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Cleveland Browns Lose to Atlanta Falcons 20-10: Random Thoughts

Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme (17) throws during the third quarter of their NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Cleveland, Ohio October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL) I think I speak for all Browns fans when I say this loss feels worse than normal.

To be as fair as possible, Atlanta is clearly the better team on paper, and the Browns hung in there again despite all of things I’ll mention below. The defense played very well, but…

We always feel the need to look to the future in Cleveland, as often the present is too ugly to bear, and the reason this loss is worse than normal is because the future looks dooming.

After all the hullabaloo over giving this team an extreme quarterback makeover, both Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are injured, after just five games.

The Browns unearthed a star in Peyton Hillis, but now he is injured too. The Browns are in deep trouble.

They’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh next week to face a better defense than Atlanta fields. Ben Roethlisberger will be back from suspension, and the Steelers will be fresh off a bye week. Before the season I picked the Browns to lose to Atlanta but had them defeating the Steelers because I felt they matched up well with the other teams in their division. That was true in their first two divisional games, but suddenly it feels like they have no chance next week.

  • Now we are back to where we were last season? Feeling like the Browns are going to lose a week before their next game?

This is the second game this season where the Browns have wilted in hot weather. Aren’t Eric Mangini practices the toughest around? Don’t these players hate Mangini for how hard he makes them work? Don’t these guys run constantly in the summer preparing to overcome their lack of talent with grit, determination, and conditioning? Doesn’t look like it.

The Browns offensive line and pass rush totally died on the field in Tampa Bay, and again in Cleveland on an unusually hot October day. It’s not even that the Browns lack speed, it now appears their players are old fatties who can only play in the cold. Looking for an identity from Mangini and Brian Daboll? That’s it: We’re fat and slow, and we want to shrink the field and play ugly cold ball. Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Harrison (35) dives for yardage after being tripped up by the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter of their NFL football game in Cleveland, Ohio September 19, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Jerome Harrison is also inexplicably awful right now. The Browns used him in two series in the first half and got a total of six yards on six carries. He killed two drives. Harrison didn’t really play on this team last year until Week 10 or so, then made a name for himself running on fresh legs against teams that were worn out after a long season.

Only now do we see, in the warm weather when everyone plays faster, he’s junk. You could see the Browns just begging him to give them anything so Peyton Hillis could rest his injured leg on the sideline. A Hillis who can barely walk is still more effective than a healthy Harrison, so sad.

For as tough as the Browns are, other teams pick on them like they are little kids. Sheldon Brown was injured making a tackle in the third quarter and had to leave the field for one play to recover. When he came back, Rob Ryan astonishingly let him cover the one Falcon you can’t let beat you in Roddy White. Matt Ryan threw right at him. 45-yard TD. Another big play surrendered by the Browns new and improved secondary.

  • Was it really necessary for the TV crew to then compare White’s dunking the ball over the goal post to LeBron James (i.e. “the name they do not speak”)? Dunking the ball over the post has been done at least 500 times before White did it. Low blow.
  • To be fair the secondary played a great game overall, Eric Wright included.

The TV announcers also made up their minds they were going to slather Matt Ryan with compliments no matter how bad he played, and jumped at every chance to compare him to John Elway or Dan Marino. But Ryan made just three plays, and I get the feeling the national media wants him to be better than he actually is.

Then again those three plays where enough, and the Browns sacked Ryan hard a couple times and he took it. Not getting injured is kind of a big deal in the NFL. The best players stay on the field (can’t believe I’m giving Ryan credit for not having glass legs). Lots of guys have the potential to be great but are just injury prone; its genetics. The Browns need a quarterback, and players in general, who just aren’t injury prone. Joe Thomas is the best left tackle in the league, and even he is going to get beat for a sack every now and then. You have to be able to take a few hits, just a few.

  • Other teams are losing their quarterbacks left and right to concussions, the Browns lose them to sprained ankles. Which would you honestly prefer?

And is Colt McCoy really completely unable to play? I love the idea of hiding him for a season as to developed him properly, but watching Delhomme hobble around the field yesterday had to be disheartening for everyone. How can he still be that hurt, he hasn’t played in four weeks!?

Jake’s body language was also terrible. I get that you’re not 100% and unforeseen circumstances have forced you into a tight spot, but it looked like he wanted to run and hide in the locker room. I can’t get that shot of him with his hands on his hips out of my head. It looked like he was just realizing his season/career is over.

And he is so reckless with the ball! Atlanta dropped an interception in the Browns’ end zone on a pass Delhomme had no business throwing. He fumbled the ball two plays later handing it off to Peyton Hillis, costing them a touchdown. Jake never recovered from that series, and it wasn’t long before he was gun-shy and only concerned with dodging the rush instead of scanning the field for receivers.

  • He also looked like my grandpa playing football at a family picnic. His long sleeves looked stupid, and his helmet looked like it was bought in a costume shop.

So why didn’t the Browns challenge Kroy Biermann’s tipped ball-interception that sealed the game? I think it had to do with Jake’s body language – the whole team felt that way. The Browns knew they were going to lose, their players were dropping like flies, so they decided to just swallow it and get out of dodge before anything worse happened.

The Browns coaching staff also didn’t challenge Mohamed Massaquoi’s touchdown catch early (Peyton bailed them out of course by scoring a few plays later). And when Jake Delhomme first came into the game for the injured Seneca Wallace, the Browns chose to run out the clock on the 50 yard line instead of heaving one into the end zone just before halftime. Just an overall gutless performance by the coaches.

Not that any of those plays would have been overturned or made a difference, but the players need all the moral boosters they can get in a game like that, and this coaching staff just seems to stick to their guns and act like they are smarter than everyone no matter the cost.

And are we finally going to hear from Mike Holmgren?! Cause this is getting ridiculous. The Browns are suiting up or a bloodbath in Pittsburgh and the fan base needs to hear from their “credible leader” now more than ever. Isn’t this part of his job description? What does this guy make $50-million doing anyway? And that’s the point, he is not hiding in the shadows by accident.

Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini stands on the sidelines during the second half of their NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Maryland September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)We were all happy the Browns didn’t hire a new coach again and didn’t start all over, again, but let’s be real here. Mangini is our version of the rebound girlfriend:

You never really love your rebound girlfriend or commit to her. She’s just a bridge from one stage in your life to another, a step in the recovery process.

The Browns got dumped by their hot girlfriend in 2008 when they flopped after a 10-6 season. Mangini is the girl we turned to when we were heartbroken and scared of being alone. We  just need a little companionship to heal our ego before we’re ready to move on and find a better girlfriend. Holmgren knows this.

The Jets did the same thing. They had some good times with Herm Edwards, but after five years decided they needed to break up and go their separate ways. They brought in Mangini to develop a foundation of toughness and football know-how for the future. Nobody really liked him, they just needed him to get back on their feet.

After a few years they were strong enough to go on without their rebound girlfriend, and brought in the type of partner they wanted all along: The charismatic, inspiring, and player friendly, Rex Ryan.

Mangini developed Nick Mangold, Derrell Revis, toughness, and depth. While Ryan stands on that foundation, he also gives them that vital missing ingredient from their previous relationship: the spark. Ryan is a leader, he connects with his players, he gives them an edge, and has brought back the fun that makes love/football worthwhile.

Hopefully we’ll be ready for the real thing soon too.

Follow me on Twitter @JimmyCTown and go Browns!

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Brian Daboll Eric Mangini Jake Delhomme Mike Homgren Peyton Hillis Seneca Wallace

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