Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Same old Browns.
OK, everyone, put your hands down.
Season opener. The opponent: The Cincinnati Bengals, one of the worst teams in the National Football League.
Home field advantage.
New coach, new culture, new season, a new beginning. And yet . . .
The same result.
The Browns, looking more like a team with a glazed look in its eye, were outhustled, outplayed and outcoached most of the afternoon in a 27-17 loss.
They enter week two of the season in a nice, cozy and all-to-familiar place: The basement of the AFC North.
Twelve home openers in the last 13 seasons have yielded a grand total of only one victory. This is getting ridiculous.
Same old Browns.
When next season’s schedule is announced next spring, the Browns should immediately notify the NFL that there is only one course of action: Forfeit the opening game.
If their performance Sunday against the Bengals is a portent of things to come, this is going to a much longer and extremely aggravating season through which to negotiate. It’s going to be downright nasty.
We don’t know if this loss was an aberration because it’s way too early to get a handle on how a Pat Shurmur-coached team plays. One game does not mean the next 15 will go the same way.
But it was quite evident this team was not ready to play a meaningful football game on offense. With the exception of a five-minute period midway in the second quarter, Colt McCoy wasn’t the brash quarterback who sparkled in the exhibition season.
Courtesy of a porous offensive line, he was the harassed and battered quarterback. And when he did have time, which wasn’t often enough, he badly missed targets. And 4-for-15 on third down ain’t gonna cut it.
The defense didn’t play that badly for the first three and a half quarters, but did manage to make second-string quarterback Bruce Gradkowski look good late in the game. And that’s not easy to do.
It looked as though all 11 defenders took a Sominex snooze with four and a half minutes left in the game when Gradkowski and rookie wide receiver A.J. Green hooked up on a 41-yard touchdown pass to give the Bengals the lead at 20-17.
No one had the common sense or presence of mind to call a timeout when the Bengals lined up quickly on a third-and-12 at the Cleveland 41. No one was lined up anywhere near where he should have been at the snap.
There was a complete communications breakdown that led to what will certainly be one of the easiest touchdowns of the season. Whatever excuses the Browns offer to explain the blown coverage should fall on deaf ears.
It should never have happened. The Browns were caught asleep at a time when the opposite should have been the case.
Same old Browns.
Somehow, they almost always find a way to lose. This one won’t rival Dwayne Rudd’s famous helmet toss in the 2002 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, but it might wind up in the top five.
All in all, it was not the kind of performance most fans expected from this team.
Quick thoughts: If Richmond McGee wants to keep his job as the Browns punter, he had better get better in a hurry. Two shanks in eight punts with a 36-yard average won’t keep him employed much longer. . . . Middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson had a fabulous game. Eleven tackles, 10 solo, with two sacks and a hurry. It’s nice to see what he can do when the defensive line keeps him clean. . . . Ditto for cornerback Joe Haden, who had an incredible five passes defensed and a sack. . . . Credit Joshua Cribbs with kick-starting a Cleveland offense that looked as though it was playing in a mud bog in its first three possessions. His 52-yard kickoff return after the Bengals took a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter was the precursor to a four-play, 57-yard scoring drive that got the Browns back in the game. . . . Eleven penalties for 72 yards is a statistic usually reserved for bad teams, undisciplined teams. Those were the Browns totals against the Bengals. Draw your own conclusions. . . . Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, a rookie, looked more like a seasoned pro in the first 30 minutes, working behind the huge Cincinnati offensive line. He was hardly touched before exiting with a wrist injury late in the second quarter. . . . Think Peyton Hillis doesn’t miss Lawrence Vickers? Seventeen carries for 57 yards against an average defense. Rookie fullback Owen Marecic has a lot of ground to make up if Hillis is to replicate last season. . . . Good news dept: Montario Hardesty ran the ball five times and managed to get up after each of those carries. That, indeed, is good news. . . . Are McCoy’s hands big enough to hold on to a football? Twice against the Bengals the ball slipped from his hand before his arm moved forward. Hmmmm.