Browns-Vikings: Report Card

The grades are in for the Browns performance at Minnesota on Sunday

"Born to be a Star" read a headline in the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week.

The story was about Braylon Edwards, and it followed Edwards' good game against Miami. Unfortunately, it preceded Edwards' rough game against Minnesota.

The talented receiver played like a rookie against the Vikings.

He saw one pass go through his hands and turn into an interception.

He had a false start in the red zone, taking the Browns from the 10 to the 15-yard line in the waning seconds of the first half.
He and Charlie Frye did not read a coverage the same way on Frye's only play, and it resulted in an interception.

Edwards may have been born to be a star, but Sunday wasn't that birthday.


PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The numbers might not look too bad -- 214 yards passing, better than 50 percent completion rate -- but the passing offense was a mess. Trent Dilfer never got into a rhythm with his receivers, receivers dropped passes, Dilfer fumbled twice while dropping back to throw and threw two interceptions, and Charlie Frye threw an interception on his only play. The team's receivers also committed two costly penalties that killed a scoring drive late in the first half. It was not pretty.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Reuben Droughns had another very good game. He ran for 73 yards and caught five passes for 43 more, but for some inexplicable reason the Browns gave up on the run once they fell behind 17-3. Offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon ended the game by calling 28 passes on the final 30 plays. In the third quarter and early in the fourth, the Browns called 12 of 13 passing plays. Giving up on the run was a major mistake.

PASSING DEFENSE: D -- The Browns are a play-it-in-front-of-you defense, one that will give up 10-yard throws but will protect against the big play. In Brad Johnson and the Vikings, though, the Browns were facing a team that loves to take the short, underneath throws. Johnson's strength basically matched perfectly with what the Browns were willing to give up. That combination made for a long, long day for the secondary. And their inability to stop the lob to Marcus Robinson cost the defense two touchdowns.

RUSHING DEFENSE: B -- The Browns did a decent job against the run, limiting Mewelde Moore to 67 yards on 21 carries and holding the Vikings to 2.6 yards per carry. For a defense that had been struggling against the run, that was a productive day.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- Highlighted by the kickoff returns of Joshua Cribbs, who averaged 31 yards on five returns and brought two back longer than 40 yards. Phil Dawson was perfect on field goals, Kyle Richardson and Dawson both dropped punts inside the 20, and Dennis Northcutt was reliable returning punts.

COACHING: D -- The Browns started the game listlessly, which is inexplicable given they only have 16 chances to prove themselves. Then the play-calling in the second half bordered on panic. Yes, the Browns were behind, but giving up on the best player on the team -- Droughns -- does not make a lot of sense. There was still time to mix in a few runs. Finally, there was some terrible clock management late in the first half. After Droughns ran for a first down at the 5 with 40 seconds left, the team huddled and walked to the line before a penalty stopped the clock with 12 seconds left. The Browns could have had two chances from the 5 -- with a timeout -- had they spiked the ball after Droughns' run.

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