Defense: Despite having key personnel missing for one reason or another (even though linebacker Scott Fujita is back after his three game bounty suspension ruling was overturned on appeal)
Hello Browns Fans!
Although I know you are disappointed, and so am I, let me remind you the Browns have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, and they also have more rookies on their roster than any other pro football team this year. They are a young team and they have to learn how to win. They played two very good teams, they played with those teams hard and had a chance to win those games. They beat themselves with mental mistakes that are correctable, and, if corrected, they will continue to improve. Let me also say that any team thus far – the 2-0 teams, the 0-2 teams, and the defending super bowl champion New York Giants – are only as good as the eleven people they put out on the football field! The Browns lost a crucial player on their defense in Joe Hayden, who is serving a four game suspension for performance-enhancing substances through random testing by the NFL, and they lost cornerback Sheldon Brown to a shoulder injury. The Bengals were able to exploit this. Cincinnati quarterback Dalton took full advantage of the depleted secondary by completing 24 of 31 for 318 yards. A breakdown by the special teams early in the game resulted in Cleveland’s first punt being returned 81 yards for a touchdown by Adam “Pac Man” Jones leading the Bengals to a 34-27 victory.
Now let’s talk about where the Browns have improved.
Offense: Cleveland’s quarterback, Brandon Weeden, completed 26 of 37 passes with no interceptions and two sacks, for a quarterback rating of 114.9. He threw for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns – a great rebound from one of the worst debuts in NFL history!
Receivers: Receivers have continued to improve catching the ball, running with the ball and protecting the ball.
Running backs: Trent Richardson became the first rookie to rush for over 100 yards (109 to be exact, the first Browns rookie to break 100 yards since Lee Suggs ran for 187 yards against Cincinnati in 2003), and score on a run and a pass in the same game (my, what a difference one week can make). I promise you as Richardson gets better – and he will – Brandon Weeden is going to get better. If they can correct some of these self-inflicted mistakes on the offensive line, this offense should improve (the back-up backs have to do a better job of protecting the ball). Chris Ogbonnaya caught a pass in the open field, then, trying to get more out of the play, he fumbled the ball! You have to protect the ball. You have to understand where you are at in the game at all times. We were very close, if not inside of Phil Dawson’s range when it was critical for us to get a touchdown, or at least a field goal, to answer Cincinnati’s scoring drive. You have to protect the ball at all times but particularly in this situation. Take what they give you and keep the drive alive. That’s what I mean when I say the Browns have to learn how to win.
Defense: Despite having key personnel missing for one reason or another (even though linebacker Scott Fujita is back after his three game bounty suspension ruling was overturned on appeal), the defense played reasonably well. That’s not why we lost the game. To be successful in this game (in the NFL), you must do the following: have good defensive play, good offensive play, and good special teams play. The Browns lost this game for two reasons: they were not at full strength (as reflected in the defensive secondary play and poor tackling on special teams), and they made mistakes (mistakes that stopped our offensive drives, and mistakes on defense that allowed Cincinnati to keep their drives alive).
In closing, we have a young team and a tough schedule. That doesn’t mean my expectations are not high. I’m tired of waiting, just like you, but, at the same time, I have reason to be both realistic and optimistic. Weeden and Richardson came in with great expectations. In week one, we wanted to trade them with the next train out. They corrected some things in the second game and now our two stars are playing like we want them to. I expect other players to get their game together. If so, let’s start winning some games. Especially the ones we are supposed to!