By Adam Bennett, @HFSCleveland
The concept, in and of itself, isn’t bad. Build from the lines out. Shore up the middle of your offense and defense, and supplement talent in the trenches with reliable players outside.
On Sunday afternoon, against the 4-12 Jets, coming off a 7-9 season, the “Play Like a Brown” Browns, well, ummmmm, played like Browns. And that “concept” of how to build a sustainable winner proved to be far from reality.
Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine have consistently defended themselves for building a roster devoid of playmaking talent. They don’t seem to care if they don’t score, as long as they’re able to block and rush the passer and defend.
Problem is, the Browns aren’t very good at blocking, especially in the run game. The pass rush is non-existent, even against a journeyman backup QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick who has the worst winning percentage of any quarterback who’s started more than 80 games in his career. The defense, billed by many to be “elite,” and touted by Pettine time and time again, was horrible. The secondary was as bad as it gets, and the “new and improved” run defense allowed the Jets to gain more than 150 yards.
The Browns were bad in the areas in which they claim they’re good. Combine that with a total lack of talent and ability to score, and, well, you get a 31-10 loss at the 4-12 Jets who were starting their backup quarterback.
This season is not going to go well. It’s not because the team won’t play hard. They’ll win some games they shouldn’t. Like Sunday, they’ll also lose many games – some of which they shouldn’t. The issue is a general manager who somehow takes pride in building a roster that ignores positions that matter in the National Football League. Quarterback? We’ll be fine with the guy who’s played on seven teams and went 1-12 as a starter last year. Wide Reciever? We’re alright with passing on two of the strongest drafts the position has seen ever, only to take a guy this year in the 4th round who we’ll cut before he ever sees a real game on the field. Tight End? Let’s be cheap and let our Pro-Bowler walk so we can keep four guys who don’t particularly do anything well.
The issue also extends to a head coach who, at least in public, defends his general manager for the way he’s built the team. He’d rather keep 11 defensive backs (who will still give up big plays to teams like the Jets) than invest his time and energy in a quarterback.
Mike Pettine can sit in the press room in Berea and swear to the Cleveland media and Browns fans that these aren’t the “Same Old Browns.” Problem is, he’s sitting in the same seat where the same media and the same fans watched Mike Holmgren ask us not to give him a call for playoff tickets. He’s in the same seat as Pat Shurmur when he swore that “progress” was being made, and the Browns were fighting the right “battle.” The same seat where Eric Mangini claimed that the “process” was long but it would bring us to the promised-land. The same seat where Romeo Crennel botched his way through the same quarterback problems. The same seat where Butch Davis praised his team for “playing their guts out” through gut-wrenching losses.
As the season wears on, Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer and the “Same Old Browns” will eventually have the same old fate as the people mentioned before them. This time, though, when they look back, they’ll only have themselves to blame.
Our new weekly feature where I detail the “important” thoughts from each game:
- When your star cornerback is struggling more than he has at any point in his career, it’s important to keep him in one-on-one coverage and give him no help.
This was a staggering development in yesterday’s game. Not only did Joe Haden look like Justin Gilbert, but the coaches sat there and just let it happen. Even the best players struggle from time to time. And when they do, it’s up to you as a coach to put him in a better position to succeed, not keep him in the same position play after play after play.
- When you’ve spent months scripting the game plan for the season opener, it’s important to rack up as many illegal formation and false start penalties as you possibly can.
Another clear indication that the team wasn’t prepared as thoroughly as they should have been. Coaches have been scripting this game for MONTHS, and the team couldn’t line up correctly, the offensive line couldn’t move on the correct snap count, and the defensive line seemed to jump every time Ryan Fitzpatrick used a hard count.
- When you’re a team that prides itself on running the football, it’s important to go into a game with an undrafted free agent starter, a rookie as a backup, and a practice squad player as your third stringer.
I don’t think any further analysis needs to be provided here.
TWEET THE HEAD COACH!
Each Sunday following the game, we’ll give you the opportunity to send a message to Mike Pettine in 140 characters or less. Here are the highlights of your messages from Week One’s embarrassment to the Jets:
And a bonus tweet of the week comes from Joe Banner! This tweet was deleted, but we all know who he’s talking about.
Until next week – Go Browns!