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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: November 18, 2008 4:34 am
Edited on: November 18, 2008 4:50 am

Week 11: Wagons Successfully Circled

Dear Diary,

Tonight I had the extreme displeasure of watching the Cleveland Browns take on the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. I thought my Browns would come out and play hard in front of the nation, but I was wrong... oh so very wrong.
We won the game, Diary. I should be happy. I should be excited. This win puts us at 4-6, which allows for another week of finger-crossing and misguided hope for delusional diehards like myself. I should be thrilled...but I'm not. The Cleveland Browns played such a poor game on both sides of the ball that I feel nothing but disappointment and frustration after watching the game.

Oh Diary, I just don't know how much more of this relationship I can take! Every week the Browns and I go through this. They're so sweet at times and yet...they always find ways to let me down. Just when I'm ready to break it off and call it quits for good, this team does just enough to keep my by their side. Mother tells me to forget about the playoffs and move on, but I just can't! I know they are a good team deep down inside, and all that's left for them to prove it.


My therapist suggests I explore any feelings of angst and depression in this diary. For the sake sanity, here it goes:

The Good
  • Jerome Harrison: Harrison showed exactly what Browns fans have been clamoring about for the past few weeks. On his 72-yard touchdown run, Harrison showed the great vision and speed necessary for an NFL running back. Harrison's touchdown run on prime time television may have opened the eyes of those not already familiar with his talent. Running back tandems or committees are becoming quite popular in today's NFL. Jacobs and Ward...White and Williams... the change in dynamic between runners is quite effective, and hopefully Rob Chudzinski will recognize this in upcoming weeks.
  • Turnover Differential: The cardinal rule in professional football states if you turn the ball over 4 times or more, you will lose the game. Trent Edwards' three interceptions along with Fred Jackson's fumble proved the old adage correct. Here's an astounding statistic: after this game, the Cleveland Browns rank 3rd overall with a +8 turnover differential. While the team may have its problems, if they maximize takeaways and minimize giveaways, they will eventually have success...or at least I hope so.
  • Penalties and Game Management: Breaking news! Romeo Crennel challenged a play...and won! It took 10 weeks, potentially backbreaking field position, and Brady Quinn's statistical line, but Crennel finally let go of that red flag and it couldn't have come at a better time. Even better, the Browns minimized the self-inflicted wounds - only committing two penalties for 15 yards. Timeout management wasn't bad, and Romeo managed the clock well enough to take a charity win courtesy of the Buffalo Bills.
  • Shaun Rogers: If you haven't already, please go here to cast your ballot for the 2009 Pro Bowl.
The Bad
  • Andra Davis: To put it simply, Andra did not have a good game. He missed several open field tackles - including one that should have saved the Browns from a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run. He took a poor angle to the ball carrier on several long rushing plays. He showed poor instincts and awareness on gap assignments in the running game. While he did display soft hands on the interception, Davis did far more to hurt this defense than help them today.
  • Tackling: Football is a game of blocking and tackling. It always has and always will be. If a team struggles so mightily with one of the most basic elements of the game, they have no chance whatsoever of being successful. Just for fun, I tried counting all the missed tackles by Cleveland Browns defenders. I couldn't keep up. It wouldn't be fair to blame the coaching staff, because players were in position to make plays. I do blame Kamerion Wimbley, Andra Davis, Willie McGinest, and Corey Williams for that. Those players showed a lack of aggression engaging and shedding would-be blockers. Such a passive approach to football is reason for change. This cannot continue.
  • Pass Protection Adjustments: Overall, the Browns did not necessarily do a bad job of pass protection, but it wasn't good either. I recall several times during the game where Kawika Mitchell was afforded a free lane to the quarterback. Hank Fraley and the guys up front did as good a job as they could picking up the stunts and overloads, but it could have been better.
  • Jamal Lewis: I've been critical of his style of running for quite some time now, and last night's game should show you just exactly why. Lewis demonstrated exactly what not to do as a feature back. Running backs are taught to make one cut and then go. Unfortunately for us, poor Jamal thinks he's Barry Sanders out there and tip-toes around in the backfield. He takes short choppy steps in an attempt to generate forward momentum. That sort of approach may have worked 4 years ago, but Lewis is a completely different tailback now. Oh, and by the way: Jamal Lewis quit in pass protection.
  • Points Off Turnovers: Trent Edwards threw three first quarter interceptions setting up the Browns on their 48, Buffalo's 49, and Buffalo's 12 yard line. How is it possible to only walk away with 6 points after all this? I guarantee an average team is up by 13 at the end of the quarter. I understand Brady Quinn is still young, but such offensive ineptitude is unacceptable. 
The Ugly
  • Special Teams Coordinator Ted Daisher: Congratulations, Ted - you stand alone as this week's goat. Why Ted, why? Why did you continuously kick to the most dangerous part of the Buffalo Bills' team? My goodness! You would think someone who has the most dynamic return man in the game would understand the value of special teams! They say the definition of stupidity is making the same mistake over and over again. If so, then Ted Daisher is truly a stupid man. Leodis McKelvin completely abused the kickoff coverage unit on the opening play for 40 yards. He did it again for another 40. After seeing this - what does Daisher do? Kick it to him again, of course! Aye...

Well Diary, there isn't much left to say. While I feel better about the win as well as Jerome Harrison, I didn't like what I saw from my football team at all. I fear this team is years away from being great. While I do still love the Browns, I honestly don't know how much longer I can wait for my ring. Afterall, I only have so many more years left! Until I see some commitment from this team to fundamentally sound football, we may need some time apart. Let's hope next week will be better!


P.S. - I miss Derek Anderson!
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 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.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com