case, he could argue, he would have gotten rid of Kosar long before this.

Fans obviously are taking sides. Some have noted on that they will not tune in to the exhibition games if Bernie is not brought back as a color analyst. Bulletin: Yes they will.

It’s time for Kosar to relax. He worked eight seasons as a color analyst. Of course he’ll miss the exhibition gig. But right now, it’s time to relish those eight seasons and move on. He is smart and creative enough to find new paths in life. 


  1. 1. My only worry about the schedule is the psychological effect of the first two games, which are very possible losses. An 0-2 start to the season will all but deflate both the fans and the young team. To recover any spark of confidence would be very difficult. After all, you only have 16 games to get it right.
    2. Don't know all the background of the Bernie drama, but who ever came up with the idea to have a former Bengal/Steeler broadcast Browns games(even if they are meaningless)???? Not a lot of fan appeal there!

  2. Can't quarrel on No. 1, although winning in Pittsburgh can set the tone for the rest of the season. We'll see right away just how good an emotional coach Pettine is.

    With regard to No. 2, not much background to know. It was a move made by a man in an industry notorious for moving bodies. Kosar just happened to be one of those bodies.

    And what difference does it make that Solomon Wilcots is a former Bengal/Steeler? Does that make him a bad analyst? No. I believe he's a very good analyst and will be an improvement over Kosar. Fans will still tune in.

    By the way, Bob Trumpy many years ago (before expansion) was the Browns' TV color analyst for exhibitions. He was a former Bengal and very few people seemed to mind.

    1. I've already seen posts reflecting the #2 attitude on a couple web sites. The Trumpy-era Browns fans are being replaced with younger fans, less tolerant of anyone not seen as a "homie", especially when it comes to replacing an icon like Kosar. However, the whole thing is probably moot since it is preseason, one step above an intrasquad scrimmage. Do you really get the preseason games in AZ?

  3. Only on tape delay via NFL network. Too cheap to do it otherwise.

    As for the younger fans, I don't think they really care who sits next to Donovan. Those fans remember Bernie in name only or from what they hear from their parents.

    As soon as the games come on and they see how good Wilcots is, this will all die down. If anything, he has a tendency to favor the Browns in his work on Browns games during the regular season on CBS.