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Analyzing the Game: Season Finale Loss

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The Browns season didn't end today, it ended several weeks ago. That's what has made our losses over the past couple of weeks less painful, because it's not like you can expect a whole lot from a team that is forced to play with mostly second- and third-stringers. The Browns had won their season finale for the past four seasons, but that has created quite a bit of controversy actually because it has affected our draft position by several spots. Heading into this game, the formula was simple: if the Browns lost, we would be sitting pretty at No. 3 with a shot at taking someone like left tackle Joe Thomas. And, with a victory, we could have dropped four spots to No. 7 possibly. I'm all for playing for the win, but after today's game was over, I wasn't crushed at the fact that we'll have a shot at getting some better players come April.

General Thoughts(Random Tidbits on the Game)

  1. Charlie Frye Starts: When the reports were made by WKYC that Charlie Frye would start, I didn't believe it. After all, Ken Dorsey was named the starter by the Browns all week, and the last I had heard, Frye was barely throwing the ball 10-15 yards in practice. Personally, I feel Frye may have started so Crennel could further "shove it" to those "false" medical reports from other sources that claimed that Frye's wrist was broken. In the end, although we had nothing to gain, I was glad that Frye played over Dorsey. His read on the pass to Edwards in the end zone was his only big mistake of the game in my opinion, but it certainly was costly. Frye definitely needs to develop better chemistry with his receivers in the offseason, because a tandem that was working together longer would have cut that route to the outside and given themselves a shot at a legitimate touchdown.
  2. Winslow Ties the Record: Our "soldier", Kellen Winslow recorded 11 catches and had a fair game overall. He tied the Browns record for receptions in a season with 89, something he should be proud of after coming off of two seasons in which he was taken out of commission. However, didn't it seem like Winslow could've still had a much bigger game if he was 100%? Every time he caught the ball, he would turn around and just barely miss getting past one defender that could've gotten him five to ten extra yards every time. I can't be sure that surgery will help that aspect of the game for him, but if it does, Winslow will only be in for bigger and better things.
  3. Getting Old With Droughns: Isn't this getting a little old with Reuben Droughns? This year, he's been through four phases. The first phase is the rare one, where he goes over 100 yards rushing on the ground. The second phase is where he gets a lot of carries but only about 50-60 yards. The third phase is where he only touches the ball six times for an entire game. The fourth phase, which is what he experienced today, is where he rushes for about 90 yards after making some nice runs, but he coughs up the football. Droughns doesn't fumble after taking big shots either - it always seems to be on a big gain where he's barely tackled from behind, and even the defenders are stunned to see the football just simply plop out. Don't be surprised if the Browns ignore the running back position in the draft, and actually search for a free agent running back in the offseason to compete for the job next season.
  4. No Faith in Receivers: Does Romeo Crennel have no faith in our receivers, or is Frye only looking for Winslow or Edwards during a game? When I saw Travis Wilson make a nice catch over the middle early in the game, I got my hopes up that we would target him some more. Instead, I don't recall us going his way the rest of the night. And, unless I'm mistaken, I don't remember Joshua Cribbs or Kendrick Mosley having any passes go their way the entire night. Compare that to the New Orleans Saints, who throw the football to every single guy on their depth chart. That's what makes offenses good - knowing that anyone can strike. This season, the Browns have only had one guy step up their game in the receiving game each week it seems, and that's not good enough to get it done.
  5. At Least He Played: I'm pleased with the fact that Isaac Sowells FINALLY received some significant playing time. I'll have to review the game again to take a look at how he did individually, but I didn't see anything that was so bad that he couldn't have been playing weeks ago when we experienced our injuries on the offensive line. Chalk up another mistake by Romeo and company on the board in terms of playing receivers.
  6. Big Bad Ted: When Ted Washington keeled over early in the third quarter, that left Sean Jones as our defensive soldier of the season - the lone starter to be on the field and start in every game. Of course, Kamerion Wimbley was basically a starter all season, but I believe he started the season as a backup. By the way, I'm sure everyone noticed how the Browns were completely shredded by the Texans' rookie running back once Washington left the game. Maybe we took Washington for granted a little. He's probably too old to be a significant starter in the NFL still, but the dropoff on the depth chart between the top of the list and the second man is significant.
  7. Defensive Standouts: Last week, I stated the Browns had three defenders that were "playmakers" against the Buccaneers, and would make solid contributions next season. I cited those players as being Leon Williams, Kamerion Wimbley, and Daven Holly. Well, guess who were the top three defensive playmakers against the Texans? They were Leon Williams(tipped Carr's pass), Kamerion Wimbley(another sack), and Daven Holly(another fun return). Gotta love at least some consistency on defense.
  8. Poor Decision by Texans: With the Texans running the clock out late to set themselves up for a field goal that would've sealed it, Carr ran a bootleg on third down that took his team out of field goal range to give the Browns one last chance. It's too bad that it actually helped the Texans a little by giving us poor field position after a good punt.
  9. Cribbs Was Comfortable: When Cribbs returned punts today, he at least looked more comfortable when fielding the ball. However, there was one return where he stared at the ball hitting the ground, and then continued to watch it roll about 20 more yards down the field. Cribbs has to make a decision on that, because he had a lot of time and room to make a decision. Next season, I don't see him returning punts for us.
  10. Frye's Fumble for TD: The Texans really didn't play well enough to win the game, but because it was meaningless, more power to them. I wish Frye would've had a chance to unload the pass that was stripped from him, because it looked like he had man-to-man coverage up top on a play that could've gotten us the lead and possibly a win. Instead, it went the other way for six when defensive tackle Anthony Maddox returned the ball. Word of advice for the Browns: when a big defensive tackle has the football, at least touch the guy before he gets up. With that said, I actually agreed with Romeo's challenge for once, even though we lost it.
  11. Northcutt Inactive: Good old Dennis Northcutt was inactive, meaning that he likely played his final game with the Browns. Don't forget though, we all thought Northcutt was gone a couple of seasons ago, when he suddenly signed another deal with us. This time though, it seems like he wants to leave more than he did before, and teams are always looking for players that are food punt returners.
  12. Take That, Denver: This isn't related to the Browns game, but I am thrilled that the Denver Broncos failed to make the playoffs, and am much happier that the Kansas City Chiefs made it instead. Fun fact: the Browns defeated both of the AFC wildcard teams this season.
The season is over for the Browns, but don't let that deter you away from Dawgs By Nature. It may seem unusual when you think about it, but there is actually more to blog about in the offseason than there is the regular season at times. In the offseason, coaching changes, draft prospects, and possible free agent acquisitions can create daily conversation all the way up until training camp starts. In the coming days, I'll have my awards of the year for the Browns, including such categories as "game of the year", "heartbreaker of the year", "most significant injury of the year", "player of the year", etc. That means that we'll be reliving the few good memories and the many bad ones that we've suffered through for the entire season. We're sick of hearing this, but it has to be said - "There's always next year".