Report Card: Browns-Titans
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The only reason this grade is not an F is that nobody should have expected a lot more from Ken Dorsey. The guy does not have an arm strong enough to force defenses to respect the pass. Yet offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski called 43 passes, more than any Browns quarterback has thrown in a game this season. That's how bad the Browns running game was. Relying on Dorsey to that extent was not fair to Dorsey, who did his best with what he has.
RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- It's tempting to make this grade a D because of Josh Cribbs, but the team's running game was awful. The Browns' backs ran 11 times for 10 yards. Only Cribbs, a wide receiver taking snaps in the shotgun, averaged more than one yard per carry. This was not a case of the backs missing holes, though. It was a case of Tennessee's defense overpowering the Browns overrated offensive line. When a team has that kind of running game, it cannot win. Especially when it faces a team that is 12-1.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- It seems impossible to think that a team could lose as bad as the Browns did after forcing three turnovers, two on interceptions. But that's what happens to the Browns. On weeks when the run defense is there, the pass defense fails. Sunday the pass defense was OK, but the run defense was AWOL. What's that old phrase about losing teams finding a way to lose?
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Tennessee ran for 235 yards and missed having two backs top 100 yards by one yard. This was not a case of one guy having a great game. This was a case of the Titans simply overpowering the Browns' defense. All the cries about the coach and the quarterback have obscured the fact that the Browns run defense again is an embarrassment.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Phil Dawson missed a field goal for the third week in a row, and the Browns special teams provided no lift to a team that badly needed one. The only thing that might have sparked the offense was a Josh Cribbs return, but it wasn't to be.
COACHING: D -- The only way the Browns could have competed Sunday was to use the "flash" package more and give the ball to Josh Cribbs in the shotgun. Ken Dorsey was not going to win that game on his own. The Browns, though, chose the cautious route, and the results were predictable. Romeo Crennel is amazingly loyal to his players, but he rarely takes a significant chance. This game cried for a change of pace with Cribbs, but he touched the ball just eight times. That was not enough.
FRENCH MINISTRY OF DEFENSE
The Browns spent a lot of energy, draft picks and money to rebuild their run defense in the offseason. Tennessee shredded that run defense for 235 yards in Sunday's win.
Whatever the Browns tried, it's not working. Cleveland is giving up a woeful 145 yards on the ground, and Tennessee came within one yard of having two backs top 100 on Sunday.
The theme has been constant all season: Shaun Rogers plays well, but the Browns are overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage and the linebackers are either not fast enough or strong enough to make the plays.
There is no improvement whatsoever, even after the acquisition of Corey Williams and Rogers.
And no team that gives up that kind of rushing yardage can win consistently in the NFL. It's just not good enough.
Tennessee and Cleveland both finished 10-6 a year ago. The Titans improved their team quietly, and depended on players to grow. The Browns again went out and spent a lot of money in free agency.
Tennessee's results: A 12-1 record and probably the home field advantage in the playoffs.
The Browns results: A 4-9 record and yet one more change in coaches and front office personnel, and another re-start in a decade of fitful starts and re-starts.
--QB Ken Dorsey struggled, as expected, against the Titans strong defense and relentless pass rush.
That did not stop the Browns from asking Dorsey to throw 43 passes, a season high for a Browns quarterback.
Dorsey completed 22, but only for 150 yards, an indication of Dorsey's arm strength. He simply lacks the ability to get the ball down the field.
Coach Romeo Crennel understood but also respected Dorsey's effort. Even with the physical limitations, Dorsey never stopped fighting.
--WR Josh Cribbs got eight snaps as the shotgun quarterback. He threw one long pass incomplete - it was nearly a catch, but Braylon Edwards came down out of bounds - and ran six times for 24 yards.
Cribbs also had a 30-yard run called back by penalty.
The Browns opened themselves up to legitimate second-guessing by not using Cribbs more, especially since the offense was not viable with Dorsey throwing.
Coach Romeo Crennel's explanation: The team spent most of its time trying to prepare Dorsey during the practice week
It's probably time to start getting Cribbs ready for Monday night's game in Philadelphia. There is no other alternative.
--ILB D'Qwell Jackson had an outstanding game with 15 tackles and two interceptions. Jackson was all over the field, but most of his tackles came down the field and did little to stop the tide that was the Titans rushing game.
--RB Jamal Lewis struggled again, gaining just seven yards on seven carries. Lewis' production is so down this year, one has to wonder if he's lost a step. Something is wrong. Either Lewis is not the same back - there was no indication of that in preseason - or the team's offensive line is struggling badly.
--RB Jerome Harrison got two carries and caught one pass before leaving the game with a rib injury. The Browns did not specify the severity of the injury.
--CB Eric Wright was beaten for a touchdown pass, then screamed he was pushed. TV replays seemed to indicate Wright just lost the coverage. It symbolizes the plight of the Browns, who always seem to find someone other than themselves to fault.
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