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The Browns Table: Monday Night Masochism

Jeff SmirnoffSenior Writer IDecember 16, 2008

Welcome to The Browns Table, a season-long look at the 2008 season for the Cleveland Browns from the point of view of the Browns fans here on Bleacher Report.

This discussion is not just meant for the contributing Browns fans. Please feel free to comment on any of the questions or any of our answers below.

We welcome any comments and an open discussion about the Browns below.  If you would like a seat at the table leave me a note on my profile and we will try and get you in the rotation.

As always thanks to Browns fans John Arend, Samantha Bunten, and The Coop for their contributions this week.

The guys and gals touch on the Browns’ offensive woes, Braylon Scissor-Hands, Sean Jones’ future, Phil Dawson’s legacy and the upcoming “Battle of Ohio.”.

It may be painful, but let’s talk Browns football…

The offense has been struggling all season and continues to do so under third string QB Ken Dorsey.  Do you see this team putting up an offensive touchdown in the final two games?

John Arend:

There are only two situations I foresee the offense scoring a touchdown in the remaining games. First, if they can get a rhythm going against the Bengals horrid defense, they might be able to play with some confidence and actually find the endzone. Second, if Romeo finally just says "screw it" and puts in players like Rucker, Steptoe, Cribbs, et al as starters and sends a message to the real first string team. This might make them think they actually have to work to keep their jobs.

Samantha Bunten:

If I recall correctly, the last time the Browns scored an offensive touchdown was in week 11 against the Bills. That was a very, very long time ago. Playing the odds (and considering they have Cincinnati coming next), you have to assume they'll get one more before their 2008 season mercifully comes to a close.

I think it pretty much sums up how our season has gone: we're all sitting here wondering if the Browns can score just one single touchdown in the next two weeks, giving them a grand total of touchdown, during the last six games of the season. Yikes.

The Coop:

It's hard to imagine the Browns wouldn't muster a single offensive TD in the last six games... but then again, it is the Browns, so who knows?

Since their last touchdown, they've put some nice drives together but have had to settle for field goals. Maybe they'll luck into a touchdown if a defensive back falls down, or if they get amazing field position thanks to a turnover or big return from Josh Cribbs.

Either way, you've got to figure their best bet to score a TD is against Cincinnati, but with the way the Bengals played against Washington, I'm not holding my breath.

Jeff Smirnoff:

They have a shot versus Cincinnati but no way in Pittsburgh.  I honestly don’t seeing them putting into the endzone in either game.  I expect Phil Dawson to be very, very busy kicking field goals.

Braylon Edwards caught the ball all night, including a couple of great grabs.  Why do you think he has struggled all season?

John Arend:

I'm hearing a tune in my head right now. You know, the beat Vanilla Ice stole for "Ice Ice Baby" That's right, "Under Pressure." I have a feeling Braylon Edwards heard this song all season until it didn't matter if the team won or lost. Go back and look at all of his drops... Now go back and look at all of his catches... I'm willing to bet that it’s a pretty clear split between crucial and unimportant downs.

Samantha Bunten:

If Edwards could ever get his head and his hands on the field at the same time for a few weeks in a row, he would probably be fine. Edwards has the talent, I'm just not sure he has the drive or the willingness to fine tune his fundamentals to ever be consistently successful. Edwards needs to get over his fear of getting hit. He needs to concentrate, clean up his footwork, and most importantly, follow through on each play from beginning to end.

Edwards can't hold onto the ball because his mind is already halfway down the field with it before he's made the catch. Until he can sync up his brain and his hands in the exact moment he's posed to make the grab, he will continue to look lazy, arrogant, and inept.

The Coop:

It's been a lack of focus combined with a solid dose of Braylon thinking he's Jerry Rice when he's actually a lot closer to Dennis Northcutt. His now infamous bet with Michael Phelps proves that he figured things would come very easy for him.

I still think that a benching by Romeo Crennel after the Washington game two months ago—maybe for a quarter, maybe a half—would have been a great way to get the point across that the team is unwilling to put up with his unreliable play and would have allowed him to refocus and rededicate himself to his craft. Instead, by keeping him in there, his confidence eroded rapidly and his problems with catching the ball snowballed as a result.

He has looked better catching the ball in recent weeks, which would have been nice to see when the games meant something. Our only hope is that this nightmare of a season will give him something to learn from and build on for 2009.

Jeff Smirnoff:

Lack of focus, weak mental character and the heel injury in camp.  The injury just totally put him out of sync and off to a bad start.  Then when he struggled because he has trouble dealing with adversity he struggled.  He was unable to get focused on a week to week basis and it has shown in his up and down performances.  He’s always going to drop a few balls but the staggering numbers this season are do to it being in his head.  If he can become mentally tough I can see his drops decreasing significantly.

The defense struggled but Sean Jones and Brandon McDonald came up with big interceptions.  Sean Jones is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.  Do you feel the Browns need to make resigning him a priority?

John Arend:

This is a tough one... From a strictly leadership standpoint, I want him on the team to keep things consistent. From a talent standpoint, I'd love to keep him because he's best we've got. From an injury standpoint, I just he's playing at 100 percent if we do bring him back.

Samantha Bunten:

This team has so many problems that it is difficult to focus in on how much priority to place on one guy, at least at this point. Still, they have to start somewhere, and Jones has been a solid member of our defense, one of the few who consistently performed well. I would like to keep Jones around, but this will depend largely on what his demands are and what the team proposes to do after assessing what ALL of our needs are, and which are most pressing, during the off-season.

The Coop:

I have always liked Sean Jones and I do feel he should be an integral part of the defense in years to come. He has had some injury problems this year but has done his best to get on the field whenever possible, and has even played hurt. In 2006 and 2007, he started every game. He is a hard-nosed player, appears to give it his all, and is a clear leader on the defensive unit.

Jones is pretty strong against the run, a decent tackler, and has good ball skills for a strong safety. Unfortunately, as is the case with all Browns' DBs, he looks a lot less-talented thanks to the non-existent pass rush. When QBs have all day to stand in the pocket and pick apart the coverage, even the best lock-down coverage players will struggle mightily.

Make no mistake: of all the Browns' problems, especially on defense, the secondary is the least of their worries.

Jeff Smirnoff:

Over the previous two seasons I thought Jones would develop into the impact safety (a la Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu) the Browns need.  But after the beginning of the year when he had elective knee surgery while they were 0-3 and said he did it because he was a free agent after the year I began doubting that.  If he stays for a reasonable deal, keep him.  If he just wants to break the bank and take the money and run, let him go.

Phil Dawson broke the Browns’ single season record for field goals against Philadelphia.  That obviously speaks volumes about the offense’s struggles.  What does it tell you about Dawson?

John Arend:

Nothing we don't already know. His best season was obviously last year, because of the clutch kicks he made, however he seems to have more power in his leg this season. He set his career long this season, but he also missed a few kicks that some considered "chip-shots". I like Dawson he goes out and does his job. Maybe the rest of the team could learn something from him.

Samantha Bunten:

It tells us Dawson is the only guy on the team who is doing his job. Mostly though, as stated in the question, it tells us about the horrendous offense. I don't think anyone needed Dawson to set a record to realize that the Browns offense is about as bad as it gets, but numbers like these do an excellent job of providing quantitative proof that the offensive game is in shambles.

The Coop:

It tells me that he is the consummate professional. He is a captain and team leader which obviously shows the respect that his teammates have for him. He is the Browns' MVP for 2008 (perhaps by default?).

Although he recently hit a little patch where he missed a few, he is typically extremely reliable, and what more can you ask from a kicker? Additionally, he has made enough kicks from long-distances (50+) and in the clutch to remain the Browns kicker until he decides to retire or his leg falls off from all the field goal attempts, whichever comes first.

He would be a Pro Bowler this year if he played on a better team and might even end up in the Browns' Hall of Fame when it's all said and done.

Jeff Smirnoff:

He is the most underrated kicker in the NFL right now.  He is the fifth most accurate kicker in NFL history.  He might be the great pure kicker in Browns’ history in terms of clutch-ness and consistency.  I have said it before, he is the best player the Browns have had since their reincarnation and would be a Pro Bowler if he did not play with the Browns.

The Browns play Cincinnati in the final home game of the season.  The Bengals are only 2-11-1 but are coming off a win versus Washington.  Who do you have in the Battle of Ohio?

John Arend:

The battle of Ohio will be the battle of back-ups. This is funny because I also have a sinking feeling that it will be a high scoring affair. Not because the offenses involved will magically become spectacular, but because the defenses are horrible. Shoot-outs have occured twice in the past five years when these two teams meet. Each time the home team has won. So in keeping with the trend, I pick the Browns to come out on top and secure the all-important third place AFC North spot.

Samantha Bunten:

I predict a 12-12 tie. Four field goals a piece.

The Coop:

While the Browns are a pretty bad team, I refuse to believe that Cincinnati is a better team, even with Ken Dorsey at the helm for the Browns. I've got the Browns coming away with an ugly 19-17 victory. (That's 1 TD, 4 FGs for the Browns if you're scoring at home.)

Cincinnati played the entire NFC East extremely tough, so they've got at least a little bit of talent and pride, but there is a reason why they have two wins. Like the Browns, they always seem to self-destruct and never stop searching for a new way to lose a ballgame.

I think the Browns will see this as their last chance to send Romeo Crennel off with a victory, which might end up being the last of his head coaching career. I expect the Browns to be ready to play and display a level of pride that indicates that they refuse to lose to an inferior team such as the Bengals.

Finally, I hope the Browns will be anxious to give the home fans—the few who will be there—something to cheer about after such a dismal showing in 2008, namely at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Jeff Smirnoff:

I hate to say it but I have to go with the Bengals.  They can actually score points on offense while the Browns can not.  Their defense is just as bad as ours but has been playing well recently.  With Dorsey under center I don’t see us exploiting any of their weaknesses.  I see a 16-12 snooze-fest.

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