Jamal Lewis is 95 yards shy of becoming the 24th runner in NFL
history to reach 10,000 yards for his career. It is a milestone that
should fill him with pride when he reaches it, but the way this season
has gone is taking some glow from the accomplishment.
Lewis has rushed for exactly 800 yards through 12 games. Last year,
he rushed for 1,304 yards while playing in 15 games and getting only
one carry for 11 yards in another game.
This week, the Browns are focusing on their game against the Eagles
Monday night in Philadelphia, but the bigger question as they have to
think about next season is whether Lewis can be their primary running
back for 2009 and whether the offensive line might not be as good as
team officials thought it was at the start of 2008.
Lewis carried seven times in the 28-9 loss to the Titans last week
and gained only 7 yards. He isn't the only one who struggled, either.
The Browns ran the ball 19 times and totaled 35 yards.
Lewis has suspended talking to reporters. The last time he was
interviewed he complained about the play-calling of offensive
coordinator Rob Chudzinski. Specifically, he said practice the week
before the Browns lost to the Texans focused on running the ball, but
he got only 10 carries in a 16-6 loss. He gained 58 yards. His 5.8
average was a true reflection of the success the Browns had running
against Houston. It wasn't like he ran for 55 yards on one play and
three on the other nine.
The following week, Chudzinski did focus the offense on Lewis.
Lewis rushed 24 times for 77 yards. Then came the seven-carry, 7-yard
effort against the Titans.
Linked to the inability to run in most games is the Browns have
played three straight games without scoring a touchdown. Phil Dawson
kicked two field goals against the Texans, two against the Colts and
three against the Titans.
Coach Romeo Crennel said Lewis is running as hard as ever, but the
production is lacking. Lewis' longest run this season is 29 yards.
Last year he broke out on touchdown runs of 66 and 31 yards.
"We've been getting turnovers and we haven't been making anything
happen with them," center and offensive co-captain Hank Fraley said.
"We haven't scored touchdowns in a long while here. Getting field
goals when they're getting seven, the lead gets stretched out. I'm
lost for words."
The scoring drought is reminiscent of the Browns in the expansion
years. The last time they went a three-game stretch without an
offensive touchdown was in mid-2000 when they played the Bengals,
Steelers and Giants. They finished 3-13 that season. Coach Chris
Palmer was fired and replaced by Butch Davis.
With every loss, Crennel's chances of returning next season grow
slimmer. This is Crennel's fourth season coaching the Browns. Unless
they win their last three games, the Browns will lose at least 10
games in three of the four seasons. The Browns were 6-10 in 2005, 4-12
in 2006 and 10-6 last year. They are 4-9 in 2008. Last year their only
victory against a team with a winning record was 33-30 over the
Seahawks in overtime.
NO UTES FOR YOU!
Don't look for the Browns to play their unproductive rookies
extensively in the last three games just because the season is a lost
cause. Even if Romeo Crennel's job is beyond saving, he plans to coach
against the Eagles and the final two games as though the Browns were
in the race.
"We're going to look to try to win a game," Crennel said. "That's
why you coach. Now, if a younger guy gives you a chance to win, then
you can do that and you can maybe try to mix him in to maybe try to
give him a play or two.
"I think maybe we cut back on some of the things that we're trying
to do, understanding what some of the limitations are and do a little
bit less. If there's somebody that we think can help us win then we'll
Crennel said he expects Ken Dorsey will play better in his second
start with the Browns. He made it clear Dorsey will start against the
Eagles. Dorsey's passer rating combining three attempts in relief
against the Colts and the start against Tennessee is 37.4.
SERIES HISTORY: 47th regular-season meeting. The Browns lead the
series, 31-14-1. The Browns did most of their damage against the
Eagles in a 14-game stretch from 1963 through 1979, winning 12 times
in 14 games. The post-1999 Browns cannot make the same claim. They
lost to the Eagles, 35-24, in 2000 when Chris Palmer coached the
Browns and 34-31 in overtime in 2004 when Butch Davis was the coach.
This will be Romeo Crennel's first game against the Eagles.
--The Browns did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday. Coach Romeo
Crennel gave them an extra day off because they play on Monday instead
--One more Browns victory or one more Bengals loss would mean the
Browns will finish third in the AFC North. The Ohio rivals meet in the
15th game, just as they did last year. At that time, the Browns could
have clinched a playoff spot by winning.
--Josh Cribbs' string of consecutive seasons setting a franchise
record for kick return yardage is coming to an end. Cribbs broke the
record as a rookie in 2005 and then again in 2006 and 2007. He
returned 59 kicks for 1,809 yards in 2007. He currently has 37 returns
for 970 yards.
--Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Ken Dorsey have combined for an
odd statistic. They have thrown 418 passes total and completed 209 --
exactly 50 percent of them.
--A game against the Eagles was the first the Browns played when
they moved from the All America Football Conference to the NFL in
1950. The Browns won easily, 35-10. The Eagles were the defending NFL
champions. The Browns won four straight AAFC titles before being
absorbed into the NFL and won the NFL championship in 1950.
--The Browns would have reason to believe the rest of the NFL
ganged up on them this year. The nine teams that have beaten them are
a combined 78-39. The number doubles the wins and losses of the 9-4
Ravens because they beat the Browns twice. Even with 1-11-1 Cincinnati
coming up on Dec. 21, their remaining opponents -- the Eagles, Bengals
and Steelers -- have a combined record of 18-19-2. Three of the
Browns' last four games are on the road against the Titans, Eagles and
Steelers. Those teams are 29-9-1.
--In judging their 2008 draft, the Browns have to look to Corey
Williams and Shaun Rogers to say it was successful. General manager
Phil Savage traded a second-round pick to Green Bay for Williams.
Savage said if a second-round pick starts every game it is considered
a good pick. Williams has started every game and has 40 tackles.
Rogers is arguably the Browns' Player of the Year. The Browns
traded a third-round pick and cornerback Leigh Bodden to the Lions for
him. Rogers leads the Browns in sacks, even though he hasn't had one
in five weeks. He is second among all defensive linemen with 64
Quinn was drafted in 2007 in a trade with the Cowboys in which the
Browns traded Dallas their first-round pick in 2008 and their
second-round pick in 2007. He was 1-2 as a starter before being
injured. He threw two touchdown passes and two interceptions.
As for the actual 2008 draft -- it has been virtually fruitless.
Linebacker Beau Bell has zero tackles from scrimmage. He has two
special teams tackles and one fumble recovery. Tight end Martin Rucker
has one catch. Seventh-round linebacker Alex Hall has one tackle in
each of his last five games. He had three sacks after five games and
hasn't had one since.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We can't play well for four quarters. It's
frustrating. We can't play a complete game." -- Browns LB D'Qwell
BY THE NUMBERS: 35.4 -- The Browns' conversion rate on third down.
Last season they converted on third down 42.2 percent of the time.
GAME PLAN: It won't be easy, but somehow the Browns have to be more
effective passing the ball with Ken Dorsey at quarterback. If not,
they can expect the Eagles to use eight or even nine defenders in the
box. That will make life miserable for Jamal Lewis.
Coach Romeo Crennel said Josh Cribbs might be used more in passing
situations to keep the Philadelphia defense guessing, but he has made
similar remarks before.
Dorsey said he was a trifle anxious in the game in Tennessee. The
Eagles are not as stalwart as the Titans, but they are a top-10
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Browns linebackers vs. Eagles RB Brian
Westbrook. The Titans rushed for 235 yards against the Browns last
week. It has been an up-and-down year for the defense, but until it
proves it can stop the run, there is no reason for the Eagles to ask
Donovan McNabb to be the hero. Westbrook has scored 19 of the Eagles'
Browns punt coverage unit vs. Eagles returner DeSean Jackson. The
Browns will not have much chance at all of upsetting the Eagles if the
defense has to play on a short field. The punt coverage unit has to do
a better job of shutting off lanes than it did last week in Tennessee.
A 44-yard punt return by Chris Carr set up a 25-yard touchdown run by
Chris Johnson on the next play.
INJURY IMPACT: The extra day of rest will provide more healing time
for running back Jerome Harrison (ribs) and tight end Kellen Winslow
(ankle), but Winslow might still be sidelined with his ankle injury.