Browns, Bess fail to capitalize in Kansas City

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148-20130726-0350_600You really don’t want to try to blame one guy for a loss. I know that might seem comical coming from someone who has almost single-handedly blamed Brandon Weeden for the Browns’ woes the last few weeks, but really I’ve been one of many voices in that choir. Today in Kansas City it’s very difficult to look at the final results without wondering what could have been had Davone Bess not played as poorly as he did on an individual level.1 Bess had drops galore. So many, that I’m guessing he wishes he hadn’t bought Greg Little’s number. He fumbled a punt return at a time when the Browns had a chance to take the lead. On what would be the Browns’ final offensive play (with any realistic chance of winning) on 4th and 7, Bess dropped a first down pass that Jason Campbell improbably pitched left across the mouth of the defense after escaping the pocket to the right sideline. The ball dropped to the turf and the Browns dropped the game 23-17 to the Kansas City Chiefs who go an impressive 8-0.

I’m always disappointed when the Browns lose, but this Browns game didn’t make me completely miserable. There are no moral victories, but there are at least points of reference that prove useful things out. For one, Brandon Weeden has been as abysmal individually as any player in the NFL this season. That was proven once again by Jason Campbell. It also puts Brian Hoyer’s performance in perspective, which is good. The Hoyer mythology was starting to run pretty thick among Browns fans, and it’s good to know that while Hoyer was good, it was probably sheer competence in the face of the opposite that had Browns fans excited.

It appeared that it was going to be a completely miserable day. The Browns went three and out for its first three drives. They looked like they wouldn’t be able to get a first down all day let alone score. Jason Campbell was getting rid of the ball, but between Davone Bess’ continued issues catching the ball and the Browns’ inability to get any yards otherwise, it was looking scary. I have to give the Browns and their coaches credit though. After an impossibly slow start, they started to get some things done.

The Browns ended up scoring a touchdown drive on a nice couple of plays including a flea-flicker scoring TD pass to Josh Gordon. It was potentially comical too, because a tired Browns defense needed the offense to score, but they did it in just two plays. Not that anyone was complaining, but it wasn’t the break the defense might have designed for themselves after three first quarter three and outs had them deep in deficit on time of possession.

The Browns added a short field goal drive to the first half after a missed 52-yarder by the Chiefs. That gave the Browns just a 10 point deficit going into halftime. Considering how badly they had been dominated in the first quarter, it was nearly miraculous.

The Browns added a Fozzy Whittaker TD reception from 17 yards out in the third quarter to bring themselves within a field goal 20-17. They weren’t able to get any closer and the Chiefs added a late field goal to finish the scoring at 23-17.

Again, a loss is not fun, but the Browns didn’t pack it in. They competed for the whole game and took a clearly superior opponent to the brink on the road. They also did it with some serious hometown refereeing as well. The Chiefs had no penalties called against them in the first half despite what appeared to be ample opportunity for offensive holding to be called. Maybe the Browns front seven need a clinic on “selling” holding calls.

In the end, this looked like a team that has a chance to win a few games in the second half. That’s a clear and obvious change from what they have looked like all year with Brandon Weeden at the helm. From that perspective the Browns clearly and obviously made the right call in benching Weeden. Jason Campbell did exactly what every Browns fan was hoping he was capable of doing when he was signed. As a result the Browns, once again, look like a slightly dangerous team that can give any opponent in their division trouble on any given Sunday.

Maybe that makes me greedy, but I don’t think so. I now look forward to seeing the Browns take on the Ravens at home this week before they get the benefit of their bye week. Am I alone in that?

  1. Or maybe just not played at all. []
  • Sam

    Why do the Browns constantly, regardless of who the head coach is, look so unprepared to start games? They constantly begin games looking clueless and disorganized, as opponents always seem to score a FG or TD on their opening possessions while the Browns always punt. Why don’t they ever utilize Cameron and Gordon early in the game? Until the Browns finally obtained a first down, the only names in the stat sheet were Obonnaya, McGahee, and Little (possibly the three most undesirable “weapons” on the offense).

    With that being said, some level of widespread consistency would make this team pretty dangerous. It’s so frustrating that the Browns just can’t get it at all together. For example, the first 2 games the secondary looked awful while the front seven dominated. Ever since, the secondary has performed well while the linebackers look clueless in coverage. Same with the receivers. Bess was brought in to be the anti-Greg Little and for the last few weeks he has basically been a miniature, worse clone of GL.

    Campbell does deserve quite a bit of credit here. He played mistake free football in a hostile environment and eluded the pass rush pretty damn well. Could you imagine how many sacks the Chiefs would have racked up if Weeden was under center?

  • Lunch

    At least the quarterback competition for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings will be very competive between Campbell, Hoyer, and whoever the QB not named Bridgewater will be next season.

  • AJ

    You were being too kind about the officiating. It was downright pathetic, horrid, and whatever negative adjective you can think of, NFL officiating is almost getting as bad as NBA officiating, and when you’re anywhere near that comparison, you must be bad! I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to watch pro sports anymore. These idiots have way too much say in the outcome of games!

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I don’t believe in curses, but you could convince me at this point.

    If you slow down the punt return and last drop by Bess, and look at it through those goggles Ray wears in Ghostbusters, you can see the ghost that pokes out both of those balls.

    In conclusion…Chief Wahoo must go. Thank you.

  • Browns life

    The fact that we had no time outs left at the end of the game was terrible coaching. And I’m a big Chud fan. But that’s inexcusable. You have to hold on to at least 1 friggin time out.

  • Browns life

    Peyton Hillis anyone? Boy would it be nice to have a 70 yard rusher at this point.

  • TSR3000

    He had 20 carries.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    The only reason there was time left on the clock was the wise use of timeouts before that.

  • Robbie S

    1 Word cost us this game. BESS.

    Even Thomas’ horrible penalties if he catches… err if he doesn’t let that pass fall out of his lap, we have a chance!

  • Ezzie Goldish

    It’s worth noting that Joe Thomas keeps getting a lot of crucial penalties, particularly false starts. (The holding penalty helped avoid a crucial sack so that bothered me less.) It looks like he’s trying to make up for a slightly slower speed by trying to rush that first step back with DEs who rush wide each week, and he’s getting called for it a lot and also tipping plays a lot.

  • typo

    A few points, someone alluded to this last week as well, it is 7 PM after a tough loss and therebare 9 comments. It seems apathy is setting in.
    Secondly, I think you made agood point on Hoyer. If Campbell looked this good, it should temper our enthusiasm on Hoyer. In a way its more frustrating that we have been this competitive with out a good QB.

  • saggy

    Browns will be lucky, as their record stands, to actually be in position to draft a top-5 QB. it figures….

  • saggy

    yeah, i agree. i actually sat there and wondered aloud why he was calling a TO with 3:18 left, but realized that it was a pretty solid play.

    For me, that shows good preparation for the endgame by a young coach.

  • saggy

    I think Hoyer looked noticeably superior to Campbell. Quick reads, accurate throws, and good leadership. I felt Campbell was fine, but definitely looked his age a few times.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    No comments during games. No comments afterward. The fans on this site are have no umbrage, because futility is expected.

  • Harv 21

    It speaks to Norv Turner’s abilities that he can successfully plug in career mediocres like Hoyer, Thompson, or an unknown kid named Fozzy Whittaker, when they’ve gotten precious little practice time in his system. Of course, it also speaks to just how little football intellect and instinct Brandon Weeden has that after months in the woodshed of getting tutored, constant attention in OTAs, minicamps, training camp and starter rep practices, he looks much like last year. At this point, Weeden’s best chance of getting it might be a couple of seasons banished to the warp speed of the arena league.

    Bess looks like the classic Cleveland FA bomb, the sub-specialist who inexplicably loses his primary skill as soon as he arrives. Davone, meet Donyell Marshall and Wesley Person. But this means we need like 3 new receivers next year. The Browns are to reliable receivers what the Indians are to left fielders with decent power. Other teams find them everywhere. There’s some sort of reverse polarity thing in Berea bouncing them other directions.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    One more thing. If they trade Gordon, as everyone seems to think they will, I’ll have some serious doubts about Banner and Co.

    Even if someone offers a first round pick for him, it makes no sense, because the guy is playing like a first rounder right now.

    Even if this year isn’t the year, don’t get rid of either of the two playmakers on this roster.

  • Harv 21

    Agree, Ezzie. He might make the Pro Bowl again on his rep but a holding and false start call per game is becoming more frequent than any time in his career. I’d like to think that the edge rushers spreading wider is forcing him (and other tackles) to cheat but today’s hold was on an inside run block and the false start was where he was staring at the center but still let the noise get to him. On the other side Schwaryz was better – I don’t remember a single matador moment.

  • whosevelt

    What does, say, an 11th pick and a 25th get you these days? There are five or so good QBs coming out, which both lowers the value of the higher picks and gives the Browns a chance to get one at 8-12. Also, if we can continue to observe that the Browns can compete with an average QB, it makes getting the right guy *this year* less pressing. Campbell and Hoyer both have a few years left.

  • whosevelt

    Great point on the specialist who loses his skills in Cleveland.

  • whosevelt

    This is probably better for the “winners and losers” thread, and I’ll post it again I guess, but I am moderately satisfied with the game today. The Browns have looked like a legitimate NFL team for 75% of the season, and for 100% of the time that someone other than Weeden was at QB. It would have been nice to think of the playoffs, and an upset today would have gone a long way to that, but it’s also nice to think that the next four games are likely to be competitive and it would be a letdown if we didn’t win at least two. If we don’t finish the season at least 7-9, it would be a shock.
    I can’t remember the last time we could look at any stretch at all and say we’d be surprised if we didn’t win x/y. To me that demonstrates that the team is in far more competent hands than we’ve been in the past. And we have a lot of drafting and signing to do before next year.

  • ch

    1. I give the staff a TON of credit. Our slow starts are typically a product of terrible Weeden. If you recall, Shurmur last year would run on 2-9 and was generally the_worst_of_alltime.

    Overall I’m very impressed by both sides of the ball. The creative playcalling is REFRESHING. Don’t be stupid. They’re always looking to get our good players involved and it’s not their fault we had Weeden (lord of the 3 and out) in the game. I really respect the gameplan.

    2. Another phantom call against the Browns. This time Joe Haden is just doing what every DB in the league does. So silly.

    3. I think Joe Thomas is legit; I think the crowd noise was getting to him. Really only on Dolphins got to JT.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    The Browns have gone into halftime oour first six games with a lead. Second half adjustments killed us. Last game and this one…against very good teams, we didn’t start well. Not many teams start well against Green Bay. And we struggled early against the only undefeated team in the league. Quit your whining.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Other than being pissed about the penalty, that last holding call on the inside move by Hali made me laugh. Here is this huge, all pro DE trying desperately to get to the QB. What stopped him? Joe Thomas’s right arm. And he didn’t even look like he was struggling. It’s just incredible how powerful and strong these guys are. I think we take it for granted sometimes.

  • mgbode

    we have to hope one of the few bad teams with a QB keeps losing to pull off such a trade.

    so, today, I am pretty upset at Chip Kelly for losing to the Giants and giving them life (only 2 games out in the pathetic NFC East).

  • mgbode

    if Banner/Lombardi Lane Kiffin’d Bess, then I think everyone would have understood.

  • REEPJP

    Chip wants/needs Mariota (like we all should).

  • bupalos

    That’s just objectively, objectively wrong. Lots of coaches make these quant mistakes but Chud looks to be a particularly bad one. There is no need to coach timeouts by gut, or a feeling that it’s getting late. When you start calling timeouts with 4:00 left, you are picking one likely scenario (we will get the ball and have 1 drive that results in a score with 30 seconds or less left) and excluding a bunch of others that add up to a higher probability (we get it back and score within our first 5 plays, they get a 1st down on the next play, there’s a turnover, etc. etc.)

    The worst thing you can do with probability is fall in love with the most likely scenario. Coaches do it all the time. Belichick and Jim Harbaugh are generally the best at clock management, specifically because they do not act like they know how the game will progress. They follow the computer and use timeouts when they have more information rather than less. It wins them games.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Burn that #15 so nobody else can ever wear it!

  • stryker1121

    The Browns live on such a razor’s edge every game mistakes like Bess’s (and Thomas’s problems) are absolute killers. I just cannot get excited about ‘progress’ when I’ve seen close games like this since ’99. Win and win consistently and have the ability to outplay your own mistakes.

  • Harv 21

    Especially since he was brought here specifically as a clutch go-to guy who could role model the young knuckleheads how to hang onto the ball. Instead, today Greg Little has to be thinking “Bess makes me look like Steve Largent and Benjamin isn’t even gonna weight bear for 3 months. Y’all can’t sit me now.”

  • Sam

    Settle down there partner, not whining just stating facts. The Vikings, Bills, Lions, Packers, and Chiefs have all scored on their opening possessions against the Browns. Starting the majority of your games losing after one possession is not a good recipe for success.

    Also, not getting a first down until midway through the second quarter seems to be a little more severe than “struggling early.”

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Again, 8 games, 6 halftime leads. Our start is not nearly as terrible as you make it out to be. It’s our ability to adjust at halftime and finish that has been questioned.