Sunday, September 9, 2012

Growing Pains apparent for the Browns

Growing Pains...and I'm sure as hell not referring to the 1980's sitcom with that pop star's father and the homophobe teen heartthrob. Growing pains are going to be abundant with your 2012 Cleveland Browns--if it wasn't clear earlier, it smacked us all in the face on Sunday.  Not many Browns fans would have thought the team would be within a point of the Eagles in today's opener, but I doubt there are many who are looking at today's 17-16 loss with rose-colored goggles. Instead it's another orange and brown punch in the stomach.

1. Yes, Brandon Weeden was terrible. But let's at least take a deep breath and remember this is his very first game--and I don't care how old he is. Naturally Fox was trying to stir up a QB controversy by the middle of the third quarter, and at least one Cleveland sports reporter tweet that the fans were crying for Colt McCoy. I wasn't at the game, so maybe some fans at the stadium were, but at the packed bar I was at, the fans were feeling pain with every Weeden mistake but I didn't hear any serious calls for McCoy. Just the normal Browns cynicism. And calls for more Dortmunder Gold.

2. Weeden could not make an accurate deep throw if his life depended on it Sunday, but at least the arm strength that Browns fans have been pining for was definitely there. And on more than a few quick slants, Weeden showed great accuracy.  It's early, the nerves just maybe never settled down for Brandon down the field. And that led to a couple very ugly interceptions. The first interception was an absolute bullet that hit Greg Little on the numbers for what could have been a touchdown, but CLANG--a pick.

3. And I don't think Weeden ever looked confused or skittish on the field--and that says a lot to me, after watching Happy Feet for a couple years.

4. If LJ Fort had made that interception in the end zone, we'd all be talking about how the Browns won and the offense just needs to get it together

5. The offensive line stinks. At least in the running game. Trent Richardson had no room to run all day long, with a couple rare exceptions, one where he removed Kurt Coleman from his helmet and possibly a few fillings on an explosive collision. But the pass protection wasn't half bad. Weeden only got hit a few times, and it wasn't the hits that made his day so painful.

6. The Browns defense was the epitome of bend-but-don't break. Thank goodness that Mike Vick was almost as bad as Brandon Weeden Sunday, because that and a few big Browns defensive plays kept this game close. But the first half featured quite a few Eagles third down conversions, including a 15 yard Vick scramble on 3rd and 15. That generally won't end well. The Browns' D fought back and harassed and beat up Vick all day, forcing him into four of his own interceptions. I guarantee that Vick won't be feeling good on Monday.

7. When Joe Haden intercepted Vick and ran it back 50 yards to the Eagles 22, the Browns needed an offensive touchdown like nobody's business. They made it down to the 4 yard line but had to settle for yet another Phil Dawson FG. Uggh. It was almost forgotten one play later when D'Qwell Jackson ran back another Vick INT for a touchdown, but that utter inability for Weeden to move the offense really takes the wind out of the sails.

8. Pat Shurmur needs a few days with an image consultant and a mirror. I do not want my head coach looking shell-shocked and confused every time the cameras go to him.