Stop Blaming Defense For Cleveland Browns' 2008 Flop

Doug TarnovichContributor IFebruary 9, 2009

There seems to be a rampant campaign regarding the Cleveland Browns. All those riding upon this bandwagon are practically passing out leaflets in order to make their voices heard. They read:

"Beefing up the defense is the first priority."

"We need pass rushers."

"We need linebackers."

"We need cornerbacks."

"We need safeties."

Apparently, if it has anything to do with defense, the Browns need it. Fans and media alike are all on board. In his mock 2009 NFL Draft, Mel Kiper Jr. projects Cleveland to draft Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry in the first round.

I can't seem to go on without running across the cries and pleas of dozens of fans weeping for better defensive prospects; that the disappointing 2008 season is largely due to a porous defense.


Has anybody seen Cleveland play? Has anybody seen the numbers?

Not that the defense isn't in need of some improvement from last season's performance, but isn't everybody looking at the wrong side of the ball? Should you really criticize a roster that held Peyton and Eli Manning to a combined 17 offensive points?

If you really want to point fingers,  do it at then Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker. Saying that he was conservative doesn't quite describe his approach. They never blitzed and rarely ever strayed away from prevent defense. Tucker never allowed his boys to show their stuff. If you look at the best defenses in the NFL, you'll notice one thing in common: they're aggressive.

Last time I checked, scoring touchdowns was the objective of the game of football, something that the Browns did only once in their last six games. It wasn't Edwards who scored. Nor was it Lewis, Winslow or Cribbs. It was done by the defense.

Folks, the Cleveland Browns finished 31st, second to dead last in the NFL in total offense. Why on earth is everybody whining for more defense when no points are even being scored?

A better D will not put sevens on the board. Offense is the answer to Cleveland's troubles. Many could say that the impotence of the final six games was due to injuries. I would buy that except that Edwards, Winslow, Lewis and Cribbs all played through most of that stretch.

Quinn is still unproven and Derek Anderson, who never did impress me, failed to prove that he should reclaim the starting job. And who told Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski that they can throw a football?

Yes, the offensive line was banged up, but that didn't stop Jerome Harrison from making plays. Nor was it the cause of dropped passes.

How does anybody expect Cleveland to score against the likes of Pittsburgh and Baltimore? A ton of offensive talent is needed to crack those defenses, whom the Browns face for 25 percent of their schedule.

Speaking of the Steelers, my theory about all this misplaced blame is based on a disease that has been going around for years: Pittsburgh Envy. Browns fans want everything the Steelers have. Steelers had Bill Cowher. Browns want Bill Cowher. Steelers have an amazing defense. Browns fans want an amazing defense, and so on.

Yes Pittsburgh has an unbelievable defense, but they also have a very decent offense that generates touchdowns. Who was the Super Bowl MVP? What position did he play? Hmm.

If Cleveland wants something that Pittsburgh has (other than consistent winning seasons, playoff appearances and most of all, Super Bowl Championships), it should be a Santonio Holmes, a Hines Ward, or a Willie Parker, and should stop whining for a Troy Polamalu.