Reading Between the Lines

Fan commentator Dale Galbraith looks inside the meaning of some recent comments by the Browns coaches and players.

As sports fans we never quite get the full story, so we are often forced to read between the lines. Here is my spin on some of the quotes coming out of Berea after the Browns disheartening loss to the Steelers.

"Everybody needs to chill out," said  Butch Davis.

Chill out, Browns fans. You are putting the weight of the world on your shoulders over the play of your beloved team. So what, if the Browns just got their brains beat out by the team that you have despised your entire life. Don't get so hyped up, it makes for bad football. Relax, it is not a time for desperate deeds. So hide all the sharp objects, lock the liquor cabinet & throw away the key, and have a loved one ration your medications.

Alright, here is Butch's entire sentence ."Everybody needs to chill out, they have to chill out and execute the way in which they're being coached to execute."

Chill out?  If they get much colder we might as well bury them along with any playoff hopes.

 Instead of turning down the thermostat maybe it is time to turn up the heat.

"We're not good enough to overcome 10 or 12 mistakes.", Davis said.

Why are the Browns making so many mistakes 5 weeks into the season?

"If you catch my drift, every single person has to shoulder the responsibility," Davis said. "Us as coaches—it starts with us. The plays we call, the protections we put them in, the things we ask them to do. If they can't do it, we have to quit asking them to try to do it. If they can do it, they have to do it well."

I couldn't have said it better.

"It's easy to point the finger at the offensive line and say, 'Those guys stink,' " Davis said. "It's not always the offensive line. When there is a breakdown, it could've started because [the protection was called incorrectly]. . . . It could be a tight end involved in protection or a hot receiver. Those are the things we have to address."

The Browns are over a quarter into the season, and the coaches still have a long laundry list to clean up. What were they doing during mini-camps, and through the summer? Either the coaching philosophy is wrong or the Cleveland Browns don't have the right players. Whatever the reason, the problem falls on Butch Davis's shoulders.

The Blitz

Coach Davis had this to say about the blitzes Pittsburgh threw at the Browns. "They brought a lot of pressure, but it was not anything we had not seen. All their zone dogs and blitzes and guys coming off the edge, we've seen it for the better part of three or four years. You've got to block. You've got to recognize it. You've got to communicate. We've got the protections. We've got the ability to pick all that stuff up. You can't have your quarterback under duress the entire time.''

So Coach, let me get this right. You have seen the Pittsburgh blitz packages for 3-4 years, it's nothing new, and you still can't do anything to slow it down. There is something wrong with that picture. Maybe the team should have studied the film of last year's 33-13 victory a little better.

``They blitz almost every damn play,'' Faine said. ``For them to stop doing it, we've got to get on top and we've got to pick it up a couple times and make some plays. If you can't burn 'em on the blitz, they'll keep doing it all day.''

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

"We're just going to have to look at how we approach those situations and how we react to those situations," said Garcia. "We need to get better at handling the blitz, obviously. That is something that has been difficult for us, and frustrating for us the last couple of weeks. Teams are going to do it until we find a way to stop it."

Better learn fast guys. Cincinnati has had two weeks to work on their blitz packages, and the Eagles have it already perfected.

A"We didn't want to get into a situation to keep not getting there," Butch Davis said regarding the Browns not wanting to blitz Roethlisberger.

For the record the Browns blitzed 5 times, all of which came in the first half. The Steelers got 2 positive plays. One was an 11-yard out to Burress with Henry in coverage 2 yards off the receiver. The other was a 6 yard strike to Ward on 2nd down, which was 4 yards short of a first down. They also had two negative plays. The first resulted in an almost sack, Roethlisberger actually lumbered his way for a 1-yard gain. The other Roethlisberger overthrew a wide open Randle El for an incomplete pass.

"There's a lot of pressure being put on our quarterback," wide receiver Quincy Morgan said. "That's the name of the game. If you put pressure on the quarterback, you have a good chance to win."

How right you are.

The Snap

``I just didn't handle the snap. It was a good snap,'' said Garcia a three time Pro Bowler.

Garcia has mishandled two snaps so far in this young season. Both times the Browns were fighting their way back into the game.

"We were on a roll,'' Browns right tackle Joaquin Gonzalez said. ``We'd just scored, the defense had stopped 'em. That was a momentum-killer. It obviously deflates you a little bit.''

Pro Bowl players don't deflate their teams with their play.

"That's the way I snap," Faine said of his quick delivery. "I want to get the ball in his hands so he can get on with his job."

Which at this point of the season his job is still not defined.

Faine continued, "(Garcia) told me it was just one of those things where he took his eye off the ball. I'm not mad at him. He was just trying to make a play."

I can't say thousands of Browns fans feel the same way.

Pittsburgh's Offense

"I think they kept their offense simple and he (Roethlisberger)  made good decisions," Daylon McCutcheon said. "We made a lot of mistakes. It didn't have a lot to do with him making great throws. We gave him some plays. It's stuff we have to correct."

For something so simple it sure was difficult for the Browns to stop.

"They had a good game plan and stuck with it,"  Andra Davis said. "We weren't able to get them one-dimensional, like we did with the two teams we beat.

The Browns will face Baltimore again who is one dimensional. They also get to play Miami a team that seems to have no dimension. All of their other opponents look capable of being multi- dimensional. Does this mean the Browns win only 2 more games this year?


"He surprised me. I didn't think he could move like that," McCutcheon said. "It wasn't that he had great moves, but he's a strong guy and he can break tackles. You've got to gang-tackle him. He's a physical quarterback. He's a challenge. ... Our job is to cover the receivers."

It is hard enough for the Browns to get to the quarterback. If they have to start gang tackling them it is going to be a long season.

Getting back to basics

"When we have tried to force the issue and press and make things happen, that's when we have been our own worst enemy. The two games we have won have been the games when we have been the most disciplined and the most solid at us taking care of us, doing the things that we do and don't do things we can't do." Butch Davis wrote in his daily column for the Browns Official Site

I have news for you Coach. You won those 2 games because your opponent had an offense worse than yours.

"We love to run the ball," center Jeff Faine said. "When we're down, we just can't run."

You can't always have what you love. The team thinks it has a power running attack. But, the numbers don't lie. The Browns have averaged only 107.8 yards a game, and have yet to have a back run for 100 yards in a single contest.

Green vs. Suggs

``It's the first time I've ever been in this situation,'' Green said. ``But I respect Lee, he's a good runner. It would be a little bit different situation if it was a guy I didn't think deserved to be out there. I feel he should be out there just as well as me.''

That's what he has been coached to say. A very politically correct statement.

On being yanked in the first quarter after an 11-yard run, Green said, ``I have no control over that. I'd rather not speak on that.''

If he would speak on that, I wonder what he would say? It's those things not said that can fester inside until it becomes a cancer. Hopefully if Will gets to that point he will talk with someone he can honestly trust.

"Whenever I get the opportunity," Suggs said, "I have to make the most of it. Will this work out? It's got to work out."

Hey media, quit asking these guys these questions, find something new to write about. It is time to drop this peeing contest of who's starting. Most fans are tired of all the rhetoric. The Browns should have plays designed to showcase each backs talents. It is up to the coaching staff to get the most from each player. If they can't do that they've failed. It is all about winning football games.

Odds and ends

"When you're down 21 points," Ross Verba said, "it's not even football, really. It's just hold on and block and scramble."

I'm pretty sure the Steelers were playing football.

"The quarterback has to have confidence that the last time he got hit was an aberration," Butch Davis said. "He can't be skittish. He has to sit in the pocket and make throws."

Jeff it's time to put away those dancing shoes.

"I've got to discipline myself and stay on my guy," Henry said.

You and 44 other guys.

William Green said, "I thought we were a little flat."

How can a team playing a division rival for a 1st place tie be flat?

Newly named Browns Legend Mike Pruitt had this to say Monday on a visit to Berea, "After a big loss you just want to hide out."

In other words if you don't show up on Sunday, don't show your face on Monday.

"I guarantee you we'll be in a position to be in the playoffs this year," promised Verba.

We'll hold you to that.

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