Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “non-existant wide receivers”

Final Thoughts on the Browns-Saints

It’s a day later and our head is still spinning from the Browns crazy win over the Saints. We can’t remember the last time the Browns went on the road and left the home team leaving the field with boos ringing in their heads.

We’ve been trying all day to come up with a way to describe Colt McCoy’s first two games and the best we can do is “satisfied.” While not putting up any gaudy stats, McCoy did what you’d want your third-string quarterback to do, plus a little bit more. He didn’t make any major mistakes, never looked in over his head, and left us knowing that if he has to come back into a game this season we won’t be seeing the return of Spergon Wynn, Todd Philcox, Luke McCown, Ken Dorsey or any of the other retreads the Browns have trotted out over the years.

And McCoy was the only rookie quarterback to post a win on Sunday. Sam Bradford only had 126 passing yards in a loss to Tampa Bay, Tim Tebow (Denver) and Jimmy Clausen (Carolina) didn’t even play, and Max Hall (Arizona) was 4-of-16 for 36 yards before leaving the game with an injury.

Having said all that, there’s still no reason for the Browns to deviate from the plan to essentially redshirt McCoy this year. If Seneca Wallace and/or Jake Delhomme are healthy coming out of the bye, or as soon as they are, they should go back to being the top two quarterbacks. The Browns came up with the plan in the preseason after evaluating what’s best for McCoy and the team and we’d hate to see them go away from that in a haste of emotion.

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Terry Pluto made an interesting point in his Sunday PD column when he pointed out that wide receiver Brian Robiskie was on the field for 48 of 61 snaps against Pittsburgh, but only had two catches for 13 yards. Looking at the tapes, the coaches said Robiskie was not getting open “quick enough.”

Well, that’s what happens when you don’t have NFL-caliber speed. The same can be said for Mohamed Massaquoi. It’s a big part of the reason why the wide receiving group is so poor.

One receiver who does have speed is Carlton Mitchell, but we haven’t seen him yet. He must really be bad in practice if he can’t get on the field with this group, especially when Yamon Figurs can see action – nice trip on his end around – after being picked up during the week.

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Where was Evan Moore on Sunday?

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The Browns reportedly released running back James Davis on Monday, replacing him with running back Thomas Clayton off of New England’s practice squad.

If the Browns weren’t going to play Davis it makes sense to release him; no need to have him take up a roster spot. But that leaves the running back position awful thin behind Peyton Hillis and we have to wonder with Hillis’ style of play if he can stay healthy the rest of the way and what it would mean to the running game if he went down.

Maybe Reggie Hodges can be a feature back?

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For those still wondering why Jerome Harrison’s inability to consistently pick up the blitz was a problem, take a look at the injury to Tony Romo in last night’s Cowboys game. The fullback completely whiffed on the blitz pick up and now Romo’s out 6-8 weeks.

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Not sure what is going on with the Browns secondary but they are still having communication problems. Could just be growing pains with two rookies seeing significant playing time; could be a bigger problem. Hopefully it’s something the defensive coaches can work out during the extra time with the bye week.

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Pittsburgh and Baltimore are going to be really tough to beat this year if opposing teams have to beat not only them but also the refs. The call on Ben Rothlisberger’s non-fumble at the goal line was horrible. And in overtime, the Ravens stopped a Buffalo receiver near mid-field and rather than blow the play dead the refs just stood around until the Ravens stripped the ball. If they are not going to call the player down because of forward progress in that spot, what’s the point of having that rule?

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Finally, while we’d all like it if the Browns record was better than 2-5, it would be very hard for someone to argue that the team is not slowly improving and trending in the right direction.

Since starting 1-11 last year, the Browns have gone 6-5. Compare that to some other teams that the media decided where “up and coming” before the season started:

  • After staring 6-0 last season, Josh McDaniels was hailed as a genius in Denver. Since then the Broncos have gone 4-13, with a 2-9 mark in their last 11 games.
  • Seemingly everyone wanted to crown San Francisco as division champs in the preseason, apparently because Mike Singletary wears a giant cross and has crazy eyes. Yet in their last 11 games the 49ers are only 4-7.
  • The Dolphins were supposed to be challenging for a division crown this year but are only 5-6 over their past 11 games.
  • Even Detroit got some love before the season started despite a 1-10 record through their past 11 games.

So even though it seems like the Browns are sometimes moving at a glacial pace, things are getting turned around.

And come Sunday at 1, there will be a void in NE Ohio with no Browns game because of the bye.

When was the last time we could say that?

The Return of Derek Anderson

The Browns dropped another hard-fought, close game on Sunday to Atlanta – the fourth such loss of the season – and in the process Jake Delhomme came off the bench to deliver his best Derek Anderson impersonation.

Once again, the defense did everything it could to give the Browns a chance to win. They held the Falcons to just 13 points and – just like the Tampa game – gave up just one big play, a 45-yard TD catch by Roddy White where safety Abe Elam decided to double-cover Tony Gonzalez underneath rather than give cornerback Sheldon Brown help over the top on a deep pass.

Other than that, the defense held Matt Ryan to just 187 yards passing, sacked him twice and hit him hard on several occasions. They did give up 140 rushing yards to Michael Turner, including one 55-yard run, but when it mattered held Atlanta out of the end zone except for the White TD.

As for the offense .. oh boy.

After ripping the Ravens and Bengals for big rushing days, the Browns rushing attack struggled to get anything going, picking up just a single first down on the ground. Peyton Hillis repeatedly had to leave the game with some kind of injury; as a result he totaled only 28 yards on the ground but added 49 in the passing game, including a nice TD catch.

When Hillis was out Jerome Harrison continued to prove the end of last season – when he ran for 561 yards over the final three games – was a complete mirage. Harrison ran six times for a total of six yards, bringing his season total to 91 yards. It’s clear why the Browns were hesitant to give him a contract extension.

As bad as the rushing game was, the passing game was even worse after Seneca Wallace left with an injury. Starting in place of Jake Delhomme, Wallace kept the Browns in the game as he was 11-of-15 for 139 yards and a 124 QB rating before getting hurt right before the end of the first half.

Enter Delhomme, who proceeded to give everyone wearing Brown and Orange flashbacks to the days of Derek Anderson.

Simply put, Delhomme was horrible. Whether it was rust from not playing since Week 1 (probable), not being 100 percent healthy (also probable), the offense completely short-circuited under Delhomme, who was beyond ineffective.

Finishing 13-for-23 for 97 yards, a QB rating of 30.5 and two interceptions – one returned for a game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter – Delhomme gave the Browns no chance to win this game. He consistently threw into double coverage and once, on a pass to Josh Cribbs in the end zone, into quadruble coverage, in the process looking like a quarterback who’s better days are far, far behind him.

I’ve been watching the Browns, and by extension the NFL, since the mid-’70s and I can’t remember the last time a team had three TAINTs in a five-game stretch, let alone in one season. And yes, the Tampa interception wasn’t officially a TAINT, but for our purposes it was close enough.

The receiving corps didn’t help either, as Brian Robiskie checked in with his weekly one catch for five yards and Mohamed Massaquoi pulled in five catches, but for only 55 yards, furthering the believe that these two are Canadian Football League talent – on a good day – and taking all of us one step closer to making the second round of the 2009 draft a complete void.

Tack on another seven penalties from the Browns and it’s a surprise this game was as close as it was at the end.

Having said all that, it’s clear that Delhomme is still not 100 percent healthy and, even with his experience, not really practicing much over the past three weeks showed. If Wallace hadn’t been injured, Delhomme wouldn’t have even been in the game.

However, it’s a fair question to wonder if Wallace, while probably not a better quarterback than Delhomme, is a better quarterback for this Browns team. He certainly was better today and, while not performing at an Pro Bowl level, has played decently the past three weeks.

Look, as with most weeks the Browns needed to play a perfect game to beat Atlanta. It’s a testament to them that with the injuries and poor offensive performance they were able to still be in the game up until the interception return. We’re still in the disappointed and frustrated stage with this team, rather than the disgusted stage.

But depending on how bad Wallace is injured, the Browns face the prospect of heading to Pittsburgh next week with an immobile Delhomme at less than 100 percent. And if neither Delhomme or Wallace are healthy enough to play, Colt McCoy becomes the only healthy quarterback on the roster.

Not a happy thought to carry us through the week.

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