Browns-Steelers: Joe's Game Review

Joe Brownlee is upset as any other dawg when we lose to the Steelers, but still manages to scrounge up some things that the team did right on Sunday. Here's what Joe feels went right and wrong on Sunday.

Good day, Browns fans!

The Browns went into Pittsburgh and laid an absolute egg. Nobody would have been surprised by the offense continuing to have issues, but they were joined by lapses on defense and special teams as well. The Browns were lucky to be in the game at 7-7, but that didn't last long.

This is an unusual game, so I'm going to take a little different approach to it. Let's look at what things went right and went wrong with each unit.


Offense

What went right:

  • Jeff Garcia showed a lot of heart in trying to rally the troops.

  • Aaron Shea made a nice catch on a deep pass when Garcia was in trouble.

  • The refs ruled Garcia was behind the line on that play. It didn't look that way to me.

  • William Green showed effort and had a couple of very nice runs.

  • Andre Davis caught five passes for 101 yards including a nice touchdown.

What went wrong:

  • Jeff Garcia was running for his life, even on some plays where he didn't need to.

  • Garcia's mishandling of yet another snap killed any chance the Browns had to come back. That ball was right to him.

  • Shea's catch on an improvisation was the only catch by a tight end all day.

  • William Green did well, but was once again relegated to the bench. Meanwhile, Lee Suggs had just 30 yards on 11 carries.

  • Dennis Northcutt caught some passes, but dropped one that was right to him and was so much out of sync with Garcia, they ended up having words on the sideline.

  • The offensive line. Wow. Ross Verba had a bad day. Guys were standing around blocking nobody while Garcia gets sacked.

  • Our power running game somehow decided that it was better off with Terrelle Smith on the bench.

  • Quincy Morgan started a wide receiver. Honest. He really was on the field in this game.

  • Juaquin Gonzalez was hurt and Enoch DeMar replaced him. DeMar got two plays. It was a good thing Gonzalez returned.

  • How many three and outs were there? Too many. The one to open the third quarter was especially bad.

  • Third down conversions: 2 of 12. Enough said.


Defense

What went right:

  • Orpheus Roye had a great hit on Ben Roethlisberger.

  • Alvin McKinley made a great stop on Jerome Bettis on third down. A sweep with Bettis on third and one? Our coaching staff isn't the only one with issues.

  • Chris Crocker made a heads up play on a deflected pass that resulted in a touchdown. Offense 16, Crocker 7.

  • The Browns held the Steelers under 50 points.

What went wrong:

  • After saying nice things about Anthony Henry, he had a horrendous game. Sure, he had some nice coverage, but losing your man on a scramble more than once in the game is inexcusable.

  • Lots has been made of the Browns choice not to blitz in this game. When they did send six or seven guys, they still didn't get there. You knew those would result in big plays, and they did.

  • Ebenezer Ekuban thought he had a sack. Oops, missed him. Boom! Deep pass play. I'd have loved to have been in the film room Monday when they showed that.

  • Kenard Lang whiffed on a sack for the second game in a row.

  • Speaking of Lang, he was doing his best Michael Dean Perry imitation, overrunning the play.

  • It seems like Andra Davis is behind every play this year.

  • A variation on a Newtonian Law: "For every decent play made by Kevin Bentley, there is an equal and opposite bonehead play".

  • Robert Griffith: ducking tackles, bad coverage, slowest blitzer in the NFL. What's not to love?

  • Earl Little not only can't tackle, but he seems to have lost his nose for the ball.

  • I actually found myself wanting Gerard Warren in the game.


Special Teams

What went right:

  • Got a fumble on two kickoffs.

  • Phil Dawson hit three field goals.

What went wrong:

  • Didn't come up with either fumbled kickoff.

  • Phil Dawson's kickoffs hurt the Browns on field position all day. Yeah, I know it was windy. Did that seem to bother the Steeler kicker?

  • This was probably Dee Brown's worst stint as kickoff return man. Besides falling down, he did his best Andre Davis imitation – run right into the pile.

  • Derrick Frost had a miserable day punting.

  • Dennis Northcutt failed to field a punt and cost the team 14 yards. Instead of their own 40, the Browns started at the 26.

  • Lost the field position battle pretty much all game. Given the team's pop gun offense, they cannot overcome it.

  • Penalties.


Coaching

What went right:

  • The team arrived and was ready to play at the 1:01 PM kickoff time.

What went wrong:

  • The Browns had a game plan that did not stop Roethlisbeger.

  • Ride the hot hand, eh? Suggs is going nowhere, but Green has runs of 11 and 14 yards. Oh, well, it's hard to run down 34-13.

  • All three timeouts are going well before the end of both halves. Great.

  • In a Bill Belichick-like move, Davis chooses to kick a field goal down 34-13. We closed to within 18 points. Whee.

  • A Steeler player makes a mistake, Cowher rips them. They do something well, he's right there, jaw jutting, cheering them on. Butch Davis stands around with his arms crossed no matter what. Where's the passion?

  • A lot of the same mistakes we've seen this year and in earlier years. I guess it's too much to ask to correct them.

  • Players who don't perform continue to play and start. Yes, I'm talking about you Quincy Morgan and Earl Little.

  • After the game, Davis says Verba is off to a great start, the problems on offense are the result of "panic", guys aren't playing like they are coached, and William Green is a vital part of the team. His lies are growing old.


Commentary

OK, folks, I'm done. I've been mad at Butch Davis, but I've wanted things to work out. They aren't. This team has come almost full circle. The offense is as bad as the 2000 team. You have to cheer if they can manage even a first down. This is a sad state of affairs.

I've heard people say things like, "Well, Butch isn't on the field." No, he isn't, but he's picked the guys who are. Davis has ignored the guard and tackle positions despite picking Jeff Faine and Melvin Fowler (bust). Injuries are a tired old excuse. Injuries can often be bad luck, but this has been a constant theme since Davis arrived.

The Steelers came out ready to play Sunday. The Browns didn't. In a game against your archrival for first place, if the team doesn't come ready to play, someone needs to be held accountable. As I noted above, Bill Cowher isn't perfect, but at least his team reflects his passion for the game. The Browns reflect the leadership style Davis has shown: confused, disorganized, and undisciplined.

It's time for changes. I've advocated sitting Morgan. Let Northcutt play, or how about young Richard Alston? I bet he'd at least give 100% effort. The offensive line can't be much worse, but there isn't much on the bench, either. Maybe let DeMar replace Zukauskas. Let Crocker play at safety. He can't be worse than Little and Griffith have been so far.

The Browns are once again backed into a corner. Lose at home to the Bengals this week, and the fans will turn on Butch Davis, if they haven't already. With a tough Philadelphia team coming in the following week, a loss to the Bengals could have the Browns at 2-5 going into the bye. Funny, but the Eagles game is the kind of game the Browns have won under Davis, but on paper, it's hard to see the Browns not getting blown out in that one. People say the second half schedule is easier, but Houston and San Diego are showing signs of life and the Jets and Patriots won't be easy to beat. This is looking more and more like a repeat of last year's 5-11 season than a step toward respectability.


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The Browns return home to face the Bengals.

The season is short. Bark hard!


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