Take two winnable games.
Hand each opponent 10 points on turnovers.
Make lots of mistakes.
Leave plays on the field.
No offense after halftime.
That recipe produces two losses.
Here are some random thoughts about what I saw:
• Seneca Wallace did decently for a backup other than the pick six and the other pass that could have easily become a pick six. The Browns didn't do a lot to play to his strengths. My biggest beefs were the times receivers were wide open, sometimes completely uncovered, and Wallace missed them. Often, he didn't even look that way. On the play right after the Ahtyba Rubin interception, Joshua Cribbs was wide open headed into the end zone. I saw four such plays, but to be fair, one when Mohammed Massaquoi was open in the second half was when Wallace rolled out to the opposite side.
• While the defense let the Chiefs have too many long possessions in the second half, they still held the Chiefs to just six points. You can't complain too much about that.
• Another fumble, this time by Jerome Harrison. Harrison didn't do a lot, but there were plays where one better block would have led to a lot more yards. Peyton Hillis at least held onto the ball and made more plays, especially on third down. The Browns haven't used Lawrence Vickers enough, either.
• The new look secondary did well. Most of the plays they made were in the running game because they largely weren't challenged. When they were, you got plays like Sheldon Brown's interception where he was in textbook position.
• Why challenge the secondary when lots of yards are there to be had underneath against the linebackers? I do think Scott Fujita was much improved, Matt Roth made some plays, and Marcus Benard was a beast. But there were cases where the defensive line covered underneath receivers better than the linebackers. Still, the linebacker play was probably the best of the year so far. That isn't saying much, but I'll take it.
• The special teams play was not good. The Chiefs kicked away from Cribbs and the Browns had no answer for it. Phil Dawson missed a very makeable field goal in a game the Browns lost by 2. Reggie Hodges had a shank from deep in Browns territory late in the game. The coverage units did pretty well except for downing the ball. The Browns used special teams to help them last year. So far this year, it is killing them to have pedestrian special teams play.
• T. J. Ward continues to make plays. Joe Haden made two great plays as a gunner on special teams.
• The poor offensive line play continued. The Browns used Floyd Womack at right guard and John St. Clair at right tackle most of the time, though it was Tony Pashos at tackle and St. Clair at guard from time to time. The Browns also lined up Eric Steinbach at tight end on the goal line. Joe Thomas got beat and had to hold on one play. Alex Mack probably cost the team 3 points reacting to a blow below the belt by former Brown Shaun Smith. The biggest surprise of the early season is how poor the line has played.
• I'm still trying to understand deep bombs to covered receivers on manageable third downs. Why?
• Once again, one wildcat play? In a two-minute, long-yardage situation?
• The defensive line did pretty well. Rubin stops the run and had a very heads up play to get the interception. Robaire Smith and Shaun Rogers also did well. On some long-yardage downs, the Browns deployed Rogers at nose with Roth and Benard at end. Brian Shaeferring also got some looks in long-yardage situations.
• The officiating in this game was terrible and one-sided. The fumble call on Harrison was debatable. The roughing the passer call was horrible. Lots of missed holding calls, and a Brown was blatantly tripped on a play that allowed KC to covert deep in their own end. No call. The fourth down spot was questionable, but the replays shown in the stadium did not provide definitive evidence that it was wrong.
People are saying the team looks like it did early last year. That's revisionist history. Granted, the Browns played tougher opponents in Minnesota and Denver to start 2009, but they were dominated in both cases. At least the Browns were in both of these games, holding leads going into the fourth quarter.
But, that being said, losing two games that could have easily been won is not a good start for a team now facing seven very tough games in a row. The stretch starting next week and ending in mid-November will be very difficult.
With a different quarterback but the same result, you have to question the coaching. Hearing Eric Magini complain about "not enough wildcat" in his press conference today reveals there is some internal disagreement over strategy. One also has to wonder why Brad Seely did not become more creative about getting the ball to Cribbs on kickoffs until the fourth quarter. Yes, the Browns lack talent and experience, but the coaching did not help.
You've heard the expression "dead man walking"? Eric Mangini is a fired man coaching. I'm not advocating firing him so much as I am looking at the way the season will likely unfold now that the team has started 0-2. Unless the Browns can mount a massive turnaround, they are headed for a 1-8 or 0-9 start. Maybe the team will come together a bit. Does that mean maybe 2-7 or 3-6? But if they continue to hand points to better teams, the results will be more lopsided than these first two weeks. Things will start to resemble 2009. If the team is winless at the bye, Mangini could very well be dismissed.
I predicted a 6-10 finish for the Browns. That will be difficult to achieve now unless some things radically change. Even with better coaching, it will take a team handing the Browns the game to steal one or two during this stretch. It can happen, it's just unlikely.
I was shocked at how many seats were empty on opening day, especially with the Ring Of Honor ceremony. They announced an attendance of 67,000, but there was no way the actual attendance approached that number. Walking out, the crowd was somber. One fan I heard told a Chiefs fan, "Enjoy your nice start. Our season is over." That mood will do little to get fans into the seats. On third downs, nobody stood, but then again, stadium security squelches such shows of support at times. When the weather turns bad, the stadium will be half empty. This is not what Mike Holmgren had in mind for 2010.
The Browns are going to have to attempt to right the ship against seven much better teams. This will be a difficult task. I have a feeling things may get ugly. We are about to find out what the true character of these players and the staff.
The Browns travel to that city to the east to take on the despised Ravens.
The season is short. Bark hard!