It is often said that things sometimes have to get worse before they can get better. For the Cleveland Browns they better hope for teo things. One, that the proverb is true and two, that they can’t get much worse then their performance in a 27-6 loss to the Denver Broncos.
In a game that could have been a lot worse if not for two Matt Prater missed field goals, the Browns once again kept it close in the first half only to be manhandled after the second half kickoff. Failing to take advantage of opportunities presented by the Broncos and presenting more than a few to Denver was the story of the game for the beaten and battered Browns.
Cleveland got a gift on the opening kickoff when Peyton Hillis fumbled but was unable to convert the turnover into a touchdown and had to settle for a Phil Dawson field goal. The Broncos, on the other hand, were able to convert an Alex Mack botched snap into a touchdown pass form Kyle Orton to Tony Sheffler.
If the Browns play calling could be described in two words in would be boring and horrible. Once again deciding not to stretch the field, Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll instead attempted utilize a short passing attack. This was rendered ineffective by Brady Quinn’s inefficiencies and the inability of the offensive line to give Quinn time to throw.
After looking decent in two starts in 2008, Quinn has looked overmatched and unable to make plays. Today was no different as he seemed to have little or no cohesiveness with his receivers all game. Tackle John St. Clair did not help things as he yielded four sacks to Denver’s Elvis Dumerville, which set a Broncos franchise record. Once again another game without an offensive touchdown, which makes it seven out of eight games for the Browns.
The Browns defensive performance mirrored than of the first game versus Minnesota. They managed to keep the team in the game in the first half, helped by Prater’s two missed kicks, but derailed as the second half wore on. Whether it is just being worn down by the opposing offense, not having enough playmakers on that side of the ball or just losing faith that the offense will keep you in a game the Browns defense can not seem to put a complete game together.
So it’s 0-2 for the Browns with a trip to Baltimore to face the rugged Ravens and a home tilt versus the much improved Bengals staring them right in the face. If the Browns don’t find some sort of consistency, or more importantly some sort of team identity, in a hurry they are look at an even monger and more brutal season than most predicted.
For the Browns sake they better hope that proverb exist for a reason. Because it will be very difficult to get much worse than they have been in the first two games of the season. And it will be that much more difficult to watch for the Cleveland faithful.