Right now, we're one of the worst teams in football. Potential wise, we remain the "best" of the worst teams in football, but that's not going to offer us any comfort when we're on the outside-looking-in again come January.
So, where should I go with the breakdown of this game? The Derek Anderson / Romeo Crennel replacement storylines are so hot right now, perhaps I can offer a take on some of the other issues that happened with the game. So, for the majority of this review, I'll try to hold off "extensive" discussion on Anderson / Crennel (save that for Wednesday's post):
Goat of the Game (Why God, Why?)
- Derek Anderson: It was truly a story of two halves for Derek Anderson. In the first half, he actually wasn't too bad -- both statistically and in making decisions. He was 9-of-16 passing for 101 yards and 1 touchdown, aiding the team to a 10-7 lead at halftime.
- ...(continued): Then, the second half was miserable. Anderson was 5-of-21 for 24 yards and 3 interceptions in the second half. What was the reason for the difference? If anything, you'd expect a poor first half to shake your confidence in the second half, and not vice-versa. Nonetheless, with a second half performance like that, Anderson's the only player you need to point the finger at to blame for this loss. Well, I could blame Donte Stallworth in a way too, but that's in more of a joking yet detailed manner I've yet to delve in to.
- Dave Zastudil: People may not remember it, but when we were backed up to our own 12-yard line, he only got off a 31-yard boot. The Ravens promptly drove 43 yards to tie the game at seven.
Awarding Game Balls (More Meaningless With Each Loss)
- Jerome Harrison: Why deprive him of a gameball just because the coaches don't give him more than one play? He capitalized on that one play too -- a 19-yard screen pass for our only touchdown in two weeks. Overall though, Romeo Crennel actually gave Harrison less of a workload than he did against the Steelers. Liar. And idiotic.
- Alex Hall: I didn't think he had an overpowering game, but the sole fact that he was recognized more than Kamerion Wimbley says a lot about how much Wimbley really is struggling. Hall had the Browns' only sack of the game on Joe Flacco as well.
RB Jerome Harrison scores the only touchdown of the game for Cleveland. Makes sense that it was his only play, though.
General Thoughts (Random Tidbits on the Game)
- We Should Have Won: Our defense wasn't great, but the unit played well enough to win (until the backups were inserted into the game). They were also opportunistic, picking off the rookie quarterback twice in the first half as I anticipated would happen. Anderson handicapped our defense 14 points.
- Recognition on Trick Play: The Ravens tried to run a variation of the fleaflicker on a play that ended up being Flacco's second interception of the day. He pitched the ball to Willie McGahee, who slowly ran to the sideline without even coming close to selling a run, and then tossed the ball all the way back to Flacco, who then wound up and launched a rocket down into the end zone. Mike Adams came away with the ball, and although the Ravens executed the play poorly, I still credit our young / depleted secondary for being all over it.
- Edwards Still Struggles: I don't recall him having a drop, but I still wouldn't call it a step forward for him. On his second reception, he bobbled the ball about four times before finally securing it against his chest. That's not what you want to do against a hard-hitting defense over the middle. Edwards may or may not have been partially at fault for Anderson's second and third picks, but either way he didn't do a good job at shielding the defender.
- Not The Cribbs We Know: On kick returns, Joshua Cribbs isn't Joshua Cribbs right now, and I'm not just saying that because he's not busting 30-yard returns every time. He only averaged 17.3 yard a pop on 3 attempts against Baltimore, and wind wasn't a factor this week. He doesn't seem to be accelerating through a hole like he did last year. Instead, he's doing more shifting, which is easily allowing defenders to catch up with him. Now, that could be due to worse blocking on special teams than last year, but probably not.
- Cribbs' Other Aspects: He still looks solid on covering kicks, and I don't understand why he's not playing receiver over Syndric Steptoe. He had a nice effort on the team's first catch of the game, and then made a terrific diving one-handed attempt on an overthrown Anderson pass in the second half. If he would've caught that, it would've been all over SportsCenter.
- Stover's Miss: What? Matt Stover missed a kick against us? I'm shocked. Of course, it had no bearing on the outcome of the game, unfortunately.
- Lewis' Carries: Should we have given more carries to Jamal Lewis? That also seems to be a hot topic, though I think the reaction has been a little overboard. Any way you look at it, to control a game, we need a balanced passing and rushing attack. Even if we gave Lewis more touches to start the second half, we still would've needed Anderson in third-down situations, and he didn't appear capable of anything in the second half. On the same note, once we went down by three scores, running the ball against a defense that is still pretty good will only burn off time we can't afford to waste.
- Vickers' Hot Start: I thought Lawrence Vickers had a hot start to the game. Like Harrison though, if it works, "let's not go to it". Instead, let's watch Anderson throw ten incomplete passes toward the direction of Kellen Winslow.
- Speaking of Which: Who is to blame for Anderson's first interception? Although he took a shot, I do blame Kellen Winslow for not holding onto the ball. We're in need of playmakers right now, and tight plays like that are desperately needed. DBN reader "rufio" said it best in the gameday topic though, on why it didn't make sense on Anderson / Chudzinski's part: "Why was DA throwing at McAllister and R.Lewis when Rolle and Landry are out!"
- Thomas Struggled: Maybe in the first half, we held things together. For the entire game though, I saw Joe Thomas struggle in recognizing where the rusher was coming from off the start (unless the play calls were just so bad that they told Thomas to stay there). Eric Steinbach was sorely missed, not only because his absence had adverse effects on Thomas, but because Seth McKinney looked awful. Rex Hadnot wasn't very good either, as the offensive line gave up a total of five sacks.
- Brownies: I saw Shantee Orr burst through with a nice tackle at least once...though I gave Hall a game ball, Brodney Pool had a very nice performance in my book for the second straight week...Phil Dawson is going to have more points than the rest of our team combined pretty soon.
The Browns are all over the Ravens' fleaflicker attempt, as DB Mike Adams comes away with the interception.
Hardly any teams have ever made the postseason after starting the season at 0-3. I don't look at those statistics though -- wins can still be strung together, and a record of 9-7 certainly isn't out of the question (which could win the division).
For every loss we put on the board though, we dig ourselves into a bigger hole. At some point, something has to chance to dig us out of that hole. Will that be Anderson getting back into a groove? Or, will it be Brady Quinn getting his crack at the job? That's what we'll find out over the next few weeks.