Rants from the Dawg Pound: Browns-Vikings Edition

Malcolm MathersContributor ISeptember 17, 2009

CLEVELAND - SEPTEMBER 13:  Joshua Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown as Eric Wright #24 celebrates against the Minnesota Vikings at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 13, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

*In the "Best Damn Browns Preview" and in  Report: Browns RB "really sucks" Max Rage and I have gone to great lengths to prove to the jury that Jamal Lewis was worse at running the football than Steve Young was at giving color commentary. Wow were we wrong.

First, Lewis ran like it was 2007, being decisive and showing a nice strong burst while finishing the day with eleven carries for fifty seven yards. Then Steve Young goes out and delivers a mute button breaking performance and a previously impossible I-can't-believe-I'm-saying-this-but-I-wish-Tony-Kornheiser-was-here moment.

On a scale from believable (Ellen DeGeneres is a lesbian) to unbelievable (Lindsay Lohan is a lesbian) here's how I rank this weeks events: 

Kameron Wimbley's one sack, three quarterback hits, and three tackle day (which, if your keeping score, is another guy I threw under the bus. My bad, Kamerion. Much love.); Drew Brees torching the Lions for six touchdowns (apparently their "mentors" didn't do a good enough job); Kanye West berating Taylor Swift, thereby making a fool of himself; Jamal Lewis's solid day;  Kanye West on Jay Leno making a even bigger fool of himself (does he have a CD coming out?); the end of the Bengals-Broncos game(talk about hard knocks); the Pats comeback over the Bills, Dick Jauron's face watching the Pats comeback over the Bills and Steve Young nails-scratching-against-a-chalkboard performance.

Seriously, it was that unbelievably bad. But I digress. The bottom line is Jamal Lewis didn't look half bad and James Davis either looked like a guy who just got concussed in a car accident or like a guy who faced NFL starters for the first time.

*After the game on Sunday was mercifully over I was gripped with a wave of depression as I made my way back to my car. "Why was I so depressed", I kept on asking myself. It's not like this was unexpected, right? Heck, we were even winning at halftime. So what was my problem?

On the way home it hit me. I wasn't bothered that special teams and penalties basically cost us the game after Mangini promised change and discipline. Change takes time, especially after you just spent the last four years playing pick up football with Romeo. Brady Quinn looked shaky at best but that wasn't gnawing at me either.

What really made my blood boil was the offensive coordinator and head coach playing not to lose. Nothing makes me lose my head more than that. You see, once you play not to lose the game is essentially over; you cannot win. Losing is inevitable; the only question is what the catalyst will be.

Take the first drive, after Brad Childress decides to give the Browns a gift at the 50 yard line and the Browns have been moving the ball on the ground and through the air. With momentum at their back on 3rd-and-9 from the 21 yard line, they decide the best move is to basically run it and take the three points.

Seriously that's what they did; that little shuffle pass gets you nine yards once every twenty times.

The first drive of the season and they are already playing not to lose.I don't care how inexperienced your QB is; if you can't trust your quarterback in that situation than he should not be your in there. Consider this; Quinn did not throw a pass on third down until the fourth quarter.

Another thing that bothered me (which Mangini has subsequently apologized for) was the two straight runs out of the wildcat at the goal line. The first one was understandable; the second one unforgivable. No surprise, no wildcat. It's that simple.

I also felt there was a little lack of imagination offensively. Where were the screen passes? Why not try to get the ball to Cribbs in space, like the Vikings kept on doing with Harvin? "The Canadien Bull" has a lot of work to do.

*As for Brady Quinn, apparently he's a work in progress, which is expected at this point of his career. Still, the dinking and dunking is really starting to grate on my nerves. From what I saw he definitely left some plays on the field and looked afraid to take a shot, which is a terrible trait for a quarterback to have.

In the huddle he looked like a guy who tells his dying wife that everything is going to be okay but she's knows that he's lying. His timing on his slants where way off and that "miscommunication" with Braylon is on him, not to mention his Garo Yepremian-esque fumble.

What's that you say? I shouldn't pass judgement after one game? I'm not, I just simply want to point out what we should be watching for in the next couple of weeks. By the way Eric, it might help if you show a little confidence in the kid and actually let him throw a pass on third down.

*Now the good news. My eyes popped out of my head when I saw the defense play. They played with fire and intensity. Rob Ryan called a great game, showing them a lot of different looks and blitzing plenty. Actual blitzing!

I felt as proud of them as a father who's kid becomes a doctor; could you imagine my Browns, after all these years of me asking, pleading, cajoling, screaming and even begging for a aggressive defense, finally they are making me proud and listening to me. It was surreal.

Didn't you  love the extensive use of the "46" defense?  The corners played well considering they weren't tested  much. Kamerion Wimbley and Abe Elam had outstanding performances, especially in the first half. Even Brodney Pool, who has been comatose since his pick against the Giants last season added a sack and seemed to be around the ball. 

Besides for Adrian Peterson's 64-yard scamper (like a bad song you accidentally hear on the radio, I can't get  Chris Berman's, "and there goes Peterson, Whoop! Whoop!" out of my head) the Browns defense mostly was victimized by shoddy special teams.

(I was speaking to Max Rage and he made a very good point. The person who could be single-handedly the most responsible for the Browns losing on Sunday? Dave Zastudil. Think about it. Zastudil's terrible line drive punts were the main reason the the Vikings were able to get such big returns. Did I mention Max hates Zastudil?) They also suffered from being on the field for too long more than any thing else.

Malcolm Mathers is one of the creators of http://www.brownsrant.com/


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