Monday, October 25, 2010

Didn't See That One Coming...

What a strange league the current NFL is. And as long-suffering Browns fans, we should know that more than any other fan base. This team seems to have an uncanny knack at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Entering yesterday afternoon's game in New Orleans, the floundering Browns yet again found themselves with an embarrassing 1-5 record. I lamented the fact that they basically gave away the first two games of the season - losses in Tampa and then at home against the Chiefs. Those were basically must-win games for these Browns, especially considering their brutal 2010 schedule. Yet the hapless Browns found a way again to squander the opportunity for a respectable record and instead were in their all-too familiar position in the cellar of the AFC North.

So why even bother to watch the carnage that was sure to ensue yesterday in New Orleans? Because we are Browns fans. And for once we were finally rewarded with that rare game when everything just seems to go right. How else can you explain their improbable 30-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champions? It was a game they should have had no business winning, but instead they won it going away, with no chance of any fourth quarter collapse this time around. And it was actually fun to watch.

Sure it took some trickery and a few gadget plays. But that's what desperate teams need to do - find a way to win, in any manner possible. And the Browns surely did that yesterday, from the moment they got their hands on the Saints' first punt. I loved the ballsy special teams call there to have Josh Cribbs find Eric Wright on that beautiful cross-field pass. And the play nearly worked to perfection, with only a shoestring tackle preventing a touchdown. The 68-yard fake punt call and then the 4th quarter direct-snap from Peyton Hillis to a wide-open Colt McCoy (on a crucial 3rd down, no less) were also brilliant calls.

The defensive strategy employed by coordinator Rob Ryan also should be applauded. They had Drew Brees confused all-day long, resulting in four interceptions (there honestly could have been at least two more that were dropped). It resulted in a banner day for David Bowens, who got to return two of those interceptions for touchdowns. And Scott Fujita was used perfectly against his former team. Kudos to the entire Browns coaching staff. They severely their opponents in this game and deserve much of the credit for what is surely the biggest win in the 21-game Mangini Era thus far.

Now I'm not naive enough to think that this will become the norm. A lot of things went right for the Browns in this one and it became the perfect storm that eventually overwhelmed the Saints. But this could be a victory to build on. The Browns are obviously much-improved over last season, and until yesterday had nothing to show for it. They now need to start learning how to win. They have the bye week to prepare for even bigger things - hosting the Patriots and then the Jets. Mangini obviously has those games circled on his calendar. Let's just hope the Browns didn't use up all their good karma yesterday.

Random Notes: I honestly didn't think there would be any chance of a quarterback controversy this season, but I guess I forgot this is the Browns we're talking about. With the next game not until November 7, there is a chance the team could have all three quarterbacks healthy again. So if and when that happens, who gets the starting nod? I say it has to be McCoy. He has shocked me with his poise so far and I don't think he has done anything that warrants turning away from him. The team needs to figure out what to do with this position before the draft. McCoy deserves an extended look to help figure out where the team is headed... I love the fact that the coaching staff tried to get Eric Wright involved in a positive play right off the bat yesterday. But it still doesn't change the fact that he is being severely exploited by opposing offenses. Wright's downward spiral this year is dismaying to say the least. And his tackling is horrific. I've rewound a couple plays the past two weeks just to verify his poor tackling effort... I can't believe another Cavs season is just just two days away. My eighth as a season ticket-holder, and obviously first without LeBron. I'm eager to get the post-LBJ era underway and the betrayal behind us. I will probably have some Cavs-related stuff here on Wednesday.

1 comment:

Ryan Moeller said...

I'm sure you have but rewind it and watch Hodges juke Lance Moore. Moore missed by about 20 feet, it was incredible!