Love-’em-or-hate-’em outfit that Team Hoodie has become, that hot dash into history has inspired anything but apathy. “I think everyone cares about it a little bit,” said Browns QB Brady Quinn, whose college coach used to work for Bill Belichick.
Love-’em-or-hate-’em outfit that Team Hoodie has become, that hot dash into history has inspired anything but apathy. “I think everyone cares about it a little bit,” said Browns QB Brady Quinn, whose college coach used to work for Bill Belichick. What does New England’s winter in the sun mean to players who were on the wrong side of the run at 16-0? The Cleveland Browns went the length of the field on their opening drive Oct. 7 at New England. They flew home with a 34-17 loss. “It would be great to see history,” said Browns linebacker Willie McGinest, a former Patriot. “It would be great for my friends, guys I see, guys I played with. Why not?” The Patriots want no part of a history writer’s strike. “We’ve had great seasons before,” QB Tom Brady said this week. “We’ve been 14-2.” There are few greater Patriots than McGinest, a second-year Brown who might be a Hall of Famer. Not much chance he’ll want an orange helmet affixed to his bronze bust. In New England, he went to a Super Bowl with Bill Parcells and three more with Belichick. This could change soon, but for now Belichick has never won a Super Bowl without McGinest. “They just don’t make mistakes,” McGinest said. “When you make mistakes, they take advantage.” Spygate is not how McGinest defines Belichick: “He’s one of the best to ever coach the game, point blank.” Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who made 11 tackles at New England, planned to watch Giants vs. Patriots on Saturday night. “Very impressive,” Jackson said of the run. “My hat goes off to all the coaches and all the players. They’re a bull’s-eye every week, but they keep rolling.” Winning a fourth Super Bowl in seven years would be a greater feat. Browns head coach Romeo Crennel was defensive coordinator for the other three. “Their defense is good, their offense is good, their special teams are good ... and then all of those units play well,” Crennel said. “They are just solid all the way across the board. ... That’s why you can say they are one of the better teams of all-time.” If the Browns make the playoffs and win their opener, they would play at New England in the second round. Guessing the hate-’ems outnumber the love-’ems, most of America would be rooting for Cleveland. “They’re doing the history thing,” Browns linebacker Chaun Thompson said. “I’d tip my hat if they won the Super Bowl, but I don’t want them to win it. I want us to win it.” As dreaming the impossible dream goes, that might transcend 19-0. Tom Was Terrific Time has warped Tom Coughlin’s reputation. Now, he’s the grumpy old man the Giants put up with because he keeps getting them to the playoffs. In another time, he was a miracle worker. If Bill Belichick is the coach of this decade, then Coughlin was the coach of the ‘90s. His expansion team, Jacksonville, was set up with advantages Cleveland and Houston didn’t enjoy years later. Regardless, it is incredible in retrospect that he got the Jaguars to an AFC title game in their second year. The Jaguars were respectable against New England in the game to reach the 1996 season’s Super Bowl, but they lost 20-6. Coughlin followed up that season with years of 11-5, 11-5 and 14-2. It’s a longshot that Coughlin, 60, will keep building the Giants and win two Super Bowls. If somehow Eli Manning broke through and it happened, though, Coughlin would belong in the Hall of Fame ‹ bronze bust scowling. Case for the Defenders Tennessee and Indianapolis, combatants in the Sunday night game so important to Cleveland, both have contenders for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. It remains to be seen whether the Colts will use the national TV game to showcase safety Bob Sanders’ candidacy or rest him for the playoffs. Houston’s Gary Kubiak, head coach of a division rival, called Sanders “the best safety in football.” Tennessee’s candidate is tackle Albert Haynesworth, highly motivated to show his wares going into unrestricted free agency. He has a modest six sacks, a good number for an interior lineman. He has 20 QB pressures, a great number. One perspective: Cleveland defensive linemen Robaire Smith, Shaun Smith, Orpheus Roye, Ethan Kelley and Simon Fraser have 16 pressures combined. Plenty of personnel men who passed on Sanders are kicking themselves for letting him slip to the Colts in the second round the 2004 draft. Extra Points - Warren Sapp, one of the most self-centered blowhards to breeze through the decade, drew three straight rant penalties during the same post-play argument in Oakland’s 49-11 loss to Jacksonville. Agent Howard Slusher was the first presenter to be booed at a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Sapp might become the first player. - Why was it widely written and spoken that the Patriots game meant little or nothing to the Giants? There’s no incentive in pulling one of history’s great upsets? Reach Canton Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.