So often when I am writing things about the Browns it is heavily influenced by conversations with my brother. This morning, his statement was especially telling as a season ticket holder. He just can’t wait for this all to be over. That, my friends is the Lerners worst nightmare. When those who love to head down and tailgate and make a day of Browns football are ready for the season to be over after 11 games, it is very telling. Can you blame any of them when the Browns are 1-10, the opposing teams won’t give Josh Cribbs the ball, and now Shaun Rogers is hurt? OK. Let’s talk about the game.
First, on Brady Quinn. Don’t confuse this as the text you got from your buddy during the game yesterday that simply said “BQ sux!” I am not going to say that just yet. Then again, I think it is impossible to not notice that the Browns don’t have a bona fide, guaranteed quarterback of the future on their roster right now. I am happy that BQ is playing right now and getting an opportunity to develop. But, it would be wrong to say that I feel comfortable right now based on what I have seen with Brady Quinn running this team’s offense. Yesterday, Brady was 15-34 for 100 yards. He scored a rushing touchdown on a QB draw. He also caught a pass from Josh Cribbs on a gimmick play. Too often, even when he had sufficient time and guys were somewhat open, Quinn struggled mightily with his accuracy. His deep balls were inaccurate, and the intermediate passes were inaccurate. If he consistently throws behind his receivers, the rhythm will never get going with this offense.
I am starting to sound like a broken record, but why is Jamal Lewis still carrying the ball at all? His long rush for the season is an 18 yard scamper against the Bills from week 5. Out of 143 carries so far this season, Jamal Lewis hasn’t been able to break through a defense and carry the ball for more than 18 yards. I know it isn’t all his fault, I am not that stupid. Still, give all those reps to the two younger guys who might occasionally make someone miss and go for a 40-yard run? Who knows, one of them might even (GASP) score a long touchdown if the defense over-pursues. Jamal Lewis had 11 carries yesterday and Jennings and Harrison each had two a piece. It is counterproductive for the future and probably counterproductive for the present to give Lewis the bulk of the load. I will copy and paste this paragraph into next week’s recap too, I am sure.
I think we can say that the Browns picking up Matt Roth on waivers from the Dolphins was a decent score. Roth seemed to be all over the field as he had seven tackles and a QB sack yesterday. But, I don’t want to get too high on the defense. They allowed the Bengals to rush all over them to the tune of 210 yards rushing, including 107 yards to the steaming corpse of Larry Johnson. A look at the box score makes you think the Browns’ pass defense was great. The truth is, because the Bengals could run so easily and successfully, it just didn’t matter. One other thing I noticed was Mike Adams “tackling.” I hate to single one guy out, but Adams was constantly arm fighting with ball carriers in an attempt to create a turnover (I think.) While he was doing this, the ball carriers were making their way for extra yardage. There is a time to try to strip the ball, and there is a time to drag someone down by any means necessary.
I heard some negativity aimed at Shaun Rogers over his horse-collar tackle yesterday that gave the Bengals their field goal at the end of the first half. It wasn’t a smart play. It will cost Rogers some money, I am sure, because he clearly horse-collared an opposing quarterback. I don’t disagree with the rule, but consider how much more difficult tackling the quarterback has become since I started watching football in the 80′s. Horse collars, hits to the legs, hits to the helmet, grounding the QB after he lets the ball go, etc. Again, I don’t disagree with the rule, but how many of Ben Roethlisberger’s scrambles out of opposing teams’ tackles have occurred because defenses didn’t want to get penalized for sacking him the wrong way? And Ben is so giant and strong that he wiggles out, extends the play and kills you. All because the playing field has been leveled against the 300-pound monsters that the NFL dared to create as their prototype defensive lineman.
Have you ever seen as much celebration from a guy who had three catches for a mere 38 yards and 0 (zero) touchdowns as we saw from Chad Ochocinco? I love the dude’s talent, but I don’t think we need to see motivated celebrations after every single catch. Save those for touchdowns, bombs, and occasional first downs if you must. I just don’t think any receiver should be working on a 100% conversion rate between catching the ball and celebrating.
Finally, the Mangini paragraph. I don’t get it at all. Hold that thought. First, congratulations are in order. Mangini challenged a play and actually won the challenge. A hearty congratulations from me to you! Now, on your “strategy” for going for it on 4th downs.
It was the first play of the 4th quarter with the Browns down 16-7. Brady Quinn sneaked on 4th and 1 for the first down from the Cleveland 49 yard line. Nice call by Mangini and company. After two unsuccessful runs and an incomplete pass on third down, the Browns had 4th and 3 from the Cincinnati 43 yard line and Mangini sent in Reggie Hodges to punt. Wait, what? Why? The Browns were at the Cincy 43 yard line. The Browns never got closer than their own 46 for the rest of the game. I really (honestly) don’t like to do a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and questioning of coaching decisions, but this one is a glaring error in philosophy, I think. If you really truly believe in your defense, you have to go for it right there. Even if you punt the Bengals down inside their own five yard line, they were running the ball well. Even assuming the Browns defense could have forced them to a three and out, they would have punted and Josh Cribbs probably would have fair caught the ball around the 50 anyway, right?
Don’t get me wrong. There is no one thing that you can blame all the losing on. The inability of the offense to move the ball is a group effort. The right side of the offensive line. The receiving corps. Jamal Lewis. Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Brian Daboll and Eric Mangini. None of them are helping themselves right now. The defense is schizophrenic too. While he didn’t make any glaring errors, we had another week with a Hank Poteat sighting while Coye Francies remained inactive. Does Poteat really fit into the future plans of this team? Is he the key to turning the fortunes of this 1-10 team? Jason Michaels doesn’t think Hank Poteat should be getting reps on game day for the Browns at this point.
Don’t worry folks. It is almost over. The last five weeks should just fly by.