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A Tale of Two Stories; Browns Both Good and Bad in 34-20 Loss to Vikings

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-0) WEEK 1 CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-1)
VS.
34 20

It was a Tale of Two Cities in which our beloved team was taken apart by the others. At the same time, it was a tale of two different games -- one occurring in the first half, and the other occurring in the second half. A football game requires four quarters to win, and ultimately that cost the Browns.

After the game was over, all I could think was, "man, there were a lot of things that impressed me about the Browns in that game over last season, and we still found ourselves 14 points behind". What went wrong? Does something need to change? After letting my level depression settle down for over a day, it's time to recap the positives and negatives that contributed to the outcome of the game.

WEEK 1 - MINNESOTA VIKINGS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS (GENERAL THOUGHTS)

  1. Goat of the Game - Brady Quinn: This week's goat was difficult to choose, because I don't want to put all of the blame on our quarterback. Ultimately, though, he was involved in the play that single-handedly turned the game around -- an easy interception for the defense that was no where near the vicinity of Braylon Edwards. Throughout the game, Quinn had some other issues as well, namely on passes to Edwards. He threw a slant pass behind him, and on the negated touchdown, the pass was underthrown. For the protection and productivity from the ground game that Quinn received, he should've played significantly better.
  2. Star of the Game - Abram Elam: In his first game as a Cleveland Brown, Elam led the defense with 8 tackles and also recorded a sack. At least for this week, he filled the void left by Sean Jones in the offseason very well, playing to his strengths when he was up near the line of scrimmage. The next test will come when a defense takes a shot deep against him. He also cleanly fielded the Vikings' opening onside kick attempt. A lot of people might think that was easy, but that was Elam, who probably thought there was absolutely no way a fake was coming, making a play on the ball with a lot of Viking gunners closing in on him.
  3. This Just In: Other fans might have had a more depressing football week. As I write this, the New England Patriots just scored their second touchdown in the final two minutes of the game to defeat the Buffalo Bills 25-24. Ouch. Other candidates for teams that had it worse than us are the Cincinnati Bengals and the Carolina Panthers.
  4. Things Started Off Great: I loved the offensive playcalling on the first drive. It started with a nice run to Jamal Lewis on our power left side. After an incompletion, we didn't waste any time getting creative in the Wildcat formation. One play later, Brady Quinn rolled to his right off of playaction and fired a perfect pass to Robert Royal for a big pickup. The drive stalled a little after that, but it was still enough for a field goal.
  5. The Rest of the Time? Eh: After the first drive, it was more of a "what happened" effect. I was very impressed by our ability to run the ball with Jamal Lewis. But, when we couldn't capitalize on the running game's success with positive plays in the passing game, that is a huge problem. Why did it take so long for Mike Furrey or Mohamed Massaquoi to have a ball thrown their way? Even though Braylon Edwards was targeted a few times, a better effort should have been made to get him the ball. Was it Brian Daboll's playcalling, or just Quinn's inability to make the right reads?
  6. Defense Was Beautiful: The last highlight of Adrian Peterson doesn't tell the tale of how well the Browns tackled in comparison to the past few years. Peterson never not going in the first half, largely because whenever he made a move to the outside, a Browns defender was right there to shoot through and make the tackle. It didn't matter whether it was Eric Barton, Kamerion Wimbley, or Abram Elam -- everyone was making plays. The pressure also got to Brett Favre all day long. He was sacked four times! That type of pressure hasn't been seen in Cleveland since the return to the league.
  7. Second Half Defense: It needs to be made clear that our defense isn't anywhere near as good as the Steelers, Titans, Giants, or even the Vikings defenses of the NFL. Despite allowing an opening-possession touchdown in the second half, the Browns were only down 17-13. If our offense doesn't suffer a deflating interception so quickly after that score, I'm not sold on the fact that we still lose the game. More than our defense getting discouraged, it gave the Vikings all the momentum in the world. If our offense can play turnover-free football, our defense is good enough to win some games this year.
  8. Week1lewis_medium Jamal Lewis was effective on the ground game, much to everyone's surprise.
  9. Maybe He Was Saving His Energy: The burst shown by Jamal Lewis was encouraging. It wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the offensive line, but after Lewis got through the hole, I wanted to see how he finished. Every time, he was falling forward, and even moving the pile forward a few yards here and there. If he can do that against the Vikings' defense, then I'm looking forward to a heavy dose of Lewis this Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
  10. "Royal Roberts" Scouting Report Holds True: (note the gag on Royal's name: it was pronounced that way by color commentator Brian Billick on FOX). When the Browns signed Royal, Buffalo Bills fans made it simple what type of tight end he was -- he is targeted and can clearly catch the ball better than a Darnell Dinkins can, but then he'll suffer quite a few drops. That was evidenced when he caught Quinn's first-drive pass on a rollout and when he scored a touchdown late in the game, but dropped two passes in a row prior to that.
  11. Kamerion Wimbley in for a Year: Besides Elam, I was encouraged to see how often Wimbley was lined up on the opposite side. I saw it at least once, and the pressure got to Brett Favre. That's a check mark in the positive category of Eric Mangini. In Romeo Crennel's entire tenure, he refused to utilize Wimbley in other manners.
  12. Cribbs is Golden: When you need a lift, expect Joshua Cribbs to deliver. His punt return shows the coaching staff why he's asking for a new contract. He had a questionable decision to return the ball out of the end zone at one point after he dropped it, but I'd blame the blockers more for not getting out in front after that at the right time too.
  13. Week1cribbs_medium Joshua Cribbs is still the team's ball of energy.
  14. Goal Line Wildcat: The first play wasn't too bad, as Cribbs nearly got into the end zone. The next play is the one that irked fans. First off, I do not disagree with the philosophy of running the play twice in a row, even at the one-yard line on third down. However, the play call ended up being completely wrong for a few reasons:

    1. The Wildcat is supposed to catch a defense by surprise. After not getting in the first time, the Browns took 38 seconds before running it again. The Vikings were definitely prepared for it, and chances are, Cribbs wasn't going to throw it.
    2. Cribbs was lined up in the shotgun. It takes Cribbs longer to get some momentum because he has to field a high snap. With the predictable play call, Cribbs was dead meat.

    With those two points in mind, Brady Quinn should have been under center. Braylon Edwards is terrific at the fade route, at least on passes from Derek Anderson. I'm sure Quinn can make that same throw -- next time, it needs to be the play.
  15. The Bull Non-Touchdown: Another big momentum changer came when Braylon Edwards' touchdown pick off the ground was negated. The defender interfered with him, forcing Edwards' momentum to carry him a little bit out of bounds. Edwards only established one foot in the field of play before making contact with the football, but his second foot came down less than a half second later. It was a great challenge by Brad Childress, and here is the official rule from the NFL rule book:

    Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3:

    "An eligible receiver becomes ineligible if he goes out of bounds (prior to or during a pass) and remains ineligible until an eligible receiver or any defensive player touches the pass.

    Exception: If the eligible receiver is forced out of bounds because of a foul by the defender, including illegal contact, defensive holding, or defensive pass interference, he will become eligible to legally touch the pass (without prior touching by another eligible receiver or defender) as soon as he legally returns in bounds"
    .

    The officials got the call right based on the rule book. That doesn't change the fact that it was a buzz killer for a team waiting for their first offensive touchdown in a loooooooonngg time (at that point of the game). With that said, again, if Quinn's pass is more on target, it's an easy touchdown.
  16. Offensive Line Protection: This is another case where if you look at the stat sheet, saying "the offensive line did a solid job against the Vikings' defense" sounds silly since Quinn was sacked five times. As far as I'm concerned, when the game counted still, only one of those sacks were legitimate (when Kevin Williams drilled Quinn in the second quarter). The other sacks came on when Quinn ate it instead of a Hail Mary pass to end the first half, when Quinn "fumbled" with the empty hand pass, and then twice when we were already down big time.
  17. Joe Thomas on Jared Allen: Did we hear Jared Allen's name mentioned at all against the Browns? Nope. That's a credit to Joe Thomas, who owned Allen all game long. Allen also registered one assisted tackle for the game.
  18. Dawson Good, Coverage Not: It was nice to see Phil Dawson booming kicks into the end zone. In coverage though, the Browns were surprisingly below average. No tackles from Nick Sorensen, Blake Costanzo, OR Gerard Lawson? Those three guys are active solely for special teams usage; not having one tackle between the three of them is inexcusable.
  19. Brett Favre: For his first game, Favre wasn't great. But, he didn't have a Kurt Warner or Jake Delhomme day, and when the Vikings had the momentum in the second half, he rolled with it. Overall, that's a positive day for Favre.
  20. Less Shotgun and Draws: I can understand the shotgun so often if Derek Anderson is in the backfield, but why did we run it so often with Brady Quinn? It seemed to serve no purpose to advance our gameplan. Also, I understand a "give up draw play" here and there, but not as often as we did it.
  21. Lucky Non-TD Break: I think it was Sidney Rice who got screwed on a deep pass from Brett Favre. The receiver caught the pass and both of his toes came down right near the out of bounds end zone line at the same time. At first sight, it looked incomplete, and the official ruled it that way. On a close replay, he appeared to be in. Fortunately, the Vikings were out of challenges.
  22. Brownies: Nice to see Shaun Rogers playing and getting a sack...the number of stops on 3rd-and-1 by the Browns in the first half showed toughness...James Davis' first day was a lackluster one with five yards on four carries...why did we activate Brian Robiskie instead of a Cedric Peerman or Martin Rucker?

I like taking the positives, and because of the first half, the first game wasn't a complete loss. A lot of our success will depend on the maturity of Brady Quinn. Sure, it'd be nice for him to have a Matt Ryan or Mark Sanchez type of success at a whim, but sometimes you need to go through a few growing pains. When Quinn begins to roll the entire game, so will the rest of the team for four quarters. Bring on the Broncos!

Here is the roll call of who participated in the game thread, with rufio having the most to say...

Roll Call: rufio, Roger Dorn, hashishkabob, theW0LF, tmptplayer, ChrisPokorny, Simmsinns, Dawg Nuts, kwoog, DisplacedBuckeye, DaytonDogg, GuamND, charliefryfanhaha, Bernie19Kosar, Guage80, Flag Up, BringBackKosar, hayscent, RelapsingDawgCatcher, SteelFever, skipkirk, BrownDawg1409, Buckeye Brad, Fundamentals, RudeMood19, orangemocha, BradyQuinnisBeast, Legoman0721, APV, woodsmeister, dgcambridge, aufrank, Dawgger, Joe Charboneau, Donald Driver, steelerstyle, gahnki, joeee, mgtbfb, irish1083, emily522, Pruitt, Rocland, DontCallMeJoey, JustBob, athensdawg2, Browns town, Cols714
Total Users: 48
Total Posts: 1001
Total Threads: 2

Name # of Posts
rufio 156
BringBackKosar 128
Buckeye Brad 101
kwoog 73
ChrisPokorny 68
DisplacedBuckeye 64
RudeMood19 51
Simmsinns 41
Flag Up 32
BradyQuinnisBeast 24
woodsmeister 24
RelapsingDawgCatcher 21
tmptplayer 19
orangemocha 18
skipkirk 17
BrownDawg1409 16
Guage80 16
emily522 15
Roger Dorn 15
APV 12
Fundamentals 10
Donald Driver 9
hayscent 8
Dawgger 7
steelerstyle 4
Pruitt 4
DontCallMeJoey 4
SteelFever 4
DaytonDogg 4
mgtbfb 3
athensdawg2 3
theW0LF 3
GuamND 3
aufrank 3
Legoman0721 3
Cols714 3
Joe Charboneau 2
Browns town 2
gahnki 2
Bernie19Kosar 1
Rocland 1
JustBob 1
joeee 1
dgcambridge 1
Dawg Nuts 1
irish1083 1
hashishkabob 1
charliefryfanhaha 1