Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday leftovers

Time once again to pick on Jake Delhomme, whose stay in Cleveland might be shorter than originally planned. He has been exposed as an interception waiting to happen. Just when things are going smoothly, you can almost count on Delhomme to make a boneheaded play.

For some reason, Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has more confidence in Delhomme than Colt McCoy despite the fact the rookie takes much better care of the ball. Delhomme has thrown 95 passes this season for one touchdown and six interceptions. Six picks in 95 throws doesn't exactly inspire the kind of confidence Daboll has shown.

Just because he's been in the National Football League for 13 seasons doesn't give license to the notion that he can be trusted at all times. He entered the league a year before Tim Couch was drafted by the Browns and has displayed Couchian tendencies when throwing the ball.

He's often late with his throws. Both interceptions in Sunday's victory over Carolina were classic examples. Had he thrown the ball a second or two earlier, neither pass would have been picked off and most likely would have wound up as a completion. His failure to trust his receivers is a causal factor. He seems to wait until his intended target makes his break before releasing the ball, thus giving the defender time to make an adjustment.

For example, Delhomme waited for Mo Massaquoi to complete a dig route to the right of the formation before sending a floater his way, enabling Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to easily step in front of the Browns receiver for an easy pick six early in the third quarter. If the ball is out on time, Massaquoi makes the grab.

Mistakes like that more than balance out Delhomme's 24-for-35, 245-yard afternoon. Ordinarily, those aren't bad stats, but throw in the two costly interceptions and you have a recipe for possible disaster. Gaffes like that shouldn't be tolerated.

Speaking of receivers, was that really Brian Robiskie making seven catches -- he was targeted seven times -- against the Panthers or did someone switch uniforms with him? Seven catches? That's almost as many (9) as he's caught up to this point of the season. The best part of his afternoon was that four of his grabs were for first downs. That's a stat that can't be stressed enough.

The fact Delhomme fleshed out Robiskie's talent as a wideout in the NFL definitely is a plus. Until now, all we could surmise is that Robiskie was good at going through the motions, but otherwise proved very little. It's nice to see the young man from Chagrin Falls finally step up when it counted. Now let's see what he can do against Miami, Buffalo and Cincinnati on the road.

All of a sudden, the next two games in Miami and Buffalo don't seem to be as easy as they were a couple of weeks ago. Quarterback Chad Henne is healthy again and playing well for the Dolphins. Only problem there is that the Dolphins have won just once in five home games this season while compiling a 5-1 record on the road. However, the Browns are 1-4 on foreign fields.

Buffalo, on the other hand, is playing its best ball of the season. Sunday at home, they should have beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime for their third straight victory. A dropped touchdown pass by Steve Johnson resuscitated the Steelers, who won later in OT. The Bills are not the pushovers they were a month ago.

There was some controversy over whether Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell should've been ruled inbounds following his catch with just seconds left in regulation Sunday. A replay showed LaFell made the catch and rolled out of bounds before being touched by Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown.

Brown attempted to touch LaFell before he made the catch, but his hand was clearly not touching the Panthers' wideout when the catch was made. As it turned out, the officials made the correct call to stop the clock. Had Brown been successful in touching LaFell before he rolled out of bounds with the ball, the clock would have continued to run, leaving no time for the Panthers to get John Kasay on the field for a field-goal attempt.

Props to punter Reggie Hodges, whose handling of a high snap enabled Phil Dawson to kick what turned out to be the game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter. It was one of the few bad snaps you'll ever see by Ryan Pontbriand, perhaps the most reliable long snapper in the NFL. In some ways, he's one of the team's most valuable players.

After watching Joe Haden against the Panthers, it's becoming evident why General Manager Tom Heckert Jr. made the cornerback the team's No. 1 selection in last April 's draft. He was on veteran Carolina wideout Steve Smith most of the afternoon and limited him to just two catches for 33 yards. He basically neutralized the former All-Pro.

And when it came to making solid tackles, Haden whiffed only once when Mike Goodson made that terrific run and catch as the Panthers scrambled to win the game in the last minute. Other than that, he showed the same toughness he displayed at the University of Florida.

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