Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of the road

Jim Sorgi has been referred to as the Maytag Repairman of NFL quarterbacks. As the backup to Canton-bound Peyton Manning, his uniform almost never poses any stain-treatment challenges for the Colts' equipment managers.

Sunday night, one of the league least-used backup QBs looked the part.

Despite playing all but the first two series of the game, Sorgi still finished with just 68 yards passing, a distant second to Peyton Manning's 95 in a relative sliver of action.

Sorgi plus a heavy helping of other Indianapolis backups playing against a highly-motivated Titans squad equaled an ugly 16-10 Titans win and the start of the offseason for the Browns.

Could you really have expected anything more from the Colts, who have been locked into the AFC's second seed for weeks and still finished with a stellar 13-3 record?

Sorgi did his job, and his job wasn't to win the game, or even look good. It was to allow Manning to walk off the field at the end of the game with his arms, legs and head intact and ready to go for the divisional playoff round. That equaled a Colts win on this night.

The Titans, meanwhile, have the anti-Sorgi on their bench. Tennessee's fortunes actually received a boost when scatter-armed starting QB Vince Young left the game in the third quarter with a quadriceps injury, ushering in Kerry Collins, who has led a team to a Super Bowl in his career.

Collins, a superior passer to Young (which isn't saying much), was good enough to eke out a pair of field-goal drives that turned out to be the margin of victory.

For the Browns, the disappointment is bitter in the short term, but for a team that was picked as arguably the NFL's worst at the start of the season, to win 10 games and be in a position to clinch a playoff berth in the season's final weeks has to be viewed as a major step in the right direction, even if they couldn't seal the deal.

Unlike the 2002 team, the last Browns squad that was close to this good, there is little chance that management will give seven starters the axe this offseason. In other words, it appears this season can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things for a team that has a lot of youth at key positions on both sides of the ball.

There will be plenty of time to debate the future moves of the team, the fate of Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Jamal Lewis. For now, the sting of a near miss needs to subside, and we need to take in the whole of what has transpired over the past four months.

The Browns are a work in progress, like every other year. But at least this year, "progress" is the operative term.


Zach said...

There is a sting here, but I'm still thrilled with a 10-6 season.

But I'm still waiting for everyone in Cleveland who called for Romeo Crennel's dismissal a season ago to admit they were wrong.

Until then, I won't try to hide my disappointment in the Colts. I know the Browns have no one to blame but themselves.

But the Colts sent out the JV team, then didn't even burn a timeout in the final series to prolong the game. Whatever happened to playing to win?

I'll be interested to see how the Colts do after a two-week vacation. If you recall, the last time they tried this, they came out flat against the Steelers and never really recovered.

The Colts owed the Browns nothing. But I have never seen a team go that far into the tank to save starters. It will be hard for me to root for them in the playoffs now, even against the arrogant and overhyped Patriots.

It'd be dishonest to write otherwise.

Erik said...

All I know is when the Chargers crush the Titans 41-10 while the Browns sit at home, everyone loses.