It’s Spring, When a Young Man’s Fancy Lightly Turns to Thoughts of…The NFL Draft!

Being a diehard Browns fan, the most exciting thing to look forward to has been the draft. It, along with Springtime, means new life. Rebirth. Hope. The promise of good things to come.

Cleveland-Browns

We just made it through one of the harshest winters most people can remember, and one of the strangest and most frustrating Browns seasons ever. Which is something to say, because since 1999, we’ve seen it all. (Except a winning season, the playoffs, etc.)

And so our thoughts turn to thoughts of new life, hope, and the promise of a fresh start: the 2014 NFL Draft.

I admit it: I am a draft geek. I read all the mock drafts that I can; I have had the dates of the draft written on my calendar for at least 5 months now; I read about all the pre-draft player visits and team workouts; I follow the draft on my phone when I’m not near a TV; and I clear my schedule to watch the draft on TV. The early rounds, anyway.

So who do I think the Browns will take in the first round?

I have no freaking idea.

One of the best things about the draft is the unknown. For me it’s like a kid waiting for Christmas, not knowing what present is waiting for me under the tree. Will it be an official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle (a franchise quarterback?) Or will it be socks (a defensive lineman?) Got me. And that’s OK.

Because I’ll be watching the draft, and following it online, and reading about every chance I get, because the draft is all about rebirth and hope, and we need as much of that as we can get in Brownstown.

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What I Like About the 2014 Cleveland Browns Schedule

1p games.We Bleed Browns and Orange Sunday 1pI love them.

With the exception of a Thursday night away game and a late start against the Raiders, every game this season is a 1p start.

I know national games are exciting and teams love playing on a national stage, and there are many people that believe 1p games are a measure of league disrespect, but they are tough on the personal schedule. Night games, where you get home way past midnight and feel like 10 miles of bad road the next day, are rough. Especially during the week.

Even a 4p game is a shock to regularity, but with only one this year, I can live with that.

Besides, for Browns fans, stuck in mediocrity since 1999, 1p is tradition. It’s our normal. It’s our real, Goose. (sorry for the “Top Gun” moment there).

The 2014 Schedule is Here. The Crowd Goes Wild. Yawn.

No one can create a national holiday from the inane as well as the NFL! And with great fanfare, the 2014 schedule was announced last night.

NFLSchedule2014

At first glance, the schedule looks easy, but that’s the danger of preseason assumptions. Remember, last year, the Texans, Redskins and Falcons were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders. What actually happened is that the Texans finished with the worst record in the league, followed by Washington, and they have the first and second picks in the draft (although Washington traded their pick to St. Louis). Atlanta picks sixth, two places after the Browns.

What this proves is that anything can happen, and paper schedules are just that – paper schedules.

So can this year be THE year? The year the Browns go from worst to first? Every year it happens to someone. Why not us?

Based on last years’ results, the Browns have the 6th easiest schedule, based on strength of schedule, and their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .465. And they only play 5 playoff teams.

So, again, on paper, improvement is possible. Especially with a good draft that produces 3 or 4 impact players that start right away.

The real problem with the 2014 Browns schedule is that it starts hard, and ends hard. The first three games feature the Stihlers, Saints and Ravens, and if the team gets off to a sluggish start, the first month of the season may appear to last even longer.

The last four games against the Colts, Bengals, Panthers and Ravens, all playoff teams, could make the last month darn tough, too.

Which leaves the creamy middle of the schedule as the place the team NEEDS to grow, mature and get some wins.

Sept. 7 at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1p
Sept. 14 New Orleans Saints, 1p
Sept. 21 Baltimore Ravens, 1p
Sept. 28 BYE
Oct. 5 at Tennessee Titans, 1p
Oct. 12 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1p
Oct. 19 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1p
Oct. 26 Oakland Raiders, 4:25p
Nov. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1p
Nov. 6 at Cincinnati Bengals (Thu), 8:25p
Nov. 16 Houston Texans, 1p
Nov. 23 at Atlanta Falcons, 1p
Nov. 30 at Buffalo Bills, 1p
Dec. 7 Indianapolis Colts, 1p
Dec. 14 Cincinnati Bengals, 1p
Dec. 21 at Carolina Panthers, 1p
Dec. 28 at Baltimore Ravens, 1p

 Of course, anything can happen and last years’ records are meaningless. But we’re in the offseason and anything is news, even the release of the coming season’s schedule.

Is Alex Mack Back In or Will He Be Sent Packin’?

Here is a Browns fan’s history of Alex Mack:

In the 2009 draft, Eric Mangini traded the fifth overall pick to the Jets so they could pick Mark Sanchez. Mangini then selected Alex Mack with the 21st pick. Mangini was lambasted for passing on “Sure-Thing” Sanchez. Time has proven Mangini was WAY right.

Alex-MackMack played every snap of every game for five seasons. Goes to 2013 Pro Bowl. Named All Pro.

Joe “Napolean” Banner fails to sign Mack to a long-term extension. Mack’s contract expires and he starts talking about his time in Cleveland in the past tense.

Owner, GM, Coach and Offensive Coordinator fly to California to say, “Pleeeeeeeeaaaaasssssseeeeee stay!! Please please please!!”

The Jacksonville Jaguars make him a five-year offer worth about $42 million, making him the highest-paid center in league.

Here is what I believe happens next:

Mack signs the big-ass Jacksonville offer sheet. The Browns match it before the ink dries. Mack remains a Brown and strikes it rich. And is happy.

Yes, he is happy. Remember, Mack is a Cal grad. He makes smart people look stupid. He orchestrated a brilliant plan where he was able to gauge his market value, sign a big contract, and then return to the team he really does enjoy playing for. He smartly negotiated a better deal for himself, and then was able to stay someplace where he was familiar and comfortable. Brilliant!

So for fans belly-aching and spouting nonsense like, “He doesn’t want to be here – let him go!” think again. He DOES want to be here and he WILL be here, and he planned it so that he got a big deal that was matched by the team that drafted him. He’ll still start every game, but with lots more cash in his pockets.