Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Same as it ever was? Same as it ever was

The Browns finally read the rule book and realized they are allowed to play offense for a full 60 minutes – even scoring a touchdown in the second half – but despite putting up a good fight against the Ravens, the Browns lost, 24-17, to drop to 0-3 on the season, the fourth time in the past five years they have started 0-3.

It was more of the same for the Browns as too many mistakes made at the worst possible time cut short any chance they had to pull out a win. For your consideration:

  • On the Browns first drive, Seneca Wallace was called for a delay-of-game penalty on Baltimore’s 19-yard-line. A tough 3rd-and-8 became a 3rd-and-13 and the Browns settled for a field goal.
  • In the second quarter, after falling behind 7-3, the Browns had a drive going but right tackle Tony Pashos was called for holding on a Peyton Hillis run. So instead of 2nd and 6 at the Ravens’ 43 yard line, the Browns faced 1st and 20 at their own 43. Three plays later they punted.
  • In the third quarter, Ben Watson was called for unnecessary roughness on a drive into Baltimore territory. Two plays later the Browns punted.
  • After cutting Baltimore’s lead to 17-14, the Browns pinned the Ravens on their own 15 on the kickoff. But Blake Constanzo, who is only on the team for special teams play, was offside. On the re-kick, the Ravens returned to the 31 yard line, starting a drive that resulted in a touchdown.
  • Matt Roth – who we are completely tired of – was offside on the Ravens final drive, killing any chance the Browns had of making a final comeback. That was his second offside of the day.

Well, you get the picture. We thought that having a disciplinarian for a coach, rather than a “softie” like Romeo Crennel was supposed to fix the problem of excessive penalties?

Offensively, the Browns moved the ball pretty well, and you really couldn’t ask any more out of Wallace, who finished 18-of-24 with a touchdown, no turnovers and a QB rating of 103; not bad against the second-ranked pass defense.

The Browns also rushed for 173 yards, with Hillis ripping the Ravens for 144 yards on the ground and another 36 through the air. How the Browns got this guy for Brady Quinn remains one of the biggest mysteries of the year.

The defense, overall, didn’t play all that bad, although they were not able to put any pressure on Joe Flacco, who passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns – all to Anquan Boldin. Which brings us to the biggest pile of ugly from the game.

We have absolutely no idea how to describe Eric Wright’s game against the Ravens. He was burned by Boldin on all three touchdowns and seemed completely lost/overmatched/out of his league on Sunday.

Boldin had 8 catches for 142 yards. Consider that in one game Boldin had:

  • More yards than Chansi Stuckey has had in his last eight games for the Browns.
  • More yards than Brian Robiskie has had in his entire career.
  • More yards than Mohamed Massaquoi has had in his last five games for the Browns.

Somehow Massaquoi and Stuckey played an entire game without catching a single pass. For the season, Massaquoi has five total receptions for 55 yards; Stuckey has five for 41 yards.

Let’s review: in one game, Boldin had more yards than Massaquoi, Stuckey and Robiskie have combined for the season (114) and almost as many catches (10).

We’ve tried very, very hard to give these receivers the benefit of the doubt and accept that they will have growing pains. But with each passing week the evidence is slowly mounting that these guys probably just are not that good.

Excuses were made for them last year with the abysmal quarterback play, but that hasn’t been the case this year. If Josh Cribbs, Ben Watson, Peyton Hillis and everyone else can catch passes from Jake Delhomme and Wallace, why can’t these guys?

Think about it: if the Browns released Massaquoi, Robiskie and Stuckey on Monday, would any of them get picked up by another NFL team? It seems highly doubtful. Thank (insert your deity here) that Eric Mangini is no longer in charge of the draft or trades.

The Browns are back home next week against Cincinnati. We wonder what fun awaits as we near the quarter mark of the season.

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