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If it looks like Browns and smells like Browns

November 09, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

Being a native Ohioan and a Cleveland Browns fan, I've about had it up to the proverbial chin with the Browns and their ineptness, not only as an offensive non-juggernaut, but also with their inability to evaluate college talent.

Coach Butch Davis, highly responsible for player moves in an organization that became less than enamored with quarterback Tim Couch, went out and signed free agent Jeff Garcia to turn the Browns' fortunes around.

Sickening! Sunday night, the Browns get one touchdown on a game-opening kickoff return and that's it! There was no surprise the Browns lost, even with a win over the Ravens earlier this season.

Even more painful is the fact that an Ohio football player is making the big splash up the turnpike from Cleveland.

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By failing to recognize college talent, the Browns passed on any future with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Through the first portion of the NFL season, we all know (unless you're hibernating) what he has done in the reformation of the Pittsburgh Steelers, as sad as it is that I talk about this.

Roethlisberger is from Findlay, Ohio, in the northwest quadrant of the state, near Toledo. During the course of his scholastic years at Findlay High, he didn't even play quarterback until his senior season in 1999. His main sports were basketball and baseball. He averaged 26 points per game as a point guard, when he was about 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds.

His senior season, Roethlisberger exploded onto the scene, averaging more than 400 yards passing per game and throwing for 54 touchdowns - the kind of numbers you see from Keith Ricca at St. John's at Prospect Hall.

Miami (Ohio) University saw Roethlisberger's potential and he spent four years leading the Redhawks, setting new college records there. He continued to grow (to 6-5, 240), and when draft time came, he got the call from Pittsburgh - not Cleveland - to become an NFL quarterback.

I forgot, the Browns were zeroed in on Garcia and didn't need anyone else.

Hmmm ... taking a look at the standings in the AFC North, it looks like Pittsburgh is 7-1 and the Browns are 3-5. I think the Steelers have won some pretty big games of late (I'd say wins over New England and Philadelphia were noteworthy) while the Browns continue to languish, now battling the Cincinnati Bengals for last place.

Things won't get any better for the Browns this week when the hated Steelers come to Cleveland on Sunday.

I now fear the worst for the Browns. Not only Sunday, but for the rest of the season.




Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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