Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday's leftovers

Quick question: What is the personality of this season's edition of the Cleveland Browns? After OTAs, minicamp, training camp, four exhibition games and the first two games of the regular season, can anyone definitively describe or explain the personality of this team?

If it is rooted in the running game, something is terribly wrong because that aspect of the offense is moribund at best. If it's the passing game, then someone should grab Eric Mangini and explain to him that he has a terrible receiving corps.

It is said a football team takes on the personality of its coach. Sort of a trickle-down effect. Considering Mangini's personality and ultra conservative approach to coaching, it's no wonder the Browns have floundered out of the gate this season. This team has no apparent life.

Dissenters to this notion will argue the Browns lost both games by a total of just five points. Five measly points. That's how close they are to being 2-0 as opposed to 0-2. That's the argument of losers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-0, having scored only six more points than the Browns. The difference is the Steelers, playing without their starting quarterback for the first four games of the season, know how to win games. They do the little things that help win those games. The Browns don't because they don't know how.

The good news thus far is the Browns own the same record as the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings. The bad news is both those teams have a far better chance of making the playoffs than the personality-challenged Browns.

Unless Mangini can somehow manage to summon some life for his club in the next month, and that would take a major change in his coaching approach, the Browns are are headed toward a similar start to last season when they celebrated just once after the first 12 games.

The Baltimore Ravens, this Sunday's opponent, have had a tough time putting points on the board. They haven't played the Browns yet. The Steelers, as previously mentioned, have had a tough time putting points on the board. They haven't played the Browns yet.

If Mike Holmgren doesn't see this as bad offensive football by his team, he lowered the bar somewhere between Seattle and Cleveland. Either that or he is quietly letting Mangini hang himself and greasing the slide for his reentry into the coaching ranks.

Other thoughts:

* As if things weren't bad enough, opponents are playing keep-away with Joshua Cribbs width their kickoffs and punts. In a mute sign of ultimate respect, they are taking the All-Pro return specialist out of the equation. There goes good field position.

* Did you notice the Kansas City Chiefs often deployed eight and sometimes nine men in the box on defense at the snap Sunday? They basically dared Seneca Wallace to throw the ball. Unfortunately for the Browns, he accommodated them.

* With Jake Delhomme still questionable for the Ravens game, the Browns are now one injury away from the future at quarterback. If Wallace goes down, here comes Colt McCoy.

* T.J. Ward looks like the real deal based on his first two games. He seems to be comfortable in coverage, hits with authority and seems right at home on special teams. All the oft-injured rookie safety has to do now is remain healthy.

* When are we going to see Shaun Rogers at defensive end? Ahtyba Rubin has been solid at nose tackle, so why not move Rogers out?

* Marcus Benard is making a nice case for himself to start at outside linebacker. Move Scott Fujita inside, replacing Eric Barton, and stick the undrafted Benard on the weak side opposite Matt Roth. That would give the Browns two solid pass rushers.

* Chiefs coach Todd Haley, on the Browns after Sunday's victory: "That's a good team we played. They are fighting, fighting to play out there. It is evident they are a good team." Really? The team that turned the ball over twice, missed an easy field goal, committed nine penalties (not to mention a few others that were declined), and racked up a hefty 55 yards of offense and three first downs in the second half (one via the penalty route)? That team? Really? Wonder what he honestly thinks.

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