Only the Cleveland Browns could have a situation where they knock the opposing quarterback out of a game, and have him replaced by a future Hall of Famer, who throws for 379 yards and three touchdowns.
In many ways, the key play of today’s 30-9 thumping by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Browns was the one where Desmond Bryant forced the offensive tackle to step on Landry Jones’ foot early in the first quarter, because that brought Ben Roethlisberger into the contest.
Big Ben threw three touchdown passes and drew several pass interference penalties by the Browns’ secondary, as the Cleveland defense allowed 30 or more points for the sixth time in 10 games this season.
But, we are sure we will be again talking about who should start at quarterback two weeks from tomorrow when the Ravens visit First Energy Stadium.
Mike Pettine gave the media the “I have to review the film” spiel after the game, and bristled when someone (we think it was Tom Reed) asked if it looked bad that the defensive backfield was terrible and last year’s first round pick Justin Gilbert was inactive for the game.
The coach didn’t really answer the inquiry.
Here are some other questions we would like Pettine to answer.
…Who on the coaching staff thought it would be a good idea to have special teams standout Johnson Bademosi matched up with Steelers’ all pro wide receiver Antonio Brown?
Brown caught 10 pass for 139 yards and two touchdown and drew two interference calls.
Bademosi wasn’t on Brown all the time, but too often, it was either he or raw rookie (first NFL game) Charles Gaines. That’s a ridiculously bad match up.
…Why wasn’t Gilbert active?
He leads the Browns in kickoff return average, and made some nice special teams plays in punt coverage over the last few weeks. And he didn’t seem to be excessively targeted in the Thursday night loss to the Bengals when he did play cornerback.
He is in the same spot as Johnny Manziel. The organization needs to see if Gilbert can be a decent NFL corner.
…Why can’t this team run the football?
Cleveland had 15 rushing and the leader was Manziel, who gained 17 on three scrambles. The Browns have two Pro Bowl players on the line in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, and John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz are solid. Joel Bitonio was out today, but last year was on the all-rookie team.
The Browns had a couple of decent runs early going straight ahead with Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. They spent the rest of the game trying to run wide and losing yardage.
Why not stick with what was working, at least a little?
…What is the coaching staff doing about the penalties?
Cleveland had 12 flags thrown against them for a whopping 188 yards.
Late in the third quarter, the Browns had the ball with a first down inside the one. They had consecutive penalties (holding on Cameron Erving, illegal formation) to take them out of a scoring opportunity.
That kind of sloppy play points to the coaching staff.
Manziel played well (33 of 45 for 372 yards with a TD toss and a pick). After fumbling on the first play, he showed that he can play and deserves to start the rest of the season, especially with the Browns sitting at 2-8.
He certainly isn’t looking like the bust everyone says he is. And really, there isn’t much evidence that Gilbert is either because he doesn’t play.
Maybe, just maybe, there is some talent on this football team, but it isn’t used properly.
Hopefully, however is coaching next year, and we are confident someone else will be, can put those players in a position where they can contribute.
After all, that is kind of the definition of coaching, isn’t it?