Posted on: October 18, 2009 11:27 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2009 11:32 pm

Week 6: Steeler Weak

The Cleveland Browns lost this game.

This time, there are no excuses. No complains. The Browns ran in to a stronger football team and they came up short on their own accord.

This was as pure of a loss as I have ever seen.

Unlike in weeks past, the Browns have no one to blame but themselves. There were no questionable field goals or muffed punts. No inexperienced quarterbacks or experimental receivers. The Browns’ best 53 played their best game against Pittsburgh, and the better team won.

Offensively, the Browns were unable to develop any rhythm in the passing game. Dropped balls and inaccurate passes seemed to be the call of the day, and such mistakes will not get the job done against the tough Pittsbugh football team. The score did not allow Cleveland to successfully run the ball late, but they may have found something with Cribbs in the wildcat. He averaged well over 7 yards per attempt from the formation.

Defensively, Cleveland could not find a way to get to Ben Roethlisberger. The pass rush was non-existent at times, and any time you give that kind of a quarterback that much time, bad things will happen.

Ten From The Gentledawg

10. Brandon McDonald is the weakest link in this secondary.

I have suspected this for some time and today’s performance confirmed my suspicions: Brandon McDonald is a very beatable cornerback. He did not have a good game today. McDonald seems to have lost confidence as he gave too much cushion on several of his assignments. He did not hold containment on a few outside runs and he was consistently beaten in zone coverage. Although the Browns played a very talented group of receivers today, I would have liked to see better play from McDonald.

9. League-wide officiating is at an all-time low.

Like virtually every NFL game played this year, a few questionable calls directly impacted the final score of the game. With athletes becoming faster and stronger, the margin of victory in this league has become slim. It’s up to the referees, umpires, and line judges to make sure they make the right call and I’m not sure that was done today. Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen: a missed field goal decide the outcome of a game, a phantom roughing the passer call, and a blown call on 4th and inches.

8. Derek Anderson's lack of pocket presence is concerning.

As a quarterback, Derek Anderson has the intelligence to run the offense and the arm strength to make all the throws. The one thing Anderson lacks which prevents him from becoming an elite quarterback is pocket mobility. To put it bluntly, Anderson is about as graceful as an ostrich. When plays break down and he is forced to improvise, Derek Anderson appears lost. I’m not asking him to be Michael Vick back there, but Anderson should have the vision and awareness to manipulate the pocket and keep plays alive with his legs.

7. Eric Mangini has brought about change in Cleveland.

There have been few positives to take from the beginning of the 2009 season. One thing the Cleveland Browns can pride themselves on is their disciplined play and outstanding game management. Questionable plays are being challenged. Timeouts are saved for crucial situations. Personnel has been shuffled in and out without any delay. These things may seem insignificant, but they are the foundation for a consistent and competitive football team.


6. Brian Daboll is settling in as the Browns' offensive coordinator.

There were several elements of this week’s game plan which indicate Brian Daboll is becoming more comfortable in his role as offensive coordinator. Daboll did a great job of getting the most out of his personnel. With Rex Hadnot and Floyd Womack both healthy and active, Daboll was able to move Hank Fraley and Eric Steinbach around to create favorable running and passing situations. Defending against Pittsburgh’s complex zone blitzing scheme is no easy task, and I thought Brian Daboll at least had the right schemes in place to help do so.

5. Tight end depth is a major issue for this team.

In addition to a nagging finger injury, Robert Royal came up lame with a leg injury during the third quarter of today’s game. Steve Heiden did not play due to bad knees and Greg Estandia has been a non-factor. For the Cleveland Browns to develop rhythm and consistency in the passing game, they will need to figure out a way to gain some sort of production from this position. With Tuesday’s trade deadline rapidly approaching, Kokinis may see it fit to improve the team by adding a tight end to the roster.

4. The Browns missed Kamerion Wimbley on defense.

Kamerion WImbley has been one of the reasons Cleveland has been the driving force behind what little pressure the Browns have generated thus far, and his presence was greatly missed against the Steelers. Jason Trusnik did not impress in his debut performance on defense. He was unable to win any of the one-on-one battles with offensive lineman – an absolute must for generating pressure. Wimbley is a key piece to Rob Ryan’s defense and the Browns will need him at his best to compete.

3.The Josh Cribbs contract situation baffles me.

It is rare to find a talent like Josh Cribbs. It’s even rarer to see that talent want to stay in Cleveland. Cribbs continues to prove he is worth every penny of any restructured deal he reaches with Browns management. According to Yahoo Sports, Cribbs’ base salary for the 2009 season is $645,000. If the Browns can afford to pay backup lineman Billy Yates $1,186,720, they should find a way to restructure a new deal for arguably their best skill position player on offense.

2. Mohamed Massaquoi is the new Braylon Edwards.

Take away the selfish disposition and the Hollywood aspirations, and Mohamed Massaquoi is a carbon copy of Braylon Edwards. On the field, Massaquoi is the inconsistent big-play receiver who struggles to make simple receptions. Over the past two games, Massaquoi has unofficially dropped six catchable passes. My biggest concern with Massaquoi is his effort level when plays break down. He seems to make halfhearted attempts to come back to the ball and his route running appears lackadaisical at times. He is still a rookie, but these problems must be addressed as soon as possible.

1. The Cleveland Browns are close to playing for next year.

Another L in the loss column means the Browns are one step closer to playing for next year. If this play continues then it may be time to take an extended look at some of the young talent on this roster. Young players like Coye Francies and David Veikune may deserve playing time if only to give them playing experience for the future. Eric Mangini will continue to play veterans, but if this goes on any longer, it may be time to start looking at 2010.

Posted on: October 4, 2009 6:43 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2009 7:19 pm

Week 4: 0-4 Never Felt So Good


If there were one thing to take from this game, it's the progression of the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns gave it everything they had for five quarters of football, but it wasn’t enough. A late Shayne Graham field goal in overtime proved to be the difference, as the Bengals outlasted the Browns – 23-20.

Although they lost a close game in overtime, Cleveland has to feel good about the way they performed today. Coming off back-to-back blowout losses on the road, this team showed tremendous heart and played with passion from start to finish.
There was no quit in this football team.

In his first game since being named the starter, Derek Anderson came in and played very well against an aggressive Bengals defense.

Anderson made several plays and rejuvenated an offense which seemed dead in the hands of Brady Quinn. There were a few questionable decisions and off-throws, but Anderson managed the game and gave the Browns a good chance to walk away with a win.

Josh Cribbs continued to prove why he’s the most explosive return man in the NFL. With every punt or defensive return, I felt the Browns had a chance to score before the offense stepped on the field.

Jerome Harrison and Mohammed Massaquoi filled in admirably for their counterparts, and the defense looked as good as it has all season.

0-4 never felt so good.

If there were a such thing as a moral victory, today would be one. There are several mistakes which need to be corrected, but anyone you get the sense the Cleveland Browns are headed in the right direction. The pieces are in place.

Cleveland seemed like a different team today. If they give this kind of effort every Sunday, Mangini will turn this thing around in a hurry.

Ten from the Gentledawg

10. Mike Furrey is a playmaker…

…And not just as a slot wide receiver. With Mike Adams moving to corner, the Browns became thin at safety and Furrey was there to fill the void. Although not targeted exclusively, Furrey broke up a key pass late in the game which helped force a punt to keep the game close. Mangini demands flexibility from all of his players. Having a player able to play offense and defense creates depth and versatility – two areas that have killed the Browns since their return to the league.

9. Defensively, the Cleveland Browns played their first complete game of the season.

Rob Ryan’s defense stepped up big-time against a very potent offense. Carson Palmer did not record a single passing yard in the second and third quarters. That is outstanding. The Browns were fundamentally sound throughout the course of the game. Tackling for the most part was outstanding. Containment in the running game was much better than we’ve seen in the first few weeks. Ryan’s schemes, particularly the stunt blitzes, created pressure on Palmer. If the defense plays like this every week, they’ll be successful.

8. Braylon Edwards was completely shut down.

I’m not sure whether it was Jonnathan Joseph or the particular gameplan created by Mike Zimmer, but the Cincinnati Bengals completely shut down Braylon Edwards. The only time Edwards’ number was called came during the 15-yard personal foul where he was flagged for retaliating against a Cincinnati defender. Based on his actions and body language, I’m beginning to believe Edwards isn’t coming back next season. You can see it in his press conferences. Edwards is simply going through the motions, and this just may be his last season as a Cleveland Brown.

7.  Josh Cribbs is the most valuable player on this roster.

Any time he touches the ball, Josh Cribbs gives the Cleveland Browns a chance to score. Cribbs’ vision, strength, and agility  allowed the Browns were able to keep up with Cincinnati – even when the offense stalled out. The Browns seemed to have figured out the best way to maximize Cribbs’ talent. Daboll minimized Cribbs’ contributions on offense. This allowed Josh to play exclusively on special teams where he is more dangerous.

6. Mohamed Massaquoi looked very good stepping into the secondary receiver position.

The Bengals did everything to make sure Braylon Edwards would not beat them. Someone had to step up in Edwards’ absence, and Massaquoi was the guy. Mohamed played well beyond his years today. He made a few great receptions – including hauling in the 30-year bomb that sparked the offense. On the flip side, what happened to Brian Robiskie? Although listed as active for the game, Robiskie did not contribute in the game.

5. Eric Mangini’s lineup changes were for the better.

Mangini made several changes to his defense prior to the start of today’s game. Mike Adams and Derek Anderson moved into starting roles while Brandon McDonald and Corey Williams rotated in sub packages. Mangini needed to spark this once lifeless team early in the season, and those lineup changes did just that.

4. Mike Adams had an outstanding game.

Whether it was at cornerback or on special teams, Mike Adams played well all day. The Bengals made Adams the focal point of their offensive attack early. As the game went on, Mike Adams settled in and his play was a big reason Palmer and the Bengals struggled to move the ball. Adams’ skills as a former safety showed up in run support, and if he keeps this up he’ll start again next week.

3. The “Big Dawg” made a few big plays.

If Rogers doesn’t block that kick in the fourth quarter, this game is over. Rogers also blocked a field goal early in the first quarter. Shaun Rogers single-handedly changed the complexion of this game. Romeo Crennel called Shaun Rogers the most dominant defensive lineman he’s ever coached, and today’s game was a good example of why.

2. Jerome Harrison has emerged as a feature back.

He ran hard all day. He showed good hands out of the backfield. Although he lost a fumble, Jerome Harrison showed great balance and surprising power on all 29 of his carries.  With the way Harrison has carried the ball these past few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if he remained the feature back – even when Jamal Lewis returns.

1.Derek Anderson played very well as the Browns starting quarterback.

Derek Anderson looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback. Anderson did a great job orchestrating this offense and moving the football team. Like many players on this team, it wasn’t all perfect. DA made some questionable decisions, but he didn’t force any throws and that kept the Browns in it. The Browns have a solid foundation to build upon for next week, and that starts with Derek Anderson.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 20, 2009 10:20 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2009 10:47 pm

Week 2: Brown and Out

It wasn't quite 1987, but boy did this one sting. The names on the backs of the jerseys have changed. The head coaches and owners have changed. The venue, records, and fanbases for both teams have changed dramatically over the years.

Even with all of these differences, time has shown that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Cleveland Browns lost once again to their bitter rivals out west, as the Denver Broncos trounced them, 27-6.

On the day Shannon Sharpe was inducted to the Denver Broncos' Ring of Honor, you had to wonder - how many active Cleveland Browns have a shot at achieving such a distinguished accomplishment? I could make a strong argument for Joe Thomas and D'Qwell Jackson, but that's about it.

Looking back on this game, I saw some things that I liked and others that made me cringe. Defensively, the Browns played well when they stayed fresh. Orton and the rest of the Broncos' offense were held in check for the majority of the first half. Kamerion Wimbley, Kenyon Coleman, and Eric Barton lead the charge against the run, and the cornerback tandem of Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald stiffled Denvers' highly skilled tandem of wide receivers.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Browns simply were not good enough to compete. Once again, the combination of Brady Quinn and Brian Daboll struggled to sustain drives and manufacture touchdowns. Quinn and the offense finished the day converting 3 of 14 attempts on 3rd down.

That is unacceptable.

It doesn't get any easier from here, as the Browns square off against the vaunted Ravens' defense next Sunday in Baltimore. It might take a miracle to avoid falling to 0-3 next week, but this is the NFL, and anything can happen.

Ten from the Gentledawg

10. Teams are beginning to respect Eric Wright.

We saw the beginnings of this last week, and this week the trend continues. Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal were held to a combined 6 receptions for 54 yards, and Eric Wright played a large role in accounting for such limited production. Wright was faced with a tough assignment, and I thought he handled himself well. Kyle Orton and the Broncos threw at Hank Poteat and Brandon McDonald for the majority of the second half. That's not a knock on those guys. It's a testiment to Eric Wright.

9. This is an Eric Mangini defense.

Dating back to his days in New York, Eric Mangini-coached defenses have always been extreme. Mangini is notorious for either sending the house on blitzes or dropping nearly everyone into coverage. Today featured more of the same, but on a much smaller scale. There were several occasions where Rob Ryan and Eric Mangini dropped nine defenders into zone coverage. Nine defenders! To their credit this worked on occasion, but good quarterbacks usually find a way to convert when afforded with that much time.

8. This game could have been ugly.

If you take away Phil Dawson's 47-yard field goal and add in Denvers' two short misses, the final score is 3-33. The Cleveland Browns should consider themselves fortunate that this game ended the way it did, because this easily could have been a blowout. Josh Mcdaniels settled for field goals in situations where his offense could have easily scored touchdowns. When you have an offense incapable of stretching the field, these things will happen.

7. Alex Mack is a rookie center.

For all the talk of Mack's intelligence and strength, he proved that there is a learning curve for even the most talented of rookies. Like the spear which grazed Xerxes in the movie 300 , we found out the seemingly immaculate Mack is still mortal. There is plenty of time for Alex Mack to develop into the dominant center so many expect him to be, but it is evident that change will not occurr overnight.

6. The Browns running game is a product of their offensive line.

Cleveland's rushing attack is directly related to the offensive lineman and the job they do up front. Any success Jamal Lewis or Jerome Harrison enjoyed this year came through holes even the slowest of backs could run through. Lawrence Vickers and Robert Royal have done an excellent job in the running game, and that doesn't show up on the stat board. Jamal Lewis gave me no reason to believe he still has 'it,' and Harrison wasn't much better.

5. Josh Cribbs is still a work in progress.

There is no denying Josh Cribbs is one of the best return specialists in the league. There's also no denying Cribbs has a long way to go in his development as a wide receiver. For the Cleveland Browns to have any sort of success in the passing game, Josh must continue to take strides in his maturation into the offense. Cribbs' route running today left a lot to be desired. He fumbled while trying to create after the catch and struggled to cleanly release on the line of scrimmage. He is clearly still finding his way around this offense.

4. Hank Poteat is not a very good player.

Heading into the regular season, I declared the play of our nickle cornerback will go a long way in determining the strength of our defense. If today was any indication, the Browns have much to be concerned with for the next 14 games. Poteat showed flashes of good play, but was largely ineffective against Denvers'  3-wide sets. Poteat was consistently beaten by Brandon Stokley in man coverage all throughout the game. Unless this issue is addressed, teams will continue to spead the Browns out and pick them apart.

3. Rob Ryan knows how to create pressure.

In his introductory press conference, Rob Ryan described his defense as "an attacking unit." Despite the lack of quarterback sacks, Ryan's unit harrassed Kyle Orton all day. Ryan used stunts and overloards to create confusion among Denvers' offensive linemen, and that was one of the reasons the Browns were able to hang in there early. Ryan's scheme featured a heavy dose of cover 1 and cover 0 - where safeties doubled as linebackers and corners played man on the outside.

2. Eric Barton is one of the smartest players on this team.

One of the most plesant surprises this season has been the play of Eric Barton. Barton played a well-rounded game today. He was able to effectively stop the run, rush the passer, and drop into coverage. Barton seemed to set the tone for the defense, and it became clear why Mangini wanted him to help lead this defense.

1. Brady Quinn has officially been solved.

I alluded to this last week, and it became obvious today: there is a blueprint for stopping Brady Quinn. Teams have figured out that Quinn is reluctant to go down the field in the passing game. Denver has accounted for this by creeping the safeties into the box and daring Quinn to throw the ball down field. It's no coincidence Robert Royal finished the game with one reception for 13 yards. The Broncos pressured Brady Quinn and dared him to take shots down field. In a copycat league, other teams will do the same and likely experience a similar degree of success.

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 7, 2008 4:45 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2008 5:01 pm

Week 14: Chris Johnson Meets the Browns

There wasn't much to say about this one as the Browns were simply beaten by a superior football team. Tennessee used the same formula that established them as one of the leagues' best: run the football and stop the run. Ken Dorsey made this a game in the first quarter, but once Tennessee brought the pressure the game was essentially over. An ineffective Jamal Lewis combined with a stout Titans defense proved too much for the struggling Browns.

The Good
  • Josh Cribbs is this team's MVP. Even in this losing effort, Cribbs showed why he is the most versatile football player in the NFL. He played almost every position on offense and special teams while excelling all the way. It's a shame the only pass attempt, the 44 yard non-catch to Edwards, wasn't even challenged.
  • D'Qwell Jackson continued his play at an all-pro level. He showed great athletic ability on the first near pick and even better on two acrobatic catches for interceptions. Aside from that, one thing that stood out to me was Jackson's intensity. He played with that intensity and fire we have all longed to see out of our linebacking corps. Jackson's hard-hitting style of football makes him one of the lone bright spots for this defensive unit.
  • Rob Chudzinski: Fans and writers have grilled Chudzinski all season for a lack of offensive creativity. After this game I don't think anyone can fault him for today's effort. In this game Ken Dorsey took snaps as a wide receiver. Josh Cribbs lined up at halfback, wide receiver and quarterback. If anything, you can't fault Chud because he called one heck of a game.
The Bad
  • Mel Tucker's defense played a poor game overall. While individual efforts padded certain defensive statistics, this performance was much uglier than it looked. The Browns looked lost completely lost out there - failing to bring consistent pressure while allowing Tennessee to have their way in the trenches. What the Titans and many other teams around the league are doing to the Browns is using their strengths against them. Tennessee was able to bait Shaun Rogers - drawing him away from the play with his own aggressiveness while running away from him. The conservative zone coverage schemes were picked apart by Kerry Collins, as he found success with dump-offs and release options underneath.
  • Game Management: Romeo Crennel's coaching from a management perspective continues to be sub par. Crennel's passive use of the challenge flag burned the Browns again, as the Edwards' near catch could have changed the game's momentum. The timeout usage at the end the game was baffling, and his decision to punt late in the 4th quarter indicated the loss of a will to win.
The Ugly
  • If it wasn't clear by now, Jamal Lewis has lost his status as an elite NFL running back. Part of the reason Baltimore cut ties with Lewis was his indecisive nature and hesitation in the backfield. Unfortunately for Cleveland, both flaws manifested themselves on the field Sunday which resulted in a lack of production (7 carries for 7 yards). Not taking anything away from the Titans, but a better running back gets the job done in this game. Both Chris Johnson and LenDale White demonstrated the proper way to run the football. As a speed back, Johnson showed patience and followed the play design - cutting back only when necessary. Great running backs like Chris Johnson are decisive in their running while maintaining a consistent push towards the endzone.

The Browns are not a very good football team. D'Qwell Jackson and Josh Cribbs are exciting players to watch, and provide hope for the 2009 season.

From now on, Ken Dorsey is auditioning for a backup position next year. His decision making was sub par against a really strong defense, so we'll have to see exactly how he comes out next week. Let's hope Dorsey and the Browns can come out and maintain a shred of respectability over the remainder of the season.
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 7, 2008 12:28 am
Edited on: November 7, 2008 1:41 am

Week 10: The Drive...Part II

Why does this have to happen to us? Why?

Seriously. Somebody please tell me why Cleveland is so cursed?

I feel sick. I feel frustrated. I feel upset. There are so many jumbled up emotions running through me as a die-hard Browns fan that I don't know where to start. Let's see if we can sort this whole thing out while I take a minute to calm my nerves...

The Good
  • Brady Quinn: Brady Quinn was as good as advertised. If there is one thing to take away from this crushing defeat, it is the play of our young quarterback. Quinn showed accuracy and great decision making tonight. He showed fantastic poise in the pocket and played within himself to his strengths. Considering Quinn will only get better of time, you have to be pleased with what you saw out of him. While doing some pre-game research, I stumbled upon this quote from Charlie Weis, "Quinn's pinpoint accuracy will make up for any questions of arm strength." In one regard, Charlie was dead on. Quinn was able to sustain drives by using his sure-handed tight ends across the middle of the field.
  • Jerome Harrison: For weeks Browns fans have been scratching their heads as to why Harrison is utilized more in the offensive gameplan. Today we saw why. Harrison finished the game with 5 carries for 48 yards. Yes, that's not a typo: Fourty-eight yards on five carries. Wow. I feel confident the Browns will be able to function effectively in the case of injury to Jamal Lewis. Maybe even better than normal...
  • Josh Cribbs: M3talhead mentioned Josh Cribbs is the most valuable asset on this roster, and it's hard to argue with him. Cribbs did an admirable job in the return game, performed well in kick coverage, and provided huge gains on the ground offensively. Whenever the Browns needed a big play, Josh Cribbs was there. Without a doubt Captain Cribbs is this team's first half MVP.
The Bad
  • The Secondary/Pass Defense: I should have seen this coming a mile away. The Browns defensive backs have looked good at times, but they never were able to put together a complete effort. Antwaan Randle-El tourched us. T.O. tourched us. Santonio Holmes torched us. Matt Jones torched us. At this point in the season, our burnt up secondary is darker than Shaun Rogers at a family reunion.
  • Braylon Edwards: This one is relative. Braylon was poised to have a big game against a banged-up Denver pass defense. He committed a false start penality - something inexcusable for a wide receiver in the NFL. In the season-deciding game, Braylon converted 7 looks into 1 catch for 15 yards. Pathetic.
The Ugly
  • The Drive...Part II: The Cleveland Browns scored a touchdown to go up 27 to 30 with 4:57 left to play. Before Dawson kicked it off, I sent this text message to my good friend Chris:
"OMG the drive is going to repeat itself...Turn off the TV!"

How painful was that to watch? I mean, I can't even imagine how those poor souls at the stadium must have felt watching John Elway Jay Cutler systematically march down the field knowing the inevitable was going to happen. I'm going to conduct a poll, because I'd be willing to bet 80% of Browns fans knew exactly what was coming.

That's not right. It's not right at all.

During my week 10 preview, I asked Brady Quinn for a little bit of magic:

Brady Quinn,

Do your best and help this team win the game. Do it...

...for the seasoned fans, who vividly remember the heartbreak of years past.

...for the young fans, who only see the Browns for failure and misery.

...for the doubters, who believe there is no hope for the future.

...for the cynics, who have no reason left to believe.

...for your family, who has raised you to become the man you are today.

...for the your team, who needs to win in order to stay alive.

But most importantly Brady, do it for the city of Cleveland. We will show up on Thursday in droves to support you and the team, so make this Thursday night game a memory we will not forget.

Well...at least he got part of it right: This is a game memory that I will never forget.
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.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com