Rich's Rant: 'So Sad, It's Almost Laughable'

Long before most in the media joined the chorus, Rich Passan was absorbing criticism for warning Browns fans about chinks in the team's armor, starting with their head coach. This week, Rich expresses his sadness at what 2008 has become.

First the good news. The Browns' defense allowed just seven points against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Now the bad news. The Browns' defense allowed seven points against the Bengals Sunday.

And then the worst news. The Browns' offense allowed seven points against the Bengals Sunday which is seven more than it produced.

Finally, Romeo Crennel is still the coach of the Cleveland Browns as they finish 1-7 at home this season and stagger toward the finish line.

And next Sunday, they mercifully put a bow on the 2008 season with a visit to Pittsburgh to play the merciless Steelers, who give up points more grudgingly than any team in the National Football League. Unfortunately, the NFL will make the Browns play that game.

The Browns couldn't score even a field goal against a below-average Cincinnati defense in suffering their first home shutout since the Bengals turned the trick in November of 2006. One can only imagine what awaits the Browns next Sunday.

Who said it couldn't get any worse?

Let's see now. The Browns' very offensive offense has played a few seconds shy of an incredible 21 straight quarters without scoring a touchdown. Five games plus. FIVE GAMES!!

Right now, they are giving bad football a worse name. Even the awful Detroit Lions can score touchdowns.

What in the name of Otto Graham and Marion Motley and Jim Brown has happened to this football team? Where in the name of Brian Sipe and Ozzie Newsome and Bernie Kosar is the pride?

One would think these guys would score a touchdown by accident, by coincidence, by sheer happenstance. Zilch for five games. Inexcusable.

Since Jerome Harrison (remember him?) romped 72 yards for a touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter of the Buffalo victory in game 10, the offense has begun 56 drives, none of which has concluded in the end zone. That's 308 plays over a span of nearly 315 minutes and not one TD to show for their efforts.

If not for Phil Dawson's incredible 56-yard field goal to win the Buffalo game, the Browns would be working on an eight-game losing streak heading into the finale.

It's gotten so bad, they couldn't even reach the red zone against the Bengals, a team that surrenders an average of 25.5 points a game. Their deepest penetration was the Cincinnati 27-yard line on the first drive of the second half.

With Ken Dorsey at quarterback, however, what did you expect? There's a reason he's the third quarterback on this team. Don't blame him. Blame Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn for getting hurt.

Everything on offense suffers as a result of Dorsey reaching under center. Opposing teams choke off the Browns' running game because they don't respect his ability to throw the football. And with good reason.

The defense, on the other, held up its end of the bargain, at least from a scoreboard standpoint, although the Bengals carved up the run defense (then again, who hasn't?) for nearly 200 yards as they won their first game on the road this season. Maybe that's because they attempted just nine passes, all but one in the first half.

That from a team that averaged a measly 80 yards a game on the ground coming into the game. Sort of gives one a clue as to how much respect the Bengals had for the Cleveland run defense.

How bad is bad? How low is low? We are all witnesses, brothers and sisters. Behold and cover your eyes in shame. The Browns weren't this bad in the expansion years. They have become an afterthought in the Cleveland sports community.

To categorize them as hapless would be a compliment at this stage.

It has become so sad, it's almost laughable. As a defense mechanism, one has to guffaw at and mock the offense for its abject ineptitude. It has become unwatchable.

Judging from the amount of orange seats at CBS Sunday, a great majority of the season ticket holders decided that watching the game on television was a much more prudent move. Wonder if Randy Lerner noticed the paucity of fans.

So now Crennel winds up his final season as the Browns' head coach with a four-year record of 5-19 against the AFC North (unless someone out there truly believes the Browns will beat the Steelers and that individual should be given a saliva test) and an overall record of 24-40.

It'll slam shut the book on yet another morose chapter in the saga of the new Cleveland Browns.

It has become abundantly clear that Crennel stepped into a job that was way over his head. It was also that clear after season two of his tenure, but no one was strong enough or sagacious enough to make a move back then.

The players, almost to a man, maintain they enjoy playing for Crennel. One of those words will have to be used in the past tense immediately following the Pittsburgh loss.

It's about damn time. Too bad the fans had to suffer along the way. They deserved better.

The OBR Top Stories