Derry: The Perfect Game Plan

On a day like today, with a team like this, it turns out that there was only one good game plan...

They say if you live long enough you'll see just about everything. But never did I think I would see an NFL team go five straight games without an offensive touchdown, especially one that boasted four offensive Pro Bowl players just a year ago.

And yet that's exactly what has now happened to the Browns, who after getting blanked 14-0 by the lowly Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon at frigid Cleveland Browns Stadium, have now gone 20 straight quarters without an offensive touchdown.

That's absolutely amazing!

And with a trip to Pittsburgh on tap for the season finale next Sunday, it seems a very good bet that the Browns, now 4-11, will finish the year with six straight games without an offensive touchdown.

Just think about that for a minute. That's more than one-third of the season without a rushing or passing touchdown!

Ever since quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn went down with injuries, head coach Romeo Crennel has had to feel like a gunslinger without a bullet. Like a chef without a stove. Like a blacksmith without an anvil. He'll soon be a coach without a team.

Try as they might, and I think most of the guys are giving it their all, the Browns simply are not good enough right now to score on a big play or put together a long offensive drive. Especially with the questionable play calling that took place on Sunday.

Quarterback Ken Dorsey, who has failed to reach the end zone in his three starts, might be an excellent tutor for Quinn. And he might be a nice guy, a good teammate and a person who never complains about his lack of playing time. But he's not an NFL quality quarterback. He's not talented enough to compete on football's biggest stage. He should be coaching, not on an active NFL roster.

Whose fault is it that he is playing for the Browns?

We're told that general manager Phil Savage picked the 53-man roster. That being the case, Savage bears the responsibility. And yet it's Crennel and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski who are blamed for the ineptness.

Dorsey's lack of arm strength on the football field is equivalent to Coco Crisp's arm on the baseball diamond. The difference is that Crisp doesn't have the ball in his hand on every play. And the cutoff man in baseball can help make up for a player's inability to throw the ball a long way. The running backs coming out of the backfield are football's equivalent of the cutoff man.

Dorsey's favorite target on Sunday was Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, who intercepted three passes, including one that he returned for a touchdown. Hall came into the game without an interception this season, and yet he grabbed three intended for Braylon Edwards.

Hall had 87 yards on his returns, including the 50 yarder for the score and 37 yards on a return on which Edwards intentionally stepped over Hall, rather than touch him down.

Edwards, who was the only wide receiver targeted by Dorsey, had four catches for 35 yards and to his credit, no drops. Dante Stallworth's only reception came after Bruce Gradkowski replaced an injured Dorsey (ribs) late in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, the Browns managed to hold the Bengals to just one touchdown, a 20-yard pass from from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Chris Henry, who beat Eric Wright. But the defensive effort was not as good as it might appear.

With Fitzpatrick playing in place of injured Carson Palmer, wide receiver Chad Johnson sidelined with an injury, and a 30 mile per hour wind howling on the field, the Bengals were not going to beat the Browns through the air. Fitzpatrick attempted only nine passes, completing five.

Knowing that, the Browns should have been able to stop the run. And yet Cedric Benson, who was cut by the Bears prior to the start of the season, picked up a career high 171 yards on 38 carries.

The play-calling by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was questionable, to say the least. Knowing the conditions, he should have had safety Sean Jones at the line of scrimmage on virtually every play, which then might have forced the Bengals to throw the ball, which was a risky proposition all day long.

On the other hand, the Browns failed to utilize Jamal Lewis to the max. On a day that begged for him to carry the ball 20-25 times, he had just 16 carries. He managed 76 yards (4.8 average), becoming the 24th player in NFL history to surpass the 10,000 yard mark.

For whatever reason, Chudzinski called 22 pass plays, which played right into the Bengals' hands.

The best thing that can be said about this game is that it's over as is the home portion (1-7) of this forgettable season. The thousands of fans who chose the warmth of their living rooms as opposed to sitting in the stands were the only real winners. Their game plan was perfect. The same cannot be said for the one put together by the Browns' coaches.


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