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)