Browns-Steelers: Report Card

Here is the Browns report card against the Steelers, according to Scout.com...

Here is the Browns report card for their game against the Steelers on Sunday, according to the Scout.com NFL experts:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- At times, Jeff Garcia looked more comfortable than he ever has as a Brown. He scrambled effectively, rolled out and even completed a 50-yard bomb to Andre Davis. But Garcia was harassed all day because of an overmatched offensive line. Browns offensive linemen had trouble picking up Pittsburgh's relentless blitzers. The absence of Winslow continues to be felt. Aaron Shea had the only catch among the remaining tight ends. Receiver Quincy Morgan caught one pass for 15 yards, giving him a paltry eight receptions for the season.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- In terms of quality, they deserve a higher grade. But Cleveland had to practically abandon the run game once they fell behind 21 points early in the third quarter. William Green got only three carries for 27 yards. He didn't touch the ball again after having a 14-yard run in the third quarter. Lee Suggs got more of the work off the bench for the second week in a row, but wasn't as productive as he was against Washington. Suggs gained 30 yards in 11 carries. Garcia was the team's leading rusher with 41 yards in five scrambles.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Instead of blitzing Roethlisberger, the Browns decided to sit back in coverage. Roethlisberger picked apart the secondary. The Browns seldom applied pressure with their four-man rush. Even when they did, Roethlisberger escaped it and found receivers downfield. Cornerback Anthony Henry was burned twice on broken plays when he allowed Plaxico Burress to get behind him. One was for 48 yards. The other went for a 37-yard touchdown. Hines Ward caught six passes for 61 yards, mostly against Daylon McCutcheon. The only bright spot for the pass defense came when Chris Crocker intercepted a pass that deflected off Antwaan Randle El's hands and ran 20 yards for Cleveland's first touchdown.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- The rush defense had been a strength. In Cleveland's first four games, it hadn't allowed a run longer than 11 yards. That defense didn't show up Sunday. Duce Staley broke a 25-yard touchdown run to open the game, a score made possible when safety Earl Little failed to wrap his arms around Staley when he had the chance. Staley finished with 21 carries for 117 yards despite sitting out much of the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- Phil Dawson extended his consecutive field-goal streak to 21 with kicks of 24, 34 and 46 yards. But that was about the only highlight. Dawson's kickoffs were short, and the Browns allowed a 48-yard kickoff return to set up Pittsburgh's first touchdown. Derrick Frost's punts were low, and only good plays in coverage prevented a big play in that part of the game. The Browns didn't make any big plays in the return game. Dee Brown's longest kickoff return in five attempts was 18 yards.

COACHING: F -- The strategy not to blitz Roethlisberger backfired. The running back situation remains muddled. It's one thing to ride the hot hand, but Davis didn't do that. Giving the starting running back three carries when those runs were productive - as Green's were -- doesn't make sense. Green and Suggs are roughly the same size, so it's not a case where Green is incapable of picking up blitzes. It's clear the players are playing tight, and coaches should carry some of the blame for that.


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