CLEVELAND —The $6 Dawg Pound seats weren't selling.
A skeleton crowd watched the Browns 21-16 win on lonely Lake Erie.
A guess: Many of you avoided the Fox TV team, Kenny Albert/Jonathan Vilma, and caught Doug Dieken/Jim Donovan on the radio. It was Dieken's last call in a radio career that began alongside Nev Chandler in 1985.
Dieken, who played the last of his 207 games as a Cleveland left tackle in 1984, knows a whiffed block when he sees one. Nick Chubb got hit in the backfield on the first series.
"The lead blocker was Austin Hooper," Dieken said of a tight end who has been expensive and disappointing, "and that's where the tackler came from."
We hung on Dieken's every word during his last call. It turns out his favorite Brown is a blocker.
"Joel Bitonio has been a rock since he got here," Dieken said.
Early on, Case Keenum threw a touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry that traveled 25 yards in the air.
"Landry and Keenum have some chemistry," Dieken said.
Dieken seemed amused that Kevin Stefanski "emptied out the playbook" en route to a 14-0 lead. After he described one play as a "double reverse fleaflicker screen," Donovan replied, "If you say so."
With Bengals star Joe Burrow sitting, Brandon Allen ran for his life against the Browns' first-string defense. After one clubbing, Dieken said, "He got high-lowed. Jadeveon Clowney hit him from the front, and Myles Garrett buried him from the back.
"As the season has progressed, they've gotten better defensively. The offense has really sputtered.
"That has brought up the questions of why didn't we sit down Baker (Mayfield) earlier. I admire Baker for going out there playing hurt, but when you do it, you compensate to be able to do it, and you lose some of your fundamentals."
At about the time the defense pinned Cincinnati in a third-and-33, Dieken said he liked a couple of 2020 draft picks.
"We haven't seen Jordan Elliott and Jacob Phillips a lot," he said, "but they're making an impact today."
A blowout win seemed possible before a Keenum fumble got returned for a touchdown.
"Wow," Dieken said. "He's been managing the game very well. That time he just mismanaged it."
Keenum's next series featured a completion to the 11 to rookie Anthony Schwartz.
"That was good timing on that out route," Dieken said. "Schwartz broke and the ball was out there on him."
Moments later, Keenum threw an interception.
Bernie Kosar, a possible radio color man in 2022, was a rookie the year Dieken began his radio run in 1985. Kosar lost a 24-21 playoff duel against Dan Marino and the Dolphins on Jan. 4, 1986.
Dieken was 36 then. Twice that age now, he pokes fun at himself for being an old man. At one point he described a ball carrier "dancing around like Lawrence Welk," a reference to a music man whose TV series ended in 1982.
'The Doug Dieken Radio Booth'
After it was announced the radio booth is being named in Dieken's honor, he said, "As many trips as I've made to the bathroom, I thought they were going to name that after me."This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.Update your settings here to see it.
Dieken's ornery smile and dry sense of humor drew people to him. He knew more about the inner workings of the team than many coaches.
"You build relationships with players," he said. "You find out who will give you a straight answer. "D'Qwell Jackson was one of the great guys. I used to kid Phil Dawson about being just a kicker. He knew a heck of a lot of football. And he was a dear friend."
Dieken laughed when the Bengals made a field goal that bounced off the stanchion, kindling memories of a famous Dawson kick at Baltimore.
"Marion (Motley) was one of the humblest and greatest players I ever met," he said.
Dieken tends to keep it light, an approach that has helped him retain his Cleveland football sanity. Late Saturday, he set his mind for his last call by watching The Longest Yard, "the second one," he said, starring Adam Sandler.
Dieken's only postseasons as a player resulted in one-and-done losses in 1971, 1972, 1981 and 1983. As a radio man, he was in the booth for postseasons in 1985, '86, '87, '88 and '89. The only playoff years since then were 1994, 2002 and 2020.
In 2021, early games against better teams set a troubling tone. The Browns led 22-10 at Kansas City and lost 33-29. They led 27-13 at Los Angeles and fell to the Chargers 47-42. Later, they got nothing from the offense in close losses to Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
"Closing was a problem," Dieken said. "When we had the opportunities at the end, we faltered. The defense has grown into a pretty good defense. The offense has been inconsistent.
"It's a shame. We all had aspirations. Mine was to go out like Peyton Manning."
The offensive line was a nightmare. Left tackle Jed Wills limped into the season. Right tackle Jack Conklin made it through only four full games. No. 3 tackle Chris Hubbard got hurt after replacing Wills in the opener and missed the rest of the year.
"You want five guys who play together and build chemistry," Dieken said. "One year there were four left guards who played next to me, all with a different style. One set shorter. One set deeper. One was more physical. One was more finesse.
"It just messes you up."
Mayfield took nine sacks in a loss at Pittsburgh last week.
"The rookie tackle (James Hudson) had trouble," Dieken said. "Why? He lacked experience. It probably would have helped if he had had a little more help."
In August, Cincinnati was a 25-1 longshot against winning the AFC North.
"Congratulations to the Bengals," Dieken said. "I wish it was us, but they earned it."
The Browns "earned" a much higher draft pick than after going 11-5 and taking cornerback Greg Newsome at No. 26 overall.
"The Bengals tapped into skill positions," Dieken said. "They drafted wide receivers number one a couple years in a row. They got Joe Burrow. They already had Joe Mixon. The question was going to be the offensive line. Sometimes the quarterback can make the offensive line better than what it is. Burrow has done a good job of that by the way he gets rid of the football.
"We used to think the team was going to be Baltimore. That's why were were drafting all these cornerbacks. But now you looks at Cincinnati's wide receivers and it's a good thing we did draft the cornerbacks."
The Browns' 8-9 season left an empty feeling.
None of that was evident as in the radio booth as the game ended. Dieken's family filled the room.
It almost sounded as if the tough guy's voice was about to crack as he signed off with one last thought:
"You feel sometimes you're the luckiest guy on the face of the earth. I'm pretty lucky."
Reach Steve at [email protected]
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Doug Dieken signs off as Browns radio color man in win over Bengals
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/last-call-doug-diekens-game-223716392.html2280