The Cleveland Browns’ defense came out as if they were fired out of a cannon. The unit that seemingly never got off the field a year ago, was forcing turnovers, flying all over the place and making life miserable for Michael Vick and his receivers. D’Qwell Jackson played like the grizzled vet. L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson played inspired youngsters. Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker were the energetic new guys. Sure, L.J. Fort dropped an interception that would have iced the game, but it’s really hard to think of that as the key play of the loss for the Browns.
The key to the loss is undoubtedly the one-man turnover machine, Brandon Weeden. He’s a rookie and rookies throw interceptions, but today’s game was ridiculous. Weeden looked over matched, uncomfortable, unprepared and just downright scared at times. I can’t insult anyone’s intelligence and try and sugar coat a 12/35 passing performance with four interceptions. The best I can say for Weeden is that one of those interceptions really wasn’t his fault. It was a rocket at Greg Little, who allowed it to pop up into the air. It was especially unforgivable because it occurred inside the Eagles’ five yard line.
So, is there a QB controversy? I guess. You can’t avoid a controversy with a performance like that, no matter who the starter is and who is backing him up. If Tom Brady goes out and puts up a performance like Weeden did today, people will start to think about Ryan Mallett’s name and Belichick will remember the words “diminishing skills.” I’m not saying Colt McCoy should start the next game, but I am saying that even at his awful worst, Colt McCoy never turned the ball over like that. Many of McCoy’s critics have criticized McCoy for racking up meaningless TD passes in garbage time, but most of his interceptions occurred with the team down and chasing desperately. Some of you will think that this is precisely why Colt McCoy shouldn’t be here, but it doesn’t matter whose name you put in second. Seneca Wallace would be getting some serious love today too. No question.
Today’s game against the Eagles showed a brash carelessness by a rookie QB with a live arm. He’ll probably get better and learn, but everyone better hope that he has as short a memory as he claims to have as a former professional pitcher because he needs to forget about this game, and quickly.
Trent Richardson wasn’t great today either, and that was part of the problem for Weeden. It was reasonable to assume that Richardson might be rusty and green after missing all pre-season action. If there was one encouraging thing from the Browns’ offense today it was his ability to run the ball, take hits and not look the slightest bit injured. Yardage wasn’t good, but at least they looked healthy, right? And how about that head butt to Kurt Coleman that propelled his helmet 10 yards? Other than that? The offense was U-G-L-Y. I won’t bore you with the stats, but trust me when I tell you they were.
Lucky for them, they’ll be on the road next week in Cincinnati. Not that it will be an easier place to play, but it will at least give Brandon Weeden and his cohorts a chance to win back the home crowd without having to endure the live criticism. It’s criticism that they deserve, but it might be more constructive filtered through the internet and the media this week rather than experienced first-hand.
As always, this is far from it on this game. Make sure you tune back in all week as we break it down.
(Photo – Screencapped from FOX TV Broadcast)