12-01-2008, 08:16 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
| | Damp, miserable, uncomfortable --- it's not the weather, it's the Browns
Not this lost season, where the Browns aren't just 4-8 after Sunday's 10-6 loss to the Colts.
They are 1-6 at home.
It wasn't just the dishwater gray skies, the dismal drizzle and about 20,000 empty orange seats that led to the general gloom hanging over the franchise. It's that the fans can't even watch Brady Quinn (broken finger), who is out for the season, while Derek Anderson went down with a knee injury with 1:07 left in the game.
"It didn't look good, I'm not encouraged," said coach Romeo Crennel.
Suddenly, we're in the Ken Dorsey Era? Crennel said he may be starting next week at Tennessee. This is ridiculous, especially for the fans who have been investing so many dollars and so much of their emotional bank accounts into this franchise. If you're a Browns fan and you're mad, no one can blame you. If you're a Browns fan and you suddenly don't care anyone -- that also is a reasonable reaction, but it's one that should scare Owner Randy Lerner.
Such a reaction explains all those empty seats in the fourth quarter of last week's 16-6 loss to Houston, and how they remained vacant from the opening kickoff of Sunday's game. The Browns have become such a disappointment, that people who bought tickets don't even bother to show up -- and sometimes, can't even give them away.
A year ago, the team was 10-6 overall, a stunning 7-1 at home and truly appeared to give the customers some reason to believe that 2008 would at least be, what?
Instead, we have this.
A team that is 4-8 and didn't get here by accident. On Sunday, it was a team with nothing to lose, yet it played not to lose. Running back Jamal Lewis complained about the play calling of offensive Rob Chudzinski after the Houston loss. So Lewis went from 10 carries to 24 on Sunday, but it wasn't working as he gained a mere 77 yards (3.2 average).
Running the ball against the Colts is a good idea, as they ranked 25th defending the rush. But Lewis seemed slow to hit the holes, and had trouble breaking loose.
Remember Jerome Harrison, the backup averaging 8.8 yards per carry? The guy who has had runs of 12, 72 and 16 yards in each of the last three games -- with a total of 15 carries for 159 yards?
Well, forget him. At least the Browns did.
Harrison carried the ball twice in the first half (six total yards), and never touched it again after the half. Maybe he was on the field in the final two quarters, but I never noticed him.
What I did see was Chudzinski worried about Anderson throwing an interception, so he called for one short pass after another. It was a game plan more suited to a mid-range passer such as Quinn than a long-bomber like Anderson.
Yes, running was the best approach. Yes, going for broke through the air against the Colts is difficult, because they have allowed only four touchdown passes all season. But Anderson threw so many short passes -- and let's face it, his touch on those is often shaky.
Despite a game plan determined to prevent Anderson from making a game-deciding mistake, he still did that when he was sacked with 9:45 left, fumbled and the Colts' Rob Mathis picked up the ball and ran 37 yards for the only touchdown of the game.
Crennel said he considered challenging, that Anderson may have been throwing the ball as he fumbled -- and the pass would be ruled incomplete. But the coach said word from the coaches in the press box was that the play looked like a fumble.
Suddenly a 6-3 lead became a 10-6 loss.
The Browns have not scored a touchdown in their last two home games. They have scored only two touchdowns in the third quarter all season. They entered the day ranking 29th in scoring in the red zone, and this day certainly didn't change that distressing statistic.
In five of 12 games this season, the Browns have scored fewer than 12 points. They entered the day ranked 27th on offense, and at least some of that has to be blamed on the coaching.
The frustrating part of this season is identical 10-6 losses at home to Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. At 1-6, they are on their way to one of their worst home records ever -- they were 0-8 at home in the expansion year of 1999, but at least Chris Palmer's team beat Pittsburgh, 16-15, on the road.
The Browns have one more home game -- Dec. 21 against the toothless Bengals. But there may be more than a few good seats available.