Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 10/26/11

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 04: Head coach Eric Mangini of the Cleveland Browns looks on against the Cincinnati Bengals during their game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This week the Browns won a really ugly game that left us with plenty to complain about.  Special teams – once a bragging point for this team under Eric Mangini and Brad Sealy –  has become an unfunny joke.  The inability to get in the end zone under Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll seems to be back for an encore after we hoped to bid it farewell forever with the hiring of Pat Shurmur.  Peyton Hillis missed another game and Colt McCoy seems to be regressing if not choking on an expanded list of duties and priorities.  All of it is a wonderfully welcome relief after the last few weeks of Browns scandals.

I applaud those of you who drove the Colt McCoy discussion yesterday to 104 comments and counting.  You know why it was so awesome?  Browns fans were talking mid-week at a frenzied pace about… FOOTBALL.  We weren’t talking about strep throat, contracts, agents, out-of-market radio stations, 5-year contracts, retirements, or absentee owners.  Football.  You know the thing we actually love that gets played to varying degrees of quality on Sundays?  (FOOTBALL!)

It honestly makes my week.  The Browns are heading to San Francisco this weekend as a 9.5 point underdog as of this writing, yet I’m still excited.  Even as the “Madden Curse” nonsense has hit the mainstream media with regard to Peyton Hillis’ season, it doesn’t matter to me.  Hillis could be back this week in San Francisco, or it might take another week until the Browns play in Houston.

We’ll see, but at this point I would go cautious.  I truly think Hillis is still capable of putting up weeks like he had in Indianapolis more frequently than not.  Remember he had 94 yards on 24 carries including a game-winning 24-yard TD scamper while adding four catches including one for 19 yards.  This Browns team was pretty effective with their screen-passing game this weekend in Seattle.  Maybe adding that to the scouting video archive will pay dividends in some other area going forward.

In other news, ProFootballFocus says that Tony Pashos had a day for the ages against Seattle last weekend.  Like in a really really bad way. In their words, “It didn’t matter who was lined up in front of Pashos, everyone had the pleasure of beating him off the ball and making him look silly. When the Browns ran behind him they averaged 2.4 yards per carry, almost a full yard below the team average.”  Go ahead and put this one on Tom Heckert.  It was one thing for Heckert to miss on Pashos as an injury risk, but for him to be such a weak link even when he plays is pretty discouraging.  I am still happy to not be dealing with John St. Clair, but add it to the list for draft day this year.  It doesn’t matter who your running backs are if the offensive isn’t playing capable football.  Just ask Chris Johnson.  He’ll tell you only too willingly.

Which brings me back to the top.  It is wonderful to be talking actual football this week even if there are a lot of negatives to talk about.  It beats having to talk about fake reality show “drama” thrust on us since the bye week.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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