Here are some of the many and varied fan reactions from the OBR forums:
"The play calling wasn't as glaringly stupid as against New Orleans - but it wasn't good. I give Crennel credit for practicing in hard pads this week, and trying to be more smash mouth. It think it did help some. But, we still got beat. Bad." - tdog, in his regular post-game Thoughts on the Game thread.
"I'm tired of talking about the same crap year in and year out. When are we ever going to get better?? I'm embarrassed to be a fan right now. I'll never give in but I've turned from an optimistic fan to a pessimistic one. I'm just tired of being embarrassed and being the laughing stock of the NFL." - Brownsbacker
"I really do not understand why Ralph Brown is on the field at all. All he has done is gotten beat for scores. You would think they would take him off, or at least use him to blitz from the secondary - god knows he is doing no good covering anybody. Terrible. Run defense? Terrible. Offensive strategy? Terrible. Offensive execution? Terrible. Just as before, watching these games is frustrating. The only good thing is I no longer have any illusions of rooting for a quality NFL team. My expectations are going down (yet again) which makes watching these atrocities a little more bearable." - Elracko
"I am rapidly losing faith in our management. I stuck with Butch way too long, and I am not making that mistake again. I expected an 8-8 record this year and so far I am 0-2; and not competitive in either game. Time is running short ....." - The Perfesser
"Having to play in the most difficult AFC division and having to play against the most difficult NFC division does not bode well for a this team. Even if they wind up being a better team than last year's Browns, I don't see them winning as many as six games. 5-11 even looks like a stretch." - Skeeter K
"I took the day off and spent most of it with my son. Saw my neighbors working outside, jogging, washing the car. Great day today. It was a great day to be outside in NE Ohio and stay away from that TV set . No more overpriced, under-motivated young guys playing ball and collecting a paycheck. They won't be in NE Ohio for more than a few years anyway --- do you think they really care ? You could tell they are not motivated by the first game at home. Who needs the picture painted any more clearly?" - KellensCycleShop
"It goes back to the owner, folks. As long as he hangs out in Long Island as an absentee owner, and continues to make huge amounts of money on die hard fans, he won't change anything. He just looks at us as suckers." - Boidawg
"Browns players constantly look out of position. The defensive line constantly looks pushed back or pushed sideways, making the counter or off-tackle runs look easy for the opposing offense. Anyone could run on our defense, not just Rudy Johnson. Magic Johnson could have a 100 yard game against this team." - Pitbullterrier
"They're crushed. My cat shows more intensity than this bunch. A disaster is in progress. Every team we play sees the film, and are making plans to exploit the glaring weaknesses we offer. I hope for the best , but fear we are not going to be happy anytime soon" - BigDaddy78
Some Thoughts, Late on a Sunday Evening
For the last ten years, I have spent nearly every day talking to Browns fans for hours in person or via the internet. It's been a wonderful and important part of my life.
Fans are often portrayed as speaking with a unified voice. It seems to me sometimes that they're viewed by teams and the media like the fans in the Madden 2007* game.
There are really only three or four fans in the stands in EA's $60 simulation, and they're cloned over and over in the background. They generally are doing the same things. Standing up, cheering, raising their arms in glee, etc. The fans are just repetitive and mindless, and are the background scenery to the important things.
It seems to me that's how fans are viewed by most NFL clubs and the media. Articles on team websites or local papers are about the most dedicated or most loyal fans, generally who show their devotion and loyalty by outrageous get-up or long distances travelled to games.
There are fans like that, of course, and a lot of them hang out here on the OBR. But that's not the reality for most fans of NFL football.
Fans are people, and people have many different reactions to the frustration of losing, and you see those play out in our chat rooms and forums on a daily basis. Their reactions are complex, and their analyses of the team's problems are generally far more thoughtful than the team or media give them credit for.
What I've read after game two is a more muted, less vociferous reaction than fans had after the loss to the Saints. Some fans defended the team after the game with the Saints, and admonished those upset with their level of play. Those types of arguments are in shorter supply now that the Bengals blasted the Browns off the field in the first quarter. There's an element of resignation and apathy in a lot of comments.
But there is something else as well - anger at the ballclub.
Often, it's tough to tell the difference between a team being out-manned, out-coached, or simply not having heart or desire to compete. At least it is for me.
All three generally look like the same thing - bad play on the football field - and a lot of who bears the brunt of fan frustration is based on how they perceive the team.
Some fans are upset with Phil Savage for bringing in the wrong players, some are upset with Romeo Crennel and Mo Carthon. Others are frustrated with players who they feel simply lack the intensity of their opponents. None of the above are getting much sympathy from fans at the moment, nor should they.
NFL teams are the playthings of billionaires and players are often looked on as coddled, overpaid, and over-praised. With coaches, team execs, and even a team's worst players earning ten times more than an average family, anything perceived as a lack of effort will turn off fans quickly.
In this environment, turning away from a losing team becomes almost a statement of defiance, with fans telling the Browns and the NFL: "See? I can live without you." We have seen a lot of statements like that in our forums over the last several weeks.
See, folks, if you grab a fan by the ankles and shake until the last coin comes out, or cut off the free sources of radio broadcasts in favor of the league-owned internet streams, or bully around the media, folks are a lot less anxious to cut losing teams a break. These little things add up.
For the hard-core fan, friends, city, and team - not the management and players - will continue to keep them bound to their hometown club and hope will continue to spring up as they look for improvement.
For many others, though, there are ever-increasing numbers of entertainment options, and I suspect empty seats will be in abundance unless the Browns strike back quickly next week with an unexpected win against the Ravens. The Browns already can't sell out home games in the most loyal football city on the planet, a real statement about how the franchise has disappointed fans on many levels.
So the message to the Cleveland Browns, from Randy Lerner on down is pretty clear as we enter week three of the NFL season:
Beat the Ravens. Or else.
Because if you don't, you might even have to cut back on the concierge service.
* As a side note, Madden 2007 is the only one the NFL allows to use its precious team names and player names, a move which results in more money for the NFL and fewer options for videogame fans. Advertisements for team official web sites and the NFL Network are omnipresent throughout the game.