Taking a Newspaper to the Nose of the Cleveland Browns

It is one thing to lose football games as the Browns did to the Raiders on Sunday 24-17.  (And no, I don’t care that the Browns had a chance to win after scoring on a prevent and recovering an on-side kick.)  Progress can be made in losses even if we all agree that there is no such thing as a moral victory. If your team is constantly surrounded by distraction due to confusion about the role and health of the team’s most talented offensive weapon, that is something else completely. It is something that should and could be avoided by any functional organization. Meanwhile the Cleveland Browns can’t seem to achieve it with Peyton Hillis.

I think you guys know me well enough to know that I don’t want to talk about this stuff. I just want to talk about football. Somehow these Cleveland Browns handle their business so comically that I am forced to talk about something other than wins, losses, offense, defense and special teams. These Browns seem intent on making that kind of talk impossible.

Peyton Hillis was on the field for the first quarter. Sometime in the second quarter he apparently pulled up a little lame after a screen pass that was called back for penalty. The Browns finished the second quarter with Peyton Hillis on the sideline and no announcement of any kind regarding his status.

The Browns came out of halftime with Hillis holding his helmet on the sidelines. As fans and media alike shook their heads, an announcement was finally made that Hillis had a hamstring injury. Finally, an explanation.

Except the next thing we knew, Hillis was back in blocking for Colt McCoy on passing downs. totally inexplicable. Ponderous, even.

Meanwhile your Cleveland Browns had an opportunity to do battle against a Raiders team led by Kyle Boller after Jason Campbell was knocked out of the game by Scott Fujita with a shoulder injury. Instead of taking advantage, the Browns were playing anemic offense and allowing fake field goals to go for touchdowns.

It would be just a bad game if the Browns just showed up, played as a team and lost. The continuing embarrassing displays combined with the distracting side-show type events makes it nearly unbearable. This team was supposed to be making some progress this season, let alone out of their bye week.   That just isn’t possible if you handle your business as poorly as the Browns did on Sunday in Oakland.

I will never be the guy who sits here and tells you all is lost, but this needs to start with good answers from Pat Shurmur. If he doesn’t have any to offer then Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren are on call for answers.

I think the Cleveland media bears some responsibility for the whole Hillis mess, but just a little bit.  Let’s not pretend that the Cleveland media can compare to the brutal varieties on the east coast from Boston and New York to Philly. At some point it is up to the Browns to choose their own destiny. As I said on Twitter, I preached patience for this team, and I think they were owed some. At the same time, we just can’t accept dysfunction when the team seemingly has the correct top-down structure from President down.

Cleveland Browns fans aren’t owed instantaneous success. Far from it.  They are owed some brand of professional football though.

We will have more about the game itself throughout this week whether you like it or not.

(Shurmur – AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast – Hillis Cleveland Browns John H. Reid III)

  • Joe

    Tough loss. That said…why do the Browns think all the cloak & dagger secretiveness does them any good? Following along on twitter throughout the game, the Browns, according to multiple local writers, officially stated early in the 3rd qtr that Hillis was NOT injured. What is up with that? Just tell it like it is and avoid making this turn into another HUGE HILLIS CONTROVERSY!!! The special teams breakdowns ended up costing us a chance at victory (outside of the onside kick recovery) – IMO. The stupid penalties NEED to stop…

  • suckforluck

    Jimkanicki wins …and I am on board for SuckforLuck campaign.

  • JM

    I watched Sports Sunday on Channel 5 and it looked like Hillis said something to the one coach, almost like he said he could play and the coach blew him off. I’m not sure about this but I’m sure it will be replayed 100 times this week.

  • Cleveland78

    @47 – Like LeBron said about Tebow, you need to be encouraging these folks, not criticizing them.

  • humboldt

    @Jimkanicki – The biggest offensive plays in the New Orleans win last year were made by our veteran linebacker and our punter. The offense under Mangini was totally inept for two years, so let’s not allow our disappointment with yesterday’s game to fill us with longing for some mythical past

  • Lyon

    JM, I saw that happen & thought, OK he’ll actually get in.

    then he proceeded to play a few more plays as a blocker & that was it.

  • Tsunami

    The offense was inept under Mangini. Hardesty is healthy, McCoy has more experience, we signed Greg Little (who was the only bright spot yesterday) and our offense is worse – WAY WORSE. And the schedule we’ve had so far? Laughable compared to last season.

    I wasn’t a “Mangini guy” or whatever but I never understood so many Browns’ fans irrational hatred of him. It was so obvious the the naked eye that the ragtag Browns played hard, played disciplined, and HAD AN IDENTITY. Power run, bend-not-break D, great special teams. Now, what is our identity? Off the bye week, against a CRAP team, and the Browns (minus Little) looked like they wanted to go home. No passion, no confidence, frantic/scared, undisciplined, totally out of sync. With all the draft picks we’ve had – I have no doubt we’d be seeing a MUCH better product right now if last year’s coaching staff was still here. Holgren is really lucky the Browns imploded last year following the injuries to Hillis/Fujita – because they were a better team last year than the year before.

    And if you don’t think playing hard, disciplined, and with confidence has anything to do with winning in football, see: San Francisco.

  • Chris

    It seems pretty obvious that Shurmur is losing his players. And… is it any wonder?

  • Ike

    “i was not a mangini fan. but give him two weeks to game plan and he thrashed belichick. shurmur had two weeks to prep for this and laid an egg. i defy anyone to show me how his gameplanning/execution improved.”

    Preach on, jimkanicki. Preach on..

  • JM

    This game was so frustrating because Oakland isn’t that good of a team. They are average at best.

  • Gbwoy

    I’m not sure we’re in the “Suck for Luck” race with our 2 wins.

    I don’t know, maybe “Play like a turd for Robert Griffin the third”?

  • khdenn

    Like I said earlier – I’m willing to trade the draft for rights to Luck. Need to fix QB before anything else…if you don’t nothing else matters.

    Look, if Luck is the real deal, then the next decade of Browns football will be heaven for us all.

    If Luck is a bust – then how does it at all change the cycle of 5 win seasons we’ve already watched year after year.

    Fix QB!!! Until that happens nothing will change…

  • Big Z

    It was very therapeutic to read this thread and hear others voice the same outrage I felt while watching the offense and special teams “play” this game.

    There is hope though, just hear me out on this. Unless I’m wrong, not a SINGLE poster voiced a negative opinion of the defense – which is GREAT – because as we all know, defense wins championships. This means the defense is actually pretty good. Coincidentally, Tom Heckert has been using his high round draft picks on defensive players. And with the exceptions of Hardesty (jury’s still out), Little (fell into his lap), and McCoy (who Holmgren told him to draft), Tom Heckert has provided the Browns with solid defensive draftees and UFAs such as Patterson and Skrine. Even when in Philly, Heckert’s defense was solid. Heckert has not yet fully addressed the offense, as he’s only had 2 drafts with the team. I feel this should be seen as a bright spot.

    I feel another bright spot should be seen in the fact that Heckert has had reasonable success in the FA market and through trades, even though he’s the first to point out that it’s not the way to build a team. (exceptions that I might argue would be LT to New York, Peppers to Chicago, and maybe Boldin to Baltimore). Heckert’s additions of Fujita, Brown, and Hillis have been significant.

    As for the Vickers issue, I agree that we may be better off with Vickers over Merecic, but with the downright awful play of the offensive line, poor play-calling and personnel packaging, and lack of dedication to the run game I find it difficult to truly evaluate Merecic’s performance as a rookie. Although I’m a big Vickers fan I’d also like to point out that he may not have been the starting FB in Houston this year had James Casey not been injured and placed on the IR.

    I tend to agree with most of the posters regarding Shurmur’s suck factor. As a whole, his play-calling and inattention to the run game (yes I know our O-line is atrocious), as well as his handling of the Hillis issue have been HIGHLY questionable. I think that it’s time to drop the “cool as a cucumber” act and get in somebody’s grill. IMO, a good amount of folks are gonna lose their jobs on this offense next year and unless Shurmur starts to get it in gear, get passionate, and take control of this team he’ll be one of them. I know it seems far fetched but I don’t doubt H+H will hesitate to yank him if this continues. The Broncos took care of the mess with McDaniels in Denver REAL quick, and If the Colts are already talking about axing Jim Caldwell, the trigger can certainly be pulled on Shurmur regardless of what was said after his hire and during the preseason. Holmgren certainly seemed to hold people accountable when I watched him work on the sideline for all those years, I doubt he operates any differently in the office upstairs.

  • Big Z

    Additionally, I’d like to thank you, Craig, for posting the blog regarding the outstanding play of the defense after you posted this article. I fell we need to separate the defense from the otherwise negative Browns sentiment. I give all the credit in the world to Dick Jauron for having a bunch of brand new Players displaying competence, physicality, enthusiasm, and a genuine will to succeed on the field nearly every game. Kudos Mr. Jauron. Also, Kudos to you Mr. Heckert for really hitting the jackpot with your last two defense oriented drafts. I hope to see the two here in Cleveland for a long time.

  • Big Z

    Additionally, the media needs to stop with this ridiculousness, and the situation really needs to be addressed in-person by either Heckert, Holmgren, or Shurmur. See the link.

  • Big Z

    alibi – post 63. Skrine wasn’t a UFA, just Patterson. Last post, honest 😉

  • Woods

    The Browns looked terrible on offense yesterday and the special teams allowed two touchdowns and it is tough to win a game against any team in the NFL when this occurs.

    The Raiders wide receivers were open for most of the day due to soft coverage by Patterson and Brown. The only reason the defense looked good (except for the first drive of course) is due to the fact that Kyle Boller is an awful backup quarterback.

    The lack of communication regarding Hillis’ injury during the game was also a failing of the team. It sure seemed like he was benched for no apparent reason.

    Having said all of the above, I cannot understand the nostalgia for Mangini as coach. Yes, the team was disciplined and the special teams were very good as well. But this was most likely due to coach Seeley having final say over the game day roster and his ability to pack it with special teams players.

    If Mangini was the coach this year, I am guessing that none of the rookies (Taylor, Sheard, Little, Pinkston) would be starting, and the team would be littered with veterans that have little to no upside. The four rookies mentioned have been starting since the preseason. The Browns are being built with the future in mind, not to win now.

    I haven’t made my mind up about Colt McCoy yet since he seems to be a lot less accurate this year, but my opinion is even Andrew Luck would struggle with this cast of receivers, the revolving door at right tackle and an inability to run the football with any effectiveness.

    MoMass is not a number one receiver. Greg Little might be one in a few years, but he sure isn’t now. A player like Alshon Jeffrey or Justing Blackmon would go a long way towards shoring up this group and getting favorable matchups against the opposing defensive backs.

    A right tackle is needed badly as Hicks, Cousins and Pashos are not good or even serviceable.

    I am hoping that McCoy rights the ship and Hillis is signed to a reasonable contract. Then the next draft could line up as:
    Round 1 Pick one: Blackmon (wr) or Jeffries (wr)
    Round 1 Pick two: Adcock (rt Okla St)
    Round 2 – A linebacker to replace Fujita as a starter. He would be a fine backup. Or Minniefield (cb – UVA).

    If McCoy is not the answer and Hillis needs to be replaced with one of the picks in the first two rounds, then the Browns will suck for an additional year at least.

    This is going to be a long season, but put away the pitchforks for the time being and stop trying to re-write history.

    Go Browns

  • paulbip

    It’s a long flight out to Oakland and I think everybody is being a little too harsh on the coaching staff. I think it was just jet lag. Everything will be ok once the boys get some rest.