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Browns-Bengals: Cleveland Back to Square One

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer INovember 30, 2009

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 29:  Jamal Lewis #31 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by Chris Crocker #42 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With their 16-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, the Browns' offense is right back where it started.

It came as no surprise that the Cleveland offense wasn’t as productive in Cincinnati as it was in Detroit. What was surprising, and a little annoying, was that the Browns appeared to have brought nothing forward from the Lions' game.

Brady Quinn was 15-34 for 100 yards. There were a few attempts to stretch the field, but not many, and most of the long pass attempts were incomplete due to inaccurate throws and miscommunication between Quinn and Mohamed Massaquoi.

Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll once again proved to the world he’s in over his head as he put in an ultra-conservative game plan that relied on all too easily read screen passes and running plays that went nowhere. The offense had a total of 169 yards on the day.

Jamal Lewis once again had a completely average day, 11 carries for 40 yards, adding up to a nondescript 3.6 yards per carry. Quinn had the longest run of the day, his nine-yard scramble into the end zone for the team’s only touchdown.

Despite having two younger, hungrier running backs on the roster who don’t already have one foot on the retirement golf course, Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings, the two only got two carries a piece for minimal yardage in the game.

To recap the game, there were a lot of three-and-outs, missed tackling, and the Bengals ran all over our defense.

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The Browns also lost Shaun Rogers for the rest of the season to an ankle injury. So an already depleted and deplorable defense just got a little worse.

Head coach Eric Mangini pleaded his case again to the public in Sunday’s Plain Dealer , the latest interview the suddenly press-friendly coach has given since he started his national “Please, please, please don’t fire me” tour after the bye week.

While Mangini talks a good game plan, the Cincinnati game showed why the fanbase is down on him and why he’s on the hot seat. You just can’t tolerate this kind of failure week after week, and once again, Mangini has done just that.

While Quinn should be held accountable for bad throws, Daboll absolutely has not been held accountable for criminally bad game-planning, and Mangini has refused to admit his own mistakes.

Most of Mangini’s 2009 draft picks continue to not dress for games as Brian Robiskie, Coye Francies, and David Veikune were inactive. Newcomers Matt Roth and Jake Allen were on the field though, despite having limited practice time with the team.

If Robiskie is undersized, as has been speculated, why was he drafted so high in the second round? Especially since other, better players were still available at his draft spot.

If Veikune was a designed project out of the draft, why is he sitting? Shouldn’t he be on the field, getting reps and learning the game?

Who is Francies? What does he do?

The last bit is meant to highlight the fact that Mangini has talked a lot about “processes” and “learning the game” about his rookies, but the action part of that equation never really has materialized.

That’s a failure at the coaching level, and if Mangini thinks the new football czar for the Cleveland Browns isn’t going to notice glaring holes like this, he’s taken the notion of fooling oneself to a whole new level.

The bottom line is the 2009 Cleveland Browns are one muffed punt away from being 0-11 right now. The promises of “better, smarter” football have been hollow and the team, in retrospect, may as well have kept Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel for another year.

It couldn’t have been any worse.

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