Derry: A Win to be Savored

Frank Derry looks at the Browns 26-24 win in Green Bay as an important validation for Romeo Crennel and the Browns at this point in their development. More same-day analysis from Bernie's Insiders!

What a difference a week makes!

Just seven days after getting whipped by the Bengals in their 2005 season-opener at home, the Browns rebounded for what obviously was the most impressive performance in the Romeo Crennel era, a 26-24 victory over the host Packers.

Unlike the opener, this time the Browns' defensive backs found a way to cover the opposing wide receivers for most of the game. To me, that and the fact the Browns didn't have two touchdowns wiped out by penalties, were the big differences.

But let's hold off printing playoff tickets just yet!

It's safe to say that beating the 2005 Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field isn't quite the same as beating any Packers team of recent years.

These Packers, despite the presence of future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, are a team in need of a major overhaul. They are a mere shadow of their old selves. They might still be able to make a run at the NFC North Division title, but only because the division in general looks to be very weak.

NFC North foe Minnesota, minus Randy Moss, has looked pitiful thus far. Chicago, at least from what we saw in the preseason, appears to have a strong defense but little to offer offensively; and Detroit looks to be somewhat improved but still must learn to win on the road.

If the Browns were in the NFC North, I truly believe they could win half their division games this year and probably make a legitimate run for the title. But that wouldn't mean the Browns are a Super Bowl caliber team as they are presently formed. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

When the Browns return to reality, they will find their division, the AFC North, is by no means as bad as the NFC North.

Cincinnati has gotten off to a fast start, which is exactly what they needed, and Pittsburgh hasn't missed a beat despite the fact their top two running backs, Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, have both been sidelined for the first two weeks of the regular season.

Baltimore continues to prove week in and week out that no matter how good your defense might be, you still need a quarterback. Kyle Boller is not now nor ever will be the answer. Hopefully, the Ravens braintrust will continue to have brain cramps when it comes to Boller's role on the team.

Knowing Crennel, I am certain he isn't too interested in being a top team in a mediocre division. He has no desire to be the San Diego Padres of the National Football League.

Crennel's only goal is to turn the Browns into a team capable of winning a Super Bowl. Building such a team won't happen overnight.

The main accomplishment in the sweet victory over a lousy Packers team was the fact this team now knows it can win when it doesn't make a boatload of mistakes, as was the case in the 27-13 opening game loss.

As mentioned earlier, the most dramatic improvement from Week One to Week Two for the Browns was the performance of the defensive backfield, which after resembling a piece of Swiss cheese in the opener, did an outstanding job against Favre after the opening drive and until the final minutes.

Veteran Gary Baxter's presence, which was missing in the first game due to a preseason concussion, obviously made a huge difference. His third quarter interception in the end zone seemed to be the dagger that deflated the Packers, who soon thereafter were burned by Braylon Edwards for his first professional touchdown. The fact the Pack made a game of it at the end is a testament to Favre's incredible talent.

The other aspect of the Browns' performance that I truly enjoyed was the performance of the offensive line which, for the second straight week, not only opened some nice holes for Reuben Droughns, but also kept quarterback Trent Dilfer clean.

In the first two games, Dilfer has now attempted 75 passes and has yet to be sacked.

That is truly amazing considering that 60 percent of the starters are brand new this year. Obviously, veteran guards Coey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi have helped elevate the performances of returning starters Jeff Faine and Ryan Tucker, while L.J. Shelton looks like he is much more consistent than he was a year ago with the Cardinals.

This organization finally has two guys in charge, Crennel and general manager Phil Savage, who realize you will never have success until you build a strong offensive line.

Coleman, Andruzzi, Faine, Tucker and Shelton should get better week by week, which should mean the offense in general will do likewise.

The other thing I liked was the fact Crennel also seemed to learn from his mistake. In the opener, he took Droughns, who had run through the Bengals defense in impressive fashion in the first quarter, out of the game in the second quarter to allow William Green an opportunity to play.

That proved a big mistake as it seemed to take away some of the momentum from the offense. Crennel quickly corrected his error in judgment by allowing Droughns to truly get into a good rhythm by allowing him to play virtually the entire game against the Packers.

Browns fans need to enjoy this victory, the first in Crennel's era. Remember it as a possible turning point in the history of the new Browns. Admire the way Crennel and his staff threw caution to the wind and came out passing after the Packers had cut the lead to 19-17 with just over three minutes to play.

Relish how the team showed improvement in virtually every area of the game from Week One to Week Two. But also remember that this is a work in progress.

Fans should not get overly excited. Expectations for this season must remain realistic both from the fans and the front office.

The fact of the matter is that even though the Browns did win a game at a place where opponents normally falter, this Packers team that the Browns held off is by no means comparable to the Green Bay Super Bowl Champions of the recent or distant past.

A much better test in terms of how the Browns compare to the elite in the NFL will come next Sunday at Indianapolis.

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