Browns Offense Struggles, Roster Becomes Depleted in 16-7 Loss to Bengals

CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-10) WEEK 12 CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-3)
VS.
7 16


After the promising game the Browns offense had versus the Detroit Lions a few weeks ago, this past Sunday's effort against the Cincinnati Bengals was another disappointment in a dismal 1-10 season.

Considering the number of players now being stockpiled on the injured reserve, the tone of certain parts of this review had to be adapted to account for that (i.e. it's not worth pointing out that Jamal Lewis had a lackluster game considering his career is basically over).

Let's get to the full review of the game, starting with the goat of the game...

WEEK 12 - CLEVELAND BROWNS VS. CINCINNATI BENGALS (COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)

GOATS OF THE GAME:

  • Mohamed Massaquoi: The lack of chemistry between a quarterback and a receiver can indicate that both players are at fault, but I'm giving Massaquoi more of the blame here. For several weeks, Quinn has quickly released the ball to a spot when a blitzer comes free. The ball typically gets thrown to an area where a receiver isn't standing. Instead, we usually see Massaquoi running up the field.

    When a blitzer is coming free, and considering the fact that not many plays are designed for Quinn to even attempt to throw the ball long, Massaquoi needs to have hit eyes on the quarterback sooner in third down situations. I forget which game it was following ours on Sunday, but I saw a blitzer come at the quarterback, who promptly threw a 10-yard out route to the sideline. The receiver began looking at about 7 yards and quickly made the adjustment for a nice catch, negating the blitz. For the targets Massaquoi is getting, he needs to be more aware of the situations.

AWARDING GAME BALLS:

  • Matt Roth: He could end up being a complete bust who was only productive because the Bengals didn't expect to have to prepare for him. I'll look at the optimistic side of things though. Early on against the Bengals, Roth made a quick name for himself by bullrushing (was it the right tackle?) right into Carson Palmer for the sack. Later on, he also added pressure via the bullrush that led to a negative play for Palmer and the Bengals. Being low on the waiver wire has its benefits I guess, eh?

GENERAL THOUGHTS

    Capt
    The Browns' receivers only found some success on a few quick reads from the slot.
  1. Gashed on the Ground: Although our defense only allowed 16 points, we were gashed left and right on the ground by Larry Johnson and Bernard Scott. Johnson had 107 yards on the ground while Scott added an additional 87 yards. The Bengals' primary backs with Cedric Benson on the bench had a total of 40 carries. In comparison, Jamal Lewis had just 11 carries.

  2. Quick Reads: The only times that our quick-read passes seemed to work came when receivers lined up in the slot formation. As they took off from the line of scrimmage, Quinn fired it just beyond the reach of the defender in coverage and into the arms of our receivers. Those plays are effective for catch-and-runs, although none of our players could take full advantage of the YAC portion.

  3. The Touchdown Drive: Besides our first offensive drive of the game, the one in which the Browns scored a touchdown on what was really the only memorable one of the game.
  4. The Specifics of the Drive (Part 1): The first notable play of the drive, keeping Brady Quinn on the field while Joshua Cribbs was in the wildcat actually served a purpose. Cribbs rolled out to the right and then set his feet to the left before heaving about a 20-yard pass to Quinn. While the pass wasn't "perfect in stride," it was close enough. The defender did a good job trying to break up the pass, and in turn, Quinn made a more impressive catch than most of our receivers have made this year.

  5. The Specifics of the Drive (Part 2): Right after that, Quinn threw a quick pass to Massaquoi's back shoulder...and Massaquoi was actually looking for it! Massaquoi made a diving grab on the 10-yard pass. In case the ball hit the ground, to prevent the Bengals from challenging the play, the offense raced to the line of scrimmage and immediately snapped the ball. Quinn handed off to Lewis, who took the defense by surprise with a 6-yard burst up the middle.

  6. The Specifics of the Drive (Part 3): Three plays later, on second-and-goal from the nine, the Browns lined up with five receivers wide. The formation made sense actually, because after snapping the ball, Quinn took off up the middle and pretty much entered the end zone untouched for the touchdown.

  7. False Hope: In one drive, Brian Daboll unloaded his entire creative playbook of the season. That brought us to within one score of taking the lead at 13-7, which was great news considering a lot of time was left in the second half. After giving up the field goal, things went downhill again for the offense, as described below.
  8. Why Did We Punt?: Down two possessions in the fourth quarter, our offense really couldn't afford to punt anymore -- we needed to score. On a 4th-and-1 from mid-field, Eric Mangini allowed the Browns to go for it. We lined up tight at first, and then everyone motioned out into a spread formation (which was done impressively without a penalty).

    Quinn then snapped the ball and sneaked it forward for a first down. Sadly, when we got to the 43-yard line, on 4th-and-3, the Browns elected to punt. I can't rag on Reggie Hodges too much, but his punt didn't even come close to pinning the Bengals back -- it just sailed deep for a touchback.
  9. The Next Drive Did It: When the Browns got the ball back after a Bengals punt, Brian Daboll showed exactly why fans despise his playcalling so much. Backed up to our own 13-yard line, on first down, the call was a quick WR screen pass to Cribbs. It didn't work. Fine, that's OK -- if it caught the Bengals off guard, maybe it could've gone for significant yardage. On second down, we ran the same exact play and it fell incomplete. After a false start penalty, on 3rd-and-14, we again ran the same exact play, except on the other side of the field. It went for a stunning 1-yard gain, and we had to punt again. Sheesh.
  10. Running Back Impressions: The past several weeks, neither Chris Jennings nor Jerome Harrison have done anything noteworthy in their limited action. Jennings has received a tad more playing time. Everyone here knows that I'd love to see Harrison receive another shot at the starting role.
  11. You're Yelling...Because? It was hilarious to see Eric Mangini scare the referee to death as he yelled at him from behind as the second quarter ended. Mangini was upset that a 15-yard penalty was called on Shaun Rogers, but there was no doubt that he horse collar tackled Carson Palmer to the ground. The play allowed the Bengals to add another field goal heading into the half.

    I understand why Rogers didn't just chase him out of bounds -- a non-horse collar hit could've led to a fumble. Palmer did end up fumbling, and had the tackle been legal, perhaps one of our defenders scoops it up for a touchdown. It was good to see Palmer get up from the tackle unharmed.
  12. Allen Over Robiskie: I don't care if Brian Robiskie has looked bad in practice or something (not that that is the case) -- the second-round choice should be given the shot at playing time, at least over WR Jake Allen, who has hardly been with the team. Allen was targeted on an overthrown pass against the Bengals.
  13. Containing Cribbs: The Bengals did a very good job at containing Joshua Cribbs. Cribbs' number of "big returns" seem to be declining, but I doubt it has much to do with a lack of motivation or anything of that sort.
  14. Always in the Spotlight: In the second half, there were two instances in which Quinn threw the ball deep out of bounds, and someone on the sidelines was all by himself, going out of his way to make the catch. Who? Derek Anderson. I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but in a season full of errors, I couldn't help but laugh...
  15. Torched With Rogers: If the Bengals' backs torched us when Rogers was playing, what's it going to be like with Ahtyba Rubin in on the action?
  16. Brownies: WR/DB Mike Furrey batted a pass down in the end zone...he might have intercepted it if the Bengals' receiver didn't make contact early (no flag was thrown)...why is is that the Browns' coaches are shown on television so much more often than other coaches? I saw Mangini's distorted face after every play, and only saw Marvin Lewis maybe once or twice. The same goes with Rex Ryan vs. the Bengals' defensive coordinator.

Next week, the Browns will take on the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are one of the hottest teams in football, and the Browns haven't shown any sign of even being close to a spoiler team. Given the number of injuries we have, we're clearly the worst team in football. The only things left to gain from this season are more experience for Quinn, and seeing if either Jennings or Harrison can contribute at running back next year.

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