Saturday, December 27, 2008

The dawg that couldn't hunt

More of a hippo than a dawg, really... then again, to compare Romeo Eatwell to a hippo is to unfairly malign an entire group of mammals, and I don't mean grossly overweight, incompetent head coaches. As Eatwell's tenure as head coach of the Browns comes to its merciful end, I can't help but wonder how he could have convinced the team's brass to hire him. Sure, he seems like an even-keeled and extremely decent fellow, and although fiery, driven personalities tend to fit the stereotype of coaching success (Lombardi, Ditka, Parcells, etc.), plenty of low-key, players' coaches have won and won big (Landry, Gibbs, Dungy, etc.). Eatwell's problem isn't his temperament so much as the fact that he's completely clueless. The Eatwell regime has been characterized by some unfortunate constants that provide a damning indictment of his failings as a head coach:
  • A lack of on-the-field discipline, as the Browns consistently ranked at or near the top of the league in penalties, and surely led in the unofficial statistic of egregiously stupid penalties.
  • The team's performance was inconsistent at best, coming prepared to play on some weeks, and barely showing up on others. Last season's catastrophic and inexcusable loss at Cincinnati with a playoff spot on the line is a perfect example of the team NOT being prepared for a crucial game. Ugh.
  • An unforgivable disregard for fundamentals. No team misses more tackles, blows more coverage and blocking assignments, drops more passes, misses wide open receivers with errant passes, or forces the ball into quadruple coverage than Eatwell's Browns. Maybe in any given year one or two teams might have surpassed even our collective inadequacy (2K8 Lions, anyone???)... but over the duration of Eatwell's tenure, we stand alone at the nadir of incompetence.
  • Piss-poor clock management and atrocious situational coaching. If you're down by three touchdowns late in the 4th quarter, kicking a field goal on fourth and short is NOT a f*cking option!!!
  • No off-the-field discipline. Oh, to choose from so many examples! From Kellen Idiot Jr.'s crotch-rocket, staph-ridden "I'm just a piece of meat" stupidity, to Braylon Edwards developing a bad case of concrete hands then having the balls to deride the fans for supposedly not liking him because he attended Michicrap (Braylon, we don't like you because you drop passes like a bad habit and are a high-priced bust -- we loved Leroy Hoard, and HE went to Michicrap!), to having Jamal Lewis the convicted cocaine dealer not only question the other players' resolve, but actually be quite right in doing so, to the QB and pretty-boy face of the franchise getting into a fistfight with a trash-talking defensive tackle... every possible bit of repulsive strife is present in the locker room. GM Phil Savage also gets a dishonourable mention here for getting into a profanity-laced internet forum battle of the witless with some fair-weather douchebag "fan"... but that'll be discussed in a future post.
  • A blatant disregard for and inexplicable lack of urgency regarding divisional match-ups. The team is well below .500 within the division during Eatwell's tenure and, even less excusable, is an atrocious 0-7 (soon to be 0-8) against the hated Steelers. If you don't win in your division, you're not going anywhere. If you lose every single rivalry game, your a$$ is getting run out of town. If you adopt an "aw-shucks, we'll hopefully get'em next time" attitude about losing every rivalry game, your a$$ is getting run out of town with extreme prejudice. It's that simple.
  • A failure to implement a system based on the team's personnel. Yes, Eatwell loves his 3-4 defense almost as much as he loves an all-you-can-eat buffet. Too bad the team lacks the players to run this system. A good coach tailors his schemes to match his personnel. A stupid coach stubbornly insists on running a 3-4 defense with three undersized, no-tackling nitwits and a slow, crippled Methuselah at the linebacker position.
And yet, this is the man who, according to management, "blew them away" during his job interview. Here's how I envision the interview, with actual quotes and/or actions from Eatwell as his answers:

Lerner & Savage: How would you define success as the coach of the Cleveland Browns?

Eatwell: "Going into this season there was some talk that we might be able to beat Pittsburgh and I don't think there has been that kind of talk around before. This year we ended up taking a step back, but going forward, as we build, I think we will have a chance to be much more competitive against them."

Lerner & Savage: Um... OK... so the mere possibility of deluded people thinking the Browns might actually beat Pittsburgh is, in your opinion, success?

Eatwell: "I haven't been able to beat Pittsburgh and that's discouraging to everybody, myself included. It is somewhat of a mountain to climb, but it is a mountain to climb because they are a good football team along with the other things that are involved with it."

Lerner & Savage: What "other things that are involved with it" are you talking about?

Eatwell: "Progress. I think that we have some progress here. This year we ended up taking a step back, but going forward, as we build, I think we will have a chance to be much more competitive against them."

Lerner & Savage: That kind of makes no sense... do you think "being competitive" is enough? Do you take comfort in losing a close game as opposed to a blowout?

Eatwell: "It seems like we play them close one game and get killed the next game. That's one of my fears going down this time, [that] we played them a close game this year."

Lerner & Savage: Holy sh... Er, let's move on to personnel. How would you decide on a starting quarterback during an open training camp competition? That is to say, what parameters would you use to measure the pros and cons of each player as a starter, and do said parameters include only physical ability and measurable benchmarks, or will they also include intangibles and leadership skills?

Eatwell: "That's a tough one... I guess I'd just flip a coin to decide on a starting quarterback."

Lerner & Savage: Wow. Your ineptitude has really blown us away.

Eatwell: "Great. Can you pay my salary in chicken-fried steaks, lard, and biscuits'n'gravy?"

OK, I made that last one up. Be that as it may, after tomorrow, we'll bid a not-so-fond farewell to Romeo Eatwell. Nice guy, well-liked by his players, and a terrific defensive coordinator... but as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, an unmitigated disaster. Wait 'til next year...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Urine big trouble now

This is a true story, and I haven't even changed the names to protect the innocent, 'cause none of us are. This morning, I arrived at work an hour or so late owing to a frustrating visit to the dentist, only to find out that our restrooms were out of order. Initially, I wanted to blame Lulu (aka The Cheeburglar) for this calamity, but since he's gone on his cheeseburger-only diet, his BMs have been of the human-scale variety; the fact that the entire building's gag reflex is no longer triggered roughly thirty minutes after lunch bears witness to this improvement. As it turns out, the problem was sewer related, as evidenced by the pungently aromatic bubbling brook o'sewage right outside the building's back door:

Now, even though I don't like it, especially during mosquito / no see-um season, I've urinated outdoors, and there are some lovely, dark, and deep woods just beyond our building... but that would hardly help my Graphics Department crony Anna G, since she's a firm believer in the old adage that "a lady reveals nothing." And that's basically the what, why, when, where, and who of The Great December 2K8 Quest For A Mid-Morning Pee Venue. Since the building where we work is in the middle of an industrial / warehouse street in Nowheresville, USA, we actually had to hop in a car and drive around. Luckily, there's a Mercedes dealership right at the Airport Road intersection. As we pulled in, an obsequious salesman magically materialized beside us to ask whether he could help us. Once he realized we weren't in the market for a Mercedes, he suddenly remembered that the dealership's bathroom was being remodeled and sent us packing. So, if any of my faithful readers is/are ever in the market for a Mercedes, do yourself(ves) a favour and avoid Mercedes-Benz of Naples like the plague, because they f*cking suck, big time.

Ah, but fortune favours the bold and the beautiful -- luckily for me, I tagged along with Anna G! She had a stroke of inspiration: the Naples Airport. This may seem like an odd choice, especially considering that I bore an even surlier-than-normal expression thanks to the dentist and my bladder, was dressed like a hobo (as usual), and had a two-day stubble; in short, I looked like a destitute terrorist, and it wouldn't do to get arrested by some overzealous wannabe-hero hilljack airport rent-a-pig the week before Christmas. Fortunately, the Naples Airport is actually McDonald's-sized, with plenty of free parking, and possessing the sleepy charm of a Midwestern Greyhound bus depot. So, we peed (nice, clean restrooms, by the way -- way to go, Naples Airport!) and made our triumphant return to Sewage Central, where we were informed by the world's most obnoxiously smug plumber that he couldn't fix the toilets. Why he was so happy about this, I'll never know. Luckily, his ignorance was our salvation, because we were somehow back in business less than an hour later. It's a good thing, too, because I don't think the Naples Airport could have withstood one of The Cheeburglar's, ahem, special deliveries. Here's hoping we never have to find out.