Browns

Cleveland Browns make it two in a row, beat the Bengals!

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Victory formation!

The Cleveland Browns did not get the memo on tanking the season with the Trent Richardson trade. The Browns beat the Bengals 17-6 to take their season record to 2-2. They beat an AFC North rival, which is always bonus. They did it at home. Most importantly, they did it on the same day they unveiled Brownie the Elf! What else is there to say?

One thing that shocked me going into the game this week was how little Browns fans and media I heard seemed to embrace how large of an underdog the Browns were. The Browns were coming off a road victory over the Vikings, but the Bengals are not the Vikings. They are the presumed best team in the AFC North and maybe the whole AFC.

Brian Hoyer appeared to be a pretty solid upgrade as a game manager from Brandon Weeden, and Josh Gordon had a monster first game, but the track record of the Bengals was meaningful. Yet it seemed that most fans and media I heard wanted to treat this week’s game like something of a toss-up. Maybe they were right, but I wasn’t buying it pre-game.

It wasn’t easy though. Despite a 7-3 halftime lead, the Cleveland Browns went into a full on offensive lull in the middle of the game. They took the lead early on another TD pass to Jordan Cameron – his fifth of the year. They missed two field goals, hit another and then seemed almost idle offensively before finally putting a fourth quarter drive together to make it 17-6 on a nice mis-direction pass to Chris Ogbonnaya in the flat. Ogbonnaya took a flying leap into the stands and for fans around Cleveland it seemed more like a relief than a celebration.

But it should be a celebration. Browns fans know all too well that wins are a tough thing to come by. Wins in the AFC North are even more difficult for the Browns to come by. I don’t buy that this is ample proof of trading Trent Richardson. I don’t believe it’s ample proof of Brian Hoyer as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Forget all that for now, though. We don’t need to arrive at long-term conclusions about the Browns moves designed for the longer term.

One thing that I’m sure of is I love this defense. The Browns battled through some injuries to impress me and anyone else who saw this game. The Browns controlled A.J. Green, played tough, and forced incompletions and turnovers. Buster Skrine is turning me into a believer. I even have his back on the 40 yard penalty he incurred for pass interference. It was a gimmicky flea flicker and he was fooled, but did you see him close on the play? He was a split second head turn away from making a perfect defensive play. There are lots of other names to talk about on defense, but we’ll save that for Winners and Losers tomorrow.

For now, it’s time to revel in the glow of a Browns win.

It’s time to get lost in the positive wave of a short week wait for the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. It’s time to flood sports radio with positive thoughts about the Browns trying to secure a 3-2 record before the week is up. (You know, when you’re not talking about the Tribe, that is.) The point is that the biggest reason I spend so much time sniping and griping at the Browns is that we’ve earned some positivity in our football season. The players and coaches all want it and deserve it too, but we’ve earned it. So don’t feel badly about enjoying it, even if it isn’t pretty all the time.

The Steelers are 0-4 and the Ravens appear to be on their way to a loss to the Bills as I type this. It may not last long, but the Browns are tied atop the AFC North standings with their 2-2 record.

  • Lunch

    Browns WIN!!
    Indians WIN!!
    Cavs starting training camp this Tuesday. WIN!!

    I’ve never been this moist before… 😉

  • Robbie S

    So if the Browns win on Thursday (at least until Sunday), we can say the Browns are 1st in the AFC North…

    Wow.

    Also, it is the Year of the Mingo. I am humbled by his play.

  • maxfnmloans

    Dear Mr Banner,

    My apologies for those mean things I said about your Mother. The performance of the defense alone is enough to extend your goodwill credit until the Draft.

    I still have my eye on that Lombardi guy though.

    Regards,

    A properly gruntled fan

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    OH YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEA!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Supposedly it was Lombardi who wanted Hoyer if true this trumps no it blows away Banner with Mingo. Heck who knows maybe Mingo was Lombardi’s too. Holy cow!

  • maxfnmloans

    I’m giving the credit for the defense to Banner because I believe Lombardi is a eunuch. In fairness, the Hoyer love is straight from Lombardi. He was on the record as saying that some QB starved team should give him a shot. Hoyer certainly has outperformed my expectations. Perhaps my anti-Sparty bias was clouding my judgment.

    My thinking is that everyone has a voice in the room, but at the end of the day, Banner is calling the shots.

  • CB Everett

    Huge win today and hard to be upset about much, but I’ve got to take a bit of an exception to your statement: “I don’t buy that this is ample proof of trading Trent Richardson”

    It’s not often you get public mea cuplas, but the overwhelming overreaction to the trade (and lambasting of the FO) needs a little revisiting, and that statement is nowhere near enough. Yes, they’ve only won the next two games, and yes, we can all point to flaws on this team and question marks (Hoyer). BUT, the fact of the matter is that the merits of the trade were solid.

    They haven’t missed Richardson a beat, and they’ve got a 1st rounder in the bank. The defense that has been constructed is rock solid, and free agency moves and Mingo look like spot on winners. So, when is it time to give credit where credit is due for the FO?

  • Big Z

    Hoyer!!

  • Big Z

    Agreed. The FO has been amazing. Risky decisions that have REALLY paid off.

  • Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. Trent Richardson makes this Browns team marginally better still to this day if he is on the roster. Two wins doesn’t mean that they don’t miss Trent Richardson.

    They have a first rounder in the bank, but there’s no telling that this first rounder will prove to be more valuable than Trent Richardson at all. Because the Browns beat the Vikings and Bengals in back to back weeks with Josh Gordon returning to the lineup and with a QB change means jack squat about Trent Richardson and his objective value.

    Lastly, Richardson will STILL cost the Browns 6.5 million in cap space NEXT season when he’s long gone. Factor that into the first rounder that the Browns got in the deal with Indy.

    Again, it might work out, and as I said last week, it might be the greatest move in franchise history, but this front office doesn’t get that benefit of the doubt. They have too much work to do and sacrificing some roster quality this season in order to re-shape it in their own image or style next season doesn’t make them geniuses. At least not yet.

  • mgbode

    he was a game manager (5.9YPA) who doubled as a mistake-maker, but it was enough. this week, he was less a game manager (7.1YPA) and more careful with the ball (0 INTs).

    and, he was making smarter decisions this week too. with our defense playing that well, it’s up to the QB to not give the game away. Hoyer did that (and more with another blazing start to the game).

    I wasn’t ready to say he was definitely staying the starter when Weeden was back, but the progress he showed earned him more time.

    And, I love that it’s a N.Olmsted kid doing it (doesn’t really matter, but it’s nice anyway).

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I don’t think the Richardson trade was about ego (“reshape in their image”). I think it was about timing and value. Here’s the truth…right now, the trade looks solid. Trent wasn’t/is not performing like a premier back, and the team looks good overall. While the current backs aren’t setting the world on fire, they’ve only lost about a half yard per carry vs. Trich.

    No predictions…just saying that as of this moment, it looks good.

    Honesty, right no the from office can’t take credit for the best move..)Weeden missing games.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Disagree with the “offensive lull” comment. The browns weren’t punching it into the endzone at the time, but they left 6 on the field with missed field goals.

    Granted, those are never guaranteed, but Hoyer and Norv were getting them int scoring position.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Anybody else like the fact that this Hoyer guy doesn’t take a lot of unnecessary hits/sacks?

    The ball is out by 3-Mississippi. As a backyard quarterback hero growing up, I can confirm that that’s well before the standard 5-Mississippi count required for a pass rush.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Also, I’m pumped cuz I took my son to his first game (age 3!!), and we both saw our first win at CBS. I’m 31.

  • Sam

    It’s funny how these articles only generate a fraction of the comments when the Browns win a couple games compared to when they lose. Hopefully some of the unnecessarily negative fans are starting to eat crow about this team and front office.

    Are the Browns a playoff team? Probably not. Yet, they DO have a playoff defense and multiple pro bowl caliber players.

  • Wow

    The 3.6 ypg at least has me somewhat OK with the trade.

  • “I think Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are starters. I’ve said this many times: If I would have taken the GM job of the 49ers, I would have gone after Brian Hoyer, because I think he has all the traits and characteristics. If I were the Cleveland Browns, I’d rather have Brian Hoyer behind center than Colt McCoy. I think he’s got all the traits you need, in terms of leadership, toughness, the arm strength, the ability to move the team.”

    – Mike Lombardi

    /supposedly

  • Big Z

    The Hoyer acquisition alone makes them geniuses. Who saw that coming? Also, I’ll take a 1st round pick for a so-so RB any day. And the pick they traded to Pissburgh is also looking good right about now. Keep it rolling!

  • Jeff

    Lombardi was on record as a big fan of Hoyer. Not a fan of Weeden and thought Richardson was a safe pick. Of course, he also was probably involved in moving Richardson, so Banner and he probably realized what a problem TR was.

    But if Hoyer continues this it was worthwhile bringing in Lombardi. Could be a huge steal.

  • Big Z

    The way the guy played against a top-10 defense in his 2nd game with the team is simply amazing. No running game, no FG kicker, no problem.

  • “Both teams should be in great shape cap wise in 2014… The Browns rank seventh in fewest 2014 cap obligations at $103.3 million with 46 players under contract after factoring in Richardson’s dead money. Considering teams can carry over their unused cap room from one year to the next, the Browns could have in excess of $40 million in cap room when the 2014 league year starts on March 11.”

    http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/The-financial-implications-of-the-Trent-Richardson-trade.html&team=107

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Just to add to the Skrine love: both last week and this week he has saved the browns by going straight backwards at crazy speeds to break up catches he had no business getting even close to. He broke up a TD each week plus others. Both personal foul calls on him today looked like bad calls. He sticks with his assignment on every single play and does not miss tackles. The only reason he sometimes looks bad is because nobody even bothers throwing on Haden at this point and they can’t run, so Skrine sees like 12+ targets a game and gives up 5-6 mostly short ones. Owens BTW looks bad and cincy tried to motion green to him repeatedly late in the game.

    Hoyer looked better not outstanding this week. Got away with a couple bad throws but otherwise managed the game well.

    I hope the club is looking at more Ks because Cundiff looks hurt. Lanning meanwhile looks better each game.

  • Kildawg

    Banner wasn’t kidding when he said that the FO was going to be different than the one(s) before. Trading Richardson is proof of that. Banner is earning the benefit of the doubt from me because the moves he has made (and not made) have seemed to benefit the team.

  • WFNY_DP

    I’m on board with this article, with one exception:

    THE ELF IS STUPID. STUPID!

    I don’t care about the history of it. It’s a relic of a time more than half a century ago. There’s nothing intimidating about it (don’t get me started on “Chomps” either), it doesn’t make any sense to me as to why it’s a mascot of ours (maybe because it was done away with originally in the mid-60s for being “too childish” according to Satan Modell).

    I don’t care if I’m the only one that does NOT want us to bring back the Elf.

    PLEASE DON’T BRING BACK THE ELF.

  • dimoko

    more than a few times at our get together watching the game, the phrase “What the hell is going on right now?” was uttered. What a day to be a sports fan in Cleveland.

  • FearTheRoo

    Browns started 2-2 in 2011. Finished 4-12

  • mgbode

    you are correct. we beat the tanking Colts and a terrible Dolphins team. Neither was an expected playoff team like the Bengals. The Vikings may very well be terrible, but they also just beat the Steelers (so kudos to them).

  • Big Z

    And a poop sandwich to you as well, good sir.

  • Hamfist

    I am happy and content on this Monday. I will not gripe about anything.

  • WFNY_DP

    I (as someone who admittedly thought they were tanking) can now look at the upcoming schedule and find a way to get to 8-8 with this defense and a manageable offense (Bills, Jets, Jags, Steelers x2, Ravens). Did anyone really feel that optimistic in 2011?