NFL14 Cherry Picks W7: Ohio Express?

17 Oct

“Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

Only “Gomer Pyle, USMC” could’ve said it best, capturing the spirit and yet conveying the cautious optimism and perplexity (that was Gomer) most NFL fans feel this week about the eye-opening Cleveland Browns.

The Brownies come off a somewhat surprising 31-10 thumping of their regional rival and 3-year slumping Pittsburgh Steelers, putting Cleveland at 3-2 in the AFC North division that remains very much in play as NFL14 approaches the midway.

............Browns.M.Epsilon.wc.cca.9.3.12.thumb

The Bengals are beginning to bumble, the resilient Ravens rising, the Hoyer-led Browns contending (or pretending) and the Steelers are still in that post-Super Bowl 45 funk.

In pre-season, had a soothsayer told me the Browns, who, like 50s arch-rival and equally surprising Detroit Lions (4-2), never made a Super Bowl in their long, sometimes glorious (40s – 60s), interrupted history, would be looking viable nearing mid-point, I’d have said she should find a new profession and wondered if “Johnny Red-flag” were giving the spark.

..........Haslam.Pettine.wc.cca.7.25.14.Drost.thmb

When first-year head coach Mike Pettine tabbed 6-year clip-board vet Brian Hoyer for starter’s role in the exhibition period, over 1st-Rd draftee and junior-media favorite, Jon Manziel, it was seen as the prudent choice but more a stop-gap measure to afford time for the sideline-smiling, playbook-fearing rookie to mature.

But Brian appears to have no intention of being demoted.

After 6 games, his numbers are strong: top C% (60.4), smart TD-ratio (7-1) and while he has no GWDs as yet, he’s displayed a pocket poise befitting a seasoned QB and a savvy disdain for rabbit (6-att / -2y). But then that stat requires some elaboration.

..........Hoyer.wc.cca.7.26.14.ED.Drost.thumb

Buoyed by a capable run-trio in West, Tate & Crowell (4.8 ypc), Hoyer’s been getting top shield, too (Sk-6). That wall suffered a crack on Sunday when All-Pro center Alex Mack went down with “broken left fibula” and is “likely lost for 2014 (“Cleveland” / Cabot / 10-13 / Cleveland.com),” as is rookie contributor Armonty Bryant (DE) with a torn ACL (“Browns” / Hanzus / 10-13 / nfl.com).

Cleveland’s sore spot is defense, ranked 29th (409 ypg). They’ve one of the best in Karlos Dansby (LB) but he’s gonna’ need more contribution to keep the fun going. The schedule is a mixed bag. Next three contests are winnables (JAX / OAK / TB), so they better feast, for after that it’s a pretty tough row to hoe.

...........Dansby.wc.cca.7.25.14.ED.Drost.thumb

This week’s darling (DAL/PHI) can turn persona non grata by Sunday night (NYG/CIN).

For now, Cleveland Browns are showing a moxie that’s “Yummy, yummy, yummy” for every tummy, tummy, tummy in the greater Forest City metropolitan. And if you didn’t know that line was coming, you just gotta’ get hip to the 60s (See: title).

“Shame, Shame, Shame”

Mobile America. That’s us in 2014.

So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Green Bay Packers could pack-up home-field advantage and bring it with ‘em to sunny Florida when facing the Miami Dolphins.

This is what 95 years of membership (not charter, mind you) and a dozen NFL titles will get you, though, some States do impose strict travel restrictions (See; Seattle ‘11).

Either that, or the zebras were blinded by the Sun’s glare in those waning moments of last Sunday’s Packers – Dolphins game when Aaron Rodgers drove his team for the game-winning TD to topple their hosts, 27-24.

In need of a 1st down, w/time running short and GB approaching Miami’s red-zone, the starry QB, upon center snap, began moving backward and, w/head staring straight down at the spheroid, appeared set to spike the ball, but instead, pulled the old slight of hand trick, except, in Rodgers’ case, it was his cabeza that did the slighting.

..........A.Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.08.thumb

Rather than spike it, the expectation of which is likely what cued (baited) the Dolphins’ defenders to freeze for that all important split second, the wily signal-caller pulled his head up, continued back and then threw pass for first down. Cute.

That frozen second is critical to give your guys a jump at the line of scrimmage.

And because eyes always start on the QB like a pitcher in baseball, you can bet your bottom dollar everyone was watching Mr. Signal-caller: the fans (at Sun Life), TV viewers, Dolphins defenders and the referees.

A quarterback and his center have a rapport, a trust in transfer (snap) of football to hands. They must. If a veteran like Rodgers has his gaze downward to the ball, he’s not worried about transfer, but rather, he’s sending a clear message to the world of an intent to spike.

Apart from deception and unfair advantage this trickery gives, the bait & switch move will weaken carefully crafted League rules designed to prevent QB bull-rushes.

Some were captured by the moment, the celebrity of the trickster (State Farm®) and termed it “magic (“Is This Real” / King / 10-13 / SI.com). Fiddlesticks.

It was about as “magic” as that dicey referee call back in 1989 that let Don Majkowski’s out of bounds TD throw stand, and help the green & yellow similarly snatch victory from certain jaws of defeat against Mike Ditka’s befuddled Chicago Bears.

Message to Aaron: “Don’t stop the motion if you get the notion” to pass, or “shame on you.” Shirley & Company (‘74), they knew the score.

American “Yutes” & Washington Redskins

As Dan Snyder took in the Skins-Cards game last Sunday in Phoenix, the NFL owner had some noteworthy guests seated along side: Navajo nation leader, Ben Shelly and his wife.

............Snyder.wc.cca.11.0.04.J.Wallace.thumb

Manufactured Redskins-debate aside, Shelly’s presence raised eye-brows because the soon-to-step-down Indian President had recently reached a settlement (“$8, 250”) in lieu of “fraud, conspiracy and theft charges (“Redskins” / SI.com / Mascaro & Kay / 10-12).”

The public display of friendship between the NFL enthusiasts sent sirens to scramble the politically correct bullies (PCBs) and their media minions into flight pattern, who, right on cue, dropped their anti-Redskins pay-load on their football targets.

...........Shelly.Sebaz86556.wc.cca.thumb

SI.com, in cooperation w/CBSSports.com (Can anyone say, concerted campaign?) saw fit to use the opportunity to dredge-up an April quote from a Jacqueline Keeler, aboriginal American descendent and creator of the entity known as EONM: Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry.

Keeler was “alarmed” that Shelly, in his capacity as Navajo President, had permitted Snyder and his OAF to participate in a tribal-sponsored, fund-raiser golf tournament:

“I think it is unfortunate the Navajo Nation administration of Ben Shelly is so out of step with the Navajo people, particularly, the young people, regarding this issue (“Redskins”).” Keeler tipped her hand.

This War of 2012 may‘ve been instigated by corporate (Nike®) and personal power-grabs (Halbritter Oneida), and supplied by celebrities (Obama, McCain, Costas, Pelosi) & media, but it’s being mercenaried in large part by America’s socially-driven youth.

What’s really “alarm(ing)” is the low regard in which Ms. Keeler, the “young people” to whom she refers and their 5-star general benefactors, hold the views of sport fans, commercial art and “particularly,” those of the elder generation.

The people whose biggest contribution to Mother Earth, so far, appears to be history’s most single-minded pursuit of consumerism, in gadgetry, gambling (fantasy), music, body additives (sugar, PEDs, THC, metal, tattoos) and soft shoes, are in poor position to be lecturing the nation on any definitions, least of which is the word racism, Don Sterling and his reported age-related dementia, notwithstanding.

“And a child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6)?” I don’t think so, not on this one, anyway.

One request of Jacqueline: put the Redskins logo issue to a vote (or poll), of rank & file Indian tribal membership, ages 18+, coast-to-coast, and take it out of the hands of “tribal council(s)” & media tools, that is, if you believe in democracy.

“Nothing to fear but fear itself,” kiddo.

.......cherries.B.Kua.thumb

Cherry Picks Week 7: “And (we’ll) have fun, fun, fun…”

Panthers (3-2-1) @ GB (4-2): 10-19 Fox 1:00 EST: Pack wins
Dolphins (2-3) @ Chicago (3-3): CBS 1:00: Miami wins
Bengals (3-1-1) @ Indianapolis (4-2): CBS 1:00: Cincy wins
Saints (2-3) @ Detroit (4-2): Fox 1:00: New Orleans wins
Chiefs (2-3) @ San Diego (5-1): CBS 4:10: Kansas City wins
Giants (3-3) @ Dallas (5-1): Fox 4:30 (GOTW): NYG wins
49ers (4-2) @ Denver (4-1): NBC 8:35 (GOTW2): Broncos win
Texans (3-3) @ Pittsburgh: 10-20 ESPN 8:35: Steelers win

Record: 33-17-1

Steven Keys
NFL Hunch Line
Photo credits: Manziel & Hoyer, wc.cca, E.D.Drost, 7.25.14; Browns.logo, M.Epsilon, wc.cca, 9.3.12; Haslam & Pettine, 7.25.14, wc.cca, Drost; Hoyer, 7.2.14, Drost, wc.cca; Dansby, 7.25.14, wc.cca, Drost; Rodgers, M.Morbeck, 08, wc.cca; Snyder, 11.5.04, wc.cca, J.Wallace; Shelly, wc.cca, Sebaz86556
Posted: 10-17-14 @ 10:58am; edit 10-18 @ 1:06am EST

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