Posted on: June 3, 2009 5:20 pm

The Audacity of Hope


It’s the one thing we as football fans can always depend on. As sure as the sun sets over Lake Erie each night, we can depend on a new season bringing hope for the city’s beloved football team.

Unfortunately, this hope creates anxiety in Browns fans, which leads to optimism and ultimately frustration. That frustration mounts over the years, creating a black hole of disappointment and later, hatred. Eventually that hatred brews and festers until it manifests itself and eventually the unthinkable happens:

They convert into Steelers fans.

Browns fans, I bring you good news today – this year will be different. Expectations will be met, and you will see a Browns team worthy of your praise and adoration. Head coach Eric Mangini will deliver on the promise of a better tomorrow, and the Cleveland Browns will field a competitive football team.

…Or at least I hope so.

While the NFL remains as unpredictable as ever, there are several measurable goals we as Browns fans can expect from this year’s incarnation of the football team.

The Browns will NOT make the playoffs in 2009.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this team is still a year away from playoff contention. Despite his work ethic and his passion for football, Eric Mangini cannot perform miracles. Until I see Eric Mangini turning water into Gatorade on the sidelines, my playoff expectations shall remain dormant.

The reason?

For one, the AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football. Defensive juggernauts in Baltimore and Pittsburgh will undoubtedly impede any 2008 Dolphin-like progress the team may see. Anything can happen in the NFL, but some things are more realistic than others. While the Browns should be much improved from the team we saw in 2008, it is unlikely that improvement will land them a playoff birth.

Cleveland will rank in the top 10 in terms of fewest penalties committed.

Regardless of how the Browns fare on either side of the ball, Cleveland will field one of the most disciplined teams in professional football. One of the hallmarks of an Eric Mangini coached football team is an emphasis on execution and a minimization of self-inflicted wounds.

From 2006 to 2008, Eric Mangini’s Jets ranked third, second, and sixth overall terms of fewest penalties committed in a season.

Eric Mangini has already put measures in place to ensure the Browns continue the positive trends he started in New York. Players routinely learn and practice through noise in OTAs. Those who commit “mental errors” such as false starts and turnovers are forced to run laps as atonement for their mistakes. Such practices will undoubtedly allow the Browns to function and remain competitive against the toughest of competition.

The Browns will win at least 7 games this season.

It’s hard to predict wins and losses, and it’s even harder to do so accurately, but the Cleveland Browns should find a way to win at least 7 games this season. Contrary to popular belief, this team is not the rebuilding project their 2008 record seems to suggest. Many players from the 2007 season (in which the Browns finished 10-6) are still with the team.

Defensively speaking, the Cleveland should be much improved from the team that finished 28th overall in total defense. Another year in the books means more experience for the promising D’Qwell Jackson along with cornerbacks Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright. Defensive lineman Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams have played their first full year in the 3-4 defense, and that experience may prove invaluable heading into the 2009 season. All of these factors will enable the Browns to field a competitive football team that finishes right around the .500 mark.

Jerome Harrison will have an expanded role on offense.

There will be more #35 in 2009.

Since he was hired as head coach, Eric Mangini has taken the players and systems he developed in New York and transitioned them directly into Cleveland. So far, the Browns have used similar draft philosophies, players, and personnel from Eric Mangini’s past.

Assuming these trend continues, the Cleveland Browns’ offense should look very similar to that of the 2008 New York Jets.

Last year with the Jets, Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was part of an offensive system which featured the thunder and lightning combo of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. In this system, the speedy Washington received 123 touches (76 attempts plus 47 receptions) while accounting for 18% of the Jets' carries.

Under former Browns coordinator Rob Chudzinski, Jerome Harrison received 46 touches (34 attempts plus 12 receptions) while accounting for a mere 8% of Browns carries.

Daboll and Mangini have placed an emphasis on the change of pace running back, and that should benefit not only Harrison, but the Browns’ running game as a whole.

Posted on: October 26, 2008 8:36 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2008 9:03 pm

Week 8: From Pumpkins to Carriages

Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns Story
Act 2, Scene iii
by: Romeo Crennel and the Dawgs


Derek Anderson as "Bernie Kosar"
Jamal Lewis as himself
Braylon Edwards as "The Playmaker"
Shaun Rogers as "Aloha"
Steve Heiden as "Kellen Winslow"
Rex Hadnot as "Gene Hickerson"
Willie McGinest as "Grandpa Cheeks"
Cleveland Browns fans as "The Dawgs"

Matt Jones as "Shaquille O' Neal"
Maurice Jones-Drew as "The Contained One"
David Garrard as "Randall Cunningham"

The Cleveland Browns came into this game after a hard-fought loss to the Washington Redskins last Sunday night. Turmoil surrounded the Browns all week with the "Staphgate" controversy making national headlines. Hall of Fame guard Gene Hickerson passed away last Monday, so the Dawgs entered this game with heavy hearts. On the other side, the well-rested Jaguars are at home and need to win in order to keep pace in the tightly contested AFC South. The top two teams in that division play on Monday, so this game is a great chance for Jacksonville to make up some ground.

The action takes place on October 26th, 2008 at 4:05pm on Sunday night. 65 degrees. Sunny and warm.


Anderson: Hail Browns fans, I beseech thee. Lend me your hearts, trust, and adoration! While my play against Washington was less than inspiring, we still had a chance to win at the very end.

Dawgs: Dearest Derek. We beg - stop playing games with our hearts! Identify thyself and show us who the real DA is!

Anderson: Fear not, my friends. Dawgs are tougher than cats, so I will do my best to de-claw these wild beasts!

Dawgs: Make it so!

(curtain falls)

The storybook season continues for the Cleveland Browns after a stunning victory on the road against a physical, well-rested Jacksonville football team. The normally dependable defense played the supporting role to the offense this time - as Derek Anderson played one of his best games of the season. As dominant as the Browns were over the majority of this contest, the game came down to one final defensive stop by the Cleveland defense.

Make no mistake about it, this win was huge. The Steelers' loss combined with a Browns victory brings Cleveland that much closer to the top the the division.These past 3 games have shown us a lot about the Cleveland Browns - particularly about Derek Anderson. DA has shown the ability to manage this offense by making good decisions and for the most part delivering accurate throws. If we can continue to see this kind of play from Anderson, the Browns may have a chance to make things interesting in the AFC North.

The Good
  • Derek Anderson: As I've mentioned before, DA did exactly what he was supposed to do in order for the Browns to win. The numbers may not show a complete victory, but Anderson managed the game, made plays when he had to, and most importantly did not turn the ball over. He has not thrown an interception since week 3, so in that sense Derek has begun to show some consistency.
  • "Big Baby" Shaun Rogers has done an outstanding job as the lone bright spot along the defensive line. Rogers was simply a force tonight - recording 9 tackles, 1 sack, a field goal block and recovery along with numerous quarterback pressures. It is very early, but Shaun Rogers certainly looks like one of the best nose tackles in the NFL right now.
  • Penalties and Game Management: Who would have thought the Cleveland Browns would look like the more disciplined team on the field this evening? The Browns were flagged for one penalty all game and eliminated the mental mistakes of the past. With their undersized defensive backs, I am pleasantly surprised not one illegal contact or pass interference call was made all game. Romeo Crennel managed a flawless game - saving timeouts, making good decisions, and playing to win the game. It finally looks like the Browns have turned a corner with the technical errors that lugged them down earlier in the season.
  • The Run Defense: Wow. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor were held to a combined 53 yards on 20 attempts. The Browns made it a point of emphasis to stop the run, and tonight they did just that. Credit goes to D'Quell Jackson and Kamerion Wimbley for playing a great game and executing the game plan well.
The Bad
  • Redzone Offense: The Redzone offense has sputtered in recent weeks. The Browns nearly stalled out on the first drive, and they settled for a 20 yard field goal on a crucial drive in the fourth quarter with the score tied 17-17. Rob Chudzinski has done a great job with the rest of the offensive unit, but I’d like to see a more efficient Browns team in the upcoming weeks.
  • Defending the Middle: The Browns defense continues to struggle with defending the middle of the field. Tucker's unit does an excellent job on the perimeter with solid corner play, but the Browns still have trouble with defense inside the numbers. What I’d like to see from the Browns next week is better execution in bracket coverage. Terry Cousin has struggled all year as the nickel cornerback. The Browns need to improve on deploying middle linebackers in zone coverage to help Cousin with covering the slot receivers.
  • Drops: It's sad to say, but this Cleveland Browns receiving corps is quickly establishing a reputation for dropping easy passes. Derek Anderson is a rhythm-orientated quarterback, and early drops kill drives along with confidence. I'm not too worried about this, but I hope the Browns can shake this habit and do a better job of making the reception.
The Ugly

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I cannot find one "ugly" area of play for the Browns this week. The Jaguars were able to sustain a few long drives which you never like to see, but the Browns came back and had an answer for everything the Jags attempted.

(The curtain rises as the Browns come out victorious to cheers from the crowd)

Dawgs: Here we go Brownies, here we go! Woof Woof!

So there you have it, the Cleveland Browns end the month of October with a tough road victory. Our Cinderella story looks to take another turn for the better as the Browns look to keep rolling against a tough Ravens defense. Cleveland must now exorcise their demons of the past in defeating their former selves and avenging a tough loss on the road. Questions still persist for our beloved Brownies: What will happen with the Kellen Winslow situation? Can the Browns succeed where they faltered 4 weeks ago? And how much does Shaun Rogers really weigh?

All of these questions and more will be answered in the next scene of Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns Story.
Posted on: October 17, 2008 11:57 am

Too Much Yellow for Browns

"Football is a game of errors. The team that makes the fewest errors in a game usually wins."
~Paul Brown

Take a minute to reflect on that statement by legendary Cleveland Browns football coach Paul Brown. The team that makes the fewest errors in a game usually wins. Brown's philosophy on professional football indicated that success is determined not by the good you achieve, but the bad you avoid.

If this is true, the 2008 Cleveland Browns have a very long way to go.

The current incarnation of the Browns is the sloppiest version we've seen in quite some time. The Browns have shot themselves in the foot a grand total of 47 times through week 6, making them the fourth most penalized team in all of football. When you look at the team since 2005, the figures are alarming:

  • 2005: 6.19 penalties per game (16 games)
  • 2006: 4.63 penalties per game (16 games)
  • 2007: 7.13 penalties per game (16 games)
  • 2008: 9.40 penalties per game (5 games)
To put that number in perspective, the Browns have run 283 plays from the line of scrimmage and committed 47 offensive penalties. That roughly amounts to 1 penalty for every 6 offensive plays!

In times of peril, it's natural for fans to look to the head coach to explain exactly what is going on.

"Crowd noise impacted [the penalties]," Coach Crennel said. "I think what we're going to do is get a bit more crowd noise [at practice] to solve that problem."

Crowd noise, Romeo? Is that the reason for all the false starts, holding, and illegal shifts we've seen to this point?

Perhaps looking at the head coach was a bad idea. Center and offensive co-captain Hank Fraley was asked why the Browns have had so many penalties through the first 5 games of the season.

"[Penalties] are just sometimes your lack of discipline," Fraley said. "You're so reved up to go, and you just move a tad early. These refs are good - they see you. Sometimes you get away with it and you see that a lot - people get away with it. If they happen to have the eye on you and you do flinch, they're going to get you."

Hank Fraley, back up for a second here. You mean to tell me penalties are just a lack of discipline? Why in the world is "getting away with it" something that has even crossed your mind?

Timout here.

What I'm hearing from members of the Cleveland Browns' organization is downright disturbing. Crowd noise and lack of discipline are in no way justifiable excuses for being penalized. Preparation and discipline are the two most fundamental parts of the football, and this team has been severely lacking in both areas for going on two years.

Romeo Crennel does not have to be a stonewalled disciplinarian to be an effective head coach. However, if he is unable to demonstrate his team can play with the two most basic football principles, something may need to be done.

This year's Browns team has done a good job proving doubters wrong. Looking forward to the week 7 matchup against the Redskins, we need to see a drastic improvement from this team if they want to consider themselves a legitimate contender. To the chagrin of Romeo Crennel, there WILL be crowd noise on Sunday, and the Browns need to be prepared to deal with it. To the chagrin on Hank Fraley, NFL officials WILL be watching them, so they need to execute and play sounds offensive football.

Penalties are similar to studying for a test. Generally speaking, the more you study, the better you will do on the exam. The Browns have the feel of a team who refuses to study, but excuses it because they managed to ace their last test. Sooner or later it is going to catch up with you, and if this is not addressed soon, I fear the worst for this team.
Posted on: October 14, 2008 1:59 am
Edited on: October 14, 2008 2:44 am

Week 6: Cinderella 2: Act 2, Scene i

Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns' Story
by: Romeo Crennel and the Dawgs


Derek Anderson as "The Quarterback"
Braylon Edwards as "The Playmaker"
Jamal Lewis as himself
Eric Wright as "Deion Sanders"
Shaun Rogers as "The Refrigerator with a Motor"
Ryan Tucker as "Guess Who's Back?"
Cleveland Browns Fans as "The Dawgs"

Eli Manning as "The Goat"
Brandon Jacobs as "Tip-toe McTalksalot"
Aaron Ross as "Oh wait, there was a game today?"
Plaxico Burress as "Four Receptions"
(Justin Tuck was not available for this scene)

This scene takes place on a nationally televised ESPN telecast on Monday night. To help set the scene, take every national media writer and analyst available and praise the Giants as the greatest football team ever. CBS writer Mike Freeman contributes with a column on the Giants as the next football dynasty. Pete Prisco contributes by ranking the Browns 25th overall in the NFL power rankings. Add every nay-saying, trash talking Giants fan to the mix and the setting is perfect.

The action takes place on October 13th, 2008 at 8:30pm on Monday night. 52 degrees. Cloudy. Fair.


Anderson: Hail Browns fans, I beseech thee! Lend me your hearts, trust, and adoration! The past has looked grim, but today is a new day!

Dawgs: No good sir! Your passing has been poor and your interceptions aplenty. Your passer rating stands at 49.9!


Dawgs: Plus, our hearts are with your fairest understudy. We must boo until we see the one from Notre Dame.

Anderson: Truly you jest! Very well. I shall demonstrate I am just as good as Brady Quinn. Perhaps I'll even prove Sircheeks correct in supporting me through good and bad...

(curtain falls)

The Cleveland Browns came out in front of the National Football League and proved to the world and themselves exactly how good a football team they can be. They dominated the heavily favored Giants both offensively and defensively from the first play of the game. Everyone from the stars to the supporting cast stepped up and contributed to arguably the most complete victory in the past few years.

The Good
  • The Defense: There is so much to say about this team effort, but it all starts with the job Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker did scheming against the number one offense in the NFL. As we've seen with the Miami Dolphins, when a team's back is against the wall and they are facing a seemingly invincible opponent - that is the proper time to dig deep into the playbook and turn the entire unit loose. Tucker frequently dialed up corner blitzes which for the most part kept the Giants contained and mitigated the damage from their explosive offensive unit. In addition, there was a UFO (unidentified flying to the offense) sighting. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
  • Pass Protection: For the past two weeks, I've been harping on Ryan Tucker's importance to the offensive line and we saw why on Monday night. Tucker and the guys did an outstanding job of picking up the blitzes and keeping Derek Anderson upright all game. That was beyond impressive. To give up zero sacks to the team tied with the third most sacks in the NFL is an amazing feat.
  • Rob Chudzinski: Where do I begin? The play-calling, the game plan, the faith in Anderson, the trust in Steve Heiden, and the commitment to Jamal Lewis were just brilliant. The Browns looked great all game - picking up first downs, staying in manageable downs and distances, and driving up and down the field thanks to a well-balanced offense and a superb understanding of New York's defense. Chud also managed to sneak the "Flash" package in there on the reverse to Harrison and the Cribbs direct run. I'm a sucker for offensive creativity and Chud stole my heart on Monday night.
  • Derek Anderson: He played one heck of a football game. Anderson started off rocky, but finished as the quarterback many of us expected to see the entire season. Derek made all the throws you'd like to see out of a quarterback. He showed great accuracy on the short routes, great touch on the deep balls, and put a little extra on throws in tight windows. Derek also did a fine job of showing discretion: taking shots down the field only when the coverage dictated he could do so. This was easily the best game I've seen from DA to this point.
  • Braylon Edwards: Big time players make big time plays. Braylon showed why he should still be considered one of the top 5 wide receivers in the game. Aside from the one drop, Edwards played a flawless game and provided leadership at a time when the Browns sorely needed that type of performance. I was also pleased to see Edwards represent himself and his family so well in his post game interviews. Braylon is a model citizen and one of the classiest guys in the NFL. I was proud to call him our star.
  • Game Management: Finally! We haven't arrived where we need to be just yet, but Romeo finally managed a good game. There were still a few silly timeouts, but they didn't end up costing us and in the end that's all that matters. I love that decision to go for two after Eric Wright's interception. A 21 point lead is much better than a 20, and Romeo made the correct decision in that situation.
The Bad
  • Special Teams: In a game where there were only a couple glaring holes, the Cleveland Browns' special teams were not so special. The New York Giants started out with great field position on nearly every drive. Part of that was due to Ahmad Bradshaw and the other part fell on special teams' Coach Ted Daisher. I look for that to improve next week against Washington.
  • Minutes Before the Half: They say good teams have the ability to come away with points at the end of the half. Well, good teams also have the ability to stop teams from scoring at the half as well. The Browns allowed the Giants to drive 80 yards down the field and score a touchdown right before the end of the first half to make it a game. This is another thing I'd like to see improve in the next weeks.
The Ugly
  • Illegal formation - Ryan Tucker
  • False start - Eric Steinbach
  • False start - Rex Hadnot
  • Illegal shift - Steve Heiden
  • False start - Rex hadnot
  • Holding - Willie McGinest
  • Illegal contact - Mike Adams
  • False start - Laurence Vickers
  • False start - Braylon Edwards
  • Holding - Steve Heiden
  • Delay of game - Derek Anderson
  • False start - Hank Fraley
One game is a fluke...two games are a trend...and more than three makes it a reality. The Browns need to take a page from momluvsfootball and quit this unhealthy habit cold turkey. I don't want to see any more offensive linemen sneaking in a few false starts just to "get their fix." No more illegal formations! Please!

We cannot continue to make those kind of mistakes in the game because we might not be so fortunate to convert next time. Braylon Edwards put it best on ESPN when he said the Browns won't be able to win football games if things like this continue. I hope the offensive linemen don't think this win justifies their sloppy play. Such poor discipline takes away from the outstanding job their unit did in a winning effort.

(the curtain rises as the Cleveland Browns reappear on stage to a thunderous ovation from fans and gentledawgs)

Dawgs: Bravo! Excellent! Go Browns!

Now, the Cinderella story continues to Week 7 of the National Football League where our protagonists encounter another colossal test in the form of the Washington Redskins. Can the Browns overcome short rest in time to face another terrifying foe? Will the Browns be able to win three straight games for the first time this season? And where in the world did Justin Tuck go?

All of these questions and more will be answered in the next scene of Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns Story
Posted on: September 28, 2008 5:07 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2008 6:13 pm

Week 4: A Win is a Win, No Matter How Small

We won! We won! The Cleveland Browns won!

It's nice to see the team finally get on the good side of the win/loss column. For a while there, I thought it might be time to dust off the ol' brown paper bag...

The Good

  • Victory: We finally won a football game! As much as I'd like to say the Browns won today, they really didn't. The Cincinnati Bungals did more to determine the outcome of this game than the Brownies did. The penalties, the inexperienced backup quarterback, the timeout management, and the lack of execution did the Bengals in and eventually cost them the game.
  • The Gameplanning: Despite a Carson Palmer-less offense and a notoriously susceptible defense, I thought Mel Tucker and Rob Chudzinski developed a good game plan against Cincinnati. On defense, the Browns did not let T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson single-handedly beat them. Short completions were sacrificed over the middle of the field, but for the most part the Browns contained the injury-plagued Bengals. As expected, the offensive game plan was spear-headed by a contrite Chudzinski determined to get the most out of Jamal Lewis.
  • Braylon Edwards' TD celebration: Classy! I liked that little tribute to Cleveland's strong rock 'n' roll history. Those powerful guitar chords were nice to see. An overall tasteful celebration.  Braylon dropped to one knee - which scared me with the new celebration rules. Players are not allowed to leave their feet - which Braylon did not; however one knee generally equals two feet in the NFL and I'm glad the officials didn't call him for it. On a side note: I wonder what song he was thinking about...
The Bad

  • Game Management: I'll continue to harp on this until I see the team improve. While the game management had vastly improved from weeks past, it was far from perfect. Two situations really jumped out at me in this game:
  1. At the end of the second quarter, the Browns came up with a stop with :50 seconds left. With two timeouts left for the half, the Browns should have used one of them to give themselves a chance after the field goal attempt. Josh Cribbs is a great return man and if he gave us decent field position, we could have taken a shot at the end zone or at least gotten into field goal range with a timeout at our disposal.
  2. 4th and 5 leading 17-12 with 3:30 left to play in the second half on the Cincinnati 37. Personally, I would have tried for the conversion. Since the Bengals did not have any timeouts, a conversion of 5 yards essentially wins you the game. A punt only nets 17 yards on a touchback, and the last thing you want is to give the Bengals a shot at driving 80 yards and winning the contest.
  • Derek Anderson: While I wouldn't characterize his performance as "bad", it certainly wasn't good. Anderson missed a few throws such as the pass thrown at Heiden's knees and the interception, but he played within himself which was good enough for a Browns' victory. Anderson's second half play inspired hope for the offensive unit, and perhaps served as something to build on for week 6.
The Ugly

  • This game: Yup, it was ugly. The penalties, fumbles, missed tackles, and timeout management for the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals were downright sloppy. I'm glad to see both teams represented the state of Ohio so well. The biggest message I'd like Romeo to deliver to the team over the next two weeks is one driven by avoiding complacency. From an in-game perspective, the Browns should have very little to feel good about after leaving Cincinnati. Make no mistake about it, there still is work to be done.

Paul Brown must have been looking down on these two Ohio teams today with shame and embarrassment . The organizational fundamentals and discipline Brown made so famous with both franchises was no where to be seen on Sunday afternoon. The Browns need to clean up their play, retool, and focus over the bye week. The New York Football Giants will pose a more serious challenge, and the Browns will have no chance to compete in their current condition.

But hey - now's not the time to get down about that. Today's win means there's still a glimmer of hope in Cleveland - albeit a small one. The first step to a cinematic ending is to write the script - and we have a great starting point heading into the bye week. After all, you can't have a movie script without drama and controversy, right?

The national stage has been set! Coming soon to a theater near you: Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns' Story.
Posted on: September 15, 2008 12:14 am

Week 2: Tick-Tock Goes the Clock

I am absolutely sick to my stomach.

If you have to lose a game - let it be because we lose on the field and not on the sidelines. Any way you spin it - Romeo cost us this one. I'm not here to vent, so let's just get into the good, bad, and the ugly of this week 2 loss.

The Good

  • The Offensive Line - For the most part, our blocking (particularly pass protection) was superb. The Steelers sacked Derek Anderson a couple times - both of which were coverage sacks. The run blocking was mediocre as usual, but overall it was a good showing from a group who played with some real zeal. Rob Chudzinski's stacked tackle packages were oddly effective and creative - and the Browns did a good job of working both sides of the stacked line.
  • Mel Tucker's Defense - Heading into this game, if you told me that our defense would hold the Steelers to 10 points, I would have been ecstatic. The Browns defense seemed lively - particularly because of a more aggressive scheme. We sent at least four guys to the quarterback on nearly every play and pressured Ben Roethlisberger into 3 sacks. Seeing the Browns' consistently blitz, tackle, and pursuit today was one of the lone good parts of this game. Willie Parker got his yards, but we managed to stop him on a few crucial plays which kept us in this game.
The Bad

  • Two Minute Drill - The clock management, penalties, and the communication on the Browns’ second half drive were unacceptable. Our timing and execution were terribly sloppy and there was no excuse for that. Honestly – it looked as if the Browns have never run a two minute offense before. I don’t care if we need to script plays or repeat the same play: this needs to change. Anderson’s second half interception killed a drive that cost the team valuable points.
  • Play Calling - The fourth quarter play-calling didn’t suit the situation. Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski dialed up run after run play – taking up 7 minutes and 34 minutes on the clock on one drive which resulted in a field goal. Chudzinski should have went to the short to intermediate passing game on first and second down instead of chewing up minutes of game time and putting the entire game on 1-2 possessions with our susceptible defense. Anderson was under siege for most of the second half - eliminating most of the long developing routes. We were forced to short passes over the middle, which should have been directed towards the sidelines.
The Ugly

  • Timeouts and Situational Management - Anyone who’d ever played Madden has an idea of clock management, and I guess Romeo isn’t one for video games. All three of the timeouts at the end of the first and second halves were completely mishandled. The ones in the second half costs us the game. The proper way to work the clock in that situation goes as follows:

Situation: Down 6-10, 3:30 left to go.
What we know: 3 timeouts, average play: 0:07 seconds, 40 seconds between plays, 2 minute warning

(1st and 10, 3:30): run the play – if stopped successfully, continue to second down

(2nd and 8, 2:43): run the play – if stopped successfully, continue to third down

(3rd and 4, 2:00): run the play – if stopped successfully, punt. If not, then USE YOUR 3 REMAINING TIMEOUTS with ANOTHER CHANCE FOR A DEFENSIVE STOP.

As far as the ones at the end of the second half, there was a 3rd and 1 play where DA ran himself to get the first down. Crennel should have taken a timeout leaving 14 seconds on the clock. The officials may have called for a measurement which would give you your timeout back in addition to the 6 seconds you would have saved! Instead, the clock ran to 8 seconds. Had we had that extra 6 seconds, the play call would have most assuredly changed which would have allowed us to run something underneath and then spiked the ball or taken a shot in the end zone.

Honestly, how hard is it to manage a clock, Romeo? My goodness man, your only job as a head coach is to manage the game. On Sunday you're not asked to coach, you're not asked to call plays, heck you're not even asked to execute strategy. Your only purpose on gameday is to understand the game of football - something you've been a part of for over 30 years of your life. I would have expected this in 2005, but not here and not now.

If you can't do what is asked of you on Sunday, then like your players, you should be held accountable for your mistakes. I'm upset, frustrated and embarrassed with the way things turned out, and God help him if this EVER happens to the Browns again.
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.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com