Cleveland Browns: Is the Loss To the Buffalo Bills a Coaching Failure?

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Cleveland Browns: Is the Loss To the Buffalo Bills a Coaching Failure?
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have once again proven that they have the ability to play down to the  level of their opponent. The Browns loss to the Buffalo Bills was another example of the inability, or lack of desire, to make adjustments to a gameplan that is failing.

This game began as advertised with Peyton Hillis running through the Bills' defense, and gaining 49 yards on seven carries, on his way to going over 1,000 yards for the season. But, Hillis would be stopped on third down, and the Browns would settle for a field goal. This was the first time this season that Hillis was stopped on third and one, leaving one to wonder why Eric Mangini did not elect to go for the first down on fourth and one.

The game plan was simple, give Buffalo a heavy dose of Hillis, throw in a few passes to keep the Buffalo defense honest and play mistake-free football by quarterback Jake Delhomme and the remainder of the offense.

The mistake-free football portion of this game-plan didn't materialize, as the Browns had five fumbles, two lost, and one interception.

Hillis, who many expected to run wild on the Buffalo defense, did gain 108 yards on 21 carries, but even he did not play mistake-free football with three fumbles, one lost. Three fumbles is unacceptable, however, with his constant battling for extra yards and numerous defenders trying to strip the ball, it is sometimes inevitable.

Delhomme completed 12 passes for 86 yards with one interception, posting a quarterback rating of 49.2 against a defense that averages giving up 198 yards per game. Without the contribution of Hillis, the Browns offense was non-existent, leading one to wonder why Mangini and Brian Daboll did not make an adjustment.

The Browns offense did not move the ball, gaining a total of only 187 yards. This inability to move the ball downfield was never more visible than in the fourth quarter where the Browns, on three possessions, failed to gain a first down.

Delhomme's inept play called for a change.

Replacing Delhomme with Seneca Wallace would not have guaranteed a different outcome. But, given the lack of offensive production with Delhomme under center, giving Wallace a shot surely could not have been a downgrade. The ability of Wallace to scramble to the outside, buying time for receivers to get open, combined with his ability to gain yardage by running the ball would have added another weapon to the non-functioning offense.

Why would Mangini not change quarterbacks, when it was clear the starting quarterback was not moving the team downfield?

Whether it is Mangini or Brian Daboll making the offensive decisions, the ability to make adjustments during a game is vital to the success of the of Browns.

Are Browns coaches refusing to make vital adjustments during the game, due to lack of faith in their players?

Could the lack of adjustments be solely attributed to the inability of the coaches to make such decisions?


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