Browns Report Card vs. Bengals

The Insiders present their take on the Browns win in the finale

When the Browns played the Baltimore Ravens in the next-to-last week of the season, ex-Brown Corey Fuller commented that "William Green better get his act together."

Because Fuller liked what he saw in Lee Suggs.

In the season finale the next week, Suggs showed why. He ran for 186 yards in Cincinnati to end the Bengals' season and give the Browns hope for 2004.

Suggs broke big touchdown runs of 78 and 25 yards and ran hard and well. He showed why the Browns took him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft -- even though they had Green.

But now with Green suspended indefinitely Suggs at least provides some insurance that the Browns have a back to count on in 2004.
The Browns will look to next season a little more secure and figuring that anything they get from Green -- if they get anything -- will be a bonus.


PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Tim Couch only threw for 115 yards, but completed two huge throws on third and long in the fourth period. Couch's two third-down passes kept drives alive. Couch's play the past month may have won him back the starting job in 2004. "He's done an awful lot to bring back everyone's belief in him," coach Butch Davis said.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- The dormant part of the Browns offense came alive in the finale thanks to Lee Suggs and the blocking of young, unheralded blockers Joaquin Gonzalez and Enoch DeMar. Suggs ran for more yards than any Browns back has in 26 years, and showed the natural ability that led him to score 49 touchdowns in two full seasons at Virginia Tech. The Browns' 264 rushing yards were the most by the offense in the team's revival, which started in 1999.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- The most effective thing the Browns defense did was frustrate Chad Johnson, Cincinnati's main weapon. Johnson had two interference penalties and no big plays.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- Cincinnati got some big plays and two rushing touchdowns from Rudi Johnson, but had to work for the yards they got. The Browns rebounded well from a disappointing day against Baltimore to play well against a good offensive team.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Basically a wash. Neither side provided many big plays, and neither special teams did much.

COACHING: A -- The Browns had nothing to play for; the Bengals had everything to play for. The Browns played hard from start to finish. This is a credit to the players and to the entire coaching staff. In a game that meant nothing to Cleveland, the Browns played hard and played well.

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