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Chargers offer reminder of what could have been

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 8, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    It's maddening to play 'what if' with Browns

    By Patrick McManamon
    Beacon Journal sports columnist

    Published on Monday, Dec 07, 2009

    CLEVELAND: The grounds crew was hard at work at 8 p.m. Sunday.
    About 10 workers were on the field at Cleveland Browns Stadium, diligently filling in holes in the turf, trying to get the field ready for Thursday night's visit from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    In a Browns' season that has been more dismal than dismal should be, Sunday had a very dismal feeling.
    At most, half the fans who had purchased tickets showed up to see the Browns play the San Diego Chargers.
    The game started with the stadium half empty, and it got progressively emptier as the day went on.
    There was some early excitement, but it faded fast in the third quarter, as the Chargers treated the Browns like a bug on the bottom of their shoe en route to a 30-23 win that felt more like a 20-point loss.
    In that quarter, the Chargers outgained the Browns 208-10.
    If a team decided to try to be outgained by that amount of yardage in a quarter, it probably could not succeed.
    The Chargers, though, represent to the Browns what could have been perhaps better than any team in the league.
    They have LaDainian Tomlinson at running back, a
    guy who went past Jim Brown's yardage mark Sunday.
    Late in the 2000 season, then-coach Chris Palmer stood in the Browns practice facility and spoke to Kevin Johnson.
    Johnson was asking about future plans, and Palmer said there was a running back in Texas he had already pinpointed for the draft.
    ''That guy,'' Palmer said of Tomlinson, ''is the real deal.''
    Shortly after the season, Palmer was fired, Butch Davis was hired and Gerard Warren was drafted.
    Tomlinson is still setting records for the Chargers. Warren is on his second team since being traded by the Browns in 2005.
    At quarterback for the Chargers is Philip Rivers, traded to San Diego for Eli Manning in a 2004 draft-day trade.
    In that draft, Davis thought he had an agreement with the Giants to trade up to the fourth spot where Rivers was taken.
    Davis liked Rivers, a lot. But he wasn't going to take Rivers. He was going to draft safety Sean Taylor — until the Giants backed out so they could select Rivers and trade him to the Chargers.

    Rivers has been starting for the Chargers since 2006. In that same time, the Browns have used five different starting quarterbacks.
    At tight end for the Chargers is Antonio Gates, who saves his most outstanding games for this stadium. Gates set a personal high with 167 yards on eight catches — a couple of them acrobatic ones that tight ends should not make down the field.
    Gates never played college football. But he played basketball, and he played it well — at Kent State, about an hour south of Cleveland Browns Stadium.
    He decided to try football and wound up not up the road but across the country, and he's still beating the Browns.
    Rob Chudzinski is the Chargers tight-ends coach. Chudzinski was the Browns' offensive coordinator two years ago, when the Browns won 10 games.
    The Browns felt good enough about Chudzinski to make him the league's highest-paid assistant coach after the 2007 season. After 2008, he was swept out.
    Now he's heading to the playoffs with the Chargers, along with assistant offensive line coach Mike Sullivan, another former Browns coach.
    There's more, though the examples are not as direct.
    Marcus McNeil has been playing left tackle for the Chargers since he was the 50th overall selection in 2006.

    The Browns passed on him twice to take Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson. Can't argue with those two picks, but suppose the Browns had noticed McNeil and taken him?
    That would have allowed them to bypass Joe Thomas the next year and take Adrian Peterson.
    There's no arguing with Thomas, who might be the team's best player.
    But the combination of ''what ifs'' is yet another maddening ''what if'' with the Browns, who have left their fans with little but ''what ifs'' this past decade.
    In 2005, the Chargers took Shawne Merriman 12th overall.
    That's the year the Browns took Braylon Edwards third.
    Edwards is now playing for the New York Jets.
    In 2005, the Chargers' first four selections were Merriman, defensive tackle Luis Castillo, receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Darren Sproles.
    They're all playing very well — for the Chargers.
    The Browns' first four picks that season were Edwards, Brodney Pool, Charlie Frye and Antonio Perkins.
    None is contributing for the Browns.
    This look-back game is easy to play with a losing team, and it can be played about any pick, any time. But rarely do you watch another team and see the effects of misjudgment so clearly.
    The Chargers are living, breathing examples of what the Browns could be.
    So it happens that when the Browns are not obliterated by the Chargers and Brady Quinn leads the team on a game-opening touchdown drive and then scores late when the Chargers play all prevent that you look and think, ''Well, at least that wasn't terrible.''
    Yes, the Browns did some good things. Quinn started 6-for-6, threw the ball down the field and took advantage of the Chargers' prevent.
    And a depleted Browns defense competed — until it was overrun in the third quarter.
    The Browns have no shame in this game. They gave their best, they tried smart plays, and they had a quarterback throw for 271 yards and three touchdowns.
    They just lost to a better team.
    And a good reason the Chargers were better was the decisions made by both team in previous years.
    The Chargers are headed to the playoffs, where they will be very dangerous.
    The Browns head into the last month trying to salvage something from the ultimate train wreck of a season when a 4-12 team regressed.
    All that's left is to fill holes in the offseason.
    The grounds crew will have an easier time getting things ready for Thursday.
  2. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

    Jul 27, 2007
    Wow, that's a great "What If" article. It's just amazing how everyone respects us know. I remember the days of 1-15 when WE were like the Brownies....
  3. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    Wait, this can't be. :icon_huh:

    I thought AJ Smith sucked as a GM, and didn't know how to draft any good players or get anything in FA. :icon_shrug:

    At least, that's what the drunken "geniuses" that are whining on the forums are saying. :unsure:

    I'm sure those guys are blaming AJ and Norv for the rain and wind in San Diego yesterday. :rolleyes:
  4. Ray Dahayder

    Ray Dahayder BoltTalker

    Jun 22, 2007
    AJ is right.... you have to build your team through the draft. And making smart draft choices will make you a winner. Making bad choices will have you forever saying, "what if"....

    Don't we still say "what if" when it comes to Palomalu?
  5. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2005

    it rained in my home town?



  6. BlueandGold

    BlueandGold The Oracle

    May 22, 2006
    Good lord, that article is depressing.

    In AJ I trust. Geez.
  7. Zeus

    Zeus BoltTalker

    Nov 21, 2006
    I hope, and think, the Browns can beat the Steelers.

    People don't think Quin is a good QB. He can be. Not given the chance some media throw him for dead. Sorry he needs more than he has had to show something. Ring around the QB doesn't allow enough time.

    Too bad the front office hired ANOTHER horrible HC. The owner's fault.
  8. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    This game with Dallas is going to hinge on the play of our lines on both sides of the ball. We run for enough yards to keep the defense honest and give Rivers a reasonable amount to time to throw, I figure we'll be competitive. If the defense can keep them from gashing us for too many yards on the ground, we'll be more than just competitive. If McNeil can't control Ware and we can't keep them from running we will be in trouble and that is the lens I look at AJ through. Our line play has not been solid for two years.

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

    Oct 13, 2006

    Says who?

    I can't speak for everybody but yes, I have some problems with AJ. Draft picks and FA signings are not two of them (with the exception of Davis and Davis).
  10. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

    Jul 27, 2007
    OK Ray, I'll quit....:lol:
  11. Osmekaman

    Osmekaman BoltTalker

    Jul 1, 2008
    No-one doubted AJ's past mastery with the draft and occasional trade.
    Legitimate questions were being asked regarding his re-tooling of the last 2 to 3 years.
    Some of the questions are still unanswered
    1. Jamal's replacement
    2. LT's replacement
    3. Merriman situation
    4. O-line worries
    5. Strong Safety

    his HC and players he selected are really doing the business for him these past 7 games
    Buckle up and enjoy the ride....hopefully to Miami.

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