There are problems in Cleveland, and there isn't relief in sight.
I don't usually like to start on a negative tone, but this time, there is no other way. After two games, this team looks no better than when we went 4-12 last season; I dare say we're looking worse. There was such promise in the preseason, so how can that possibly be?
We're a different team than in the preseason, for one. We're stubborn, we're conservative, we're hesitant, and we lack the hunger and aggression we displayed against the Lions and Titans. It's not that we don't have the plays, coverages, and personnel—we just aren't using them. What are we afraid of? We're already getting blown out.
In the preseason against the Lions, we used the Engage Eight blitz, crushing the opposition both times. They knew very well the preseason didn't count, so they had no problem being aggressive. It seems now that the pressure is on, we're scared of making mistakes or giving up a big play. I may remind you, however, that with no risk comes no reward.
What happened to Coye Francies, the rookie making interceptions, the rookie blowing up running backs at the line? He's sitting on the bench behind ex-Jet Hank Poteat.
Poteat is less than efficient in the nickel back position, so sit him down and let Francies in.
What happened to David Veikune, the rookie making sacks and stopping the run out of the backfield at the line of scrimmage? He's sitting on the bench behind ex-Jet David Bowens.
Stop favoring your "friends" from the Jets that are unproductive.
If you look at "the other Ryan team," the New York Jets, their defense comes out week after week and brings the blitz hard against the quarterback. They leave the secondary to play man coverage and know that the pressure on the quarterback, regardless of being sacked, will force the passer to make a bad throw.
In theory, this is where the secondary steps up and makes a play on the ball. Nine times out of 10, it ends with an incompletion or loss of yards.
Last week in the first half of the Vikings game, we brought the blitz. We sacked Brett Favre four times, employing a safety blitz on two separate occasions. We took chances because we were fired up, and everybody wanted to say they sacked the legend.
Against the Broncos this week, we gave Kyle Orton all the time in the world to make himself look like a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Not to take anything away from Orton; he's a smart passer. When you give him time and give Brandon Marshall, Brandon Stokley, and Eddie Royal five to 10 seconds to break the coverage and get open, they will. No question about it, that's what great receivers do.
The defense didn't help, but the offense is the real problem this season. The slant passes that were so successful in the preseason are all but a distant memory. The chances taken downfield were only seen in brief glimpses Sunday afternoon.
When we threw downfield, we succeeded. Braylon Edwards had one of the best games he's had in the past two seasons.
Denver's secondary is tough, no question, but there was no excuse for not being able to get open. The receiver off the line has the immediate advantage over the cornerback.
Josh Cribbs in the open field is dangerous; the problem is that he can't get into the open field as a receiver. I loved the idea of giving him the chance for all that he's done for us, but it's simply not working. He's more deadly on special teams as a gunner and returner.
Waiting in the wings, buried in the depth chart, are second round picks Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie. Massaquoi has seen limited action this season, whereas Robiskie has seen none.
This doesn't make sense for many reasons. In my opinion, Brady Quinn and Robiskie had great chemistry in the preseason, and Robiskie's hands were solid.
Chemistry between a receiver and quarterback is huge. Look at the production between Quinn and Kellen Winslow in 2008, or Derek Anderson and Edwards in 2007. Winslow was Quinn's favorite target. Ironically, Robiskie seemed to be his new one, and they're both No. 80.
Massaquoi has been running precise routes but just hasn't seen enough game experience to really be effective. Cribbs isn't getting open, Mike Furrey is missing passes, and Edwards is doing well finally. Why not bring Massaquoi in as the No. 2 receiver and bring Robiskie in as the slot receiver? What do we really have to lose?
Whether the city of Cleveland likes it or not, Brady Quinn is the quarterback. Why not give him the weapons to be competitive? John St. Clair is more suited for bullfighting, Floyd Womack doesn't have what it takes, and Hank Fraley is simply too old.
Bring in RG Billy Yates, formerly of the New England Patriots. Bring in RT Phil Trautwein, formerly of the Florida Gators. Let the guys who want to play start regardless of experience.
It seems to me that Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll are just afraid of being wrong. He's just as afraid as Romeo Crennel to play the hungry, aggressive rookies they drafted. They're afraid to the point that they're hesitant and indecisive. That's no way to win ball games.
If Cleveland wants to have a chance to win, they have to take chances; they have to be aggressive. They need to play the rookies, they have to have faith, and they need to show some heart.