Does Pettine Still Think There Isn’t a Problem On Defense?

If we were Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam and team president Alec Sheiner, we would take down the billboard with Mike Pettine saying he guarantees the Browns will be the toughest team on the field.

That statement is a complete joke.

Last week, Pettine said turning the ball over a bunch of times like his team did against the St. Louis Rams is a recipe for defeat.  That is, of course, unless you are the Arizona Cardinals and you can turn the ball over four times and still defeat the Browns, 34-20 at First Energy Stadium today.

Despite forcing four turnovers, the Cleveland defense allowed 491 yards in the loss, which dropped their record to 2-6 and at least according to many media reports, there could be changes before the NFL trading deadline on Tuesday.

Without the Cardinals’ mistakes, the Browns defense may have given up 50 points this afternoon.

Cleveland allowed only 119 yards on the ground, but that was because Carson Palmer threw deep early and often and with tremendous success, burning both starting cornerbacks, Joe Haden and Tramon Williams repeatedly.

We have always held the belief that the only thing worse than being a bad team is being a bad, old team.  And Cleveland has four starters on defense over 30 years old (Randy Starks, Williams, Karlos Dansby, and Donte Whitner).  Only Dansby seems to be making positive impact plays consistently.

The other fallacy about being a tough team is the total inability of this football team to run the ball.  The Browns gained just 39 yards rushing in the game.  Their leading rusher was QB Josh McCown who had 18 yards on five scrambles.

Isaiah Crowell carried 10 times, half of the team’s attempts and gained only 14 yards, eight on one run.  The newest running back, Robert Turbin, carried three times, and fumbled on two of those carries.

But we digress.  Fans and media alike seem to focus on who plays quarterback, and whether or not Dwayne Bowe is active, but the fact remains that the defense is a sieve, constantly shredded on the ground, and now, through the air.

Early on, the defense did a solid job against the run, but the Pettine/O’Neil defense could not get any pressure on Palmer in obvious pass situations and Palmer attacked the Cleveland secondary with great results.  He completed passes of 60, 39, 38, and 34 yards during the contest.

The sad thing is, none of those ball were thrown to likely Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, who did catch nine passes for 84 yards.

Pettine should stop hanging around the offensive unit and get with O’Neil to get the defense fixed.  And if that’s playing youngsters, then so be it.

One other comment on the secondary.  It is hard to believe that last year’s first round pick, Justin Gilbert, cannot get on the field defensively.  Is he worse than what we saw today?  That is doubtful.

How do we know Gilbert can’t play?  Because the coaching staff, which has lost 11 of their last 13 games, tells us so?

Play him, and for god’s sake, get Barkevious Mingo on the field too.  Mingo may do a lot of things we don’t see on camera that drives the coaches crazy, but he made an open field tackle on Chris Johnson early in the game, that could have been a huge gain if not for the second year linebacker.

With a short week coming up, we are sure Pettine will use that as a reason not to make changes, but that’s a cop-out.  What is the definition of insanity?

As for trades, we would deal any veterans we could for draft picks commensurate with their value, and that includes Joe Thomas and Alex Mack.  It is not like the offensive line is an elite unit.

Meanwhile, Browns’ fans are treated to another crapfest of a season.



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