April 19, 2014

Cowboys loss was more frustrating than most Browns losses

Browns penalties must be hysterical to Ed Hochuli’s crew

I have a tough time explaining why my frustration levels fluctuate so much throughout a Browns season. Some weeks as the Browns lose, it barely registers on the imaginary frustrate-o-meter in my house. I kind of shrug my shoulders, write about the Browns game on Sunday and just move along with my week. Then other weeks I’m dropping the ugliest of linguistic bombs on the WFNY email thread because I’m so beside myself trying to deal with my favorite football team wetting the bed. This week, it felt like they wet the bed after I just removed the water proof mattress liner. This was a two-win football team heading into the game against Dallas. What exactly is it that I expected that would give me this level of frustration? On the WFNY podcast this week, I said flat-out that the Browns could win, but that we were probably talking about a 30% chance of taking it home. Based on those expectations, shouldn’t I have almost been pleasantly surprised that the Browns had leads and forced a superior team into an overtime at home? Logic might dictate that, but this game still frustrated me beyond belief.

Was it the refereeing? I’m sure that had something to do with it. I think the referees got the call right on T.J. Ward’s hit, even though I don’t love the rule. Other than that though, Ed Hochuli’s crew was abysmal. There was a brutal uncalled false start, a pretty questionable pass interference on Buster Skrine when he legitimately located the ball and was working his way back to it just like the receiver. Skrine maybe had earned opposite of the benefit of the doubt by this point in the game after numerous other legitimate penalties, but I still think they got it wrong. On one of the kickoff return holding penalties the ref who threw the flag was laughing while telling Ed Hochuli about it. Might have meant nothing, but as the Browns were trying to not blow a 13-0 halftime lead it rubbed me the wrong way. Then of course is the fumble-ruled-incomplete-pass that would have been a pretty compelling review despite the animated cheering of Dan Dierdorf that it was incomplete.

Speaking of Dan Dierdorf, I tried as hard as I could to not assume he was rooting against the Browns, but by the end of the game I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Dierdorf isn’t expected to sugar-coat that the Browns aren’t a bad team, but when the Browns were holding a slight lead (maybe when it was 13-10?) Dierdorf spoke of the driving Cowboys like they’d already won the game. Sure, it felt somewhat inevitable to Browns fans that the team was going to lose, but even those fears were unfounded as the game ended up going to overtime. Maybe it isn’t an anti-Cleveland bias as much as a bias against bad football teams, but it sure felt like bias just the same.

None of this is designed to excuse the bad play of the Browns for my frustration. As I said though, the Browns playing badly is nothing new and yesterday felt different. This week felt like the Giants game all over again, but instead of Eli Manning the Browns let Tony Romo and his ragtag bunch of offensive linemen embarrass them. That’s a serious step down in my book. Plus, this was a Browns team nine games into their season and coming off of a bye week with the defensive line at full strength for the first time all year. They were supposed to be better and more prepared than they were against the Giants.

For all that opportunity the Browns got exposed at cornerback courtesy of Buster Skrine. The Browns were woeful on the goal line whether it was ill-advised fade throws1 or telegraphed runs up the middle of the offensive line. It was the Browns dominating a half of football and yet only putting up thirteen points. It was a Browns team with a two-score lead and getting the ball back first to start the third quarter that was out-coached and out-schemed in the second half. Take that plus the obnoxious announcing and the pitiful referreeing and it culminates into probably the most frustrating week of Browns football so far this season.

Maybe I’m speaking too soon though. The Steelers are coming to town this weekend and the Browns have a chance to let Byron Leftwich (errr Charlie Batch)  get the Steelers back on track after losing to Baltimore last night.

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Footnotes:

  1. bad throw, but credit to Cameron Jordan for catching it even if it was out of bounds []

  • Harv 21

    Within two hours of the game’s completion my adrenalline dropped and I let my head take over the analysis: when Haden goes out we have a laughable weakness in the defensive secondary and it was a tribute to the poor Dallas game plan and flatline play that they didn’t start the game punking us through the air and never stop. “Any Given Sunday” is a truism because NFL players go hard and even a more talented team can get beat if they don’t match effort. Did you see Bryant hop-step out of bounds short of the marker while jawing with the defense? Philly was mailing it in at that point.

    To me, that’s what happened Sunday. Weeden didn’t play great, Trent didn’t either, we played normal hard and Dallas did not until the third quarter. If you think the refs stole the game focus on Sheldon Brown playing his man throughout a game, any game. He could be called for 20 penalties a game. With the long pass interference call in the 4th quarter that ball floated forever and there was no reason to mug the receiver early.

    This game was similar to the Philly game where they were killing us in the run but Reid kept calling on Vick to throw until they almost blew the game. We’re getting closer, you can tell by how our lines are more than holding their own. But we have a few more gaping roster holes and a gaping head coach hole to fill. Until then, better grab a pillow to buffer the wall.

  • Kildawg

    Think you mean Jordan Cameron. Cam Jordan is a DE for New Orleans. As for the announcers, I listened to Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken, mostly because I was driving. I would still have had those guys on if I was watching the game. All our teams need to win something to stop this anti-Cleveland bias that has spread like a disease amongst the sports community.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Don’t worry, I have a feeling this entire weekend will be FAR more frustrating by the time it’s over: The Kyrie-less Cavs against the Heat? Ohio State’s sputtering offense in the biggest game of every year with an undefeated season on the line? The Browns penchant for making any QB in black and gold look like an All-Pro? Stock up on bourbon and hide the sharp objects, folks.

    That, or it could be the greatest sports weekend of the year.

  • mgbode

    well, even the Browns got that mixed up on draft day.

  • mgbode

    Batch is starting this weekend as Leftwhich has broken ribs. I hate Charlie Batch.

    Anyways, one strange thing happened this weekend before the game. Had some errands to run and myself and my kids were all garbed up in Browns gear. As Austin is still largely a “Cowboys” town this led to a few interactions. What was strange was that a vast majority of them were a bit fearful. I kept telling them to not worry we find ways to lose close games this year and sadly that is what happened, but they were respectful of our OL and defense (most didn’t realize how important Haden was to our secondary or that he was out).

    Baby Steps?

  • BenRM

    Dierdorf was wrong about that “incomplete pass.” No one will ever be able to convince me that it was not a catch and fumble.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    i promise im not disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing. just want that out there.

    this loss did not bother me. i was very nourished by several things:

    * our d-line is a beast. sheard (and rucker) were great but i believe they fed off the interior push created by having a rotation of four beast DTs that we can rotate and have fresh. we have the nucleus of a stellar d-line, NOW.

    * our top WRs made all the catches and i mean it was like glue on their hands. want to focus on drops.. yeah watson dropped one between the numbers. but that which we’ve been longing for since … reggie langhorne: vertical threat, physical, long, stretch the field WRs… in gordon and little we may have two of these.

    * joe thomas owned the best pass rusher in the league. says here that our o-line is 6th in sacks allowed.

    * weeden is playing at a very high level for a rookie qb in a new offense. im going by my eyes here not stats. some have killed him for missing a wide open cooper on third down. but does anyone remember how challenged DA was with a simple dump-off pass to an outlet RB? every one of weeden’s dumps to richardson led him forward for max YAC.

    i was dismayed by the stalled offense in the red zone and the cowboys obviously did better on the halftime adjustments. but that’s on the coach and this shouldnt be a surprise at this point.

    sound was off where i watched it but no surprise that dierdorf wouldve been more tuned into the national team. and not to be that guy, but i wholeheartedly agree with the home cooking refereeing.

    we’re not going to the playoffs. while i agree that developing a ‘winning atmosphere’ in the locker room is important; it’s more important to see growth and progress. i saw regression last year. i saw more good than bad sunday.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    seriously.

  • maxfnmloans

    It’s much easier to deal with this once you drop your expectations. You can pick them up again next year once the new regime is in place. This year is all about treading water, hoping the guys we can build around dont get hurt, and taking their sweet time to evaluate everything before they make changes. Wins and losses are immaterial, at least to me.

    Now, if Banner and Haslaam are spending more of their time trying to figure out how to maximize the teams revenue through marketing and NOT spending that time figuring out every single way to get this teams heirarchy right and improve the product on the field, then it’ll be time to get mad again. For now, I choose to have hope, and not get too caught up in the last hurrah of the Lerner era.

  • Harv 21

    Oh, I’m not saying he was always right, just that he was not biased. (But I don’t remember him saying he was absolutely sure it was incomplete). He also blasted the refs for the missed false start call. By the third quarter he was criticizing Romo and Dallas a lot and repeatedly called Trent “the real deal.” Look, we have a lot to worry about as Cleveland fans. That our teams are being dissed by network announcers shouldn’t even make the list. A team that has won 1/3 of its games over 13 seasons should be dissed mercilessly.

  • mgbode

    i like it. but, don’t tell me you weren’t holding your breath when you realized Weeden was throwing to Watson on that last TD. i mean, he bobbled the first 2 passes thrown to him (catching one). thank god he knew which ones he had to catch.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    yeah, but still the goodness of the gordon/little play creates more optimism than the shaky play of the old TE.
    among the ‘cornerstone’/ ‘these are the future’ guys, the only play that comes to mind as a significant negative was t-rich attempting to juke around a FS instead of plowing him. sensabaugh is decent sized, but, dude.. you gotta get the first down there.

  • mgbode

    that I am on-board with. and, if we could get Benjamin healthy in the slot rather than Cooper, we’ll be even more on our way.

    we still do need to draft a TE who can both block and catch, but we can find one in the middle rounds maybe?

    ————

    yeah, I don’t know what Richardson was doing in general on Sunday between that play and the half-hearted “jump” way short of the goalline when there wasn’t a seam to jump through, he had questionable play all day.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Couple things just minor building off what you said…not sure I’d qualify the defensive line as beastly based on what was probably the best game of the season to date for them. Dallas doesn’t exactly possess a great o-line. That being said the d-line is not the issue, for me, on defense it’s the linebacking and secondary. As far as Weeden playing at a high level, um, I completely disagree IMO he’s regressed. But with that said he’s the QB for the at least another season but hopefully he’ll get better coaching and hopefully 1 legitimate WR.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You “hate” alot I’m noticing, need a hug buddy? ;-)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Draft another TE? (Home Alone impression being done) This is like the people wanting to draft another DT for me!

  • dan

    Here’s why this game, and this season, is so much more frustrating:

    Recall that Holmgren said during the offseason that the Browns should be better than 6-10 this season. In other words, this was supposed to be the year that, after years of saying that the team was getting better even if that improvement wasn’t showing up in the won/loss record, finally that improvement would translate into wins, maybe even into meaningful games played in November. And then, after week 1 (if not week 1 of the preseason), all that went away and it was back to “progress”, “battling”, and improvement that doesn’t translate into wins, but next year, no, really, this time we mean it, we know we said last year that the team should do better than 6-10 and the year before that 5-11 was unacceptable, but this year we really mean it when we say that although the record will be the same this year, next year this will be — I forget, what’s this year’s phraseology? — next year this will be a team other teams won’t want to see.

    Had the promises of the past years been fulfilled rather than repeated, this would have been a game the Browns actually won, rather than a game that shows that next year they would win a game like this, unless next year like this year they don’t actually take the step forward they’ve been promising year after year.

  • EdgewaterJoe

    The coaching has lost at least four games this year. That alone is aggravating. Add to that the incompetence of the refs (I now side with the Denverites over Ed Hochuli) and the abysmal Dan Dierdorf (somebody give him some pudding and put THE PRICE IS RIGHT on for him, please!), and it just adds up to too many woulda/coulda/shouldas for a team that, I think most of us will agree, has far more talent than it has in at least the last five years … and holding our breath that the new regime will, in fact, change things.

  • BenRM

    fair enough. And I agree, he did blast Dallas plenty as well.

  • BenRM

    he said that, but did anyone actually believe it? If someone really thought this was 7-or-more win team, I would like to have what they’re drinking.

  • dan

    Well, I didn’t believe it, but that doesn’t mean that I like being lied to.

    Also, I have in previous years believed the “the team is getting better even if it doesn’t show up in this year’s record” nonsense, and there are plenty who still do.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I understand the “you are what your record says you are” approach. And really, that is the bottom line. However, even if they finish 4-12 again this year, there is no doubt in my mind that from a talent and potential standpoint, the 2012 Browns are considerably better than the 2011 Browns. I have nothing but my eyeballs and my opinion to back this up, but talent-wise, we are getting closer. And I think most objective people would agree.

  • mgbode

    Ben Watson – nearing the end
    Alex Smith – our new FB
    Cameron – our Aaron Hernandez? hopefully? still, he’s not a blocker.

    it really depends on if Watson can continue. if we feel comfortable with another year with him being our only blocking+receiving TE option, then fine.

    otherwise, yes we need another TE.

  • mgbode

    it’s Michigan week & Pitt week at the same time. there better be alot of hate built up :)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They don’t know how to use the ones they have now so I can’t see wasting a pick on another one. Kinda reminds me of not resigning Vickers only to draft his replacement in Marecic, DOH!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Ah well happy holidays too!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Overall improvement but I can count the impact players on one hand for this team – Haden, Richardson, Thomas and Dawson. If you want to stretch it add D’Q Jackson. This along with the coaching are and have been the issue for years. Until the latter two are significantly improved there is light years to go IMO.

  • porckchopexpress

    Craig, you’ve only got an imaginary frustratometer? Dude get the real thing, that’s why you are so inconsistent with your frustration – no baseline testing. The company I got mine from has one made specifically for Cleveland fans. I’ll send you the company’s website, look for the Spinal Tap model, its the only frustrat o meter
    that “goes to eleven”.

  • dan

    If I were forced to evaluate “talent” — whatever that is that is not measurable in wins and losses — I would probably be forced to agree, even though it wouldn’t be difficult to find people who said the same thing about the 2011 Browns, the 2010 Browns, and the 2008 Browns. But when is that talent going to translate in to wins? If it never does, I’ll trade the talent and losses for a less talented team that wins more games, thanks. And if every year as soon as the season begins we jump to “next year the talent will start impacting the won/loss record”, well, next year will never come.

    In reality this is the third year of this rebuild, something should be showing up. In the third year if the Lions’ rebuilding, they were 10-6, for crying out loud. The Browns need to start getting to a 6-10 record if they’re ever going to be 8-8, which they’ll need to be in order to reach 9-7, which they’ll have to do before bring able to make the playoffs. Waiting for four years before you have a team that can win more than five games a season wouldn’t be acceptable to fans of any other franchise other than this one.

  • mgbode

    you have the out-dated model. the post-2000 model for Clevelanders goes to 13

  • gmoko

    I was more frustrated by this game than I have been in years. I’m not sure why. Usually they blow the game once, twice, even three times. By now, I’m used to that, and have learned to at least enjoy the comedy of it. But it felt like they blew this game in more ways than even they have been capable of before. Maybe because Dallas seemed equally skilled at finding a way to lose, but the Browns were able to muster that extra losing effort.

  • Wow

    Just curious do bad teams get bad commentators by default? I’m so tired of Rich Gannon and this fool Dan Diedroff.