View Full Version : Cleveland's perspective

09-21-2009, 11:25 AM
Collapse from a Mile High: Cleveland Browns too inoffensive to contend in 27-6 loss to Denver Broncos


Collapse from a Mile High: Cleveland Browns too inoffensive to contend in 27-6 loss to Denver Broncos
By Tony Grossi
September 21, 2009, 7:01AM

It's wasn't the best of days for Brady Quinn against the Denver Broncos, never moreso than on this third-quarter pass attempt, in which he was the victim of a Broncos avalanche by Elvis Dumervil (92) and Robert Ayers.DENVER, Colo. -- Eric Mangini told his players after being routed by the Denver Broncos, 27-6, that they need to be better at responding to adversity.

Now we're going to see how the new Browns coach responds to the same.

In two humbling losses to kick off the Mangini Era, the Browns have scored no meaningful touchdowns on offense and have suffered epic meltdowns on defense the second half. Brady Quinn, the winner of the longest quarterback competition in NFL history, suffered four more sacks -- all by linebacker Elvis Dumervil -- and one interception. The way he threw the ball Sunday, Quinn couldn't hit Lake Erie from the deck of the steamship William G. Mather docked behind Cleveland Browns Stadium.

While there was no "run for the ages" like that of Adrian Peterson a week ago, Denver's Correll Buckhalter did pull off a dirt-shoveling, 45-yard touchdown run on which he broke a tackle, froze defenders on a cutback and rode cornerback Eric Wright the final 10 yards to the end zone. No spring chicken, Buckhalter, 30, has had three major knee operations in his nine-year NFL career. Ultimately, the Browns kept Josh McDaniels -- the other Bill Belichick creation -- undefeated as Denver's rookie head coach and made Andra Davis 2-0 for the first time in his career. The former Browns linebacker led all defenders with 10 tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage.

"We have plenty of players that we can win with," Mangini said in response to a question about his team's talent level. "We need to adjust the problems that we have. It's not some big mystery. There are things that are correctable and controllable, and we need to get in control of them." Players gamely vowed to stay together as a team.

"That's the last thing I'm worried about," said left guard Eric Steinbach.

"We're a family," said safety Abram Elam.

Braylon Edwards was one of the few bright lights for the Browns' offense, as he had six completions, including this grab good for a first down against the Broncos' Champ Bailey.

Offense: Brady Quinn’s throws were all over the gridiron. Four more sacks, another turnover. He looked better as a rookie. Converting 3 of 14 third down situations reflects equally poor play on first and second downs. Failing to punch in a touchdown on Denver’s fumble of the opening kickoff set the tone. Good grief, this wasn’t the Orange Crush they were facing. Bottom line: Not at a professional level.

Defense: Live by the blitz, die by the blitz. Kyle Orton made more plays on third down than on the others. Tackling in the fourth quarter was non-existent. Brandon McDonald’s lapse vs. Jabar Gaffney in the fourth quarter was a killer. Hank Poteat? Time to audition somebody else in the slot. Bottom line: Deja vu.

Special teams: Coye Francies and Blake Costanzo combined on a fumble and recovery on the opening kickoff. Josh Cribbs had one punt return of 17 yards and was bottled up the rest of the game. Dave Zastudil landed three of his six punts inside the 20 — one at the 6. Bottom line: Marked improvement.

Coaching: The two-tight end offensive base is not cutting it. Somebody has to instruct Quinn to throw the ball into the end zone on occasion. The defense gets gassed by the third quarter. At least penalties were cut in half, to four. Bottom line: Into crisis management mode already.
-- Tony Grossi
But linebacker D'Qwell Jackson issued a telling comment when he said, "Guys are working too darn hard not to get rewarded."

Jackson said that after melting down in the second half last week, the team worked harder in practice and actually did extra running.

"To come out here and not get a 'W' is not acceptable," Jackson said.

Added Steinbach, "The big amazement to me is we had a great week of practice. We [on offense] just left the defense out there too long."

The offensive tone was set once again on the first series when Quinn failed to negotiate a short field for a touchdown. Blake Costanzo's recovery of Peyton Hillis' fumble of the opening kickoff handed the Browns first possession at the Denver 22.

A leaping catch by Braylon Edwards gave the Browns a first down at the 7. After two ineffectual handoffs to Jamal Lewis, Quinn lined up three receivers and Jerome Harrison in the backfield. Quinn threw wide for Mike Furrey on a sideline out short of the end zone. Quinn later said he adjusted the throw to avoid a pick when he noticed the cornerback jumping the route.

Field goal.

The Browns' only other scoring chance of the day came at the end of the first quarter when they settled for another field goal after Quinn's pass for Josh Cribbs on third-and-6 gained one yard.

Somehow, Edwards rebounded from his poor first game to lead all receivers with six catches for 92 yards. That was the highlight.

After their second field goal, the Browns punted six times and committed turnovers on a Cribbs' fumble and a Quinn interception at the end. They also turned it over on another Alex Mack errant shotgun snap. This one was low, Mangini observed, after Mack's high balls were corrected during the practice week.

"Frustrating is one word that comes to mind," Quinn said of his performance (18-of-31 for 161 yards, 58.7 rating). "I have to do a better job of elevating my game."

Mangini did admit, "There were definitely some opportunities for him to get the ball to receivers open."

Asked if he was tempted to see what Derek Anderson could do, Mangini said, "No. What I'm looking to do is play better across the board. It's really that because the offense had nothing to do with the two long defensive plays.

"That's the risk you take when you blitz. If you blitz and don't hit the right gaps, don't get to the quarterback, then you leave the corners on an island. And the corners got to be able to, if the ball's complete, make the tackle. If you blitz on the run, you've got to be sound on the backside gap, so if they cut it back you're there to make the play. And the second level has to be able to limit it to a 15-yard gain."

The two defensive breakdowns Mangini spoke of turned a 13-6 Denver lead into a rout in the fourth quarter. Both were against blitzes called by coordinator Rob Ryan.

On the first, Kyle Orton completed a pass for 19 yards to Jabar Gaffney down to the Browns' 30. After the catch, Gaffney turned inside and cornerback Brandon McDonald lost sight of him, allowing Gaffney to extend the play all the way to the Browns' 2. Hillis plowed in for the touchdown on the next play.

On the second, the Browns whiffed at Buckhalter blasting through the blitz. He broke one tackle, cut inside and took Wright for a ride to the end zone for his 45-yard scoring run.

In between those two defensive gems, Quinn suffered two of Dumervil's four sacks on back-to-back plays. He just eluded a safety on the second one.

"The offense is not moving the ball, so we have to pick up the slack," Jackson said of the defense. "We've got to help each other. We've got to play complementary ball."

At 0-2, all is not lost, of course. There's all kinds of historical data to suggest a free-fall can be averted. But with a trip to Baltimore on tap next, you've got to wonder. Overcoming adversity has not been a trait of Mangini's team so far.

Beantown Bronco
09-21-2009, 11:39 AM
Nice reward for going 0-2: travel to Baltimore. Sucks to be them.

09-21-2009, 11:49 AM
CLE could very well be the WORST team in the NFL--couldn't happen to a 'nicer' city.......

09-21-2009, 12:03 PM
CLE could very well be the WORST team in the NFL--couldn't happen to a 'nicer' city.......

i think they undeniably will be. them or the lions. rams atleast have some good players on both sides of the field. lions have a new coaching staff who was left with almost no talent anywhere, besides calvin johnson (freak). mangini is such a retard its crazy.

09-21-2009, 12:05 PM
did anyone else notice Ayers in the second half? he was going againt Thomas and was getting decent push on him. had he been going against ST Clair like Doom, we might be singing the praises of Ayers today.

i think Ayers is beginning to get it going. few more weeks and he will be playing pretty damn good i think.

09-21-2009, 12:18 PM
Once again, we own the Browns!!