Tales from a Dorkbook: Browns - Bengals II

Brandon Weeden was a better quarterback than Andy Dalton today, and one might be able to make the argument that he was during the first match-up of these teams as well.

Jottings from my well-worn, but still usable, Official Lil' Blade Runner Anti-Replicant Detective Notebook:

-- It's almost as if the somewhat chippy (if in denial about it) Pat Shurmur was listening to talk radio's calls for more Trent Richardson and decided to feed his critics on Richardson until they choked. The rookie running back got nine touches in the first quarter alone. Between them, Richardson and Hardesty wound up with 32 touches.

-- It appears as though teams have figured out that if it's third and long and Chris Ogbannaya enters the game, a screen pass may be in the offing. I'm surprised it worked relatively well the first time it was tried against Cincinnati, completely unsurprised that it failed the second time it was tried. Shurmur and Childress might as well hold up a big neon sign that says "SCREEN PASS" in this situation.

-- Owen Marecic, I've officially lost my patience with your play. Nothing personal. Let the "promote Brad Smelley" campaign begin in earnest.

-- Tweet of the day: Our old friend @SteveSirk tweeting that the "Bengals were batting down Weeden passes like a bunch of Marecics".

-- Wonderful moment as a sheet of paper blows across the field from the Browns sideline, and is picked up by Marvin Lewis. Lewis then compared any of the plays on the diagram to his playbook, and quickly removes anything that looks like a Cleveland Browns offensive play call. Given how events unfolded, I would suspect a deliberate disinformation campaign to confuse Lewis by sending him sheets from Brian Daboll's leftover playbook, who may have been tricked into removing somewhat effective plays from his repetoire. Brilliant strategy. Brilliant.

-- Gameballs for John Hughes and Billy Winn, who stacked, shedded, and fumble-recovered their way to making us forget that Rubin and Taylor were out of the line-up.

-- Unlike my fellow OBR-er DK, your thoughts/first thoughts, I have a certain wistfulness at the official passing of the Randy Lerner era. As ill-prepared as Lerner was to take over an NFL franchise, he truly cared about the team and the experience that fans had at the Stadium. Although he preferred the shadows, it would have been nice to have seen him have at least a few moments in the sun as proud owner of a winning Browns franchise.

-- Lerner was one of the few NFL owners who actually seemed to care about the predicament of fans, and went as far as to give them his time to discuss it. He never hesitated to spend money if he felt it would help the club. As it was, Lerner and the Browns fan base endured disappointment after disappointment, until Lerner's promised time running the team expired, and he got out. Ultimately, his stewardship of the franchise will be remembered without much nostalgia, which is in some ways a shame. Not the least of which is that some of the prime years of my life were wasted watching really, really bad football.

-- Despite the latter's 381 passing yards, Brandon Weeden was a better quarterback than Andy Dalton today, and one might be able to make the argument that he was during the first match-up of these teams as well. Dalton missed a number of throws to open receivers that would have had Browns fans screaming if he was wearing the opposing uniform. Of course, Dalton gave up three picks and a key fumble. If he was wearing a Browns uniform, Dalton would have been hearing boos from the hometown faithful. I've come to conclusion that Dalton won't be one of the game's elite quarterbacks but, like Weeden, perhaps serviceable for a few years. Problem is, "serviceable" isn't good enough in the QB-centric NFL of 2012.

-- We're rough on our quarterbacks up here. Then again, they've been pretty rough on us as well.

-- The Browns were fortunate to go up against an opponent that looks little like the playoff-bound Bengals of one year ago. There has been a noticeable drop-off in both the Bengals' defense and their ability to rush the ball in 2012. The Browns inability to convert a touchdown on two drives starting deep in Bengals territory in the second half would be fatal against a better team. Marvin Lewis may be heading back to the hot seat in Cincinnati.

-- It was good to see the Browns bench an offensive player, OG Jason Pinkston, after he has struggled during much of the previous five games. One of the issues I've had with Shurmur's tenure is that there rarely seem to be consequences to poor play. Or anything else.

-- The decline of special teams in the post-Jerry Rosburg era continues, despite a couple of remember-when runbacks from the indefatigable Josh Cribbs. Punt and kickoff return coverage was abysmal, with Ben Tate made to look a bit like Dante Hall during his heyday. I couldn't help but notice that Rosburg's Ravens had a Jacoby Jones kick return for a touchdown today.

-- Speaking of special teams, Reggie Hodges strange decline during the 2012 season continues. Hodges, who made Puntin' Time so much fun in 2011 has shown an increasing ability to punt poorly after a terrific year last year. Perhaps he just got more practice while coming in after the constant three-and-outs in 2011. I couldn't begin to suggest what is wrong, but Hodges job security should be, at best, uncertain at this point.

-- On to Indianapolis, where Colts fans have had their unbearable half-season of searching for a quarterback ended by Andrew Luck. I worry about the Browns ability to pull off two in a row, particularly with their banged-up secondary.

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