Let me first specify just where this title stems from.
Am I claiming to have seen Brady's performance coming? No. With all that "short week" and "minimal practice talk," I, too, figured he'd be moderate at best.
No, I'm talking about the loss.
Not so much the loss itself, but how we lost. That is what I saw coming from miles away.
One was a gasp of joy, since that elephant in the room could finally stop hanging over the team. The second, however, was an image of a sports article with the title "Now What?"
Don't be shocked if that phrase paints the pages of anything football related from Bristol, Connecticut to the mouth of the Cuyahoga. And honestly, can any other statement be made?
No matter when Quinn came in, it was always going to be viewed as "The Solution to the Problem." While that's unfair to him, there was no way around it. The real problem is that there are too many problems to solve with one man. And give it to the Browns, we always have to find out the hard way.
Firstly, I refuse to write this without giving credit where credit is due.
Brady Quinn, on just barely two days of practice and a short week, looked great. He showed poise in the pocket, stayed relatively accurate for most of the night, and his ability to improvise during a rush will be a welcome shift from the immobile Derek Anderson (multiple times last night I found myself saying "Well that would've been a sack last week").
He remained calm under pressure and, more importantly, made the entire offense look alive. Everything seemed to be clicking for everyone on the offensive side of the ball. Kellen Winslow finally had a huge game, and Jerome "The Ghost" Harrison finally got the attention he deserved.
And after all that, we lost. It was just the way I thought we would, regardless of a solid QB performance.
The defense was an embarrassment, and that's really as nice as I can force myself to be.
Remember in the early weeks of the season: Besides that Dallas debacle, our defense was playing decent at best, which is better than anything put forth last year.
Flash forward to this week, where two second-half leads were squandered in four days. Brandon McDonald, who looked so promising earlier this year, was eaten alive by Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.
I'm surprised Denver didn't just stack all their receivers on his side of the ball. McDonald looked like he'd be outmatched by a one-legged four-year-old. And that run defense? Yeah, you read the stats right. We allowed a combined 92 yards and 1 touchdown to Ryan Torrain and Peyton Hillis.
I know what you're thinking, "Who?" Does it matter? Every running back in the NFL looks at our defense like a trip to the therapist; it's just something you can do to collect yourself and boost your self-esteem. Don't be shocked if people like Eric Dickerson come out of retirement and demand to play the Browns to show that their skills haven't diminished.
So, now what? We put our future in the pocket.
Who do we bench now?
The defense most likely ended Derek Anderson's career in a Browns uniform (not that I mind, personally) and ruined a great debut from the man tagged as our QB of the future.
To salvage something from the fire, there was one difference this game had from the last one. Against Baltimore, both sides of the ball could receive blame. Anderson had multiple chances to drive down the field one more time and regain the lead the defense had so easily flushed away, and couldn't do it.
This week, Quinn impressively lost the lead he so impressively built, lead the team back down the field and regained it. Then he went to the sideline and watched the opposition Elway themselves through our defense and win the game.
This week, it's all on the defense. Romeo said the defense was "disappointing," and if anyone in that locker room was offended by that, they can just leave, we probably wouldn't notice. No one can stand up for that "performance."
Phil Savage better start planning his off-season moves now, and they better all be on defense, because Brady Quinn shouldn't be required to put up more than 30 points every night and still sweat out the game.
There's two sides to every team. At least this week, all the blame doesn't have to be spread around. It's pretty obvious who's fault this was, and it was obvious days before the game even started.
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