Browns-Texans: Report Card

An objective view of the Browns performance on Sunday

The Browns can challenge their fans like few other teams.

Basically, the team has been a mess since 1999 and things hit a low point in the Romeo Crennel-Phil Savage era with a loss to previously winless Houston.

Since the team returned from a three-year hiatus in 1999, the Browns have had one winning season.

Their record in that time: 32-71 -- a won-lost percentage of .310.

Through it all, Browns fans have supported their team and bought tickets.

Sunday's loss to Houston, a team that started the game 0-6, had to frustrate fans like few others. It was the third game in a row the Browns had lost to a losing team.

Crennel's patience and candor have earned him some goodwill.

Losses like Sunday's will burn up that goodwill in a hurry.

PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus -- Trent Dilfer was better than the previous week, but any effort would have been better. Dilfer had a strong half, but carelessly fumbled the ball away in the third period, a play that changed the momentum of the game. Dilfer came within a few inches of throwing a game-winning touchdown in the fourth period, but Antonio Bryant's foot came down inches out of bounds. On the team's next drive, Dilfer was sacked on a key third down and missed an open Bryant on fourth. The passing game was better, but the passing offense did not come up with plays needed to win the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Hard to find fault when a team's top two backs run for 147 yards, which is what Reuben Droughns and William Green did. Both ran well and hard, and though Droughns coughed up the ball on a fumble, both ran well enough for the Browns to win.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C -- Not much to be excited about, but not much to be down about either. The Browns defense gave up 91 yards to Domanick Davis, but only gave up 19 points. Houston's last two scoring drives went 18 and 15 yards, as mistakes gave the Texans good field position.

PASSING DEFENSE: C -- David Carr threw for 138 yards and a touchdown, but didn't do much to win the game. Carr benefited from excellent special teams play to start drives with good field position. The Browns main weakness was in only sacking the eminently-sackable Carr twice.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Jerome Mathis and Kyle Richardson almost beat the Browns single-handedly. Mathis had 177 return yards and his 63-yarder set up the Texans for the game-winning field goal. Mathis had a huge game the week before against Detroit, so his abilities shouldn't have surprised the Browns. Richardson had a miserable day punting, and his days with the Browns may be numbered.

COACHING: D -- There was some strange play-calling and little recognition of Jerome Mathis' return ability. Late in the game, the Browns kicked to him rather than trying a short, high kick or kicking away from him. Mathis' 63-yard return burned the Browns. The play-calling was bizarre. Dilfer's fumble came on a good down-and-distance situation for the Browns, yet a pass was called. Late in the game, the Browns ran four streaks on a key third-and-nine when a 10-to-12 yard gain was needed. Dilfer had nobody short, and when pressure came he took a bad sack.

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