After 2 Browns Losses, A Not-So-Sweet 16
By Steven King
Following their 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns have now scored 16 points in their first two games this season. In recognition of that fact, here are 16 thoughts about the team being 0-2:
1. It’s ridiculous to think the defense has had any part in this disappointing start. The defense has yielded just 37 points, an average of 18.5 per game. That’s more than good enough to have won both contests in today’s points-aplenty NFL.
2. The offense is the reason for this team being winless. Period. Scoring 16 points is not enough to win one game in this league, so to have that total for two contests is pathetic. If Cleveland doesn’t find a way to put more points on the scoreboard – however they come – then it will not win a game this year.
3. As we’ve said before and we’ll say again, this start is reminiscent of so many games the expansion era Browns have played. That is, the defense does its job and the offense does not. The club has wasted more good defensive efforts since 1999 than you can count. It’s a sad commentary.
4. So much has been made of RG Oniel Cousins being a liability, but the fact of the matter is that the man playing next to him, RT Mitchell Schwartz, has been an even bigger disaster. After playing pretty well last year as a rookie, he can’t pass block to save his soul. Was his 2012 performance a mirage? Or is Schwartz simply off to a terrible start, and will get himself back on track?
5. Everybody wants to blame the quarterback when an offense struggles, and that’s the way it should be. He’s the man whose job it is to make the offense go. Brandon Weeden has not played well overall this year and thus deserves his share of the criticism. Against Baltimore, he did not put the proper touch on a throw to RB Chris Ogbonnaya, who was wide open down the sideline, and thus missed a great opportunity for a much-needed touchdown. But otherwise, Weeden was decent against the Ravens, hitting 21 of 33 attempts for 227 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. So he is hardly the only player responsible for what’s going on.
6. Weeden was under duress most of the day, being sacked five times. In two games, he has been sacked 11 times. There’s no way a quarterback can be successful in that type of environment.
7. With people in his face all day, it was only a matter of time before Weeden got hurt, and that happened Sunday when he sprained the thumb on his throwing hand by hitting it on a helmet. His availability for next Sunday’s road game against the Minnesota Vikings is not known.
8. Weeden was replaced by Jason Campbell for Cleveland’s last possession of the game. It was painfully obvious from watching Campbell play that he is not the answer at quarterback. He looked slow and deliberate, just like he did during much of the preseason.
9. And, before you ask, the team’s third quarterback, Cleveland-area product Brian Hoyer, is not the answer either.
10. So if it isn’t Weeden, then the long-term solution is still playing in college.
11. Weeden was hurt by dropped passes for a second straight week. Where is Pro Football Hall of Famer Dante “Glue Fingers” Lavelli and Brian Brennan, a pair of sure-handed wide receivers, when you need them?
12. The worst offender – by far – on Sunday was WR Greg Little. He was charged with three drops, but that’s being kind. It should have been more. He is reverting back to his rookie season of 2011, when he led the NFL in drops.
13. Realizing that, then, why not let WR Josh Cooper, who has good hands, get some playing time?
14. Weeden’s receivers also made other fundamental mistakes. Once each, WR Davone Bess and TE Jordan Cameron stopped their routes short of the first-down marker, so when they caught the ball, they didn’t get the first down.
15. The Browns once again had trouble getting the plays in on time. They had three delay-of-game penalties and averted two other ones only by burning timeouts. Wasn’t that supposed to end this season with better offensive coaching?
16. Cleveland has had the lead at halftime in both games, only to lose it by doing nothing offensively in the second half. What’s with the inability to make adjustments to the opposition’s adjustments? And wasn’t that also supposed to end this season with better coaching?