Tag:Jamal Lewis
Posted on: October 11, 2009 11:31 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2009 11:52 pm

Week 5: The Drought Has Ended

The Cleveland Browns have finally won a football game.

Sure it's been 327 days, 17 hours, 27 minutes, and 46 seconds since their last win, but a few lucky bounces sent the Browns home as winners for the first time in a long time.

And I'm not happy.

Why you ask?

Because the Cleveland Browns' 6-3 defeat of the Buffalo Bills was the worst display of offensive football I have ever seen.

To their credit, there were several factors that worked against the Browns and may have contributed to their horrendous performance today.

Swirling Buffalo winds were severe enough to impact the gameplan.

Cleveland started two rookie wide receivers who have one game of NFL experience between them.

Good teams find a way to win the ugly ones, and at least for today, the Cleveland Browns had the look of a good football team.

Eric Mangini and the Browns should celebrate this one, but not for too long.

A tough task awaits them next week as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers.

Ten from the Gentledawg

10. Buffalo handed the Browns their first win.

Let's get this out of the way now, the Buffalo Bills lost this game and the Cleveland Browns didn't win it. As inept as Cleveland's offense was, it took an equally inept effort by Trent Edwards and company to keep this game in reach. Buffalo couldn't run it. They couldn't throw it. Very few things went well for both teams and neither team deserved a win here. The most telling play of the game came on a muffed Zastudil punt by alleged special teams ace Roscoe Parrish. Blake Costanzo recovered the ball at the Buffalo 16 only to see his team drive a whole 11 yards and settle for the game-winning field goal. Yikes.

9. Brad Seely may not coach in Cleveland for very long.

Special teams and assistant head coach Brad Seely will be among the few candidates considered for a head coaching position in 2010. I can't say enough for what Seely has done with the Cleveland Browns' special teams unit. Although most of the credit goes to the players for executing, Seely has done an outstanding job of putting his players in the best position to succeed. Behind every blocked kick, long return, and covered kick is a scheme, and behind every scheme is Brad Seely. Seely has been around a few outstanding head coaches in his career, and I would not be surprised if he became one himself in the not-too distant future.


8. Dave Zastudil continues to impress.

In what is becoming a weekly tradition, Dave Zastudil is quietly establishing himself among the great punters in the AFC.  The Browns were unable to muster much of anything offensively. Zastudil's tremendous individual effort was a big reason the Browns were able to stay in the game and walk away with a win. I never thought a punter could single-handedly will a football team to victory, but that certainly seemed to be the case today.

7. Kamerion Wimbley has arrived.

Fans and media-types alike criticized Wimbley early on in his career, and Wimbley has responded to the challenge. Wimbley tackled Trent Edwards in the second quarter to record his fourth sack of the season. He is currently on pace to finish the year with 16. Despite the increase in production, nothing has changed in Kamerion Wimbley's game. He is still the freakishly strong athlete who overwhelms linemen with his speed and quickness. The difference lies is Rob Ryan's defensive schemes. Ryan's aggresive playcalling and unique blitz combinations have made all the difference in the world for Wimbley.

6. Jamal Lewis is back.

When the passing game struggles, the burden falls on the running game to get the job done. Jamal Lewis carried the football like it was 1999 and finished with 117 yards on 31 carries. The most impressive aspect of Lewis' game was his ability to generate yards after contact. Lewis kept those powerful legs churning and carried Buffalo defenders with him in his most impressive effort in years. The offensive line, tight ends, and fullback continued their excellent stretch of run blocking, and Lewis was able to take advantage.

5. The right side of the offensive line played well.

The right side of the offensive line was one of the bigger issues surrounding the Browns, and it seems that issue has been solved. Both Hank Fraley and Floyd Womack worked at right guard today, and both men combined to produce quite the performance. I was particularly impressed with Hank Fraley. Brian Daboll uses a trap-based running game where guards and tight ends are asked to do quite a bit of pulling. Fraley and the group did a nice job blocking up front, and Jamal Lewis found running room - even against 8-man fronts.

4. Brian Daboll's playcalling showed no faith in Derek Anderson.

Eric Mangini hinted that the Browns' ground-based strategy was based on the Buffalo weather, but I happen to believe otherwise. Daboll dialed up run after run, and only called pass plays in passing situations. Brian Daboll and Eric Mangini speak of maintaining a "schedule" in relation to down and distances. They believe that by gaining 3-4 yards per down is the optimum way to move the football. If Brian Daboll doesn't trust Derek Anderson and the passing game to pick up yardage early on first and second down, this football team will struggle for the rest of the year.

3. Steve Heiden should switch roles with Robert Royal.

Robert Royal dropped three passes today which came in critical situations down the field. For whatever reason, it is clear Royal is not comfortable catching the ball with his hands. In an offense which stresses balance and demands receiving ability from the tight end position, Eric Mangini would be best served to play Steve Heiden as the primary tight end. Royal is an excellent blocker but he has proven himself a liability in the passing game. Steve Heiden has worked with Derek Anderson for five years, and that chemistry could give Cleveland what they've been lacking from that position.

2. Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi are rookies.

For those who wondered why Robiskie and Massaquoi were not involved in the passing game early this season, you received your answer today. While both rookies have shown promise and potential, it was clear that they still need work in their development as professional players. Massaquoi is far from a polished receiver. In addition to several dropped passes, Massaquoi misread coverage on several accounts - one of which resulted in a Derek Anderson interception. It takes years of experience to understand the nuainces of offensive football, and these two clearly have a long way to go.

1. Don't throw on Eric Wright.

I think it's fair to say Eric Wright has established himself as one of the great cornerbacks in the league. Wright is a buding star. Coming out of college, Wright was said to possess first round talent. His stock fell due to concerns about his character, but the talent was always there. Wright has been able to stay out of trouble, and he has turned out to be everything the Browns could have hoped for and more. Wright did a good job blanketing Terrell Owens. His play was a big reason Owens was limited to 44 yards on four receptions. If Wright continues to perform at this level, he'll be high-stepping all the way to the Pro Bowl.

To the victor goes the spoils...

The Browns won today which means I get to hand out the first game ball of the regular season.

Congratulations, Dave Zastudil . He is without a doubt the player of the game.

Posted on: September 13, 2009 6:58 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2009 7:16 pm

Week 1: New Versus Old

After months of training camp, preseason games, and quarterback controversy, the 2009 regular season is finally here. For the Cleveland Browns, that means the start of what figures to be another roller coaster season.

Like any roller coaster, this one begins at the bottom.

The very bottom.

Miscommunication, penalties, and one inexperienced quarterback contributed to a 20-34 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Today’s football game featured a distinct balance between new and old.

New Browns head coach Eric Mangini began his second stint as head coach by facing an old foe – Brett Favre.  Entering his 19th season in the NFL, the ageless Favre made his unprecedented 270th consecutive start behind center – an NFL record. Favre silenced his critics and played within himself for the majority of the game. Although he wasn’t perfect, Favre played well enough to escape Cleveland with a win.

Opposing Favre was newly appointed Browns starting quarterback, Brady Quinn. Heading into his 3rd season in the league, Quinn made his 5th career start…and it showed. Quinn finished the day completing 21 of 35 passes for 205 yards. He threw for a touchdown, but turned the ball over twice. As strange as it may sound, the statistics were actually the highlight of his performance.

Quinn’s conservative approach to the game seemed to match that taken by offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll. When afforded time in the pocket, Quinn rarely took any shots down field. He opted for short completions to running backs and tight ends instead of utilizing the team’s biggest weapons in Josh Cribbs and Braylon Edwards. The two receivers finished with a combined 3 receptions for 22 yards.

Contrasting the quarterbacks were two running backs at different ends of their careers.

Starting at running back for the Minnesota Vikings was the explosive Adrian Peterson. At 24, Adrian Peterson has already cemented himself as one of, if not the premier running back of the day. Peterson certainly looked the part as he carried the ball 25 times for a whopping 180 yards. Most of that running came behind the best run-blocking offensive line in football.

The most recent running back to lead the league in rushing faced off against one of the old ones. Just weeks removed from his 30th birthday, Jamal Lewis was unable to match the effort of his successor. Lewis and the Browns were able to find running room early, but it was too little too late. The game's score took the Browns out of running situations, and that proved to be the difference in the game.

The Cleveland Browns’ 2009 season began with a disappointing loss. There were, however, several things to take away from this game. They say those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. In that spirit, I present the top 10 things I’ve learned from Vikings/Browns...

10. Brian Daboll will run a conservative, West Coast offense.

Whether it's the 2nd & 16 toss to Jamal Lewis or the 2nd & 15 draw to James Davis, Brian Daboll's offensive playcalling was extremely simple. Although Daboll took advantage of Josh Cribbs in the wildcat, his offense looked flat. Some of that falls on Brady Quinn's decision making, but the majority of the blame rests on Dabolls well-rounded shoulders.

9. Adrian Peterson is very, very good.

Sometimes you have to experience an event first-hand to appreciate just what you're witnessing. There is no question that Adrian Peterson is a special player, but I have gained an in-depth scope as to the depth of his talents. He possesses superior vision, balance, strength, agility, and acceleration to any runner I have ever seen. Peterson is without a doubt the best running back in the league.

8. The Browns will be competitive this season.

Heading into this game, you would be hard-pressed to find a fan or analyst that gave Cleveland a chance. The Browns limited Peterson to an astounding 25 yards on 11 carries through the first half of the football game. Minnesota actually trailed 13-10 at halftime. Had the Browns played first-half football through all four quarters, they would have walked away as winners.

7. Kamerion Wimbley has emerged as a solid outside linebacker.

Wimbley had a strong training camp and performed well throughout the preseason. It was nice to see him continue playing at a high level entering the regular season. Wimbley was a big reason Peterson was ineffective through the first half. He played a very disciplined football game - maintaining his containment while remaining active in pursuit.

6. Rob Ryan loves blitzing defensive backs.

It's a trait we saw in Oakland and something that has continued in Cleveland. Ryan pressured Brett Favre by sending defensive backs to the quarterback early and often. Abram Elam, Brodney Pool, and Brandon McDonald, were all very active around the line of scrimmage. Both safties recorded sacks today in what figures to the the first of many.

5. The Cleveland Browns have the best special teams unit in the league.

That statement is no exaggeration - the Browns possess one of the most balanced and explosive special teams units in the NFL. Dave Zastudil and the punting until were able to keep the Vikings deep for the majority of the game. Phil Dawson consistently sent kicks deep into the endzone. Josh Cribbs was explosive. That, plus outstanding kick coverage makes Cleveland one of the most dangerous teams in that element of the game.

4. Joe Thomas is an outstanding left tackle.

Jared Allen was embarrassed today. Joe Thomas neutralized the Pro Bowl defensive end in pass rush situations and manhandled him against the run. Allen finished the day with 0.5 tackles and no quarterback sacks. In his 3rd season in the league, Joe Thomas has already cemented his name among the elite tackles in the game.

3. The Browns need to work on penalties and discipline.

Cleveland finished the day with 8 penalties for 66 yards. Some of the penalties were the result of mental mistakes, but others were issues with technique. Knowing Eric Mangini, this team should have those cleaned up by next week, but it was shocking to see, to say the least.

2. Shaun Rogers is healthy...and back to form.

Any time you have a nose tackle who consistently commands double and triple teams, you have the start of a great defense. Rogers was extremely disruptive all game. He played a large role in stopping Peterson early, and he helped generate pressure on obvious passing situations. Rogers should find his way back to Hawaii at the end of the season.

1. Brady Quinn is an average quarterback.

You can't have success in the NFL without balance, and Brady Quinn is not a balanced passer. Quinn has consistently struggled with the deep ball - something that hurt him when driving during the final minutes of play. Quinn chose to attempt only high percentage passes. This strategy worked early, but it backfired late in the game. When the Browns were faced with obvious passing situations, Quinn could not deliver. For Quinn and the Browns to be successful, he'll need to get the wide receivers involved and stretch the field.

Posted on: December 8, 2008 4:40 am

The Fall of Jamal

Running backs in the National Football League are very similar to automobiles: they typically run well, come in all different shapes and sizes, and are generally relied upon to transport the goods from place to place. Whether it's a bus, a Cadillac, or a train, football teams have depended on these mechanical monsters of men to carry their respective organizations to victory.

Just like any old car, there comes a time to wheel in that old classic and say goodbye forever.

For Jamal Lewis and the Cleveland Browns, that time is now.

In football terms, Jamal Lewis is like the '99 Explorer the Browns overpaid for at a used car shop. It may have looked great and dependable on the outside, but there was definitely more than met the eye involved. Lewis started all 16 games for last year’s 10-6 Browns – totaling 1,552 all-purpose yards along with 11 touchdowns. Such statistical production lead Browns GM Phil Savage to renew his lease on Lewis – signing him to a three-year contract this past offseason.

Through 13 games of the 2008 campaign, Jamal Lewis is a far cry from the bruising back the Browns signed in the spring. Lewis hasn’t been nearly as effective on the ground – averaging a mere 61.5 yards per game at 3.5 yards per carry. His choppy steps along with his indecisive nature as a runner make this year’s model of Lewis a far cry from the Hummer of a back he was in 2003.

How much gas does Jamal Lewis have left in the tank?

When comparing Jamal Lewis to the guy he was years ago in Baltimore, two important traits stand out as diminished: his speed and his strength. Jamal’s greatest asset as a runner has traditionally been his ability to keep the proverbial wheels churning throughout the duration of a play. For a physical running back like Lewis, breaking tackles while consistently moving forward is the most important element of his game. For whatever reason, it seems Jamal Lewis lost that leg strength that allowed him to maintain momentum and keep piles moving. Without that Herculean strength he once possessed, Lewis cannot generate yards after contact, and that undoubtedly resulted in a decrease in production.

In fairness to Lewis, such a drop-off in production can be partially linked to the players around him. Ryan Tucker, the Browns’ best run blocking offensive lineman, has started one game all season. Fullback Lawrence Vickers has missed significant time at different intervals this season. Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn highlighted an inconsistent passing attack which has lead to an increase of 8-man fronts. All these factors combined with Jamal Lewis have contributed to a rushing attack ranked 24th in the NFL.

Regardless of Cleveland’s offensive struggles, Jamal’s paltry performance last Sunday against the Titans indicates this very well may be the final lap of his illustrious career in the NFL. Lewis was unable to find any room against Tennessee, rushing 7 times for a total of 7 yards. He was eventually benched at the end of the 3rd quarter in favor of backup Jason Wright.

Like a car reaching the 75,000 mile plateau, it seems the useful shelf life of an NFL running back ends at age 30. Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander, and a host of others have struggled to maintain consistent success after they hit the big 3-0. While the 29-year-old Jamal Lewis has 9 months until his next birthday, it already seems time to blow out the candles on this potential hall of fame running back.

The Cleveland Browns are circling the final lap with Jamal Lewis. His treadless tires and worn-out engine indicate his days as an elite back are but a distant memory. His lack of vision, speed, and power signify it may be time to hang it up.

And not even Castrol GTX can save him.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 30, 2008 4:22 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2008 4:42 pm

Week 13: Browns Paper Bags

Have you ever finished watching a football game and had a sinking feeling in your stomach? That was exactly how I felt after watching the Cleveland Browns squander an opportunity to salvage an embarrassment of a season.

The Colts were held in check by a great gameplan and some timely plays made by defenders. There was no reason for the Browns to lose this home game, but they did. The loss drops the Brownies to 4-8, officially making us one of the worst teams in the AFC.

The Good
  • It is a little known fact, but D’Qwell Jackson actually leads the NFL in solo tackles. Jackson played another great game today – making solid tackles and playing a fundamentally sound game.
  • Brandon McDonald also played very well in this losing effort. Reggie Wayne made his share of plays, but McDonald for the most part showed good technique and covered the Pro Bowler well.
  • Game Management: Romeo Crennel played the final minutes of the Colts’ final drive masterfully. He made the correct decision in running the clock down and conserving his two timeouts. Penalties were a non-factor, so this one was decided on the field.
The Bad
  • Derek Anderson: Whether it was the wind or not, Anderson did not look very accurate. A majority of the passes were either thrown behind or below receivers. Anderson’s pocket presence for the most part was OK, but his fumble returned for a touchdown proved to be the difference in the game – and in the end that’s what people will remember.
  • Jamal Lewis: The game plan called for a heavy dosage of the running game and Jamal was not there to answer the call. If it wasn’t clear before, Jamal Lewis has obviously lost his status as an elite runner. He hesitates in the backfield and shows terrible vision as a runner. A “power back” like Jamal should have had a field day against the under-sized Colt linebackers. He did not generate push – and that ultimately was the difference in this contest.
The Ugly
  • The Cleveland Browns organization as a whole is looking very ugly. Aside from literally 7 people, this has the look of a very average ball club. Browns fans are a very loyal, well-meaning group, but they are generally some of the most fickle fans in the NFL. Fans cry for “smashmouth football” yet boo when the team commits to the run. I don’t understand it, and I never will.

This was pathetic.

You know what? I want every Browns fan reading this to break out the brown paper bags, because this team is embarrassing. Quite frankly I’m disgusted to be a Browns fan. There are so many things wrong with the team that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe if I just close my eyes, this will all go away...
Posted on: November 23, 2008 5:28 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2008 9:03 pm

Week 12: 'Tis the Season for Giving

Ahh yes, Thanksgiving. It is the season for family, generosity, and celebrating the past. The game between the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns provided a perfect microcosm of the holiday - and I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside because of it.

For two out of division teams, the Browns are so close they should be considered relatives. The two teams have exchanged so much personnel over the last few seasons. On the Browns, Shantee Orr, Robaire Smith, and offensive line coach Steve Marshall have all come from the Texans. Houston has former Browns Kevin Bentley, Chaun Thompson, and Andre Davis all starting on their roster.

The Texans are notoriously generous - ranking dead last in turnover differential at -13. Their defense has allowed a charitable 28.7 points per game heading into Cleveland. Sage Rosenfels and the Texans desperately tried to give this game away with two costly turnovers. Despite that show of kindness, it was the hospitable Browns who outdid them in the end - turning the ball over 5 times in one game.

Celebrating the Past
Cleveland honored Browns teams of years past with an anemic offensive performance and a sickeningly soft defense. Their play today was so nostalgic of the expansion Browns team, I almost shed a tear. The Texans also did their best honoring their sub-.500 ancestors, however they fell short and won the game.

The Good
  • Lawrence Vickers performed well in his return from injury. Both Jerome Harrison and Jamal Lewis benefited from Vickers' vision - which provided an offensive spark the Browns needed to help sustain drives. One of the main problems with this offensive unit is pass protection. With Brady Quinn under center, Rob Chudzinski has placed an emphasis on pre-determined reads and short 3 step drops. It is critical the offensive linemen hold their blocks for that short amount of time necessary to make the completion.
  • Josh Cribbs: Captain Cribbs seems to be the only returning Pro Bowler from a year ago who actually wants to go back to Hawaii. Field position is critical for any offense, and the Browns were fortunate enough to have Cribbs back there setting the offense up. While he did not contribute much on the offensive side of the ball, Josh Cribbs played a good game and did his part when called upon.
  • D'Qwell Jackson: If there is one bright spot for this football team this season, it has to be the play of D'Qwell Jackson. D'Qwell has developed into a fine young linebacker for this football team. Jackson is constantly around the ball - taking good angles of pursuit and making sound tackles when the ball comes his way. Unlike teammates Willie McGinest and Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson actually likes contact. It's certainly encouraging to see such a player play the linebacker position how it's supposed to be played.
  • Corey Williams played well today. He was stout in run defense and played a key part in generating what little pressure the Browns created. Williams must have taken what defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said to heart about tackling, because he did not miss a tackle. Corey wrapped up and delivered on what Savage and the Browns had expected out of him since day one.
The Bad
  • Jamal Lewis did not play his best game of the year. Even when the offensive line created space, his choppy style of running took away from the big gains and resulted in a loss of potential yards. The uncharacteristic fumbles make me wonder if Lewis' best years are long behind him.
  • Pressure is the key to football. If you can handle the pressure, you have a good chance of being a successful offense. If you can create pressure, you have a good chance of being a successful defense. Unfortunately the Browns could not do either - which resulted in a poor showing on both sides of the ball. Pressure can make a great quarterback look awfully average, and an average quarterback awfully great. In short, that was the story of this game.
  • Rob Chudzinski: While I can't fault Chud for calling a horrible game, there were things that left me scratching my head. Brady Quinn has proven himself comfortable with the short passing game and making quick, short decisions over the middle. How then, is it possible Kellen Winslow's only catch of the game came from Derek Anderson in the fourth quarter? The great coordinators play to the strengths of their personnel, and Chudzinski did a poor job of doing that this afternoon.
The Ugly
  • Braylon Edwards: Edwards appeared lost on not only the timing, but the execution of his routes. Braylon did not show good burst off the line, nor did he use his body to protect the ball on the short slants underneath. His routes were sloppy and his field awareness inconsistent. Braylon lacked focus and concentration - as apparent by the 4 dropped passes today. While his overall stats may have appeased fantasy owners, the reality of his performance left a lot to be desired.
  • Offensive Production: The Cleveland Browns mustered 6 total points in a game they so desperately needed. A win here would have put the team back on track at an outside shot at the postseason. Brady Quinn may be in his second start, but there is no excuse for managing only two field goals against one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL.

The quarterback switch at the end of the third quarter sealed Romeo Crennel's fate as Browns' Head Coach. Knowing what I do about this organization, he will most likely be fired in a couple days. It's unfortunate, but someone has to take responsibility for the disappointing season which started off so promising.

Maybe change like this will be good for the team. As of now, the Cleveland Browns are a mess of a football team, and we desperately need someone to come in and clean this up.
Posted on: September 21, 2008 8:38 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2008 1:16 am

Week 3: Wherefore Art Thou Game Management?

I'm tired of seeing the same old garbage week in and week out from this football team. It's frustrating to watch and even more so to write about. It has gotten to the point now where I'm embarrassed to be a Browns fan. Seriously. For a person who spends so much time explaining to others how great my favorite team is or can be - it's literally the worst feeling in the world for them to refuse to show up on Sunday. *SIGH*

The Good

  • The Running Backs: I’ve always been critical of Jamal Lewis and his running style, but he actually performed well today. Lewis ran hard and strong – matching the Ravens’ physicality with that of his own. There were a couple times I thought that he missed assignments in pass protection, but he Jerome Harrison, and Jason Wright were just about the best part of our offense today.
  • The Defensive Line: Corey Williams, Shaun Rogers and Smith won most if not all of the battles at the line of scrimmage. Yes Corey Williams dropped a potentially game changing interception, but there are few 320 pound linemen in the NFL that are capable of making that one-handed play. All three guys generated tremendous push – with Shaun Smith leading today’s charge.

The Bad
  • Situational management: I don’t know how many times that I have to mention this, but our offensive situational management is to the point where something needs to be addressed. We were down three possessions on the road with 14:55 to go and choose to punt the ball. Romeo Crennel – YOU PLAY…TO WIN…THE GAME. My goodness Romeo, what were you thinking? Wherefore art thou stones, strategy, and management skills? I understand that the defense had been playing well to that point and you wanted to get a stop - but guess what?
  • It takes time to move the ball on offense against the Baltimore front...
    DA hadn't been given anything down field for the entire game...
    Our below average receivers were not making plays...

    Romeo obviously has a very poor feel for the flow of the game and the limitations of offensive football. How in the world do you let a rookie head coach in his second NFL game outcoach, outscheme, and embarrass a team who once held Super Bowl playoff aspirations?
  • The Pass Protection: Rex Ryan tested our offensive line and the unit as a whole failed. Joe Thomas looked like a second year player. Kevin Shaffer was literally molested by the aggressive schemes and blitz packages Ryan threw at him. I thought that our line would be different without Eric Steinbach, but this performance was downright sickening. Not only was the running game hampered, but our pass protection went from first-rate to abysmal in one week. Seth McKinney got the start at LG and he looked dreadful for the second time this season. The false starts came at the worst possible times – which lead to all sorts of trouble against the tough Ravens’ defense.

The Ugly

  • Derek Anderson: Well…he sucked. Anderson flat out sucked. His decision making and accuracy today were worse then normal and the Ravens made him pay for nearly all of his mistakes. What bothered me the most about DA’s game today was how many times he tried to force the ball into tight coverage. Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow were blanketed for the duration of the 22 minutes and 12 seconds we held the ball – yet DA targeted them regardless of the coverage. Derek Anderson attempted 10 passes to Winslow. How many receptions did he make? Two. Two receptions for a miserable 14 yards on ten looks.

I've learned a lot about the 2008 Cleveland Browns to this point.
  1. We have absolutely no depth at ANY position aside from QB.
  2. Derek Anderson is wildly inconsistent.
  3. The defense - while vastly improved from 2007, is still a work in progress.
  4. Romeo Crennel is a glorified defensive coordinator.
Until this team can find a way to prove me wrong - I'll stand by all of those statements. These three weeks have been a joke - and I'm extremely upset about how the season has shaped up to this point.

Things in Browns Town are going to get ugly this week

Heads may role - whether justifiably or not. Football caps and visors may turn to helmets and vice-versa. The preseason expectations and injuries for the Browns will ultimately be Romeo's downfall - which might not be entirely fair. There are still 14 weeks of football to be played - so I'm going to take a deep breath, clear my mind, and hope that my favorite team can follow suit.
Posted on: September 7, 2008 10:28 pm

Week 1: Same Old Browns

I honestly thought that we had a chance in this one. I really did.

Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns remembered that they're...well, the Cleveland Browns and continued to do the same things that foiled the 2007 season. As is the case with every game, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good
  • Derek Anderson - Despite a mediocre statistical performance (11 for 24, 114yards, 1TD), I thought Derek Anderson played well this game. Yes, there were some poor decisions made and a couple bad throws, but DA didn't have a great deal of help with a decimated wide receiving corps. Braylon Edwards dropped 4 passes on my count to go along with the general lackadaisical receiver play of Syndric Steptoe and Steve Sanders.
  • Kellen Winslow - Winslow was the only member of the team who wanted to win this one. Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski went to him early and often in the first half - and K2 responded. Winslow made a nice adjustment on the touchdown catch, showed great hands coming over the middle, and ran excellent routes. My biggest concern with Kellen was how he disappeared in the second half of this game. I would have liked to see Chud stick with what worked earlier and continue to exploit the Winslow mismatch throughout the game.
  • Rob Chudzinski - Hats off to Chudzinski for calling a *decent* game. There were times as a fan where I wanted him to abandon the running game, and I thought that he stayed with it for too long. The pass protections and play design put us in a position to succeed, and that's all you really could ask of him.
The Bad
  • Corey Williams - My 13-year-old sister had more impact on the game than Corey Williams, and she didn't even dress. Throughout the entire telecast, I didn't see or hear Troy Aikman make even one mention of Williams. We paid this man to generate pressure on the quarterback and stop the run, and he didn't do much of either today. Shaun Rogers commanded double teams all day which left Williams with one-on-one matchups which he failed to take advantage of. A very disappointing overall performance.
  • Jamal Lewis - The Cleveland Browns' running game was analogous to the old 'square peg in a round hole' adage. One of the problems that caused Baltimore to release Jamal a couple seasons ago was his choppy style of running. Lewis constantly keeps his feet moving - which is good. The downfall to that is he is often times too indecisive at the line of scrimmage which causes him to tip-toe around instead of finding a hole and hitting it. The offensive line couldn't generate much push in this one either, but I'll put most of the blame on Lewis.
  • Cleveland Browns' Linebackers - The lack of pass rush and pressure in the first half was unacceptable. Romo could have held a garage sale with all the time we afforded him in the pocket. Bringing 4 guys isn't enough to generate pressure on that offensive line with our personnel. One thing that I noticed was how vanilla our blitz packages looked. Before the snap, I could have told you what each and every member of the front seven entire defense was doing on that particular play. The 3-4 is all about deception and pre-snap looks, and we showed no propensity for competency in either area.
The Ugly
  • Braylon Edwards - This certainly was a surprise. Heading into this game, I thought that Anderson to Edwards would highlight a spectacular passing attack that would keep us in the game right to the very end. I was wrong. Edwards, in addition to the drops, looked lost out there at times which is something that you never want to see from an offensive star. Aikman blamed Edwards' play on the lack of preseason conditioning and reps, and I agree to a certain extent - but this was ridiculous. Big game players make big game plays, and Edwards failed to live up to his superstar status.
  • Penalties - The 2008 Browns are supposed to be past this juvenile stage. A big "thank you" goes out to Brandon "hands to the face" McDonald, Braylon "start the play already" Edwards, and Seth "spasms" McKinney for their contributions in this sloppy affair.

The Cleveland Browns are at a point now where close doesn't cut it anymore. Sloppy play, overthrown passes, and stupid penalties are a thing of the past, and I'd like to think the Browns are better than that. Dallas did what they were supposed to in order to win this game - and embarrassed the Browns in the process. Our vaunted high-octane offense (while running at close to 65%) was essentially neutered.

I hope the Browns will be able to correct some of the things that went wrong today. Getting Cribbs, Hadnot, and Stallworth back next week will certainly help the offense. Edwards and Anderson have another week to get that chemistry back together and I expect a better showing from these two.

As far as the defense goes, how about a little deception up front? Hey Mel Tucker - here's a tip: If you bring a safety or corner in the box, you don't always have to blitz him! The Cowboys developed a gameplan against the Browns which I fear we're going to see again until we prove we can stop it.

The best way to counter our mammoth defensive line is to run horizontally and attack the outside backers. How many Marion Barber tosses or off-tackle runs ended up gashing the Browns for chunks of yardage? Willie McGuinest and D'Quell Jackson aren't that effective in pursuit and any tailback with quickness should realize that. Unfortunately for the Browns...
...all exist and are just a few of the names ready and willing to wear the team out.

Let's hope for some improvement against the Steelers in week 2. I have an avatar bet to win.
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