What went wrong? How, after having such high expectations heading into the game, did we lose to a team that was 3-13 a year ago? Many people are questioning the lack of talent that the Browns have on the football team, which is an inaccurate statement. Instead, we should be questioning the the decisions that were made and how they were executed. The Browns will go back to the drawing board and attempt to correct what went wrong, before heading into next week's game. Here is our breakdown of what the Browns will need to focus on:
Weak Points(Why We Lost The Game)
- Goat of the Game: Ralph Brown. I realize it's tough to find depth at the cornerback position, but it killed me to see Gary Baxter and Leigh Bodden covering Devery Henderson and Joe Horn well, while Brown would give up too much room to a seventh-round receiver in Marques Colston. I'm guessing our philosophy was that Brown, our third corner, could at least cover someone without much experience. Don't get me wrong, credit should be given to Colston for getting the job done. However, if that was Daylon McCutcheon, I doubt he would have done as poorly. Other teams will stack their underrated receivers against Brown every time if he continues playing the same way. To be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing us keep Daven Holly and releasing Brown.
- Critical Holding Penalties: Doesn't it always seem like penalties always kill a team during the course of a game? Well, if a holding play is called after a seven-yard run, it can be forgiven a little more due to the lessened impact of a play. However, all three holding calls came on huge plays - the opening touchdown to Braylon Edwards, the fourth-down pass to Joe Jurevicius(which he broke his ribs for), and the 17-yard run by Reuben Droughns. Two of the calls were made against the offensive line, while the other was made against Dennis Northcutt. It's easy to say holding calls are inexcusable, but I guarantee you that players do not have intentionally hold unless they feel the quarterbacks going to get killed. How will the Browns correct this? For Kevin Shaffer, it may take some time to gain chemistry with the line, which could be painful if Frye keeps getting killed from that side.
- Pitch Plays to Vickers: Romeo Crennel said that if the pitch plays had worked, people would have been praising him. What? As soon as the pitch was made and the announcers stated that Lawrence Vickers was running the ball, I immediately thought, "Where is Jerome Harrison?" You can almost make the comparison of running a pitch play to a fullback on NFL Madden - you simply don't do it, because the fullbacks will take way longer to get to the outside than your speedster. The only time I'd understand the call is if it were done on a second-down play, where you'll have more of a chance to catch a defense sleeping.
- Braylon Edwards Drop: Believe it or not, if Edwards makes that catch, we probably win the football game. We had the Saints on the rope, and Edwards probably could have gotten the ball near the 20-yard line if he focused on catching the ball. One gripe with the play-calling though: after the draw play had worked so well in the preseason to Harrison during the two-minute drill, why did we not even attempt it? Maybe it was the fumble in the first half, but you cannot lose confidence in your team so quickly.
- Where is the Pressure?: The biggest improvement in this year's team was supposed to be the new pass rush for the Browns. The only pressure we seemed to have came on the running back during the fourth quarter, but besides that, it was insignificant. Anytime someone tried to blitz, it was either picked up easily, or Brees found a receiver that was wide open in the flat.
- No Screen Plays: Why weren't there any screen plays called? And, like I mentioned above, the draw plays, which were most effective during the preseason, seemed to be erased from the playbook. The only play we seemed to attempt over and over again was the slant, which becomes too predictable after the tenth time.
- Player of the Game: Kellen Winslow Jr. Without question, Winslow is the man who showed up the most. His touchdown grab was the best offensive play of the game, and the heart he showed after making the catch gave the team faith again. He almost made an amazing one-yard grab in man-to-man coverage, something other teams will realize they won't be able to do. Once teams start double covering Winslow some more, that'll allow Steve Heiden to be open.
- Mobility Works: Having a mobile quarterback like Charlie Frye will usually help a team move in the right direction. Once we started moving Frye out of the pocket, the defense softened up. However, against a team like the Steelers, a mobile quarterback won't be the only thing we need.
- Sean Jones: Heading into the season, I thought Brodney Pool had the edge over Jones, who didn't really seem to make a play in the preseason. Jones was one of our best defensive players against the Saints, making a great read on a sideline pass, and being in the right position to recover a fumble via the strip from Brian Russell. Speaking of positives, besides Brown, the whole unit did well.
- Special Teams: Although D'Qwell Jackson's ineligible man down the field penalty cost us field position (what kind of a penalty is that on a PUNT?), our special teams wasn't too bad. Dave Zastudil's shank didn't cost us a whole lot since we were already near the other side of the field. Dennis Northcutt looked good on his returns, as did Joshua Cribbs. Our coverage on Reggie Bush in the return game was very good, but unfortunately, the FOX announcers made it seem like his five- or ten-yard returns were something unbelievable.