Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All-Time Miami Dolphins vs. All-Time Cleveland Browns

My good friend Jim is a huge Cleveland Browns fan so in honor of him, you will now read of a thrilling contest pitting the all-time Cleveland Browns against the all-time Miami Dolphins in one epic imaginary struggle. We've previously met our Dolphin squad. Now here are your all-time Cleveland Browns as chosen by the experts at Football Digest:


QB Otto Graham
RB Jim Brown
RB Marion Motley
TE Ozzie Newsome
WR Dante Lavelli
WR Paul Warfield
OT Mike McCormack
OT Lou Groza
OG Dick Schafrath
OG Gene Hickerson
C Frank Gatski


DE Len Ford
DE Paul Wiggin
DT Bill Willis
DT Jerry Sherk
LB Jim Houston
LB Chip Banks
LB Clay Matthews
CB Frank Minnifield
CB Hanford Dixon
S Thom Darden
S Warren Lahr


K Lou Groza
P Don Cockroft

I'm no expert on the Brownies but it looks like a good team to me. I'll make a single change. With apologies to "The Mule", if you take out Dick Schafrath and replace him with Joe Delamelliure, the Browns can field a Hall of Famer at every offensive position. Sure Delamelliure played most of his career with Buffalo and the Mule probably isn't a-scared of Gene Upshaw like Delamelliure, but Hall of Fame is Hall of Fame. Ok, our teams are set.

With Marion Motley and an all-Hall O-line blocking for Jimmy Brown, I'm going to go out on a limb right here and say these Browns have the greatest freaking ground game of all time. That is pure power. Can Miami stop them? It could be tough. Defensive Tackle is probably the Dolphins' weakest position on defense (relatively speaking of course. Everyone here was a really good player at minimum) and Miami's linebackers, while quick and hard-hitting, are probably a bit on the smallish side. So Cleveland might be able to wear Miami down by grinding it out up the middle. So to win the Dolphins have to score early and often to force Cleveland to abandon the run and play catchup. Do the Dolphins have the personnel to do that? What do you think? With the greatest pure passer of all time (you can insert an "arguably" to that sentence if you want Marino-haters) reunited with Mark Clayton and Keith Jackson, AND, getting a chance to hook up with possibly the greatest deep threat ever, Paul Warfield, Miami's passing game should have a field day. Most of these matchups are hypothetical but Marino and Clayton really did face off against the Browns' corners, Minifield and Dixon, and had them for lunch several times. Now with Warfield in tow and an all-star line to protect him, Marino should have a field day. Cleveland can't drop LB's back to help out either. Miami's got the power of Csonka, the speed of Morris, and incredible strength up the middle of their O-line. Dan finally has the running game here that he missed out on in life.

Alright, can the Browns keep up and match Miami's aerial assualt? You've got Otto Graham, one of only 4 QB's on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, throwing to Lavelli and Warfield (playing for both teams), with coach Paul Brown, probably the greatest offensive mind in football history calling the plays. Automatic Otto, Gluefingers, Warfield, and Ozzie Newsome. No question that's a dangerous group. But the Dolphins have one strong secondary to face them. Two corners who cover a lot of ground and two smart safeties at their best in big games. And I wonder just how well Brown's and Graham's offense will work here. Reading about the 40's-50's Browns, you see that the secret of their success was not just superior talent, but running a more sophisticated and advanced offense than their opponents. The Browns were the first team to use playbooks and game films and the first offense to use timed passing routes. Paul Brown, Graham, and Lavelli obviously wouldn't have that kind of advantage against players of later eras. And especially not against Don Shula who played for Cleveland as a DB in the '50's. He knows all of Browns tricks and schemes. Brown's offense won't have any of the built-in advantages he had back in his heyday. Brown might be able to figure something out as the game goes on but it'll be too late.

Miami should be able to score enough early to hold off a late surge by the Browns in a shootout. Final score:



JIMBO said...

Unscramble Marino, and you have the answer - MARION. Mottley ran over opponents, ate up the clock, and dominated football, as he would in this match-up. Browns 42, Dolphins 17.

JIMBO said...

The all-time All-American Football Conference's rushing champion, Marion Motley, averaged 5.7 yards per carry. In the NFL, he was OK, too. Ask the 1950 Pittsburgh Steeler defense just how punishing Motley ran on October 9, 1950, when he touched the ball just twelve times, while amassing 221 yards. That's 18.4 yards per touch by a RB. Offerdahl, Thomas and Bonoconti would be down for the count. And if the all-time Browns LB's were too ineffective to bring down the '72 Dolphins backfield, or if the were puzzled by Marino's quick release, Motley would line-up at LB and completely disrupt the game from the defensive side of the ball.

JIMBO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JIMBO said...

In the perfect season, the Dolphins survived a playoff squeaker in their win against the Browns, 20-14. In their 1985 playoff match-up, the fins pulled off another squeaker win, 24-21, over the Brownies. The best eras of the Dolphins found a worthy play-off foe in the Browns. Sprinkle in the magic of Marion Motley, and it's over. (I'll be sure to edit and proof in the future before posting, Commish!).

Rob said...

Enough of your Motley man-crush! I'm only counting his NFL career, not his AAFC days, and Motley, as great as he was, scored a paltry 5 rushing TD's in the NFL. And no two-way playing in our fantasy bowl. Plus Cleveland's LB's are fine as is so Motley's on offense only. He's a better blocker than Jim Brown so fullback it is fo Marion Motley.

Gary said...

There is an issue with your matchup for the Dolphins WR vs the Browns CBs. If you go on you can look up box scores and stats from every game played. Minnifield and Dixon routinely closed down Miami's WRs. As a matter of fact, in a 1985 PLAYOFF game, Marino couldn't find his prize WRs (Clayton and Duper at the time). At half-time, neither one had a catch. At full-time, Duper was still without a catch and Clayton caught one pass on a play where Dixon was not covering him. Miami's biggest strength (the pass) would have been nullified.