When played the right way, football is a truly beautiful game. The plays, both offensive and defensive, the emotions, the battle being waged across an invisible line of scrimmage.... Sigh. I get caught up in it, want to be a part of it, scream and yell and cheer and groan whether I'm listening on the radio, watching TV, or actually at the game. And it's painful when the game is played badly. Not from a "talent" level but from an "execution" level. I can live with losses that are a result of having lesser talent. But that hasn't happened yet this football season.
My dad taught me that, if you play to the very best of your ability and still lose, there is no shame in that. If you practice and prepare and do everything you can to get ready and still lose, you should congratulate the victor and take pride in knowing you left it all out there, that there was absolutely nothing else you could have done, that there is always someone better. And that's ok - as long as you are striving to be better yourself. But he also said the shame comes from NOT being your best, from NOT using your God-given talents the way He intended, from NOT being ready and prepared for the game. THAT is cause for shame. And today, I'm sorry to say, the Browns players should be ashamed.
For the second week in a row, mistakes and penalties cost us the game. We were not beaten by a superior opponent, we beat ourselves. And since I cannot understand or make excuses for that, I choose to focus on the things that DID improve from last week. To find proof that the players care as much as I do, that they worked this week and accomplished something. Because I cannot imagine a single player not giving it his all to get ready for a game. And for this I am slammed on twitter, called "delusional," or "unrealistic."
Well, if I'm "delusional" then I guess so is ESPN.... I'm pretty sure their Top Performers from the game are all Browns players. Or are my orange colored glasses deceiving me?
Here are some positives I saw today:
- Brandon Weeden DID have stats that were very similar - and in some cases better - than Joe Flacco. The difference was that Flacco had 1 TD but I can point to our receivers dropping balls an inopportune times so I don't blame Brandon. Did he make mistakes? Yes. But when someone tells me he's crap and we need a new QB right now, I have to disagree. He's improving in a new system and with help from his receivers and the return of Josh Gordon next week, let's see what he can do.
- The Offensive Line improved over last week. Yes, they gave up 5 sacks but they didn't have the penalties like last week and Brandon wasn't under as much pressure. Are they great? No. We desperately miss Shaun Lauvao and Jason Pinkston. But they did work this week and have improved.
- TE Jordan Cameron's performance in Week 1 wasn't a fluke. He's a really good tight end. Yes, he can work on his blocking but the good things he did last week he continued to do today.
- RB Trent Richardson is another positive thing. He was averaging 3.4 yards per carry when we stopped running the ball today. I expect more from him, but he was effective.
- Billy Cundiff put an end to the "I miss Phil Dawson" remarks today. Yes, I still miss Phil and always will. Being the only player left from the '99 team, he's a link to a very emotional time for me. So perhaps its best for me that he's moved on. And by making that 51 yard field goal today, Billy got a few of the "doom and gloom" fans to relax about our kicking game.
- Defense - do I even need to tell you how good our defense is? Run defense held Lamar to 20 yards week one and Ray Rice to 36 yards rushing/9 receiving. Well done!
But here's the thing - everything I said is the truth. I'm not naive or blind to the Browns faults, but I have found, in my 47 years on earth, that I am a much happier person if I focus on the positives first. The negatives must be looked at objectively and a plan created to fix them, but to ignore any good things? I can't live like that.
Here are a few negatives:
- Clock management: how do we get 2 delay of game penalties? What took so long to get the play off? During the preseason, that was something I loved - they were at the line and snapping in 15-18 seconds, not giving the defense time to adjust. And no sense of urgency. I saw one drive today with a "hustle" feel to it, early in the 1st quarter. After that? Not so much.
- Defense: the secondary is still an issue. Teams have already figured out that our front 7 is solid and running is going to be difficult but our secondary opposite Joe Haden is weak and that is a point of attack for them.
- QB and Receivers: Can we PLEASE catch a ball? Can Brandon PLEASE figure out when to ZIP it in there and when to FLOAT it on the air? I've got receivers dropping balls that hit them in the hands and don't know if they can't catch or if it was a scorcher. Brandon needs to develop more "touch" with his passes so that the receivers have no excuses.
- Play Calling: I don't know why you draft a running back #3 overall and DON'T let him have the ball! OK so 18 carries and 5 receptions is an improvement over last week but it still feels like the quit on the run game early. It also feels like we throw the ball in desperation in the 4th quarter. Week 1 down by 3, today down by 1. What? Those don't feel like desperate game situations to me. What am I missing?
Now. I am by no means delusional. I see the problems. And most of you do as well. But if you are one of those people who thinks it's ok to berate and swear at players, that it's ok to say "The Browns SUCK!", if you give up on the team before the game even starts or, worse, if you delight in predicting gloom and being right when we lose, then you need to explain one thing to me: WHY ARE YOU A BROWNS FAN.
Newsflash: There are 31 other teams in the NFL! If you have so little regard for the Browns and what they are trying to do, please go be a fan for one of them. REAL Browns fans understand that we have problems, we want answers, and we should be DEMANDING improvement. But we can do all that without being hateful, rude, or obnoxious. Ultimately, it's everyone's decision on how they want to be a fan, how they want to talk about the Browns on twitter, how they want other people to view our team.
PLEASE do not take this blog as an attack. 90% of you are reasonable fans who want change, ask
As for me, I choose the Browns to be MY team every day. And I choose to find positives first, then work on solutions for the negatives. Because honestly, that's the only way I know how to live. And thankfully, I believe that most of you are just like me. Thanks for that! And thanks for letting me vent just a bit.