The Browns looked new and improved on Sunday, for the first half at least. It was the second half that was all too familiar to fans, as the team reverted to its old ways of being its own worst enemy, as turnovers and penalties derailed what could have been a good start to the season. Instead, the team and its fans are left scratching their heads and looking for answers.
Here are some initial thoughts regarding the meltdown that was the Browns’ 17-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
- It was definitely a tale of two halves for quarterback Jake Delhomme. He was efficient and smart throughout most of the first half, despite the one late, costly interception that led to a Tampa Bay touchdown. The second half, however, showcased the Delhomme of last season, as he made poor decisions and a plethora of questionable throws.
- An even bigger issue was the conservative play-calling that took place in the second half, especially when the Browns were trapped deep in their own zone throughout the fourth quarter. The Browns made all the right play calls in the first half, keeping Tampa Bay off-balance with the right mix of plays. What it comes down to is that Tampa Bay made the right adjustments at the half and, once again, the Browns seemingly did nothing to help their cause.
- Going along with the play-calling, it’s unacceptable for running back Jerome Harrison to only have nine carries against what was the worst rushing defense in the league last year. He broke off a couple solid runs in the first half but was non-existent in the second.
- The typically-maligned defense of the Browns was one of the bright spots in this game. Rookie cornerback Joe Haden made some impressive plays, though he was beaten on one of Tampa’s touchdowns. Another rookie, safety T.J. Ward, had ten tackles, a forced fumble, and a forced interception as well. Despite the slow speed of the defense, it was able to throw enough looks at the Tampa Bay offense to get three sacks and an interception. The bend-but-don’t-break defense did its job, even when the Browns’ offense couldn’t sustain any long drives in the second half to help keep the defense off the field.
- I hate to say it, but head coach Eric Mangini needs to start thinking about his job security. Next week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs has become a must-win situation, as the Browns have an extremely difficult seven games after that. The new front office, and the fans especially, are not going to tolerate another start like last season’s, so this coaching staff needs to think long and hard about what it can do to take Sunday’s first half efficiency and implement it into every minute of every game.
Keep checking back with Dawg Pound Daily for more analysis on the Browns’ loss to the Buccaneers, as we dissect the good and the bad, and begin to look forward to next Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.