Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why Cut the Backup Quarterback?

     The Cleveland Browns, like many other historically under-performing teams, love to cut the backup quarterback every year. 

      Weak front office personnel fear public opinion and especially the dreaded "quarterback controversy."  Hence the tendency is to avoid the problem by simply getting rid of the backup, hoping that the new starter will become a superstar. 

     But all too often teams need a backup because the starter gets injured.  In the case of the Browns, a ridiculous number of quarterbacks in the league are former Browns including:

    Brian Hoyer, Houston
    Brandon Weeden, Dallas
    Colt McCoy, Redskins
    Derek Anderson, Panthers 
    Bruce Gradkowski, Steelers
    Josh Johnson, Bengals
    Luke McCown, Saints
    Jason Campbell, free agent. 

    Browns fans won't like me saying this, but we need to take a cue from the Steelers on this issue.   They managed to keep Charlie Batch employed for 8 years.  Though not a superstar, he won  6 games as a starter and lost only three.   That's about the same winning percentage as Ben Roethlisber, by the way.     

 Charley Batch played with the Steelers for 8 years and had a 6-3 record as a starter.  Hey, he was good enough to win!

     Heck, the Browns rarely have a winning record with their starter, never mind the backup.  But in past years they have needed backup quarterbacks after letting the starter get pounded by defensive lines.   Perhaps by now things might be a little more solid with Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, as well as up and coming Joel Bitonio and Cameron Erving plus established pros Mitchell Schwartz and John Greco.   Still, you never know when you might need a backup quarterback, so here's hoping they don't jettison Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis or Connor Shaw.  Assuming Shaw can clear waivers, he would be eligible to return to the practice squad, allowing Thad Lewis to make the 53-man roster.   

     I would like the Browns to go for the best guy available. This means the front office has to be strong enough to endure the criticism that will inevitably result.  Qbs tend to peak after 3-4 years with the same team rather than the 1 year audition that they normally get.   

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Review of Everybody Fumbles by Earnest Byner

  Everybody Fumbles by Earnest Byner is ostensibly a book about playing football.   Earnest is known to many Browns fans as the guy who fumbled in the AFC Championship game, and thereafter was unfairly criticized as the man who cost the Browns a Super Bowl victory.  

    The fact of the matter is that Byner's TD would have merely tied the game, and there was still the matter of containing John Elway and the Broncos, never mind the problem of facing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV.  Joe Montana and the 49ers rang up 55 points on the Broncos, so I don't have the feeling that they would have been easy pickings for the Browns,  But no matter, many Browns fans are convinced it was Earnest's complete fault that we didn't win that Super Bowl, and probably every one thereafter.  

   This then, is a book from a famous NFL player who knew great adversity and failure, yet one who was able to someone rise above it and win a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins.  Hence I tend to listen to what he has to say.  He is a very special person.

   The format of the book is a series of short narratives, an average of two pages. It's easy reading, but still intellectually stimulating. Mostly the narratives deal with an aspect of being a pro athlete; for example, suggests to improve preparation for games, mental discipline and focus.   Hence I would strongly recommend this to any person wanting to play the game of football at a higher level. A junior high student would not have difficulty in picking this up.  

The story of Earnest Byner has a happy resolution, as he was a key member of the Washington team which won Super Bowl XXVI in 1992.     

   The principles of focus, dedication, visualization and others apply not only to football but to any worthwhile endeavor.  Some people may enjoy smooth sailing for their entire careers, but for most of us there are going to be upsets, battles, frustrations...and fumbles.   You need to be mentally tough and prepared in order to get through it.  

   To cite a personal example, one time I met an engineer, who frankly told me, "I got a guy killed one time.  He died in an accident.  I had told the company that that type of accident was impossible to occur, but it happened."    

    Talk about a fumble!  Mr. Byner, you were playing a kid's game.  This fellow was involved in life and death situations, and lost.  I can't imagine how he recovered, and as far as I know he never returned to the business of safety assessments, but did return to the profession of engineering and thermodynamic cycle analysis.   One of the most humble people that I have ever met.  I don't think he will ever get over the mistake he made, but somehow he was able to get to the point where life could go on despite his failure.

    That's the kind of difficult times that life often throws at us.   In some way, someone like Earnest can help coach us through difficult times.   Thus this book is not only excellent for your sports-minded youngsters, but also for Mom and Pop in the workaday world.   

    Yeah, everybody fumbles.  But Earnest tells us how to get up from those fumbles and go on to win Super Bowls.