Passan: Sometimes, the Critics are Right

There are probably reasons that the Cleveland Browns, in the form of team's official site, don't want fans to learn about the existence of the OBR. A reason behind the banned accounts, deleted posts, and censorship. Perhaps one of the reasons is Rich Passan, the OBR's outspoken columnist, who tolerates neither losing or lackeys, as he points out here.

In this season of the fans' extreme discontent with the offense of the Cleveland Browns, it becomes easier and easier to pick on Maurice Carthon. The flogging seemingly never stops. And with good reason.

It's almost as though the Browns' offensive coordinator walks around with a bull's-eye on his back and dares people to hit it. They oblige with a glee reminiscent of the days of the hanging of Bruce Arians.

Some fans, in fact, might even go as far as to admit Carthon makes Arians look like a genius.

Sunday in Carolina, Carthon wrote yet another chapter on how not to win friends and infuriate the legion of Browns fans all around the globe with another display of bizarre play calling.

It's bad enough that the Browns lost to the Carolina Panthers, but the manner in which they lost is what has most fans beside themselves with anger.

It has become clearly obvious that Carthon is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. His stubborn approach to how the offense should be run is digging a hole so deep for Romeo Crennel, the head coach risks jeopardizing his job because of it.

Sunday's loss cannot be blamed on a defense that played maybe its best game of the season. The Panthers went to the line of scrimmage 11 times on third down and are still looking for their first conversion.

A banged-up secondary play very well for the most part, even though the pass rush took another leave of absence. And rookie linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Kamerion Wimbley are overcoming growing pains with solid efforts.

The special teams once again were special with Joshua Cribbs showing more and more that it would be wise to kick the ball away from him. Kick coverage was pristine.

No, it was the offense that cost the Browns this one. Failure to take advantage of the talent on board was the chief culprit.

Carthon's insistence that this is a run-first, pass-second team has put the Browns on a path that very well could lead them to their worst season since the Chris Palmer era.

With the likes of Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow Jr., Joe Jurevicius and Dennis Northcutt, the Browns should have a vertical passing game. None of this horizontal stuff that chews up small chunks of yardage at a time.

Loosen up opposing teams' defenses. Don't let them get comfortable.

Why not open up games with a three-receiver set and Winslow flanked wide? Don't be afraid to stretch the field. Run Winslow on deep seam routes or skinny post routes to bust up cover 2.

Never play Northcutt anywhere except the slot. That's where he gained his reputation as a clutch receiver a few years ago and is more productive.

Take advantage of Edwards' speed with some over-the-top passes and Jurevicius' sure hands with hitch and dig routes. Maximize what these guys do best.

Run more misdirection plays. Take advantage of Charlie Frye's athleticism and comfortable nature while playing on the run.

Try a no-huddle offense for a series or two and I'm not talking about the waning moments of a half. If Frye can run it then, why not trust him to do it, say, on the opening series of a game?

Mix it up. Don't become so predictable. Be creative. Is that asking too much?

This offense has become stodgy, boring, almost maddening in its concept.

Don't blame the coordinator, scream Carthon's rapidly diminishing legion of supporters. He can't throw the ball, they say. He can't run the ball, he can't catch the ball, he can't run or pass block. If the players don't execute the plays properly, how can they succeed?

If that's the case, coordinators would never be fired.

Successful coordinators adapt to the talent. Not the other way around.

Carthon has at least one fan outside the Browns community. Pat Kirwan, a former NFL coach, scout and front-office executive, is one of's house lackeys and defended Carthon last week on the league's Web site. In part, he wrote:

"I've known Carthon for over 10 years and he's taking a lot of heat in Cleveland for his play-calling. He is a very good coach who knows he's working with a number of inexperienced young talent and he's not going to ask them to do things they are not ready to do.

 "Well, the young Browns went on the road to Oakland (10 days ago) and down, 21-3, rallied back with three straight touchdowns for a win. Frye threw three touchdown passes, Reuben Droughns rushed for 100 yards and Edwards and Winslow combined for nine receptions and a touchdown.

"Other signs of hope for the Browns, which indicates that Carthon knows what he's doing, were the 37 minutes of possession time, the eight of 15 on third downs and 21 first downs. Carthon can coach and it's time to get off his back!"

I'm assuming Kirwan saw the game. I also assume he noticed that the Browns accomplished this feat against an Oakland defense that is, to be kind, awful.

He waited one entire season and three games into another to defend Carthon's work and praise him to the heavens. For one game. Wonder what took him so long.

Can't wait to read what Kirwan says about Carthon's playcalling in the Carolina game. Should he not get the blame for another brain cramp on third and less than a yard in a season where third and inches portends disaster?

Third and less than a foot at the Carolina 21 with the Browns down, 17-3, midway in the third quarter. In comes Lawrence Vickers, a rookie fullback. Oh no, not another toss sweep.

No, not this time. It's Vickers . . . on an option pass play! It failed miserably.

"It wasn't a good play because it didn't work," said Crennel. "I told you if it works, it's good, if it doesn't work, it's not good. We called a play that didn't work." Ergo, it's not good.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick and tired of hearing Crennel lean on that simplistic explanation of why plays don't work. I'd like to know why the play was called in the first place and if Crennel had veto power over it. He must think Browns fans are dense.

The fact there was a penalty on the play is not a factor. That the play was even called made it mind-numbing. That Carthon chose Vickers to execute it was even stranger.

Doesn't he know Cribbs was a quarterback in college? Doesn't he know Cribbs would have been the perfect man to execute the play if he was determined to run it?

What does Carthon having running through his mind, oatmeal?

"Carthon can coach and it's time to get off his back!" Kirwan railed.

No he can't and it's time Kirwan understands the exasperated and frustrated fans won't get off that back. There are too many compelling reasons not to.

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