Sunday, September 19, 2010

No they are not

Stop it. Stop it right this minute.

For those of you who still believe the Cleveland Browns are a better football team than last season, maybe their performances in the first two games of the season will finally make you think otherwise.

All together now. Click you heels together three times and repeat after me: The Cleveland Browns are not improved over last season. They basically are the same team that finished 5-11.

Sure, some of the faces are different. But the quality of play has not improved. Losses to two of the National Football League's bottom feeders in the first two games of the season is more than ample proof that it's the same-old, same-old all over again. These are the games on the schedule the Browns were expected to win.

And because they are the NFL's version of Groundhog Day with Bill Murray in the role of Eric Mangini, they now enter the roughest part of the schedule with two highly disappointing losses. In the next seven games, the Browns must play Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New England and the New York Jets.

All are teams with strong defenses and, for the most part, have no problem scoring points. The Browns will not be favored in any of those games, especially with an offense that renders one almost speechless when searching for appropriate adjectives. They have problems scoring against the Buccaneers and Chiefs. What makes anyone think it'll be better against these seven teams?

After Sunday's extremely disappointing loss, one has to wonder if Mangini can feel the leash tightening even more? Wonder how long it will take Mike Holmgren to realize he made a huge mistake in retaining the former wunderkind?

With the distinct possibility of the Browns repeating their 1-11 start last season, Holmgren has to be at least thinking of reaching for the plug and ending this misery. This just is not working, Mike. The fans are not the least bit thrilled with your club's start.

The Browns are not just a bad football team on offense. They're an awful team. Whether it's Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace under center, the Browns' ineptitude quotient rises significantly. At any point during the game, you can count on something to go wrong.

In the season-oepning loss to Tampa Bay, it was Delhomme's career-long flirtation with disaster that helped turn a possible victory into a sure loss. And in the 16-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Wallace's imitation of Delhomme helped produce the Chiefs' only touchdown of the day on Brandon Flowers' pick six early in the second quarter.

Holmgren's reputation as a quarterback guru is taking a severe hit with the play thus far of his two replacements for the departed Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Not saying Quinn and/or Anderson would have done any better. Fact is Delhomme is still a 35-year-old journeyman who is mistake-prone and Wallace is still a midget quarterback who has trouble seeing over big linemen. His best quality is the ability to escape the pass rush.

Both men are almost guaranteed to make mistakes. And this club is so fragile on offense, the least little miscue usually winds up hurting the team.

It has gotten so bad on offense, the offensive line has come under fire. And not just the weaker right side. The play of usually reliable Joe Thomas and Alex Mack has been, to put it mildly, spotty.

The running game is rooted in mud, the passing game is arguably the NFL's worst with a corps of receivers who have trouble separating from defenders and the play calling of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is predictable.

If not for the strong play of the defense against the Chiefs, the end result would have been worse. And if the offense continues to play this offensively, that defense will wear down and become vulnerable. In a hurry.

The Browns ran only three offensive plays in Kansas City territory in the second half and that was only because Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis' helmet hit on Evan Moore on an incomplete pass drew a personal foul penalty. The Browns wound up on the Chiefs' 46 and punted three unproductive plays later. Of the Browns' 13 (ugh) first downs, two came via the penalty route.


No, folks, this is not a good team. Not even close. No matter what you hear or read about correcting the mistakes, some mistakes are not correctable if they're made over and over. Groundhog Day.

That's bad coaching. And the sooner Holmgren realizes this, the better off the Browns will be.


  1. I would argue respectfully that you are wrong.

    The talent and personnel is much better off than when Mangini arrived and also better than even the end of last season. We have started to see the team get younger, but what can you expect in one season.

    I would argue that the largest problem at this point is the coaching staff, because one that seemed to have a disciplined team lacking talent now has a team with some young talent and no discipline. 9 penalties and multiple turnovers cannot happen.

    However, the team gave up 33 points, 14 of which came off of a pick six, a pick to the 3 (might as well have been six), and another 3 from a "fumble" (as the refs called it, but I say otherwise) that Jerome Harrison put on the ground so the chiefs had it at the 22 heading in ... 33 - 14 is 19 points ... minus three more is 16 ...

    I would LOVE to have seen last years team only give up between 8 and 10 points per game even against "lesser" opponents ...

    If you add that in to a healthy Shawn Lauvao, Tony Pashos, Montario Hardesty, Jake Delhomme, DQwell Jackson, Shaun Rogers ... we have the ability to COMPETE (not win, but not get blown out) against all but maybe 3 teams in the league.

  2. Phil . . .

    At least we agree on at least one point: Bad coaching.

    As to your other points, I also think we are in agreement that this offense is horrible. And the ball was coming out of Harrison's arms as he was heading for the ground. Good call by the referee.

    Is this team really getting younger? Not when bring in linebackers (Barton, Gocong, Roth and Fujita) who have a combined 32 years of experience in the NFL) and a defensive line that averages 31 years of age. Not to mention a 35-year-old quarterback. This team isn't getting any younger.

    As for your numbers (33 points, etc), in the coming weeks you will see a greater difference in point differential now that the soft part of the schedule has been played. That is when you will see a much more evident disparity in talent.

    Fact is the Browns lost two games to teams they should have defeated. That cannot be disputed. Makes no difference how they lost those games. They went into the loss column. Good teams find a way to win games. The Browns are not a good team.

    As for the health of the players you mentioned, Lauvao is a rookie and we don't know how well he will play when healthy; Pashos is a journeyman who can't beat out John St. Clair; Jackson does not make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage; Hardesty was a gamble when drafted because of his injury history; and Delhomme is a journeyman who has very little left in his tank.

    As for your assertion that the Browns can compete with most teams in the NFL, we're about to find that out in the next seven games. Based on your optimism, you might be shocked at the club's record on Nov. 14.