Everything is fine. First-round pick complaining about the quarterbacks is fine. Terrelle Pryor fighting with Tony Grossi is fine. Robert Griffin III only throwing three catchable balls in 11 tries to Corey Coleman is fine. Local radio host threatening to run over fans with his car is fine. These happenings all occurring this week is fine.
We have officially entered the closing stretch of the 2016 Cleveland Browns undefeated opponent season. There are three more weeks for our beloved Brownies to somehow, someway scrape together a win and avoid a lifetime of being painted with the scarlet zero.
Apologies, but we need a minute to collect ourselves. Let’s talk about something else before we get back to covering the remains of this wretched season.
Outside the painted lines
Clickbait topics have become a somewhat popular item to discuss this week. What are some of the topics that you know are not actual items worthy of discussion but you find yourself clicking links and discussing anyway?
Craig: I’ve had a lot of these topics over the years. I used to debate Sirius vs. XM as if it mattered. Anymore, I think I’m largely cured from getting drawn into clickbait.
Joe: NFL Mock drafts in December. It is instant clickbait for me, even though we do not even know the order and who’s in the draft. I still can’t stop looking at mock drafts.
Michael: As I mentioned in the Wednesday WWW conversation, I’m often treading the line between things that could be considered clickbait and things that generate good reader engagement and discussion. I enjoy having my viewpoints challenged and sometimes it is good to give a push to get things started with the trick being having some substance behind it.
As for this week, we have continued the Browns parade discussion in WFNY Slack and on the comments and elsewhere topics of Wahoo, Trump, politics in general, MSM, NFL Draft, Indians handling of VIP sales, and many other topics.
Josh: Anything having to do with Cleveland or Ohio State sports that I think is worthwhile. I love my teams too much to not read something about them.
Scott: This time of year, it’s year-end “Best of” music lists that snag me. I don’t see these as “bait” however as much as I do things I’m interested in. I typically avoid most unreported columns or the opinions of pretty much anyone if there isn’t some sort of exclusive details involved, but I do check out most Best Of lists as I find them to be a nice recap of things I may have overlooked over the last 12 months, realizing that each of them are far from gospel.
Pat: I would say that I’m drawn into anything related to Donald Trump. With every new Cabinet and agency appointment, every piece of news involving Russia, and every blowhard tweet I find myself blurting out obscenities and clicking on the article. I’m a sucker for hating on the Donald, I guess. In the end, I never feel better for clicking. The guy isn’t even President yet.
Dave: I can be a sucker for “The Best ______ in every state”
In the realm of non-clickbait, what is a good example of an author or article or podcast that continues to provide quality substance despite the inherent media nature of 2016?
Craig: When I think of this question, I think of anyone who refuses to follow their own trends because they’re making their own. For me, that’s The Joe Rogan podcast. He has managed to go his own way and he even readily admits he knows nothing about the NFL, which is still a big part of my world, and yet I listen religiously. Rogan talks about nutrition, science, comedy, media, culture, cars, hunting and any number of things that I don’t even really care about, but it’s all him. He’s almost become his own unique lifestyle brand, although he might throw up if he heard someone say that about him.
Joe: I love listening to or reading Brian Windhorst. He keeps everything real and does not give in to the immediate trends of things, focusing more on big picture areas of the NBA. He is by far my favorite NBA writer.
Michael: There are so many good writers out there. The platforms are what separate things for me and there are two entities that have shown huge growth in 2016. The first is not surprising in the New York Times. When they put their full graphical display forward, it is a thing of beauty. The interactive maps of medalists and race winners and particularly the embedded video and images in their articles was outstanding. The Simone Biles one might be their best. On social media, Bleacher Report has surprisingly beefed up their graphics squad. They still have many in the clickbait realm, but there is no better platform for creating unique, share-worthy GIFs to push their stuff.
Josh: I don’t have time to read specific articles or websites much, especially during the day. I wish I did, but it’s just not possible. That being said, outside of WFNY, my “go to website” when I get home from work is Eleven Warriors. There’s not one specific author I read, but what they do on a daily basis there is incredible. Same goes for podcasts. By the time I get home from work (I can’t listen during the work day), I just don’t really have the time to listen to a podcast. I am glad WFNY, specifically Craig and Dave, do their own. That way I can listen to those on my way to or from work.
Scott: I’m bound to leave some folks out, but anything written by Lee Jenkins, Jonathan Abrams, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Charlie Pierce, Joe Posnanski, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Mina Kimes, Liz Merrill, Zach Lowe, and Ramona Shelburne are must-reads. On a local level, Brian Windhorst, Dave McMenamin, Jason Lloyd, Zach Meisel, and Ramzy Nasrallah are my go-tos. I’ll add that I take in anything written by Shea Serrano and Jason Concepcion despite there being little in the way of reporting as their insight, analysis, and creativity (requirements in the op-ed space) are unmatched.
When it comes to podcasts, I echo Craig on Joe Rogan—he does exactly what any cultural podcast should in his sound quality, frequency, content, guest alignment, and his willingness to take risks. This year, I’ve really enjoyed “The Watch” and “Keeping it 1600” on The Ringer network. The Longform podcast is always enlightening, be it in the way of the guest, the content, or discussion of writing process. And I continue to enjoy Richard Deitsch’s media podcast on Sports Illustrated’s network as it aligns with my daily interests and is always well edited.
Pat: I listen to a ton of podcasts and as I mentioned above, I’ve enjoyed keeping tabs on whats happening in politics. It’s hard to do better than the NPR Politics Podcast. I know that everyone has their political leanings and no reporter can be truly bipartisan, but I think they do their best to report that way. It’s really become my preferred political news source rather than reading articles from CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC. I also want to give a shout out to The Lowe Post. Zach Lowe just continues to bring on quality guests and spark interesting discussions, mostly centered around the NBA.
Dave: I love comedy podcasts, and my favorite is Hollywood Handbook. It is a major inspiration for the Friday Fumble.
WFNY has survived as an independent site due to providing unique viewpoints and adding quality to the internet (alongside our outstandingly loyal readers and commentariat). What do you consider one of your better articles or podcasts from 2016 that helped provide to the overall quality rather than just providing clicks?
Craig: The best stuff does both. The Terry Pluto podcast is both recent and a good example for my area of the WFNY world.
Joe: I really love my Browns film rooms. I like to give the readers the view of what is going wrong or right for the team and why it is happening. Breaking down the film really gives you the knowledge of how the game transpired.
Michael: I’m fully utilizing this spot to highlight two articles I recently helped get onto the WFNY pages but did not write myself. Barry Naum’s Army-Navy article and Stipe Miocic’s essay are two of the types of articles that had me coming to WFNY as a reader in the first place.
Josh: While I’m the headline and Ohio State guy, I don’t have a specific article in mind, but I just think that all of us here do such great work. Although I wish I could write more about the Buckeyes at times, it is what it is. One of my favorite articles that we’ve done here though is from this week and that’s the Stipe Miocic essay, which Bode mentioned above.
Scott: I really enjoyed reporting out and writing this story following Game 6 of the NBA Finals. It ranks at the top as I feel it checks all the boxes. To this point, it’s the only piece I’ve seen that described the interaction between Ty Lue and Steve Kerr on the eve of what ended up being the Cavaliers’ coming back from their 3-1 deficit, Kerr watching his team fold under the brightest of lights, just one year after he walked through those same halls drenched with champagne. It was a story in which I felt magnified the under-discussed importance of Lue and his efforts in getting the Cavs into such a position. And it’s one where, now knowing what occurred in Game 7, still has legs today and reads almost better than it did the day it ran.
Pat: Oh boy. I don’t get a chance to sit down and write as much as I would like, so most of my output is either the weekly Cleveland Browns Progress Report or a random recap or headline. My Cleveland Browns Progress Report for Week 14 was probably the piece I was most proud to deliver. I have some strong feelings about the 0-16 parade for the Browns, and it felt good to have a safe place to share those opinions and know that they aren’t just out there to draw in more readers, but to spark discussion.
Dave: I am super proud of the Friday Fumble we do every week. Even in trying times it is great to sit down with friends and make something funny. I will still go back and listen to episodes from last year, and this year, because even if no one else enjoys them, I enjoy them. We hope you do too.
Since last place AFC divisional teams are scheduled against the other last place AFC divisional teams every season, the Browns and Bills have played more often than many other inter-divisional matchups. Which of the epic failure – errr, rivalry – games is your favorite from this century?
For anyone that needs a quick refresher, here is a link to the series.
Craig: I’ll just paste a video.
Joe: I like the Bills rivalry. We’ve had crazy game moments like the snow game in Cleveland or Johnny Manziel leading that one drive that made everyone think he was going to be great. Browns/Bills is always a classic.
Michael: Who can ever forget Eric Mangini’s first win as head coach of the Cleveland Browns? Oh, everyone wants to forget it, but who can actually do it? Yes, the infamous 2-for-17 game in 2009 from Derek Anderson that saw the Browns acquire an entire 22 yards of passing offense. AND WIN! On a muffed punt setting up a short field goal from Billy Cundiff.
Josh: Damnit, I thought we could get through a roundtable and *not* talk about this team. Until the Browns win a game or are in any way competitive, they don’t have any rivals. If I have to pick one game between these two teams though, it would definitely be the epic Snow Bowl, as some have already mentioned.
Scott: [Points to Craig’s reply]
Pat: I have seriously purged all of those games from my brain. I honestly don’t remember a single one of them.
Dave: Craig beat me to it. I was at that game. I never thought that the most amazing play I would ever see live was going to be a field goal, but Phil Dawsons 48 yard field goal in that game was the most amazing thing ever.
The Bills are built around minimizing mistakes on offense and forcing turnovers on defense. Is there any course of action that the Browns should take to match up with this style of play?
Craig: Maybe pull out all the stops and bring back a dose of the Terrelle Pryor wildcat plays? I always wonder why stuff like that disappears completely from the playbook after a season starts to progress.
Joe: The Browns need to run the ball. They had a lot of success last week with running the ball, but they did it far too infrequently. The Browns have to rely on the run game, because Robert Griffin III has been prone to turnovers. If they can consistently run the ball, the Browns have a chance.
Michael: If the game comes down to minimizing mistakes and turnovers, Cody Kessler would seem to be the more prudent starting quarterback as he is more careful with the football. However, the Bills also possess both the No. 1 rushing attack in the NFL (5.4 YPC is more than a half yard better than the Dallas Cowboys) and a defensive line that should destroy what remains on the Browns offensive front. So, the game should not be close, and I don’t see a way for the Browns to find their lone victory this week.
Josh: How about utilizing your best player, Terrelle Pryor and giving him the ball more than one time? Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. Whether it’s as a wildcat quarterback or throwing him the ball, TP has to touch it at least 10 times a game, it’s as simple as that. Outside of him, the Browns must establish a run game. They’ve gone away from it for much of the season, but running the ball actually opens up the passing game. I know, that seems like a hard concept for this team but it’s actually true.
Scott: I’ve been saying all season the only way the Browns will be able to compete in any game is to minimize mistakes and capitalize on opportunities. it’s weird to me, yet not surprising, that this is almost exactly the way the Bills have been able to go from 0-2 mess to a team that was on the brink of a postseason berth until just a few weeks ago. The Browns should have been doing this all season long, so to bust it out now—with a mistake-prone Griffin under center—would be laughable.
Pat: Pound the rock. Oh wait, wrong sport, but you know what I mean. Run it over and over and make sure you hold on to the football. I want to see 200 yards of rush offense. On defense, don’t let Tyrod run. Make him be a passer and keep him in the pocket.
Dave: Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball. Crow, Duke, Coleman, RG3. Throw the kitchen sink of running plays at them.
What do you want to see from the Browns this week?
Craig: I want to see a win. Despite all the talk of a parade and my not caring if they have a parade, I want to see the Browns win. I always want to see the Browns win. I don’t find the number one pick to be any kind of LeBron James kind of fortune-changing feat. We overvalue draft slot in Cleveland when good teams find good football players regardless. This idea that the solution to our problems is losing is maybe the dumbest thing ever. Well, second maybe to the NFL moving one of our home games to London.
Joe: RUN THE BALL. That is simple, right?
Michael: I want to see many things. Ogbah continue to look like a real pass rusher. Cooper to continue to look like a potential starting guard option. Coleman and Pryor to show more on the field than talk off of it. Danny Shelton suplex either running back or quarterback as if they were Roger Goodell. Collins demonstrate he deserves the HBT to ink him to a new deal. And, yeah, it’d sure be nice to see a scoreboard that indicates more points for the Browns than opponent at the end of a game, but some things don’t seem meant to be.
Josh: The Browns be the team that has more points on the scoreboard when the clock hits zero. I don’t care how they do it on offense or defense as long as they win.
Scott: Nothing but pass plays to Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor. Sure, mix in a few runs here and there to keep the defense honest, but I need three- and five-step drops with quick release passes to the team’s two biggest weapons. Get them in space, catch them on slants, whatever… Get these guys the ball and let them make plays.
Pat: Play with some pride! Know that this Bills team is not above being beaten in their house by a winless Browns squad. Take Marcell Dareus’ comments to heart and mow him down. Act like you want to be there.
Dave: I want to see a win. I want to see RG3 show that last week was rust. I want to see a team that hasn’t quit. I want to see a win.