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Don’t get too excited about the first preseason game

Eric Mangini should be pissed off. He’s the coach and it’s his job to hammer his team when they don’t play well. The Browns made plenty of mistakes against the Packers, and Mangini will have plenty of work to do.

That said, everyone else will overreact to this first preseason game. The talk radio guys will do their thing, and the angry callers will chime in as well. All of this means nothing.

There are only several important things to take from this for Browns fans. First, you don’t build a team overnight, so early mistakes are to be expected. The key is whether Mangini helps the team learn from their mistakes. Given his past history on team penalties, we can expect the Browns to make progress here.

More importantly, however, is the quarterback situation. Most of us think Brady Quinn will win the starting job, so we should get too worked up watching Derek Anderson repeat mistakes we’ve grown accustomed to over the past several years. Ratliff’s performance is even less relevant.

But Quinn’s performance is important, and he moved the team on both of his two drives. He was comfortable in the pocket and he made solid decisions. He should have had a field goal on the first drive, and he would have had a touchdown before the half running the two-minute offense if stone hands Edwards hadn’t dropped a perfectly thrown ball from Quinn. On the next play Brady made a bad throw and threw a stupid interception, but that play never should have happened.

The kid can play. None of us knows how good he can be, but Browns fans should feel good about the fact that they have a young quarterback with talent who has two years of learning under his belt. Quinn should be ready, and the quarterback competition is probably a good thing. By the time this is over there should be little doubt that Quinn earned his job, and that will make it easier for him to grow into the job without looking over his shoulder.

So, don’t get too riled up about this first game.

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Using the no-huddle offense

One of the frustrations in the years since the Browns returned has been the complete lack of imagination on offense. This was true with most of the coaches we had.

Butch Davis was probably the worst. Say what you want about Tim Couch, but he excelled when running a no-huddle offense that permitted him to move around and improvise.

Of course, Davis would never throw in the no-huddle during a game to mix things up, even if he had a QB that might excel in that scenario. Romeo was generally clueless, as he hired Maurice Carthon and then had to work with Chud. Last year it became obvious that the regime couldn’t make real adjustments on offense, and they let Jerome Harrison waste away on the bench.

Now, this season, we have Eric Mangini, who just might be more aggressive than many expect on offense. He seems to take the same approach that Bill Belichick learned after he left Cleveland – being predictable on offense gives the defense an advantage.

Here’s Mangini’s answer in his press conference to a question about using the no-huddle offense.

(On if the Browns will use the no huddle this season) – “I like to have the ability to go in and out of it at any point in a game. If you want to start off a half with it, you want to change the tempo with it, if you’re getting a team that maybe is going to disguise a lot, you want to take that away.

We’ve used it for all those different reasons. Coaching against it, as a defensive coordinator and a defensive backs coach, it does add some pressure to the defense. It forces you to think through tendencies quicker. Now it’s second-and-seven, instead of being able to look down at your sheet, get a reminder, you have your calls, you have your things you’re thinking of.

They’re getting to the line of scrimmage. You have to honor the fact they can run a play right now. It speeds that up. It speeds the communication. It speeds up the adjustment. The nice thing is, you can get to the line with 30 seconds left, 25 seconds left and then just assess, change the play and do whatever you want to do. I like it for those reasons.”

(On how the quarterbacks have done with the no huddle) – “Good, we’ve been running it, really, since the first day of OTAs and we run it every day in practice. We do different periods of it. It’s just second nature, go in and out of it, everybody’s used to it. Defensively, it’s great work, because if you face two or three teams that do that, and that’s all they do, and they do it a lot better than you do it, it’s hard.”

Can you imagine Romeo or Butch Davis giving that answer?

Mangini seems to understand the importance of creating tactical advantages. He wants to keep the defenses guessing, and he wants to be able to execute the offense from a variety of schemes, including the no-huddle offense.

They seem to be taking the same approach on defense. They’ve even discussed using the 46 defense at times during the season, including some 4-man fronts as well.

I’m starting to look forward to this season.

Indians keep winning

Go figure. This team only wins when they play the kids and have nothing to play for. I guess Wedge can’t get them all tight and nervous when it’s obvious the season is over.

They won 5-0 tonight behind Aaron Laffey who’s putting together a nice season.

Shape up and shut up

This was the message sent by the new regime to Shaun Smith, but apparently he didn’t listen. After dogging it during practice on Friday, the Browns released Shaun Smith today.

We’re definitely seeing something new with the Eric Mangini regime, and even skeptics like Tony Grossi are noticing a big difference with the new regime. Romeo Crennel’s camp was a pleasure cruise next to the tough, disciplined camp run by Mangini.

Also, Mangini doesn’t take shit from players, so it’s no surprise that they let Smith go. He was always known more for his mouth than his performance.

Listen to how Mangini talks about another lineman, and you get the idea of what kinds of players he likes, and why guys like Smith won’t last long.

With Smith gone, second-year lineman Ahtyba Rubin, the Browns’ sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Iowa State, will most likely see more action behind Rogers and in the line rotation.

“I really like Rubin,” said Mangini. “Rubin is just a consistent guy. He comes in, works like crazy, is stout against the run, and has really improved his hand placement. I like all the things I’ve seen from him.”

None of us will know whether Mangini’s approach will lead to success on the field until we see this team in action, but the renewed emphasis on discipline and execution sure sounds nice after the Crennel fiasco. At the very least, we might finally have a team that we can respect, as opposed to the comedy of errors we’ve witnessed for years.

In the long run, if Mangini puts together a hard-nosed, disciplined team, the fans will give them time to grow into a contender.

Baby cries when hearing Michigan fight song

Just like Michigan fans cry after they play the Buckeyes!

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