Monday, November 15, 2010

Deep breath, and reflections on Browns-Jets.

Well Sunday's game felt like old days.  In the first half, when the Browns were looking great, I turned to my buddy and said "what a weird feeling, huh?"  As in nervousness, excitement, all at 1PM on a Sunday, for the first time in what seems like a long time.  We were watching a team that was for real, a team made up of "professional football players" as Bill Simmons might say, and it feels good.

The feelings turned to elation, and then heartbreak, of course, as the Jets took over the ball with 24 seconds in overtime, and Santonio Holmes darted between three Browns defensive backs for a game winning touchdown with just 16 seconds to play.  Ouch.  Ball game, 26-20 Jets.  Oh what I would have given for a duplication of 23-20 Browns from my childhood.

Most of the postgame chatter was about a few negative, game turning plays, but before that, I just need to point out that Bud Shaw hit the nail on the head--it's apparent that the Browns now have put their trust in Colt McCoy...there is no going back, and I don't think Browns fans will complain at this point.  True,the lack of production by the wide receivers is very much alarming, and it makes me nervous about the "arm strength" questions McCoy had coming out of college.  But the leadership and smarts are there, and he makes some very nice plays, especially when it counts.

Some not so very-nice-plays?
-Chanci Stuckey fumbling in overtime.  Now I find it impossible to believe that Browns fans can hate Chanci for what he did--fought for more yards, tried to get closer to what he knew the field position needed to be for a first down.  It wasn't irresponsible 1-vs-5 fighting for more yards, it was a good strip and 20/20 hindsight is no good here.
-Joe Haden picking off Sanchez late in overtime inside the Browns 3.  That led to pass-run-run-punt from the back of the end zone, which then led to the Jets winning TD.  Should Haden have batted it down, and the Browns taken their chances on a punt.  In retrospect, yes.  But were the Jets in four-down territory?  Who knows.  I don't know, if Mangini had a "pause" button, what he would have told Haden to do there.  Probably drop it.  But if the Jets go for it, move down the field another 20 yards and kick a field goal, Haden would have been ripped for that.
-Play call from the 3 yard line in overtime.  Yes, running would have run the clock out and taken the tie.  I don't think anyone wants a tie.  But why pass deep on first down--a pass to a receiver who was open, Ben Watson, but overthrown--and then run twice?  That incomplete pass indicated the desire to win. The two runs indicated desire to tie.  So pick your poison.  Should have passed on second and third downs, and tried to do something. 
-Nobody has mentioned the ensuing punt return.  A dagger in the shoulder (not heart yet) when the Jets got the ball back.
-Finally, the Holmes touchdown.  Bad play by the defensive backs.  They know it, we know it.  No need to kick 'em when they're down.

Regardless we can be proud of this team, they played hard.  Hillis came out crushing, McCoy showed his poise, but some days it's not enough, and Sunday was one of those days.