Two weeks in a row the Browns have been punched in the gut. This week after murdering the Jags in the turnover battle, the Browns lose it in the fourth quarter 24-20 after not being able to capitalize on the turnovers. Last week I told you to be proud of your team, even in defeat. This week, I can’t really tell you to do the same. The Browns have nobody to blame but themselves on this one. But try digesting it a bit before you go after the easiest possible targets like Brian Daboll.
Look, I don’t love Brian Daboll and his performance over the last two seasons. I have been really critical of him at times. I can even be critical of him for the 2nd and 3rd drives of the third quarter when he predictably went run-run-pass two straight times. Then again, how can you be critical of an offensive coordinator that looks to put the ball in Peyton Hillis’ hands to try and wear down the opposing defense? You and I both know that has been the recipe for success for the Browns recently. At some point, you have to stop pointing at coaches and look at an offensive line with two replacements that can’t get Hillis, their best weapon, moving in the second half.
Make no mistake. We will judge Daboll at the end of the year, and I might sit here and tell you I think the Browns need to have a better guy running the show. In a week where the Browns offense couldn’t get any single thing going after losing Josh Cribbs and the starting right side of their offensive line, I am sorry if I am not willing to just pile on Daboll as an easy scapegoat. This is the same guy that was chest-bumping Joe Thomas against the Pats just a few weeks ago.
The Browns lost and they easily shouldn’t have. The Browns’ defense was amazing. Sheldon Browns tipped two passes that ended up being interceptions for Abe Elam and T.J. Ward. Ward had two interceptions on the day, Elam had the one and Joe Haden added a fourth. The Browns also recovered two fumbles. Despite that, the Browns’ offense couldn’t do anything in the second half.
It was an awful week. The Browns were on such a high after the previous weeks. They were injured and plugging holes and doing everything they could. They failed miserably on the offensive side and they lost.
We know the reasons why they lost, and I don’t blame you all for being upset. I am upset too. Still, I don’t know where the relief comes from until those offensive linemen get healthy. At some point you can’t just out-scheme and win in the NFL. Sometimes you just have to beat the guys in front of you. More than any coaching failures, in a week where Peyton Hillis only averages 2.3 yards per carry, I am going to go ahead and just blame the whole team including the players and the coaches.
The Browns will welcome Carolina to Cleveland next week and there are no magic plays to be called then either. The Browns will have to find a way to continue the defensive play while also getting Peyton Hillis running.