A first step
If you had just watched the fourth quarter of the Browns game against Minnesota, the temptation would be declare them the same old Browns. There were turnovers, dropped balls, lame penalties and missed tackles.
But if you only watched the second half, you missed something important. There was a sense of progress and sense of hope. The Browns were not embarrassed. Sure they regressed at the end and the NFL is all about winning but as a fan you can point to that first half and say Mangini has the ship pointed in the right direction.
In that first half, I was impressed by the improved tackling of the BRowns defense. They went getting pressure on Favre and they were wrapping up Peterson. Quinn isn't afraid to take a hit. Lewis looked fresh and still ready to make an impact. Cribbs was Cribbs. Braylon made a great catch that replay took away but the pieces looked ready to fall into place.
The second half showed there is a still a lot of room for improvement. Other than Cribbs return, the special teams did not have a great game. But I left the game thinking that most of the Browns shortcomings in the game were correctable. In week three of the preseason, the Browns held their own with the Titans starters and they did the same today with the Vikings. Both teams feature veteran quarterbacks with strong running games and stout defenses. The Browns were not as out-classed as they appeared last year. The Browns are not a playoff team but I wasn't embarrassed by them either.
On a side note, I love complaining about TV announcers. But Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick reached new lows today. I get the need to tell the tale of Favre but how many plays did they one not bother to call and then how many big plays did they just out and out miss as they talked. They had no idea Vickers lost the ball. There was no replay on several big plays. Billick is a self-absorbed jerk so I can't blame him too much. But Brennaman needs to look in the mirror after this game. One would have hoped he had learned from the criticism he got from the Tim Tebow love. But he owes his father and his profession an apology. Shrill your story but not at the expense of missing what is happening on the field. I expected Favre to dominate the talk of the game but I didn't expect to miss plays and replays. I get it the Browns are an afterthought and that is fine but the game is the story. You have to show me the game and as an announcer you should watch the game you are covering. It didn't help Fox kept losing the sound and letting the screen go yellow at times. Boo to Brennaman, Billick and Fox.