The Cleveland Browns only have themselves to blame after laying this latest egg, a 13-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The loss eliminated the Browns from playoff contention (realistic or not) and spotlighted how inconsistent and questionably prepared to scheme this team has been on game day.
Scoring six points against a Buffalo team that has been less than mediocre on the defensive side of the ball is inexcusable, even for a Browns team that challenges itself with offensive ineptitude on a weekly basis.
We're talking a match-up of the NFL's worst defense against the run against a Cleveland team that seemingly takes pride in being offensively predictable and one-dimensional.
The perception of the Browns is: Stop running back Peyton Hillis and you stop the Browns.
On the Browns initial drive, Hillis nearly single-handedly rushed the ball down the throats of the Bills defense. The Browns drive stalled at the 1-yard-line, as the Buffalo defense loaded the box. The Bills felt the Browns wouldn't throw the football -- and they didn't disappoint.
Now, again, we question the imagination of the Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, or whoever is responsible for the weekly questionable play calling and strategy.
On that opening drive that stalled near the goal line, there was no play-action or looks to tight end Ben Watson, who is the Browns best option in the passing game this season. As has been customary throughout the season, the Browns basically ignored what the opposition was doing and believed they were strong enough to overcome the situation.
Blind faith appears to be the philosophy followed by the Browns offense.
As the game went along, the Browns did their best impression of a self-imploding group. From the fumbles to errant pass attempts to multiple three-yard routes in the passing game, the Browns offense was as stale as year-old bread.
Making matters worse was when the Browns offense sought to challenge the mighty Buffalo defense. Browns wide receivers could not gain separation or ran incorrect routes. Those two aspects have been the norm for the Cleveland offense, making the cold and wet day in Buffalo only typical.
For an organization seeking to take the next step in development, this outing only typifies what has been a string of questionable offensive outings.
Whether the Browns offense is restricted by the talent level or conservativeness of the coaching staff, the latest debacle simply cannot be ignored. Especially by those within the organization responsible to field a team worthy of competitiveness and playoff aspirations.
Eric Mangini is ultimately responsible as head coach of this team. Mangini chose his offensive coordinator. Mangini also retains the right to change or challenge the offensive coordinator, as he is involved in the game-plan process.
The manner in how a team plays is often compared to the type of person or leader the head coach is. At times, Mangini and the Browns look to have turned the corner, only to play in a manner that can be described as completely unimaginative without emotion.
While the defense has held the opposition in check to keep the Browns in their weekly battle, the offense has failed to demonstrate the ability to execute and that has ultimately been the undoing of this team.
The responsibility of the offense falls onto the shoulders of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll is a first-time offensive coordinator who was hand-picked by Mangini. Daboll has struggled since being named to the position prior to the 2009 season.
Void of difference-makers on the offensive side of the ball, Daboll has struggled to piece together an NFL quality offensive scheme. Some of the issue resides with the lack of perceived top-tier talent at positions of performance. Yet it is inexcusable to not to utilize talent in a manner to potentially change the complexion of a game.
How, at the professional level, does an offensive coordinator not attempt to stretch the field? How does a team not show the threat of a vertical presence in the scheme, other than utilizing a tight-end down the seam?
The downfall of the Browns' season can and should be laid at the feet of the offensive coordinator and head coach. Throw out the excuses, whether valid or not, the NFL is about winning and the present stable in Cleveland does not appear to be suited for this challenge.
Ultimately, Mangini is going to remove his offensive coordinator if his stay in Cleveland extends beyond the 2010 season. And that is a big "if."
Until then, expect the remaining three games to continue with the same offensive misery.