Welcome to the 2015 “Not Quite Ready For The NFL” Cleveland Browns. Against a Denver team that has relied more on luck than skill to remain undefeated this season, the Browns provided all the luck needed by the Broncos to squeak out another win.
Opportunity after opportunity was given to the Browns to win this crucial game only to be squandered. Bad throws, sacks, interceptions, failed two point conversions, missed tackles, constant pressure on Josh McCown, the inability to convert for six in the red zone and penalties (including, once again the infamous 12 men on the field and illegal formation varieties) all contributed to the loss. In spite of a less than stellar Denver performance, the Broncos managed to have enough big plays in order to win including a 75 yard pass for a touchdown.
These are mistakes that one sees in the preseason games and by now should have been dealt with in practice and yet fans are still seeing them crop up like bad weeds on a perfect lawn.
It is not like the Browns did not have their moments. TE Gary Barnidge caught two touchdowns and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome as the only Browns tight ends to catch touchdown passes in four consecutive games. This makes a total of five receiving touchdowns for Barnidge so far this season who has 27 receptions for 413 yards.
LB Karlos Dansby had seven tackles, two interceptions and a touchdown for the game and leads all active NFL linebackers with 18 interceptions as well as five picks returned for touchdowns. He also has 40 career sacks. Sunday was Dansby’s third career game with double interceptions.
WR Travis Benjamin had a career high nine receptions that were good for 117 yards which is his second 100 yard+ receiving game. He leads the team so far this season with 528 receiving yards.
After a stellar performance last week that earned him a player of the week nod, QB Josh McCown managed 213 yards throwing with two touchdowns but two interceptions (one that was a pick 6 for Denver). He is the first Quarterback to throw double touchdown passes since 2007. McCown is averaging 341.8 passing yards as well as two touchdowns per game and has only had two interceptions thus far this season.
The Browns registered a season high three interceptions that included two for Dansby and one for LB Barkevious Mingo who snagged his first career interception this past Sunday.
Kicker Travis Coons hit for 26 yards out for three and hit both point after tries which makes him 12 for 12 on field goals and 11 for 11 on point after attempts. DB Pierre Desir had a career high 12 tackles and LT Joe Thomas added to his consecutive snaps steak that now stands at 8,317 which is the longest in the league. RB Robert Turbin was finally able to hit the field having recoverd well enough from his high ankle strain. He rushed for 27 yards on ten attempts. DB Don Jones became a Browns player last Wednesday when he was acquired via waivers and had two special team tackles. As for injuries, TE Rob Housler left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring and did not return.
So…a tough game turns into a tough loss dropping the Browns to 4 and 2. After the game and into the day after, players took turns taking the blame for the loss. This is all fine and dandy but the real question should be when is the team going to sharpen up and play an entire game. There seems to be a lack of concentration during crucial times that kills momentum. This is true of the coaches as well as the players (can anyone count to eleven on the sidelines?).
In other off the field news, Johnny Manziel managed to get himself back in the headlines. According to the police report, Manziel was with his girlfriend, Colleen Crowley driving on I90 west of Cleveland. Witnesses reported that Manziel was driving at a high rate of speed and passing cars on the shoulder. It turns out that Manziel and his girl friend (who was apparently intoxicated at the time) got into an argument on their way home from an event and she tossed his wallet out of the car window. His erratic driving was due to him rushing back to the spot to find his wallet. When stopped by the police, Manziel admitted that he had had a couple of drinks hours before but was found to be sober and allowed to drive.
On Friday, Manziel posted on Twitter, ”Colleen and I got into a dumb public argument on the way home Monday afternoon,” Manziel wrote. ”It probably looked more interesting than it was and I know I would stop and check if I saw a couple arguing on the side of the road. It was embarrassing but not serious and when we talked to the police and they realized everything was alright and I was sober, we went home together and everything is fine.”
Although for anyone who is a recovering alcoholic or has undergone rehab a “couple of drinks” can be a huge red flag, the Browns found that the domestic dispute should not cost him the chance to play and Manziel remains the #2 back-up quarterback for the team. In a Friday statement that the Browns released they stated that they had spoken to Manziel about his behavior and while they will cooperate with the NFL if any further investigation is warranted, Manziel would not be excluded from Saturday’s game.
Is it time to panic? With ten games left in the regular season it will take a minor miracle for the Browns to make a run for a playoff berth. One thing is for certain, each and every Browns game has been exciting clear to the end this season. We can only hope that a little bit of luck goes our way from here on out. Go Browns!
The team now will prepare for their game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams sit at 2-3 for the season. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. and the game will be carried on CBS Channel 19 WOIO as well as WNCX 98.5 FM Cleveland Classic Rock.