The Browns stumbled through October 1-3, beating the Bears and losing three straight to the Ravens, Lions and Texans. All three were games the Browns believe they should have won.
The common thread in all three losses has been an inability to score touchdowns. They have scored three offensive touchdowns in the last 20 quarters, yet Coach Romeo Crennel has hinted at no lineup changes heading into the game against Tennessee on Sunday in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Wide receiver Antonio Bryant has been a focus of a possible shakeup, but he caught four passes for 98 yards against the Texans. He has also dropped five passes in 2005. Three of them were in critical situations -- one in the end zone in Indianapolis, one on second down against the Ravens and one on third down late in the game against the Lions. The Browns lost all three games. He did not drop a pass against Houston.
"I think the timing of his drops hasn't been what we want," Crennel said. "I think I can say that for the offense and for the team. You put yourself in a situation where you have to make a play. You need to make one play. If you don't make that one play it gets magnified. I think that's happening quite a bit with us."
Crennel could start Dennis Northcutt on the left side and rookie Braylon Edwards the right, or he could sit Northcutt, who has just 15 catches and no touchdowns, and use Northcutt as a third receiver, but Crennel believes using the current combination of receivers gives the Browns the best chance. That means using Edwards off the bench. Though fans have been on Bryant, Bryant appreciates the support from Crennel.
"I just hope that if they can magnify the mistakes, they can magnify the good things," Bryant said. "When I go out there and run and catch the deep one and run past people, magnify that as well. Bring the flashlight out when it's good, that's all I look at."
Bryant's reputation preceded him to Cleveland. He has been known as a great
practice player whose soft hands on a Thursday turn to granite on a Sunday. True
to form, Bryant was the best receiver in training camp, but just as dropped
passes marked him last season, he is not playing as well now as he did in August
despite the way he played against the Texans.
REPLAY: Two lost fumbles and poor kick coverage contributed to a 19-16 loss to the Texans. It was the third straight loss for the Browns and the third straight time the opponent was held to fewer than 20 points.
The Browns had a first down on the Houston 39 with 1:32 left, but a run of one yard, an incomplete pass, and a sack put the Browns in fourth-and-17 at the Houston 46. Antonio Bryant got behind the Houston defense inside the 10. Dilfer underthrew him and Philip Buchanan batted down the pass.