Sunday, October 28, 2018

Enough already

How bad do the Browns have to get before James Haslam III and his wife pull the plug on this abject misery? Aren’t the most ardent and emotionally abused fans in professional football being punished enough?

After Sunday’s embarrassment – did you really expect anything different? – against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one has to wonder just what it will take to get rid of the stench that occupies the office of head coach.

The National Football League season is half over and the Browns are regressing at a rate faster than whatever progress they made in the first few games after a 33-18 loss to the Steelers that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates.

The victory, their 15th straight over the Browns at home, was just another study in domination by the Steelers that has turned this once-bitter and ruggedly contested rivalry into a joke.

Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who all but promised fans they would see a different coach in Hue Jackson after he led their team to the most embarrassing back-to-back seasons in NFL history, are flat out wrong about Jackson.

If they cannot see that this team, the one put together by General Manager John Dorsey and poorly coached by a man who has no business being a head coach of any football team, let alone one that gets paid to be this bad, then they need to see an ophthalmologist pronto.

An eye doctor? Why? Because they don’t see what all of their constituents, those people who pay good money to watch a product that cries for coaching help, see on a weekly basis. Their patience is worn thin  Some of them have not only lost patience, they have lost interest.

Apathy, the greatest and most dangerous opponent to owners of professional sports franchises, is rearing its ugly head again, especially after the way the Browns have performed the last three weeks.

Optimists would say it's only three games. Chill. Pessimists would then point to the schedule that shows the Browns hosting Kansas City and Atlanta in the new two weeks, two of the most potent offenses in the NFL.

Many fans sensed a comeback of significant proportions for this decades-long moribund franchise after the Browns racked up a 2-2-1 record, which was monumental in and of itself considering what had unfolded the previous two seasons.

And then three consecutive embarrassing losses arrived, each one indicating that progress was merely a hope, a wish that was not being fulfilled. The club was once again falling into bad habits, most of which spelled L-O-S-S.

The bandwagon that began filling up after the first five games when the Browns actually looked decent on both sides of the football is now in the throes of a mass exit.

What Browns fans have witnessed the last three Sundays looks suspiciously like the last two seasons when the offense was extremely offensive, and not in a good way, and the defense was not very defensive, also not in a good way.

The latest loss, their 25th straight on the road, is a perfect example of the problems that have strangled this team since an impressive start that was ruined by questionable – no, make that bad – coaching at the top.

The Browns jumped out to a 6-0 lead after one quarter – no, they’re still looking for their initial first-quarter touchdown of the half-gone season – on a pair of Greg Joseph field goals, one after a Derrick Kindred pick near midfield late in the quarter.

The defense, meanwhile, held the Steelers to only 18 total yards and no first downs on the first three possessions, punctuated by Myles Garrett’s sack of Ben Roethlisberger in the final minute. At this point felt, they felt pretty good about themselves.

And then they played the second quarter. That’s when the real Steelers offense and real Cleveland defense showed up.

The Steelers, who ran just nine plays that gained only seven total yards and took 5:35 off the clock in the first 15 minutes, owned the football for just two possessions in the quarter, taking more than nine minutes off the clock while scoring 14 points.

After Joseph missed a third field goal badly, Roethlisberger needed just six plays to move the Steelers 69 yards, connecting with Antonio Brown from 43 yards all alone down the left sideline for the score, thanks in large part to a blown coverage by Kindred, who failed to pick up Brown in deep zone coverage.

That was followed by the drive that exposed a whipped Cleveland defense that all but collapsed after ex-Brown Joe Haden picked off Baker Mayfield with 7:20 left in the first half.

Playing ball control football the way it is diagrammed followed. It was a clinic by the Pittsburgh offense in dispiriting a Cleveland defense that just couldn’t get off the field and handcuffed its struggling offense to the bench.

James Conner, who destroyed the Browns in the season-opening 21-21 tie, touched the ball half the time during the seven-plus minute possession and gained 38 of the 87 yards in a 16-play drive that ended with another Roethlisberger-Brown connection from a yard out.

Browns cornerback Damarious Randall was tardy as he leaped up for what would have been a 92-yard pick six had he been successful, the pass passing his waiting hands a fraction too late.

By the time the second half started, the Cleveland defense was gassed, the pass rush vanished and Roethlisberger, who completed nine straight passes in the second quarter, had all kinds of time to pick and choose his targets against a weary secondary.

In addition, Conner and his offensive line was just getting started. The second-year back chugged for 146 yards on the ground, mostly in the second half, as Browns defenders flailed at him meekly with harmless arm tackles and halfhearted tackle attempts.

The second-year back, who has Steelers fans not missing contract holdout Le’Veon Bell in the least, added 66 more yards through the air for a 212-yard afternoon and a pair of touchdowns.

Of the two Browns touchdowns, one was an outright gift and the other came in garbage time when the game was clearly headed for the loss column and padding statistics is generally the norm.

After the Steelers were awarded a safety when rookie offensive tackle Desmond Harrison was caught holding in the end zone, they allowed Browns punter Britton Colquitt’s free kick to roll free. The Browns recovered at the Pittsburgh 24 and scored in four plays.

It took two Pittsburgh pass interference penalties in the end to prolong the short drive, Antonio Callaway making a nice one-arm grab for the touchdown while his other arm was held by safety Terrell Edmunds. After Joseph missed the extra point, the Steelers had a deceiving 16-12 lead,

They scored on three of their next four possessions, pushing the score to 33-12 with little trouble and Conner in charge. He gained 60 of the Steelers’ 75 yards in the ensuing possession, scoring untouched from 12 yards out, and 53 of the 65 yards two drives later, punctuating his afternoon with a 22-yard scoring burst.

Overall, this was a typical Browns-Steelers outcome as Roethlisberger upped his record to 23-2-1 against Cleveland and the Steelers pushed their record against the Browns since 1999 to 34-6-1.

This is what the Haslams have been rewarded with since proclaiming their faith in Jackson to be a different coach for this football team. You’ll see, they seemed to say confidently.

Well, if this is different, it’s time for a new face to take the blame for games and seasons like Jackson has provided.

The Cavaliers had the temerity Sunday to fire their coach after six games, a coach who brought them a league championship a couple of years ago.

Will the Haslams follow suit with a coach who comes nowhere close to what Ty Lue did for Cleveland?

Probably not. But there is always hope.


  1. Time for Haslams to sell. We are being subjected to this clown show because Dee Haslam is infatuated with nice guy Hue Jackson. Its obviously blinding her to his ineptitude as a coach. Jimmy has already proved he has no clue, so there's no point even even mentioning him.

  2. Scratch that, they finally did something right. Now if they just get out of the way and let Dorsey pick the next HC it'll be a step in the right direction.

  3. Welcome back.

    Dorsey will get to choose his own man with Haslam's blessings, of course. Check out my latest posting about whom I hope is Dorsey's choice. It's near the bottom after I am done chiding Haslam.