Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Browns win?

I know I should abide by my own made-up rule that a win is a win, especially in Cleveland. But I just can't help tearing apart last night's 29-27 win (highlights) over the Bills. I just can't. First, those were two really bad teams playing each other last night. That's not to say that each side doesn't have individual talent... but when looking at the overall team aspect of football, the Browns and the Bills are equally bad. Good thing for us that it resulted in an entertaining (for reasons both good and bad) game on national TV. But if you really stop and think about it, this is what today's NFL has become. A bunch of teams that are pretty close in talent level, battling it out. How many really good teams would you say there are in this league? Three? Four?

There are so many things that you could criticize both the Browns and Bills for last night. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  • With Trent Edwards basically handing the game to the Browns in the first quarter with three interceptions, how do we only capitalize with two field goals? The Browns took possession on each drive at the Bills' 44, 40, and 10 yard lines. Six points? Really?
  • The Bills exploited the inexperience of Brady Quinn by consistently blitzing him. And linebacker Kawika Mitchell ran seemingly untouched through the Browns' line about a dozen times. Was anyone paying attention to him? Would it hurt to keep Jamal Lewis or Charles Ali as an extra blocker back there so Quinn doesn't get killed?
  • After Trent Edwards' awful start the Bills rightfully handcuffed him by only allowing him to throw the ball near the line of scrimmage for almost the entire remainder of the game. This meant that any pass was basically going to Marshawn Lynch. And of course the Browns couldn't tackle him to save their lives. How is an NFL team so inept at something as fundamental as proper tackling?
  • With Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson basically ripping the Browns' defense a new one, how did the Bills only rush 35 times? I would have handed off 50 times if I was them, especially considering how bad a QB Edwards is.
  • What was up with the Browns' play-calling when they kind of got into field goal range late in the fourth quarter. It was like they saw the imaginary line drawn on the field by Monday Night Football to indicate Phil Dawson's career-long field goal and decided that they were close enough right there. They followed it with three awful pass plays to the sideline, forcing Dawson to hammer home a 56-yard field goal with 1:44 left. Kudos to Phil for that kick (and his other four on the night) - as Doug Dieken said, "If Phil doesn't make the Pro Bowl this year, then no one deserves to be there."

Dawson was money from 56 yards on Monday night
  • In true Browns fashion, they decided to squib the ensuing kickoff and the Bills took over at their own 44. I know they were gunshy after the kickoff return for a touchdown earlier in the quarter, but come on.
  • Of course Trent Edwards made his one good throw of the night on that drive, getting the Bills into their own long field goal range at the Browns' 38. The the Bills decided to tear a page out of the Browns' playbook by playing it safe and opting for their own long field goal, except this one was going into the swirling wind.
  • Also on that drive, Romeo Crennel and the Browns' coaching staff made another really boneheaded move. After Edwards' one good pass there was about 1:15 left on the game clock and the Browns still had all three timeouts. Instead of calling one immediately after that play to preserve the clock in case the Bills made that field goal, Romeo decided to let the Bills run another play and then call a timeout, effectively losing another 20 seconds. Brilliant.
I'm sure there are other things I missed, but like I said these are just off the top of my head after a late night. And I didn't even mention the continued drops by Braylon Edwards, coupled with another procedure penalty against him as well. These are mistakes that a good football team just doesn't make. But thankfully the Bills aren't a good football team either. The saddest part of all of this is that without two epic fourth quarter collapses at home (where the Browns are 1-4) this team would now be at 6-4 fighting for a playoff spot, or maybe even the division title. Only in today's NFL...

There were some good things to take away from last night's game for the Browns, aside from a much-needed win. Jerome Harrison showed outstanding speed on his 72-yard TD run and again is making a case for more carries. Brady Quinn knows how to manage a game and avoid costly turnovers in just his second NFL start (he really should be 2-0 now). Despite his drops and mental errors, Braylon Edwards still was able haul in 8 catches for 104 yards. And I loved the play that Chud called with the 'Flash' package for the Josh Cribbs TD. More of that, please.

Cavs Update: The Cavaliers look to add on to their 7-game win streak when they face the Nets at 7:30 tonight in New Jersey. It will be the first of a tough back-to-back on the road before heading to Detroit tomorrow night. So it's imperative for the Cavs to try to get a win tonight. Mike Brown is ignoring the win streak in an effort to keep the team focused... LeBron isn't satisfied with just winning seven in a row... The team needs to be successful on the road and this will be a good test... You'll never guess who was again named Eastern Conference player of the week... And don't look now but there's a new #1 on NBA.com's latest power rankings. Uh-oh.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves because when you start thinking, 'We've got to take care of our road trip,' or 'We've got to handle this winning streak,' that feels like an enormous burden. If you just think, 'Let's go handle our business this next game,' to me that's simplistic and you go out there and do what you do and you have a chance to win if you do it right."
- Mike Brown