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Analyzing the Game: Run Derek, Run!

  1 2 3 4 OT Final
0 14 7 7 0 28
7 7 0 14 3 31
I had faith that the Browns would stay competitive with the Chiefs this weekend, and possibly even pull off a nice little upset. I had no idea it would've been this exciting. Derek Anderson came in relief of Charlie Frye after halftime and did an unbelievable job for being a backup quarterback with zero NFL experience. Suddenly, all of that "we should've signed a veteran quarterback before the season" talk is making us look silly. After waking up this morning, I still had the game on my mind - easily my favorite victory all season, and probably the best win we've had since Romeo Crennel took over the Browns. I had to make sure I did this review today though, because the Steelers game is only three days away...

Strong Points(Why We Won the Game)

  1. Player of the Game: Derek Anderson. As I stated above, Anderson's performance came out of left field, considering the way we all felt about our depth at quarterback after Frye all season long. Anderson showed tremendous poise in the pocket, and surprisingly had two scrambles that made everyone in the league drop their jaws in "awe". "Who is this Anderson guy?" was what everyone in the league besides the Browns and the Ravens were thinking (Anderson used to be on Baltimore). Although Anderson seemed to have no touch on his balls (just like the preseason), it ended up working out for our offensive approach.
  2. Bow Down to Playcalling: Even when the Browns were losing 28-14, I was still very pleased that our offensive playcalling seemed to have taken a step in the right direction. In the fourth quarter, Jeff Davidson and Romeo Crennel continuing implementing the best offensive plays I've seen all season. Two flea-flickers? A QB-draw to Cribbs? A shuffle pass to Wright? Besides a basic reverse and the botched Lawrence Vickers pass, I don't think we've tried a trick play all season long. Not only did we do tricks though, but Anderson and Frye each had a check down receiver on just about every single play.
  3. Don't Forget About Frye: Despite Anderson's great effort, let's not forget the fact that Frye was easily having his best game of the season before leaving after half time. Had his wrist not been messed up, he probably would've been able to complete the "would-be" touchdown pass to Dennis Northcutt. Instead, the pass fell several yards short, and was knocked away.
  4. Running Back Platoon: Obviously, not being blown out 30-0 allows us to utilize our running backs more, but for the first time all season, we successfully instituted our two-back system. Droughns came in for bruising runs, and showed nice hands and power on several check-down passes or screen plays. Wright didn't have as much success on the ground, but both of his receptions were game-changing plays that put us in scoring range.
  5. Go Heiden: I was glad to see Steve Heiden get two touchdown grabs. As someone stated (I believe it was Wright), Heiden always seems to be an underrated guy who always comes to play. He's sort of in between the "starting caliber and second-string" tight end range, which is why he fits perfectly into the type of gameplan we ran.
  6. Offensive Line: Although Frye was getting knocked down early, our group held their own when Anderson came into the game. I was actually puzzled, because at times, Anderson was actually able to stand in the pocket for a long time without anyone near him - where did that come from?
  7. Ball Hawk...Almost: Sean Jones nearly made two interceptions against the Chiefs, but both would've been tough grabs for any defensive player.
  8. McGinest and Fraser: Willie McGinest was constantly making plays against Kansas City, despite being faked out on a pitch play to Johnson. And, in a game where we seemed like we were overmatched on paper without Orpheus Roye, Fraser didn't do too bad of a job holding his own. He also forced a fumble against Green late in the game, and seems to be generating the best pass rush this season out of all of our defensive linemen.
  9. Playing Hard: Our secondary didn't have its greatest day against Eddie Kennison and Tony Gonzalez, but playing hard on every play always counts. Looking back, Daven Holly's interception in the end zone against a smaller tight end turned out to be pivotal. Kamerion Wimbley's amazing sack to close out our first defensive series was fun to watch, but he needs to get a little more pressure throughout the rest of the game.
  10. Finally Gets a Chance: Phil Dawson finally had his chance at a game winner, and he connected (despite it being a chip shot). He did well on his kickoffs all game long against Dante Hall, and almost had a deep onside kick after we tied the game at 28-28. Dave Zastudil had his usual day, including a punt that was downed at the one-yard line (such good that did us...).
  11. Big Three: Jurevicius was the possession receiver. Edwards made a leaping touchdown catch. Winslow made a leaping catch in overtime. That's the consistency we've wanted from the trio.
Weak Points(Why We Almost Lost The Game)
  1. Goat of the Game: Anyone on Gonzo. We flipped our coverages in terms of who covered Tony Gonzalez, because no one could cover him. In fact, on one coverage, we tested the philosophy on nobody covering him, but unfortunately, it didn't work too well.
  2. Darnell Dinkins: I always love it when the up man is able to get a good return, because it sticks it to the opposing team for not kicking it to Cribbs. However, I understand the risks of fumbling the ball increasing, and that's exactly what happened to poor Darnell.
  3. Bend But "Do" Break: All season, our defense was known for bending but not breaking, because we would hold teams to field goals most of the time. That hasn't been the case the past two weeks, because Carson Palmer and Trent Green have completely torn us apart down in the red zone.
  4. Short Yardage Defensively: I don't know how many times the Chiefs had a 3rd-and-2, 3rd-and-1, or even a fourth-and-manageable and were able to convert with Johnson on the ground with ease. We were able to stop LJ on certain first down carries, but when we could've forced punts in manageable situations, we basically failed all game.
  5. Boring Punt Returns Although Cribbs returns on kickoffs remain exciting, Northcutt's punt returns as of late haven't been very exciting. Most of his returns result in him running in a small circle before crouching to the ground, or running parallel across the entire field until he is out of bounds.
  6. Stupid Challenge: Yet again, Romeo Crennel challenged what was an obvious touchdown pass. There was clearly space underneath the ball, and Randy Cross and Dick Enberg were able to point that out to us right away. Are you telling me that the people hired to inform Romeo upstairs about this saw something else? Or, do we even have anybody assigned to do that? Based on the challenges we've thrown this season, it seems as if Romeo is only trying to erase any big play without having anyone take a look at it first.
General Thoughts(Random Tidbits on the Game)
  1. Where Now?: With Anderson performing well after one game, let's not announce him as our savior or something. Remember that people have great games sometimes, and then fade (remember Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Rams (from Harvard) last season?). I fear that with how quickly Anderson throws the ball, that defenses will be able to study what he does and step in front of his intended targets with ease if they pick up on something.
  2. Activate Them: After the Steelers game, after we have a long break, I want Isaac Sowells and Travis Wilson to be activated for some games. With the way Wright has been playing, I wouldn't actually mind having Harrison inactive, despite the potential he may have.
  3. Vote of Confidence Rules: I'm sure we won't be saying this if we lay an egg to the Steelers this Thursday, but I would still like to see Crennel coaching this team next season. In the coming weeks, I'll start to analyze the free agent market as well as the draft class to take a look at positions that need to be upgraded heading into next season.
Last week, I said that a competitive team isn't always a winning team. That's still the case with Cleveland, as has been shown with our 4-8 record. I don't want to get too optimistic after pulling one upset, but we have some very winnable games to close the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then the Houston Texans. Our next two games are against the Steelers and the Ravens, as we'll see if our division woes continue. Realistically, nothing is stopping us from finishing with the same record as we did last season. That would be a big disappointment still, but it would also point us in the positive direction for next season, knowing what we were able to accomplish with injuries to LeCharles Bentley, Daylon McCutcheon, and Gary Baxter. We have a shot at winning two in a row, but simply beating Pittsburgh whether you're a playoff contender or a team in the cellar means a whole lot to each and every Browns fan on the face of this earth.