For a long time now, let's say starting in 2000 when Courtney Brown was drafted, the defensive line has been getting unfair blame for what is perennially a poor pass rush.
Do the math, Owlettes! The Browns blitz about as often as a Republican presidential candidate carries Massachusetts, and that means the Browns rush four against a minimum of six blockers. More often Kenard Lang, Orpheus Roye, Gerard Warren and Ebenezer Ekuban face seven blockers.
Watch Warren through the binocs if you're lucky enough to see the Browns in person, or when watching on television forget the ball – hey, we know it's difficult since the camera follows it – and watch that front four get beat up play after play.
Coach Butch Davis has figured out what is wrong with the defense, but figuring out how to correct the problem is not as simple.
"We have to eliminate the big plays," Davis said. "A year ago everybody was on a crusade about not stopping the run. We're doing a good job against the run, but the No. 1 thing we have to do is eliminate the big pass plays."
The Browns are 3-4, just as they were last year after seven games. They have already given up 21 pass plays of 20 yards or longer – six in Dallas, five against the Eagles, four against the Giants, two against the Steelers, two against the Redskins and one each against the Bengals and Ravens.
The Browns have given up 13 plays of 30 yards or longer (the 13 are included in the total of 21) and six plays of 40 yards or more.
It is no coincidence three of the four losses are to the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles. The other loss is to the Steelers, and in that game they gave up a 48-yard pass to Plaxico Burress and the 37-yard touchdown pass to Burress.
After seven games last year the Browns allowed only eight passes of 20 or more. Three of those were 30 or more.
Thank goodness they don't face a real quarterback when their bye goes bye-bye. They meet the Baltimore Bum, Kyle Boller, Nov. 7. They have a chance to make a clean sweep of the Ravens if they can control Jamal Lewis again.
But The Owl's feathers are ruffled because some big-time slingers await in the final eight games, and that spells trouble. The Browns have to deal with Ben Roethlisberger again, Chad Pennington, Carson Palmer (who looked pretty good on MNF), Tom Brady and David Carr, among others.
If Davis is serious about cutting down on big plays he has to take chances with more blitzing. The Browns have 11 sacks. The league average is 14.5 sacks. Opponents are averaging 7.53 yards on every pass attempt against the Browns. That ranks 28th in the league.
"I'd like to get more pressure (on the quarterback)," Davis said. "If you rush four and they block with seven you have three guys fighting double teams and one guy chipping his way out. Every one of those pass rushes is different."
These numbers show how reluctant Davis is to blitz: 11 sacks – all by defensive linemen; 18 quarterback hits – all by defensive linemen; 64 quarterback pressures – 61 by defensive linemen. Linebacker Chaun Thompson has two and defensive back Chris Crocker has one.
"It's one thing to practice against big plays and another to go out and execute it," McCutcheon said. "We have to do a better job of transferring it from the practice field to the game. I'm not thinking about the pass rush. I get paid to cover guys."
The Browns have given up seven touchdown passes. They gave up four through seven games last year.
Blitz, Butch, or your season will end Jan. 2.