On a chilly Sunday afternoon on the shores of Lake Erie, the Cleveland Browns fell to 4-7 with a 16-6 loss to the Houston Texans in what officially marks the low-point of their catastrophic 2008 season.
Despite taking on a Texans team that ranked 27th in the NFL in points allowed per game (26.6), the Browns managed just two Phil Dawson field goals in a dismal offensive display, complete with turnovers, dropped passes, untimely penalties, and horrendous play-calling.
Can someone please tell the deejay that the record is officially broken?
Of course, it’s not that anemic offense itself is a broken record. After all, the Browns had scored 27 or more points in each of the previous three games.
No, it’s the entire team that’s a broken record. And the song that keeps playing has the refrain, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the other.”
You know the tune. When one unit shows up, the other doesn’t. Early on this season, the defense played much better than anyone had anticipated. But the offense was out of sync, and scoring was at a premium.
And lately, it’s been the defense—what with their pathetic tackling and penchant for giving up the big play—that has frequently put the pressure on the offense to bail the team out.
Nevertheless, with the 3-7 Texans bringing their below-average defense and explosive offense to Cleveland, many Browns fans foresaw an offensive shootout and anticipated a victory for their beloved team.
Of course, at this point, Browns fans should know that the only thing to expect from their team is disappointment.
If nothing else, the team plays—and coaches—to the level of their competition. How else can you explain a team that can dismantle the New York Giants and lose to a team like the Houston Texans in the same season?
Now, I could tell you about all the things that the Browns did poorly against Houston, but if you’ve been following the team all year and watched the game, you know what they are. Unlike the Browns, I refuse to be a broken record.
And perhaps sensing that fans would not want to spend a week talking about more miserable on-field execution, Browns head coach Romeo Crennel, in his infinite generosity, fueled fans’ fire by replacing Browns QB Brady Quinn with Derek Anderson at the end of the third quarter.
Crennel said that he felt the team needed a “spark.” But the only thing that caught fire was the Braylon Edwards jersey that I saw guys burning in the parking lot after the game.
Poor Romeo. The guy just can’t win, can he?
Though Crennel has been roundly criticized by fans as well as local and national media, people should realize that Romeo did actually make the right decision—but only in theory and principle, not practice.
And it has nothing to do with Brady Quinn.
Think about it: What was Crennel doing by giving Quinn the hook? He was making Brady accountable for his lackluster performance. This is something that fans have been screaming for Romeo to do all season.
Ironically, if Derek Anderson would have led a comeback victory, no one would even be talking about the mid-game change.
So where did Romeo go wrong?
Well, for one, he never made Derek Anderson accountable for his play at any point in the season until following the Baltimore game in Week Nine after the Browns fell to 3-5. Romeo had plenty of opportunities to give DA the hook and put in Quinn early in the season, but he never did. So why treat Brady differently?
Secondly, Crennel has still refused to make Braylon Edwards responsible for anything this season. Dropped ball after dropped ball, stupid penalty after stupid penalty, fans are forced to watch the Edwards routine week after week.
Apparently it’s fine for Braylon Edwards to not do his job, but not okay for Brady Quinn. And truthfully, it’s not just Edwards. There have been plenty of players that haven’t performed up to snuff this season.
See, if Romeo would have established a pattern of coaching that was consistent with his decision to pull Quinn, I doubt that most people, short of members of the Brady Quinn Fan Club, would take issue with the decision.
But with Romeo handling the situation the way he did, it looks like he’s scapegoating Quinn and, for some reason, making an example out of one of the few guys that is giving it his all.
Forget the fact that the decision could hurt a fragile psyche of a young quarterback. Fans who think this is the case do not give Quinn enough credit for his mental toughness and resiliency.
Besides, Romeo did do the right thing by immediately naming Quinn the starter for Week 13 against the Colts, but it’s too little, too late.
In a season full of questionable decisions, the head-scratching election to pull Quinn in favor of Anderson is the proverbial straw that broke the Browns’ back and cemented the theory that Crennel is in over his head as an NFL head coach.
Time to get your resume ready, Romeo.
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