This is innocuous, for sure, but I have to bring it up because when I first read it over the weekend I was immediately taken back to a simpler time, before social media, when newspapers mattered, and Osama bin Laden still walked the earth.
By most accounts, the Browns worked the 2011 NFL Draft like the savvy franchise they most certainly are not. Trading out of the No. 6 overall spot and taking five Falcons draft picks with them, it’s hard to argue that Cleveland didn’t do well for itself. They would eventually trade up from 27th to 21st to get Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who a lot of Steelers fans liked in the days and weeks leading up to the draft.
When speaking to the Cleveland media Friday, Taylor got right to the point: “I know how much the Cleveland fans hate Pittsburgh and I look forward to the matchup … (Ben Roethlisberger) is a great quarterback, but when I am going to play against him, he is going to go down.”
In related news, Taylor had 2.5 sacks at Baylor.
Like I said, this isn’t a big deal. And if nothing else, it gives Browns fans something they haven’t had in forever: hope. (And it’s a hell of a lot better than Cam Newton proclaiming he’s “taking a vacation” because all the pre-draft hysteria had taken its toll.)
But it did remind me of something another Browns’ defensive lineman told the media in 2004, Big Ben’s rookie season. Gerard Warren, the Browns’ 2001 first-round pick (third overall — stay hot, Butch Davis!), told the media prior to Cleveland’s Week 10 matchup with the Steelers that he had a little something for Roethlisberger.
“We’re going across his head, regardless of cost. … That’s what we get paychecks for,” Warren said. “We pay the cost. … That’s my personal way of rattling him. That’s not extreme; that’s very shallow. That’s not even digging deep into the batch of things I have planned for him. This game is all about being malicious and violent.”
Roethlisberger’s unintentionally hysterical response:
“I have so much confidence in our offensive line, the guys up front. If he gets to me once it’ll be a big shock to me. I’m going to go out there and just play football. Our guys are going to do a good job on him, I know it. …
“I guess they don’t know me too well, or know this team. It takes a lot more than some talk to get into my head. We have bigger things to worry about than someone coming to try and take my head off.”
In typical Browns promise-keeping fashion, the Steelers won 24-10. But Big Ben, as was the case most of his rookie season, only managed 10 completions on 16 attempts for 134 yards, including one pick. (In that sense, it was a moral victory for Warren. It’s not much, but it’s something.) Pittsburgh’s running game did most of the work — the Bus rushed for 103 yards and scored twice, and the defense did the rest (Russell Stuvaints scored on a fumble recovery!).
So, yeah, typical Browns.
Neither Warren’s nor Taylor’s comments were offensive or worrisome just … well, funny.
As for whether Cleveland has begun to right the ship with their latest draft haul, I’d just point out that they did pretty much the same thing two years ago, when the Jets traded up to No. 5 to get Mark Sanchez. I mentioned it in Saturday’s draft thread:
Cleveland’s selections in ’09 (they traded down again in Round 1 with Philly):
1.21: Alex Mack
2.36: Brian Robiskie
2.50: Mohamed Massaquoi
2.52: David Veikune
4.104: Kaluka Maiava
6.177: Don Carey
6.191: Coye Francies
6.195: James Davis
Four picks in the first two rounds and Mack is the only player I’d say is above average. Even the Mendoza Line is embarrassed.
But who knows, maybe this is the draft that the Browns get right.