I could have wrote nothing about the Browns loss yesterday and just avoid discussing the team until after they win a game. However, after my initial angst subsided, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't all bad. So lets look at the good and the bad, starting with the bad.
- Loss to an AFC North rival. Unlike the other major sports, each win or loss in football is significant. Compared to baseball a win or loss in the NFL is equal to 10 wins or losses.
- Several times the Bengals marched right down the field rather easily.
- I was asked Saturday what I expected from the Browns. I responded that I would judge progress this year by the level of discipline more than number of wins. In other words would we continue to kill ourselves with penalties. To answer that concern, they had two touchdowns nullified by penalties.
On the bright side:
- The Bengals were playing with essentially the same offensive unit as last year while the Browns are instituting a new defensive scheme and had an injury depleted secondary. It is obvious the Bengals experience together contributed to the ease with which they scored. In some ways the game should have been much uglier. Either the Bengals are not
- While the Browns did have two touchdowns reversed by penalties, it did seem like there were less overall penalties. I don't remember any penalties on the O-line. Also, even the announcers were unable to identify what was the penalty which wiped out the interception returned for a TD.
- The offensive line held up for the most part and gave the quarterback time.
- The new quarterback, Trent Dilfer, was NOT lousy. The record shows two interceptions but one went off his receivers hands and the other was because the rookie wide receiver ran the wrong route.
- Reuben Droughns rushed well with 78 yards on 12 carries and filled in for the kick returner when he went down with a knee injury.
- Frisman Jackson had a career high 8 catches for 128 yards.
- Coach Crennell's biggest job this year is to change the attitude and mindset of the team. Unlike the previous coach (Butch Davis), Crennell did not sugar coat anyone's performance.
``I'm disappointed in the way everybody played,'' Browns coach Romeo Crennel said after his coaching debut. ``You don't do good when you lose. You can't be happy about anything, can you?
``Put it this way: I'm not happy about anything.''
No organization is capable of positive change unless they are brutally honest about their current condition. Lets see what changes in the wake of this loss.
In someways people in Cleveland are not feeling as bad about their team as in some other NFL cities. We were expected to lose. We lost. Ergo, we met expectations. Some other teams fell well short of expectations.
Carolina was picked to win the Super Bowl by Sports Illustrated and lost to a vagabond team displaced by the hurricane damage.
Green Bay Packers and the Baltimore Ratbirds were completely inept on offense.
The Jets were expected to challenge in their division and they got stomped by the Chiefs.
Denver and St. Louis were picked by some to win their divisions and both got manhandled by the two worst teams from last year.