The Cleveland Browns won a football game yesterday.
It’s also possible that Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected president, My female family members donated their nylons to the war effort, and prohibition was finally overturned.
Was I magically teleported to the pre-1950 United States? I don’t think so, because I was able to watch the Browns game yesterday in color on this fancy doohickey called a computer thanks to something all the kids are calling the internet. The other more obvious proof that I was still in the year 2011 was Seattle’s uniforms. Seriously, they’re still rolling out onto the field each week with those greenish/blue monstrosities? Regardless, what I watched bore no resemblance to football in the year 2011 and probably set professional football back 60 years… at least. Knute Rockne, inventor and first implementor of a forward passing offense, is rolling over in his grave as we speak. Continue reading
Much talk has been made about the future of the Browns given what we have seen on the field so far this season. Despite the Browns record of 5-8 there is no doubt that the product on the field has been much more entertaining than what we have witnessed in recent years. A lot of this is due in part to the emergence of certain players in different positions, Colt McCoy, Peyton Hillis, Joe Haden etc. The overwhelming question remaining despite all of this improvement is, “Will Eric Mangini be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2011?”
It’s definitely an interesting topic for debate. One could argue that the Browns have not made the type of significant strides that warrant a third year for the Eric Mangini era. On the flip side, you can also argue that given the massive overhaul being carried out by Mangini, there is a huge skill and talent disparity between the Browns and their opponents each week. Both statements hold merit. I could make a strong case for either side of the coin and quite frankly I have formulated my own opinion on the subject after listening to all of the back and forth on the local talk shows and in the papers. But before I get into what I think here are both of the arguments, at least how I see them. Continue reading
One step forward, three steps back. That has been the mantra of the Cleveland Browns since their return in 1999. Yesterday was no different, as the Browns fell to the Jaguars 24-20.
Quite frankly this was a game the Browns should have won. In fact, they had no business losing. Despite forcing the Jaguars into six turnovers, the Browns allowed them to stay in the game, the main reason being that the Browns couldn’t take advantage of the extra opportunities. No team should lose a game while winning the turnover battle by five.
The problem all day was the lack of efficiency by the Browns on offense. While managing to move the ball with consistency during the first half, things went stagnant after half time. In many ways this game had a striking resemblance to the opening day game against Tampa Bay. A lack of second half adjustments led to three and out after three an out. This inability to generate any type of offensive output also failed to run any time off of the clock. All Jacksonville had to do was bide their time and wait for the chance to strike. That chance happened with less than two minutes left in the game.
Maurice Jones-Drew woke up and carried a screen pass all the way to the Browns half yard line. He would eventually punch it in to give the Jaguars the lead for good. The Browns had enough time left to make something happen. McCoy led a charge down the field, but in one last act of desperation, threw an interception into the end zone. Game, set, match.
The biggest fault I could find with the Browns was their inability to generate an effective running game. Peyton Hillis was only able to muster up 48 yard on 21 carriers. Jacksonville is not one of the elite run stopping teams in the league so there was no reason for kind of poor performance. Hillis wasn’t helped at all by the lack of creativity in the offensive play calling. Over the past few weeks we have seen trick plays and creative formations. This week there was none of that and as a result the offense stalled.
Colt McCoy had another strong performance as the quarterback of the Browns. He was able to put up solid numbers and showed good mobility in the pocket. More importantly, he continued to look like a leader on the field. As McCoy has grown more confident he has shown more of that “it” quality and the ability to lead men. This is something that all of the other elite quarterbacks in the league are able to do. This is a promising development in what is hopefully a turn in the right direction.
However, as mentioned, the story of the game was the Browns defense. They were able to put pressure on David Garrard all game long, forcing him into four turnovers. Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for the other two. The only real mistake all game was their inability to tackle Jones-Drew on his gallop towards the end zone in the waning minutes of the games. Then again, had the Browns been able to convert any of their turnover into points this would have been a moot point. By failing to convert turnovers into points the Browns wasted a truly one of a kind defensive performance.
Did we find what we were looking for?
- Can Peyton Hillis take advantage of Jacksonville’s 21st ranked rush defense and dominate once again. The success of the Browns’ offense is directly related to how well “The Juggernaut” is running the ball. No… Hillis was impressive catching the ball out of the back field, but was unable to punish the Jaguars on the ground and as a result, the Browns lost.
- How will Colt McCoy deal with his ever-growing popularity and success? McCoy has done well against 4 elite teams. How will he fair against a middle of the road team? He played well, 17-28 for 241 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he was unable to guide the team to scores in the second half and put the game away. This was truly a bittersweet performance.
- Going along with #2, how will the rest of the team perform against a middle of the road team? The Browns should win this game. So far this year it appears they perform better when they’re expected to lose. Let’s see how they handle the new-found pressure. This was a repeat of week one. There was no reason whatsoever why the Browns should have lost this game. Plain and simple they could get it done versus a lower tier team.
- Can the Eric Wright play the type of game we all thought he could play when he was drafted? He’s been burned repeatedly all year and gave up the winning touchdown against the Jets. Will he bounce back or is his confidence completely shot at this point? Eric Wright hurt his knee early in the game, so we’ll never really know. What we do know is that Joe Haden, TJ Ward, Sheldon Browns, and Abe Elam played swarming defense all game long. The picked the ball off, forced fumbles, and showed a level of physicality we haven’t seen in a long while.
- Jacksonville won last week on a miraculous Hail Mary pass in the final seconds. Can they capitalize and build on that type of momentum or will this game serve as a letdown the Browns can take advantage of. They sure did try to make this a letdown game. Unfortunately the Browns couldn’t take advantage of the several Jacksonville mistakes. If the Jaguars are able to make the playoffs they will certainly point to this game and last week’s against Houston as the turning point of their season.