You 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?