If you are a Browns fan suffering under the weight of an 0-2 start, and another season marred by inconsistent and damning quarterback play – you are not alone. The Browns were one of eight NFL teams who fell to 0-2, and were also one of six teams who used a backup or replacement quarterback Week 2…
Chiefs 16 – Browns 14
With Jake Delhomme on the sidelines the Browns throw away their second game in a row. Like last week, the offense is completely helpless in the second half, making it impossible for the team to outrun their mistakes. Seneca Wallace did well for a backup QB acquired for a mere 7th round draft choice, yet everything was overshadowed by that one bad play. Again. The Chiefs score 10 points off an interception returned for a TD and a fumble recovery. Phil Dawson also missed a would be game winning field goal, and the Browns committed an array of penalties that left the most tortured sports fans in America booing them off their home field for the 11th time in 12 tries.
Bottom line: When you have Tom Brady, everyone looks smart and everyone gets rich. When you have Seneca Wallace, everyone can find your flaws. Fair or not, that’s life in the NFL, and Brian Daboll and Eric Mangini’s seats are now officially red hot.
Panthers 7 – Buccaneers 20
Jake Delhomme’s old team also seems no better off than they were a year ago. QB Matt Moore had his second uninspiring performance in two weeks and was replaced by rookie Jimmy Clausen in the second half. The Panthers fall to 0-2 and have now already announced they are turning to Clausen in Week 3. So soon? The seats must be getting hot down there too. Tampa Bay turns some heads with a surprising 2-0 start behind an emerging defense and the strong play of second year QB Josh Freeman.
Bottom line: In the preseason Tampa must have been thinking: “Gosh we have an easy schedule to open the season with the Browns and Panthers; we need to get off to a 2-0 start before we see Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, or things could get ugly.”
Titans 11 – Steelers 19
The Steelers win again without Ben Roethlisberger, or even his replacement Dennis Dixon, who left the game with a knee injury and was replaced by third stringer Charlie Batch. On the other side, Vince Young, who had the highest QB rating of anyone last week, turns the ball over three times and is also replaced mid-game by backup Kerry Collins. The Titans turned it over seven times in all. Was this the year the Browns rise up against a declining Steelers team? Guess not. Through two weeks they sit stop the division at 2-0, and have allowed a league low 20 points. The Titans meanwhile (as predicted) have sort of a Brady Quinn / Derek Anderson thing going on, with Jeff Fisher in Collins’ corner, and owner Bud Adams in Young’s.
Bottom line: At worst, the Steelers get through Roethlisberger’s suspension at .500. Any other win before Big Ben comes back is gravy, and Troy Polamalu’s case for MVP is as good as anyone’s.
Lions 32 - Eagles 35
A shootout featuring two of the aforementioned six teams sporting backup QBs Sunday. With starter Kevin Kolb out with a concussion, Michael Vick throws for 286 yards and two TDs for the Eagles as they escape Detroit with a win. Backup Shaun Hill plays great for the Lions too, throwing for over 300 years and three scores. Both teams are rebuilding, but still have plenty of speed and firepower to utilize any given Sunday – Young opposing running backs LeSean McCoy and Jahvid Best score three times a piece.
Bottom line: Both the Lions and Browns are 0-2 and have lost painfully close games. Yet because they Lions came from behind to nearly upset teams, and the Browns have blown leads against teams they were supposed to beat, they are trending in opposite directions.
Jaguars 13 – Chargers 38
David Garrard was benched in the fourth quarter after throwing four interceptions, only to return for one pass when backup Luke McCown had to leave the game with an injury. The Chargers turned the ball over three times themselves, and even lost their starting running back Ryan Mathews to injury mid game, but the Jags six total turnovers are enough to live off. San Diego cruises to victory in their home opener behind new fantasy flavor of the week Mike Tolbert.
Bottom line: The clock is officially ticking on David Garrard. He’s been the starter for four years now and is 31-31 in his career. I say add Jacksonville to the quarterback buyers come next year’s draft.
Ravens 10 – Bengals 15
The Bengals win their seventh straight game against the AFC North to avoid starting their season 0-2. They simply play the cleaner game, as Joe Flacco throws four picks and suddenly has people questioning the Ravens’ offensive aptitude. Baltimore has scored just 20 points in two games (3rd worst in NFL), and let a five field goal game from OSU grad Mike Nugent to do them in. Just a typical day in the meat locker AFC North.
Bottom line: The Browns face both of these teams next, and rank higher than Bengals in total defense, and higher than the Ravens in total offense. If Mangini’s looking for answers (and lord he should be) see the Bengals = winning in your division actually works.
Dolphins 14 – Vikings 10
The Vikings and Brett Favre are 0-2 just like the Browns after losing a 14-10 heart breaker at home to the Dolphins. Favre tosses three picks and also losses a fumble in the end zone for the game winning score. The Dolphins are off to a nice start after winning their first two games on the road, and stopped Vikings’ star Adrian Peterson on 4th and goal to do it.
Bottom line: Vikings started last season off 2-0 against the Browns and Lions, and built it into a season where everything went right. You can’t throw away those types of seasons like Favre did in New Orleans, and now the tables have turned.
Bills 7 – Packers 34
Buffalo was able to hang around until halftime in this one, but were demolished down the stretch by one of the best teams in football. The talent divide was greater than even the odds makers -14 points could predict. After the game the Bills announced they would be benching QB Trent Edwards for backup Ryan Fitzpatrick (that’s seven teams next week on to replacement QBs). Edwards’ career was once bright, but all those beatings have taken their toll and his career is just about finished.
Bottom line: Jake Locker or the next oracle at QB will be in play for the Bills next year too, and the Browns may need to serve up a 1-15 type season to pick ahead of them.
Patriots 14 – Jets 28
The Jets open up the play book a little for Mark Sanchez and the whole team responds with a huge divisional win against the favored Patriots. Braylon Edwards scored on a touchdown and a two point conversion and taunted his opposing defender at every opportunity. Shut down corner Darrelle Revis left the game with a tweaked hamstring (ego) after Randy Moss jammed a one handed TD catch down his throat.
Bottom line: For the Jets to be taken seriously they needed take the training wheels off Sanchez and prove they could beat the Patriots. Mission accomplished.
Texans 30 – Redskins 27 in OT
Game of the week was an overtime nail biter that saw the Texans overcome a 17 point hole and improve to 2-0. QBs Matt Schaub and Donovan McNabb both threw for over 400 yards, and put their teams in a position to win with field goals. But the day belonged to the Texans – After a Houston timeout iced Redskins kicker Graham Gano and caused him to miss from 52, Neil Rackers connected on a 35 yard field goal to win it.
Bottom line: It took the Texans nine years to turn an expansion team into a legitimate contender, the Browns are still on the clock.
Saints 25 – 49ers 22
A good old fashion Monday night thrill-ride ends with Drew Brees driving the Saints down the field with just over a minute left for a game winning field goal. Alex Smith and the 49ers fall to 0-2 after an emotional drive of their own, coming from behind to convert a game tying touchdown and two point conversion; they just left Brees too much time for a rebuttal. San Fran turned it over four times, and were in the game because Frank Gore was fantastic with 168 total yards and two scores. The Saints appeared to lose Heisman Forfeitee Reggie Bush late to a leg injury.
Bottom line: Is Sean Payton a genius for burning all the Saints’ timeouts trying to win field position in the first quarter, or for unsuccessfully blitzing Smith over and over on the 49ers’ final drive? Of course he is, he has Drew Brees.