Blog Entry

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

Posted on: September 27, 2009 5:54 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2009 6:21 pm
Throughout the offseason, Eric Mangini could not decide on a quarterback.
Three weeks into the regular season, nothing has changed.

Joe Flacco proved unflappable, the Ravens' defense dominated, and Baltimore embarrassed the Browns: 34-3.

Defensively, the Browns were dominated physically from the word go.

Baltimore's offensive line had no problem picking up Rob Ryan's blitzes. Willis McGahee and Ray Rice found running room early and often, and that allowed Joe Flacco to carve up a Browns secondary which spent most of the day on their heels. Cornerbacks Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright played well for the most part, but Flacco was afforded too much time against the Browns' zone coverages.

Offensively, anything that could have gone wrong - went wrong.

Brady Quinn started the game by doing exactly what we've seen him do for the past two weeks. Heading into today's game, Baltimore knew Quinn would play conservatively. Dominique Foxworth would eventually take advantage of this - intercepting Quinn's checkdown pass to Edwards. Under Quinn, the offense struggled to move the football and they finished the half without scoring any points.

Eric Mangini had seen enough and pulled his starting quarterback in favor of Derek Anderson.

He didn't fare much better.

Coming off the bench cold and trailing the Ravens by 20, Derek Anderson struggled. Anderson looked inaccurate and uncomfortable to begin the second half. He forced a few ill-advised passes into coverage - three of which resulted in interceptions.

Regardless of who lined up behind center, the Cleveland Browns seemed overwhelmed on the road against a dominant Ravens' offense.

Eric Mangini must find a way to rally this team together, because this has a look of an organization in disarray.

Ten From the Gentledawg

10. Dave Zastudil had a great game.

If there is anything we can take from this game, it is the continued outstanding play of the Cleveland Browns special teams. Cleveland's offensive futility meant a busy day for punter Dave Zastudil, and he answered the call. Zastudil and the Browns kick coverage unit averaged 51.0 yards per punt - an outstanding average considering the Browns punted 5 times today. Cleveland will have to rely on field position all season, and thankfully they have one of the most consistent punters in the game.

9. Eric Mangini is in danger of losing this team.

Earlier today, an ESPN report surfaced that several Browns players have filed grievances against Mangini for steep fines he's levied for non-football offenses. At least two of these grievances stem from an incident which occurred when Mangini fined a player $1,701 for allegedly stealing a water bottle. With the Browns' poor performance on the field and Mangini's heavy-handed coaching style, I wouldn't be surprised if that grumbling in the locker room becomes a little bit louder. Without results the show for it, Mangini's hard-nosed, authoritative personality simply does not work.

8. The Browns have major issues on defense.

Through the first two weeks of the regular season, I gave the Browns the benefit of the doubt in assessing them as a defense. After witnessing Joe Flacco and the Ravens have their way with the team, it is clear the Browns have major issues on that side of the ball. The most surprising part of this afternoon's loss was the play of the interior linebackers. Eric Barton struggled in coverage and D'Qwell Jackson did not have a good game. Baltimore spread the Browns out with three wide receiver sets, and Cleveland was unable to stop them.

7. Under Derek Anderson, the Browns showed signs of life.

Say what you will about the interceptions, but Derek Anderson was able to move the football down the field. At one point, Anderson took the Browns from the Cleveland 22 all the way to the Baltimore 6. Derek Anderson worked all three wide receivers into the game, and forced the aggressive Ravens to defend the entire field. He wasn't perfect, but Anderson took shots down the field and sustained a long drive which resulted in the lone Browns points of the day.

6. Jerome Harrison is an upgrade over Jamal Lewis.

Heading into the game, I thought the Jamal Lewis injury was a blessing in disguise for the Browns. Harrison has the quickness and vision you'd like to see from a feature back, and he was able to compensate for the lack of a consistent passing game. Harrison never saw playing time due to his inconsistency in pass protection, but there were no signs of that today. Although the score took the Browns out of running situations, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll should be pleased in what he's seen today from Harrison.

5. The Baltimore Ravens are one of the most complete teams in the NFL.

The Browns were not competitive today, and the Ravens were a big part of that. The gap in talent between these two teams was too much, and that showed up in the final score. Baltimore will be one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL this year.  The Browns performed poorly today, and it should stand for something that they played one of the best teams in the NFL on the road. The Ravens are a division opponent, so they'll eventually need to find a way to beat this team.

4. Billy Cundiff filled in admirably for Phil Dawson.

While he did not attempt any difficult field goals, Cundiff did exactly what you'd expect of a backup kicker. The 29-year-old Cundiff drilled the second-half kickoff deep into the end zone not once, but twice - demonstrating the strong leg you'd like to see from a kicker. Dawson should be ready to go next week, but it's certainly good to know the Browns have a seemingly capable kicker to handle the duties should something happen to Phil Dawson.

3. The Browns were beaten physically and mentally.

You could see it in their body language. The Browns had the look of a defeated football team, and some players may have already given up on the year. Shaun Rogers drew a personal foul after mixing it up with a Baltimore offensive guard. His reaction to the penalty was one of indifference than disgust. There were lots of hands on hips today. There was no passion. I have never seen a more worn out football team than this one at the end of a game.

2. The winless Browns might be the worst team in the NFL.

The Detroit Lions pulled off a remarkable victory against a talented Washington team at home. The Raiders have pushed the Chargers to the limit, and the Rams can actually score points on offense. Who is worse than the Browns? The defense has struggled, the offense is inept, and the leaders on this team are far too inconsistent for sustained success. The Cleveland Browns may be the worst team in the NFL.

1. One of these quarterbacks needs to go...and fast.

Benching Brady Quinn halfway through the game forces Eric Mangini to make an important decision. With all of the turmoil surrounding the team, a quarterback controversy will not help unify the lockerroom and maintain offensive continuity. The reality of the situation is this - both Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are imperfect quarterbacks. Mangini must decide which passer he prefers, and then trade or release the other. Both quarterbacks seem to be playing scared in fear of their jobs. The only way to correct that is to demonstrate confidence in whichever passer he selects.


Since: Sep 12, 2007
Posted on: September 29, 2009 8:06 am

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

Trouble is spelled Mangini! This amazing head coach left the Jets with a team he managed to instill a losing attitude. Now under a new head coach with mostly the same players they have the best defense in the  NFL. He has proven he is unable to get the best out of his team wherever he is the coach. The Browns need to try and hire someone like Cowher and let him bring in someone who can teach his QB's how to throw. Under Mangini the Browns have quickly fallen to the worst team in the league. I will stay a Browns fan but this guy has to go. Maybe one needs to look at who hired him and ask some tough questions.

Since: Feb 26, 2009
Posted on: September 28, 2009 4:37 pm

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

Couldn't agree more. Brady may have more future potential, but it seems to be a ways off. He needs to back up a quality QB where he can learn more, whether it's with the Browns or somewhere else, but Oakland is in the same boat. They should have kept Garcia.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: September 27, 2009 11:01 pm

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

I also agree about the quaterback situation. I say stick with DA, since Quinn refuses to go downfield and make the defense defend the whole field not just 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Exactly.

Anderson turned the ball over, but keep in mind his decision making was hampered. On 3rd & 7, DA had to get something going. No one was open, but DA couldn't simply throw the ball away. That's bad situational football.

For the Browns to have any chance of winning the football game, DA needed to score on every drive. Anderson once said that  if you go into a game with the mentality that you will score on every drive, you will force things and make decisions you wouldn't otherwise have made.

Oakland might be a good suggested move for Quinn. They are definitely not happy with  Russell Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson would have to catch on with another team strictly as a backup quarterback. At this point, neither passer will be brought in to compete for a starting job.

I could see the Browns shipping one of the quarterbacks to a team like the Seahawks, Dolphins, Patriots, or Jaguars.

LB, I appreciate the read. Thank you.

Since: Nov 13, 2007
Posted on: September 27, 2009 8:50 pm

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

Cheeks, as usual nice post.
I agree especially with your last 2 points. I believe the Browns are the worst team in football now and on top of that there does not appear to be any hope in the foreseeable future.

I also agree about the quaterback situation. I say stick with DA, since Quinn refuses to go downfield and make the defense defend the whole field not just 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Oakland might be a good suggested move for Quinn. They are definitely not happy with  Russell.

Cheeks, use your connections and get it done.Wink

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: September 27, 2009 7:47 pm

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

talented Washington? Really? I don't know.

I like the weapons Washington has at their disposal. Clinton Portis is a great runner. Cooley and Moss are pretty good.

That defense is underachieving. They should be much better than they've shown - especially with Albert Haynesworth in the middle. I have no idea what's going on there.

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: September 27, 2009 7:20 pm

Week 3: Trouble in Paradise?

The Detroit pulled off a remarkable victory against a talented Washington team at home talented Washington? Really?

I actually picked Detroit because Skins have no offense, and Detroit can score.

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