Passing The Test, In Smashing Fashion

Yesterday I wrote that the Browns’ game against New England would be an “acid test.” Today the Browns passed that test, and in smashing fashion.  They pulverized the Patriots, who came into the game with the best record in the NFL, 34-14.

There was a lot to like about this game.  Offensively, the Browns were aggressive and took the game to the Patriots.  The Browns’ offensive line was stellar.  On running plays they smashed the New England defensive line, and Peyton Hillis — a big back who can deliver a crushing blow at the point of impact, yet who is nimble enough to hurdle a tackler or get far downfield and catch the ball on the wheel route — blew through the Patriots for more than 180 yards and two touchdowns.  (Brady Quinn’s greatest contribution to the Browns was being traded for this guy!)  The line also provided good pass protection, and Colt McCoy played a careful, error-free game that featured a brilliant scrambling run for a touchdown.  On that play, Joshua Cribbs delivered a de-cleating, pancake block.  Cribbs also played a key role in the Browns’ other touchdown, where he handed off from the wildcat formation on a modified fumblerooski play that caught the Patriots totally off-guard.

On defense, the Browns forced key turnovers and also kept Tom Brady and his corps of receivers off their games.  The Browns’ ever-changing and inventive (some might say downright weird) defensive formations and schemes clearly bugged Brady.  Having to deal with no down lineman sets, then three-lineman sets, then corner blitzes, acted on Brady like a combination of itching powder and atomic balm in his jockstrap.  He seemed irritated and frustrated throughout the game.  The Patriots’ offense, one of the better offensive units in the NFL, was never able to get untracked.

Of course, this is just one win for the Browns, who are still only 3-5 — but it is a very satisfying win.  Let’s hope the Browns have found their stride.  Next up is the New York Jets, next Sunday.

The Casino Rolls Ahead

Slowly, but surely, the casino on the west side of Columbus is moving toward completion.  Recently the developer unveiled plans and architect drawings for the Hollywood Casino, which is what the casino will be called.  Nearby residents apparently were impressed.  The casino will be a 300,000 square foot, one-story structure that will have thousands of slot machines, dozens of table games, a poker room, and restaurants.  From the architect renderings, it looks about what you would expect a casino to look like, both inside and outside.  It is currently slated to open in mid-2012.

In the meantime, City of Columbus officials and the casino developers are scrapping about whether the city made certain promises when the casino moved from the Arena District to the west side of town — a move that city leaders desperately wanted.  Each side thinks it has leverage.  The casino developer’s west side land is in Franklin Township, not the city of Columbus, and if the casino developer doesn’t seek annexation Columbus would lose $24 million a year in casino taxes.  On the other hand, Columbus says it won’t provide water to the site unless it is annexed.  The areas in dispute seem to revolve around tax breaks and some form of compensation for the losses the casino developer apparently incurred when it agreed to move the casino location.

Another issue to be resolved is the membership of the state commission that is supposed to regulate the casinos.  The members nominated by outgoing Governor Ted Strickland have not been confirmed, and Governor-elect John Kasich wants to make his own appointments to the body.  The individuals appointed by Strickland, however, say that if they don’t move forward deadlines will be missed and the construction of the casinos could be delayed.

There are always going to be some snags when you are starting up a new, heavily regulated business in a place like Columbus, Ohio — and casinos are no different.