Just one short year ago, both Cleveland and Cincinnati were fighting it out for last place in the AFC North. The playoffs were just a dream, something the Steelers and Ravens did. While the Browns finished in last place at 4-12, the Bengals went 4-11-1 for bragging rights in Ohio. Pro football in Ohio has become something of a joke the last several years.
Today, Cincinnati was in no joking manner, beating the Browns 16-7. The first place Bengals improved to 8-3 while the last place Browns fell to 1-10. A nine point win over the Browns does not tell the whole story. Cincinnati dominated Cleveland, holding the Browns to just 169 yards. Cleveland was never really a threat to the Bengals, who played it conservative because they didn’t feel threatened by the punchless Browns. Cincinnati ran the ball 45 times for 210 yards. They controlled the ball for 38:11 to 21:49 for Cleveland. The Bengals dominated every phase of the game but penalties. I give credit to Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. They are a much improved team over last year and are for real.
What has happened to Cleveland, just two years removed from a 10-6 season? After last year’s 4-12 season saw both Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage get fired, they are even worse this year. New coach, new hope, many new players, another step backwards.
Where do they go from here? New head coach? New QB? Definitely a new GM. (This year’s new GM has already been fired.) More new players? New offensive coordinator? When will the losing end?
After watching today’s game against Cincinnati, I can honestly say, Brady Quinn is not the reason for the offensive struggles. There is no chemistry between QB and WRs. No running game. To put it plainly, the entire offense lacks both chemistry and cohesiveness. This falls squarely on Brian Daboll and Eric Mangini. Defensively, Rob Ryan’s unit has battled injuries the last few games. First, they lost both inside linebackers and today Shaun Rogers, Kameron Wimbley and Brodney Pool all went down. It’s hard to keep replacing starters in the first year of a new defense.
I don’t know when Cleveland will get this thing turned around but Randy Lerner needs to hire his “Football Csar” because there is a lot of evaluating to be done.