After watching my beloved Cleveland Browns choke in the second half of the season opener against Tampa Bay Sunday afternoon, my first instinct was to vent by writing an article on Bleacher Report, so along with other Browns fans I could vent about how our team disappointed us, again.
Then, realizing I could not filter my hate-filled swear words that circled my mind after the loss, I decided to wait a day.
Did the Browns fail to put away a game they could have easily won? Yes. Did the Browns coaching staff fail to make adjustments at halftime? Yes. Did we make critical errors that resulted in turnovers? Yes.
But in trying to re-gain the optimism that filled most of us before the game it is important to note—the defense looked really good.
TJ Ward played very well in his rookie debut. First round draft pick Joe Haden made some very good plays, aside from the touchdown he gave up. Although on that touchdown play by Tampa, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called an all-out blitz. On the blitz, not a single Brown came close to the quarterback, leaving Haden on an island.
But getting back to the optimism...
Linebackers Chris Gocong, Marcus Benard, and Matt Roth, along with nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin and fourth-year cornerback Eric Wright, can be paired with rookies Ward and Haden to be great building blocks for an elite Cleveland defense in the future.
The success of this year's team is clearly up to how the offense performs. Peyton Hillis looked to be the team's best weapon, and when he fumbled a second time and the Browns shied away from giving him the ball, the offense went flat.
The most concerning thing about this game was the Browns young receivers inability to get open against the Tamps defensive backs. Rhonde Barber was a great player but is now on the wrong side of 30. Tampa's No. 2 corner, Aqib Talib, is a solid player but was suspended for the game, leaving the duties to second year pro E.J. Biggers. Despite the non-inferior competition the Browns young wide outs couldn't get open.
As fans, no one should be okay with the Browns handing over a win like they did against Tampa. Delhomme will have to make smarter decisions and everyone on the offense will have to play better. No matter what the front office says the Browns are a re-building team.
It's only Week 1 and this young team will improve. Beatable teams still remain on the schedule in Kansas City, Bengals (two games), Falcons, Steelers (two games), Jaguars, Carolina, Miami, and Buffalo.
So don't hit the panic button yet. Let's not start talking about the draft or coaching changes. How the team responds next week will be very important. The defense will have to come out and hit Kansas City in the mouth and Delhomme will have to play the way he showed us he can in the preseason and the first half of the opener.
The season is not lost yet! And every game is for the better cause of the future.
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