Getting away from home did not help the Browns and Tim Couch, Sunday in Tampa Bay. A dominating Buccaneers defense manhandled a Browns offense that is headed nowhere fast.
Leading the league in points allowed per game, the Buccaneers frustrated, hurried, and physically beat the Browns in every facet of the game. The Browns lone score came in the fourth quarter on a Phil Dawson 50-yard field goal.
The 5-1 Buccaneers were in control of the game throughout, though they only held a 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter. With Mike Alstott running for 83 of his game high 126-yards in the fourth quarter against a worn-down Browns defense, the Buccaneers controlled the clock and the game.
Throughout the contest, the Browns appeared to be out of sync. Offensively they were unable to move the football, there again was no threat of a passing game and the running game was left at the gate. On the defensive side of the ball, they played well enough to keep the team in the game, but wore down in the second half. The special teams played poorly, giving up large chunks of yardage in the return game.
In a nutshell, the performance by the Browns was weak, and that is being extremely generous.
There would be no miracle comeback performances, like those witnessed in their late game heroics against the Titans, or near misses against the Steelers and Ravens. This time around, the Browns were done.
Long gone is the offensive explosion the Browns opened the season with against the Kansas City Chiefs, now the Browns are in survivor mode. In a weak AFC North Division, that may be their only opportunity to save face.
Thought of as playoff contender prior to the start of the season have begun to see the wheels come off the wagon.
Struggling offensively, much like they have since their return to the NFL in 1999, the Browns continue to shoot themselves in foot. Numerous mental mistakes have taken their toll on the offensively deficient Browns. Injuries and subtly thoughts of controversy at the quarterback and running back positions have left the team and head coach defending the moves they make on game day.
While Browns head coach Butch Davis defends the play of Couch and attempts to build the confidence of Green, it has become apparent that the Browns are headed in the wrong direction. The Browns performance Sunday was one that can be compared to those in the expansion Browns days. With the clock winding down, the Browns moved the chains just enough to end the loss at Tampa Bay with more first downs than punts.
Tim Couch has struggled, taking the brunt of the fans backlash at the teams inability to move the football. It hasn't helped matters that backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb had been effective when starting two games and almost pulling out an improbable victory in relief of Couch last week when Couch was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
It is not Couch's fault that the offense is anemic. The playcalling, the execution, and the numerous mental mistakes all come into play when breaking down the Browns offensive woes. Couch plays a part in these woes, but he is far from the main culprit.
Jamel White has been the Browns most effective weapon on the offensive side of the ball, when given the opportunity. Rookie running back William Green had been expected to improve a Browns rushing attack that has ranked near the bottom of the league in each of the past three seasons. Green has been a major disappointment thus far in the 2002 season.
This Browns loss ends week that Couch would like to forget. After unleashing a tirade directed at the fans following a Browns loss last week when he fans in attendance cheered when he was injured, Couch performed no better Sunday. Throwing for less than 100-yards through three quarters of the game, Couch and the Browns offense was never in the game. Much like their performances in recent games against the Steelers and Ravens, the Browns could not move the football.
Unless the Browns do something and do it quickly, the 2002 season will become what could have been, It isn't too late to right the ship, but the sails appear to be ridden with holes.