Browns limping in, but still have one more chance to shine

I’m not making excuses for the Browns, but I honestly didn’t expect them to be competitive this past Sunday against the Broncos.1

This team was in trouble when T.J. Ward got hurt and when they decided to cut Dimitri Patterson. Add in all the extraneous chatter this week from the locker room about impending change, and no amount of “if” in those quotes could dissuade me from thinking this team was at least distracted and probably just finished with the year.

In a lot of ways, Shurmur might deserve some credit for at least one thing2 this season, and that is that his team played hard almost to the end. And they might have too if not for the injuries and frustration in how they saw their three game winning streak ended by Kirk Cousins and the Redskins a week ago.

Regardless of the reasoning, the Browns never should have cut off their nose to spite their face cutting Dimitri Patterson this week. Considering the experiment of Buster Skrine starting earlier in the season, it wasn’t worth cutting Patterson before the final two games unless I’m missing something business-related. So, unless he somehow indicated that he was going to refuse to play, I just can’t understand it. The Browns could have used Patterson in a major way both in the slot to start the game and also on the outside filling in for Sheldon Brown after he was injured. Whether it was a player insurrection or a shot across the bow of Tom Heckert by Joe Banner, it sure hurt the team and the fans yesterday against Peyton Manning.

Maybe it didn’t really matter anyway, but considering the 34-12 final score, it bears question whether any of it was worth it for a fanbase that certainly deserved a more competitive game. We are talking about a game that was 14-3 at halftime with the Browns getting the ball. It’s not like it was a blowout wire-to-wire. And yet, in the end the Browns got crushed by long touchdown drives and an inability to respond in kind.

And so the Browns will be limping into the final game of the season. Even before reports come out, we know that Trent Richardson is questionable along with starting QB Brandon Weeden who went down with an ankle and shoulder respectively. Sheldon Brown is going to be questionable, presumably with a concussion.

But the Browns are going up against a Steelers team with problems of their own. Heath Miller got hurt on Sunday along with Maurkice Pouncey and a couple other role players. Add in that Troy Polamalu has been banged up all year along with Ben Roethlisberger and sprinkle in the bitter dash of spice that the Steelers are now knocked out of playoff contention and they might just well pack it in a little bit too.

Of course, I shouldn’t say it too loudly lest this message sneak its way into the Browns locker room. I’d hate for these guys to get the wrong idea that they don’t have to try too hard against the Steelers next weekend. With very little chance3 that Pat Shurmur will be back, it isn’t like one more win will hurt anything for the Browns. And no, don’t talk to me about draft implications. This is a game against the Steelers. The Browns will earn whatever draft pick they’re supposed to get. And hopefully this rag-tag bunch of wounded warriors with nothing left to play for at least give the fans a reason to watch.

  1. Yes, this is a problem in itself. []
  2. and probably only one or a couple things []
  3. zero really []

  • @TheDeePagel

    I’d rather have bragging rights for a year over the Steelers and pick out of the top-10, then lose to them on the last game of the year and pick in the top-10.

  • Jaker

    We will draft where we draft. If we want a certain player bad enough, we know Heck will go get him. But two wins over Pittsburgh? All I want for Christmas…

  • beerf

    That’s a huge assumption to think Heck will be around in April at the draft.

  • beerf

    The Broncos swept our division. One would have to be crazy if they thought the team in last place in our division had a chance in Denver. I wish we would have tried more blitz packages against Manning. It seemed like Manning had all day to make reads and was rarely pressured- 0 sacks.

  • Harv 21

    If I was a betting guy, Steelers by 10 at least. I saw the Browns body language at game’s end; they’re well into off-season mode already. The Steelers may sleepwalk some too, but there’s way more pride and discipline and fear of losing in that locker room.

    We’re fantasizing when we blab about Steeler game importance every year and pretend that the players will react specifically to that. None of these young guys have been alive long enough to see a real rivalry in action, regardless of the lip service they’ll pay Mary Kay when she plays that tired angle this week. They know they beat Batch a few weeks ago, and some know the Steelers generally give us a good beatdown twice a year. This hasn’t been an actual rivalry since the early ’90s, so no matter how much players hear from fans you can’t expect this game will get their juices flowing. No one’s kneed them in the groin just because they’re a Brown, and they haven’t poked an eye because they’re Steelers. It’s not their reality. It’s like asking these guys if they’d like to avenge The Drive.

  • 216in614

    The way he went out and got RGIII?

  • Wow

    you can’t be serious

  • Wheel

    I went to the game yesterday, eager to see Weeden validate my opinion that he was a mistake and the Browns would have been better off going with McCoy. I came away feeling the opposite. I liked the way Weeden stood in the pocket and fired the ball. McCoy, on the other hand, seemed to never settle in the pocket – too quick to give up on the play. I’d like to see how another coach can create on offense based on Weeden’s strengths, In other words, let the guy throw! He’ll never be a Manning or even an Andrew Luck, but I saw enough to make me think Weeden can be an above average NFL quarterback.

  • Jaker

    If Heckert wanted RG3 that badly, he would have made the deal, because we had more to offer than Washington did. But since we didn’t make the trade, I assume Heckert didn’t want him that badly. Also, there aren’t any franchise QBs in this draft like the two that were in last year’s draft, so there won’t be any astronomical asking prices for a defensive player we may want.

  • Jaker

    It is. But I maintain that philosophy for whoever Banner brings in to replace him. It’s not like we will fire Heck and replace him with someone who won’t make the necessary deals

  • King Me

    You don’t seem to understand how huge it would be to sweep Pittsburgh.

  • Wow

    How? It’s a meaningless game and neither team has anything to play for. I would rather get a top ten pick.

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    That is absolutely depressing and absolutely true

  • mgbode

    Haslam has never lost to pitt. Let’s not stwrt now

  • mgbode

    Pitt just gave away their season too

  • Harv 21

    right, mentioned in my first para.

  • Wow

    It seems like RG 3 is gonna be injury prone too..

  • mgbode

    I know but I need to talk myself into this week 🙂

  • Lucky Lindy

    I’m with ya. It’s not like the Browns have the chance at the #1 pick or Andrew Luck, that’d be one thing. But I’ll take a win over Pittsburgh any chance I can get it.

  • But it needs to change, and the only way it will is if the Browns start beating the Steelers more often than lose to them. It’s not a rivalry any more because it has been so one-sided for so long. This rivalry was once the heart and soul of this franchise, and for that reason I will always hope we beat the Steelers, even if it drops us 5 draft picks.
    Then we need to start developing another rivalry by beating the GD Ravens.