Browns Shellacked In Opener By Cowboys

Scott MilesSenior Analyst ISeptember 7, 2008

This is one of those instances where I don’t even know where to begin.

Part of me wants to say, “Well, we had injuries, and Dallas is a damn good team.” Part of me wants to say, “The defense is still terrible and we still can’t beat good teams.” Part of me wants to find out when Cavs training camp starts while the final part of me wants to tell my roommates and friends to hide the sharp objects.

Yes, welcome to the life of a fan whose NFL team lost its first game of the year! There should be 16 fanbases jumping on this bandwagon, while the other 16 fanbases are looking up airline tickets to Tampa Bay for the Super Bowl.

OK, let’s start with Cleveland’s deficiencies today. There’s so many of them and they were so easy to point out, I almost feel guilty writing this article because it really takes no talent or skill. First of all, the defensive line is still atrocious. I’ll rate Shaun Rogers’ performance as average because he was at least drawing double teams and forced a couple of penalties, while everyone else on the line gets an F-minus-minus.

(Kind of makes you wonder how bad the line would have been if we hadn’t traded for Rogers and Corey Williams. Tony Romo had enough time in the pocket to pull out his cell phone and send text messages to Jessica Simpson before finding one of his receivers running 15 yards downfield.)

I’m not exactly sure what kind of grade to give to the secondary. Yes, they gave up a ton of deep completions, but you can’t ask young corners and mediocre safeties to consistently cover Pro Bowlers like TO and Jason Witten for four or five seconds. At the same time, they also got beat a lot in their man coverages when the line and linebackers brought pressure, too.

And when the defense had the opportunity to make some big plays, Andra Davis dropped a potential interception, and penalties negated several other stops. When it was all said and done, the Browns D was gashed for 487 yards, while Dallas chewed up the final 10:13 of the clock in the fourth quarter. Embarassing.

And while we’re on the topic of dumb coaching decisions…

(We weren’t? Really? OK, well we are now.)

Romeo, buddy, pal, I’ve defended you a lot in the past…but a field goal, down 21, in the fourth quarter? I mean, what’s the difference between losing 28-7 or losing 28-10? Yeah, I’m 99 percent sure we’re not winning anyway, but that’s the kind of decision that really sends a message to the team. Like, “our coach is incompetent and doesn’t realize that his team is down three possessions regardless if he kicks a field goal or fails on a fourth and short” kind of message.

(I feel bad for Phil Dawson. I don’t know if a crowd has ever so vehemently protested putting three points on the board. You’d have thought Dawson trotted out there with a Steelers jersey, a Michigan hat and holding a sign saying “I love Art Modell”.)

(Random Phil Dawson note: Fans, he’s going to go down as one of the best kickers in NFL history. He’s made 83 percent of his field goals and is 7-of-9 from beyond 50 yards. Only Mike Vanderjagt, Shayne Graham and Matt Stover have a better field goal percentage than Dawson. He’ll be in the league for at least 10 more years, I guarantee it.)

Especially since that was a drive where the offense was actually moving the ball a bit. I talked about the lack of big plays by the defense, and the offense was just as guilty. Braylon Edwards lets what could be a touchdown slip through his fingers. A fumbled snap on a third-and-one. Penalty after penalty. More dropped passes.

I don’t think Derek Anderson (11-of-24, 114 yards, TD) played that poorly, though I’m sure 75 percent of Cleveland is calling for his head. Keep in mind that no quarterback will ever look good if he has no time to throw the ball, and if his top option drops FOUR passes. Dallas owned both sides of the line, and that made life very, very difficult for the Browns all day.

As I wrote in my last column, it’s tough to fully judge this team because some important pieces are missing, notably Donte Stallworth, Brodney Pool and Josh Cribbs. I know injuries hit every team, but we lost a playmaker on offense, a playmaker on defense, and a playmaker on special teams. Hopefully those guys can get healthy soon, because, yet again, we lacked any big play potential against Dallas.

OK, enough is enough for now. It’s one week, that’s what we have to keep telling ourselves. And hey, it’s not as if our prodigal son, LeBron James, was hanging out on Dallas’ sideline or anything…

Uhhh, guys…the sharp objects…