Browns-Donks Report Card

What grade to you give a team that loses big leads in the fourth quarter two games in a row? Hmmmm...

PASS OFFENSE: B - Brady Quinn threw short passes as the Browns used a controlled passing attack for their second-year player. Quinn did not throw downfield a lot, but he was deft in avoiding the rush and threw a touchdown with a Denver defender draped all over him. Had the Browns won, Quinn's game would have been celebrated. But the Browns lost, which meant his game was lost in the frustration.

RUSH OFFENSE: C -- Jerome Harrison provided a little spark, but he only ran the ball five times (and gained 48 yards). Harrison is looking more and more like a legitimate threat as a change of pace to Jamal Lewis. Lewis is the inside back, Harrison the quick outside back. Lewis' totals, though, were disappointing -- 19 carries for 60 yards -- and that probably accounts for much of Lewis' frustration. He is not having close to the season he had a year ago even though he reported in the best shape of his life.

PASS DEFENSE: F - Jay Cutler destroyed the Browns, throwing for 447 yards after Denver's two running backs left the game with injury. Denver had no choice but to throw, so the Broncos spread the field and took advantage of the Browns' woeful secondary. The Browns refused to blitz, tried to cover and failed dismally. It was as bad a night as a secondary can have.

RUSH DEFENSE: F - It would be nice to think the Browns' run defense accomplished something, but it didn't. The game's leading rusher was Ryan Torain, who ran for 68 yards despite leaving the game with an injury in the second quarter. Denver was without a running back after Selvin Young was hurt, so grading the Browns as a success for stopping a team using a rookie fullback at tailback is pretty ridiculous. The Browns defense had a horrible night.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A - Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs are having outstanding seasons. Cribbs continually gave the Browns outstanding field position with his returns, and Dawson's night included three field goals -- one from 52 yards. They and Brady Quinn provided the highlights for the Browns.

COACHING: F -- Though the offensive staff did a good job with its game plan, the defense never did a thing to counter the spread offense that Denver put on the field. In fact, the Denver's passiveness cost the Browns the game because the cornerbacks are simply not good enough to cover without pressuring the quarterback. Whether the Browns didn't try to pressure or could not really does not matter. They failed, and it led to another embarrassing loss.

THE NAME ON THE DOOR SAYS "EGO"

Two embarrassing losses in two games had one of the Browns' veterans questioning his teammates.

Jamal Lewis had some harsh words when assessing the Browns blowing double-digit games to Baltimore and Denver. Pointed and harsh.

"Some people need to check their egos at the door and find some heart to come out here and play hard," Lewis said. "This is a man's game."

Lewis did not name names, but he said some guys need to check their hearts. "Straight up," he said. "That's it."

In consecutive weeks, the Browns have lacked the maturity to finish a game. Instead of completing a victory, they have celebrated too soon and lost concentration. It cost them a chance to win two in a row at home and get themselves back in the playoff hunt.

It's a testament to Lewis that coach Romeo Crennel did not disagree. Lewis is a pro's pro who plays hard and works hard, unlike some of his teammates.

"I'm just not cut from this kind of cloth," Lewis said.

Because some Browns are the team is 3-6 and headed to a dismal finish to the season.

"This is as frustrated as I've been in however many years I've been playing," Lewis said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--QB Brady Quinn played very well in his starting debut, completing 23 of 35 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Quinn mainly threw short, but that was wise. The Browns did not ask their second-year starter to do too much.

The problem: Quinn could not finish a two-minute drive after Denver had gone ahead 34-30. It should not have been surprising. Quinn has had little experience in that situation.

Bottom line: he did all he could, but all he could left him like Derek Anderson, wishing all he could was enough to win a game.

--TE Kellen Winslow single-handedly stopped three second-half drives with an offensive interference penalty, a fumble and a missed catch on fourth down with the Browns in the two-minute drill.

Winslow stood up after the game and said he had let the team down, but it didn't change the results. Winslow had a strong first half with a career-high two touchdowns, but his costly mistakes in the second half essentially cost the Browns the game.

"I'm gonna take it as a lesson," Winslow said.

PLAYER NOTES

--CB Brandon McDonald has turned into a gigantic target on the Browns defense. Two of Denver's three touchdowns in the fourth quarter came against McDonald, who has struggled so much the Browns actually pondered adding DeAngelo Hall before Washington signed him.

--NT Shaun Rogers played a good part of the game after leaving with a stinger. Rogers fought through, but his size made him a liability when Denver spread the field. Big guys just can't generate enough of a pass rush when playing two games in four days.

--KR Josh Cribbs had another outstanding game with 135 yards in kickoff returns, including a 43-yarder. Cribbs was one missed tackle from breaking two or three returns.



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