Browns-Ravens: Report Card

Scout offers their report card for Game three against the Ravens and it's... um... oh, my...

The Browns have not announced who will start at quarterback Sunday against Cincinnati, but they won't keep it a secret.

Coach Eric Mangini said he will continue to think whether Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn should start and make an announcement on Wednesday -- provided he doesn't change his mind and decide to keep it under wraps, which he did prior to the opener.

"I'll go back and look at the game," Mangini said. "I'll look at the operation and see who gives us the best chance to win."

Mangini did not give many details into his thinking, which is not unusual. But after Quinn struggled in the first two-and-a-half games, it would be surprising if Anderson did not return as starter.

Two years ago, Anderson was named the starter prior to game two after Charlie Frye failed in the season opener. Anderson went on to throw 29 touchdowns and lead the Browns to 10 wins. His first game was a five-touchdown effort against Cincinnati, the same team the Browns play this Sunday (albeit two years later).

Anderson replaced Quinn in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He looked a little sharper than Quinn -- especially on third down.

But he did throw three interceptions. One was a bad throw, the second a throw when he tried to force the issue with the team way down and the third a route when Mike Furrey didn't turn around to look for the ball.

Quinn has struggled for three games, as his rating of 62.9 attests. Last season he started two games when he was healthy and the Browns scored 30 and 29 points. The Browns have scored 29 points in three games this season, and their offense has gone nine games (going back to 2008) without a meaningful touchdown.

Anderson will take chances down the field. The Browns will have to live with turnovers, because that's what chances lead to. But he'll also throw the ball more aggressively, which is something Quinn did not do often.

NOTES, QUOTES

--QB Brady Quinn is 6-for-30 passing on third downs this season. That's one of the signs of a lack of progress that could cost Quinn the starting job, even though unmanageable down-and-distance situations have haunted the Browns and placed them in consistent 3rd-and-long situations.

"It's hard to convert; it's really hard to convert," coach Eric Mangini said of facing consistent third-and-long.

--CB Brandon McDonald continues to struggle. McDonald was beat for a 72-yard touchdown from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason. McDonald was running with Mason, but did not look for the ball at the right time. Mason adjusted, made the catch and avoided McDonald to score. It's the second week in a row McDonald was victimized by a long pass play.

"It's my job to keep people positive and make sure they keep playing," LB D'Qwell Jackson said. "I know we have the talent here to win and play better. We just need to execute."

--The Eric Mangini era has gotten off to a terrible start, with the Browns losing three games by an average of 22 points. Mangini said he's confident he can still reach the players.

"I've dealt with a lot of football players over time, and I feel very comfortable with my ability to deal with people," Mangini said.

Players said it's up to them, not the coach.

"I'm a leader," said return man Josh Cribbs. "I have to make sure we still hit. Make sure they still hurt. We've got to keep all the guys in it. It ain't over until it's oh-oh-oh on the clock."

"We're 0-and-3," LB D'Qwell Jackson said. "That's the lowest you can get. We worked hard since the beginning of the spring and it's about time things start to change."

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Jerome Harrison got the bulk of the playing time with Jamal Lewis out vs. Baltimore. Harrison did OK, but it's tough to run against the Ravens' defense. He gained 62 yards on 16 carries, and led the Browns with five receptions for 33 yards.

--WR Brian Robiskie was inactive for the second week in a row, despite the fact the Browns need help at receiver. Coach Eric Mangini has said Robiskie needs to help on special teams, which is interesting given no Browns wideout other than Josh Cribbs plays special teams.

--PK Billy Cundiff was a late-week addition to the roster, replacing Phil Dawson. Cundiff did well, getting kickoffs deep and making his only field goal. He will be around as long as Dawson's bothersome calf muscle keeps him sidelined.

--NT Shaun Rogers did his most important work two days before the Baltimore game when he dragged rookie CB Coye Francies out of the locker room by the scruff of the neck. Francies was upset about a rookie hazing prank, and seemed ready to fight safety Abe Elam. It's the kind of thing that happens when a team splinters.

--WR Braylon Edwards has been nearly invisible in the Browns' offense. He had three catches against Baltimore, and has just 10 for the season. Edwards is the team's playmaker, and he has to be more involved. A switch of quarterbacks to Derek Anderson might help him.

REPORT CARD VS. RAVENS

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The only reason it's not an F is that Derek Anderson was able to do a few things right in the second half. It wasn't a lot, as his three interceptions show, but he did look more aggressive and aware than Brady Quinn. The Browns started the game with a quick-throw approach. It lasted four plays -- until Quinn was intercepted. Then the team reverted to the underneath approach, and it did not work well. Quinn was able to score 59 points in two games a year ago. This season he's looked lost and so has the pass offense.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Browns' backs ran for 62 yards, which won't win many games. Jerome Harrison and James Davis averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Harrison had one 17-yard run, which means he ran for 35 yards on his other 15 carries. The running game was as inept as the passing game.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Joe Flacco threw for a personal-best 342 yards, and he did it throwing off his back foot and flinging some throws to areas where his receivers were supposed to be. They were, and Browns defenders missed many, many key tackles. The pass defense is a mess, which makes sense because the entire defense is a mess.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- One could say the Browns did improve their per-game average. Thing is they were giving up 205.5 yards per game starting the game. Baltimore did what it does, using several backs to run for 142 yards on 28 carries. The most disturbing fact about that total was that the Ravens averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Even more disturbing was the Ravens scored on runs of 7, 15 and 9 yards -- and not once did a Browns defender lay a hand on the back.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Browns have three excellent specialists in Dave Zastudil, Josh Cribbs and Phil Dawson. Against Baltimore, Billy Cundiff did a nice impersonation of Dawson and kicked well. These three guys are all good, dependable players. But when the three best players on the team are specialists, a team has problems. That reality shows in the 0-3 record

COACHING: F -- Eric Mangini can talk all he wants about being confident he can reach his team, but the Browns never played as poorly under Romeo Crennel in 2008 as they've played in 2009 under Mangini. The Browns have regressed, and Mangini seems helpless to do much about it other than offer the usual platitudes about hard work and executing and looking within. Through three games, nothing is working.


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