There are a lot of excuses that can be made for a game like this. The Cleveland Browns, like every team in the NFL, did not have the luxury of using OTAs and mini-camps as time to build the team. The team started the 2011 season new in almost every facet of the game, introducing a new offense, defense, and head coach in Pat Shurmur.
But games like Sunday’s, a game in which the Browns lost to the Oakland Raiders 24-17 (though it was never really that close), are hard to swallow no matter how you spin it. This crop of Browns is no different than the teams of past years, disorganized and uninspired in losses that test the resolve of all Browns fans.
You can say that the Browns are heading in the right direction, that it takes time to build a team, and it’s true, but it’s also difficult for fans to keep a straight face when the Bengals are supposedly in the same situation and have done nothing but make it work. Rookies like A.J. Green and Andy Dalton have led the Bengals to a 4-2 record and have given their fans considerable – tangible – hope for the future.
What do Browns fans have?
Here are a few initial thoughts following the loss:
- The Browns were once again a mess offensively, led by Colt McCoy, who finished 21-45 for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Excluding the late moments of the fourth quarter when the Raiders defense was in a slight prevent defense, the Browns weren’t able to muster much of anything in terms of drives. After the Raiders took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Browns were able to answer with a long scoring drive of their own, but that was about it.
- The biggest story of the day was Peyton Hillis, and for all the wrong reasons. The running back missed the second half with what was called a hamstring injury, though it was not reported as such at first. Fans were simply left wondering why Montario Hardesty continued to get carries while Hillis watched from the bench.
- As the second half progressed, Hillis could be seen pacing the sidelines, even hovering around the coaches. It’s not worth speculating over, but it seemed like he was asking to get back into the game, which happened in the fourth quarter, but only for two plays.
- The lone bright spot for the Browns on Sunday was rookie wide receiver Greg Little, who made the most of his first game after being inserted into the starting lineup. He finished the day with six catches for 72 yards and fought hard for extra yardage on nearly every catch.
- Josh Cribbs questioned his role in the offense after the game, calling his time as a wide receiver “insignificant.” Cribbs finished the day with two catches for 30 yards, but Cribbs recognized that he needs to be more of a force on special teams. The way he was talking, it sounds like Cribbs would like all the special teams responsibilities he had before becoming a wide receiver.
More is sure to come on this game, so keep checking back as we further dissect another disappointing Cleveland Browns loss.