Probably the most disheartening defeat the Cleveland Browns had since their return to the NFL in 1999 was the Dwayne Rudd helmet game, when he was penalized for taking his helmet off on what would have been the last play of the game, and instead the Kansas City Chiefs were able to kick a game-winning field goal.
Mr. Rudd is now off the hook.
Today, Tramon Williams, a nine-year NFL veteran, jumped offside as San Diego kicker Josh Lambo missed a 39-yard field goal, which would have sent the game into overtime.
Instead, Lambo made a 34-yarder and the Browns dropped to 1-3 after a 30-27 loss to the Chargers.
Play like a Brown, indeed.
And while we are sure the sports talk in Cleveland will continue the “who should start at quarterback” debate that rages annually in this town, the real question should be “why does this defense stink?”
The Chargers came into this game with a battered offensive line, and had wide receivers leaving the game, and yet, Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil’s defense couldn’t slow, let alone stop, the San Diego offense.
Philip Rivers led the Lightning Bolt attack to 438 total yards, and only sacked Rivers twice, while allowing big play after big play, particularly in the second half.
The Cleveland defense allowed five plays of over 20 yards, three of them in the second half, and two of those immediately after the Browns scored, one to take the lead, and the other to close within one point.
Right now, the defense is akin to having a bad bullpen in baseball. You fight to score and take a lead or to get close, and the defense gives up a huge play to give it away.
Pettine came into the game saying San Diego RB Danny Woodhead was a match up nightmare, but apparently he didn’t do anything about that, as Woodhead took a short pass over the middle and ran 61 yards to the CLE 19 after the Browns took a 16-13 lead.
Then, he ran for 19 yards on the last drive to put the Chargers into field goal range, which after Williams’ gaffe, they converted to win the game.
Pettine needs to get this fixed now. And we don’t want to hear excuses (from fans, Pettine won’t make them) that Joe Haden was hurt, and Tashaun Gipson was nicked up too.
The front office and coaching staff has spent many high draft choices and money on free agency on the defense, and to continue to get this kind of result is a disgrace.
It is time to either change personnel and/or scheme, because it isn’t working for Pettine and O’Neil.
It is ironic that one of the sack the Browns had today was from a rookie, DE Xavier Cooper. Maybe more youngsters should be on the field.
Donte Whitner had seven tackles to lead the team, but how many do you remember as being a big play?
The offense gained 432 yards, controlled the ball for 34 minutes, and put 27 points on the board, so you cannot blame them, no matter how many big play guys they are supposed to be lacking.
A couple other thoughts…
People have been asking about using last year’s first round pick, Justin Gilbert, on kick returns, something he excelled at in college. He returned three kickoffs for an average of 36.7 yards per return. Why wasn’t he used there sooner?
Cleveland threw on the first three plays of the game, and 10 of the first 16 plays. Again, running the ball is a mindset, and the Browns seem confused as to how they should play with the ball. Maybe Pettine can communicate this to offensive coordinator John DiFillippo.
The receiving corps is productive without any contribution from Dwayne Bowe. Cut him, and bring in a player who can impact the performance within a game.
Now it’s on to Baltimore with the Ravens coming off a win that salvaged their season, at least for now.
If the coaching staff cannot fix the defense, the Browns season may be beyond that point.