Sunday, November 29, 2009

Final score misleading - Bengals dominate

Now we know for sure; the Browns offense looked good last week because the Lions defense is awful.

The Browns that lost, 16-7, to the Bengals today looked a lot like the Browns of the first nine games; they had trouble moving the ball on offense and they did not stop the Bengals from running the ball. Carson Palmer threw only 24 passes and completed 13 for 110 yards, but he did not have to throw the ball because the Bengals ran so effectively.

The Browns did not turn the ball over, but they dropped enough passes, at least five in critical situations, to stall drives without turning the ball over. On one drive late in the game Greg Estandia dropped a pass and three plays later Jerome Harrison dropped one.

As the game went along the Browns lost four starters on defense - safety Brodney Pool, end Kenyon Coleman, nose tackle Shaun Rogers and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. The injuries to Pool (concussion) and Rogers (ankle) are the most serious.

The Browns can expect the last five opponents to copy the Bengals; blitz and don't worry about the consequences and run the ball down the throat of the Browns defense. That's what the Bengals did, and the Browns were powerless to stop them.

Bengals injuries help Browns

The Browns got some good news when the inactive lists were announced; Bengals running back Cedric Benson and linebacker Keith Rivers won't play today.

No significant players are on the Browns inactive list, unless you want to count tight end Robert Royal or rookie wide receiver Brian Robiskie. But Robiskie has only one catch through 10 games, so he isn't missed. Then again, if Robiskie cannot make the active roster on a 1-9 team it doesn't say much for taking him with the 36th pick in the draft.

The Browns want to play spoilers today. Not many reporters in the press box think they have much of a chance. If the Browns do lose they will fall to 0-5 in the AFC North. That doesn't mean anything in the standings for this year, but it is a reflection on how much they have to improve to be a contender in the future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Harrison inactive

Jerome Harrison, in the final year of his first contract, is on the inactive list just announced by the Browns. Whether that means he is fading from the picture for the Browns will become more clear in the next couple games.

Harrison has always been a fan favorite, but the coaches have never found a niche for him. Brian Daboll is his fourth offensive coordinator in four years, so obviously the coaches view him differently than fans do. Rookie Chris Jennings, on the practice squad of Montreal in the CFL when the Browns opened training camp, is backing up Jamal Lewis today.

I am the only one on press row who thinks the Browns are going to win today. I do not anticipate an explosion by the Browns offense, but I look for takeaways by the defense that will turn the tide for the Browns.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What boycott?

The planned and much publicized boycott of the beginning of the Browns-Ravens game tonight did not create the impression its organizers hoped it would. The plan was for fans to stay in the concourse of Cleveland Browns Stadium for the opening kickoff and then move to their seats for the first play. Some fans honored the protest, but the stadium looked like it usually does in the at the beginning of the game with pockets of empty seats, particularly in the club seats.

Another myth was shattered. There was speculation Jamal Lewis would be benched for challenging Coach Eric Mangini's practice methods last week. Lewis not only started - he gained 14 yards on the Browns first offensive play.

The Browns came out fired up and stopped the Ravens without a first down on Baltimore's first possession. When the Browns were on offense they failed to convert on their first third down chance - an end around by Mohamed Massaquoi in the Wildcat. For those keeping track, that makes the Browns 6 of 32 on third down with Brady Quinn at quarterback.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Browns need this bye

Starting on Thursday the Browns start a four day vacation. Even Coach Eric Mangini plans to take some time off to be with his family.

If ever a team needed a bye, it's the Browns. Team Turmoil tried to make this a normal week, and on the practice field it usually is. It is during the 22 hours of the day when they aren't practicing that the weird stuff happens.

Mangini says he is undecided about his starting quarterback for the rest of the season. He plans to make a decision early next week. Whether the Browns will have a general manager by then is anybody's guess. It really doesn't matter forthe immediate future, because whoever is hired for that job isn't going to turn this team around in eight weeks.

Mangini had a good track record after the bye. Last year his team was 6-1 following the bye until Brett Favre suffered an arm injury. Even in 2007 when the Jets were 4-12 they won two of three after the bye. In 2006 they were 6-2 after the bye.

The Browns have eight games left. Mangini might need a finish like that to save his job.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Browns looked hopeless

This is worse than the expansion year - much worse. That team was made of rag-tag players no one else wanted. This team is built with high priced free agents acquired to make up for poor drafting.

Can Randy Lerner blow up the coaching staff again after just one year? He says he has a lot to think about after losing 30-6 to the Bears on Sunday.

The quarterback situation is a bigger mess than ever. Derek Anderson got pulled and replaced by Brady Quinn, whom Eric Mangini replaced after two and a half games. Mangini looks desperate.

Jamal Lewis is ready to retire.

If ever a team needed a bye, it's the Browns. But don't expect it to be different in two weeks.

Pool gets benched

Ths is the Browns last game before the bye, and Coach Eric Mangini is using it to send a message to his team for the rest of the season: Make a major blunder and earn a seat on the bench.

Last week Brodney Pool didn't just miss a tackle. He was flat-footed as Donald Driver ran by him on the way to a 71-yard touchdown. Consequently, Mike Adams is starting for Pool today. It isn't the only lineup change, either. Rex Hadnot is starting at right guard in place of Floyd Womack.

Two other changes are injury related. Steve Heiden is at tight end after missing two games with a knee injury and kicker Phil Dawson is back after missing five games with a calf injury.

Eric Mangini, at 1-6, is fighting for his job. He doesn't have a lot to work with, but holding the players accountable is a good way to get them going.