At the beginning of this season, we said we would not measure this year’s edition of the Cleveland Browns by their win-loss record. We knew that wasn’t going to be good.
Rather, we said the season wouldn’t be a abject failure is the Browns showed progress from week to week, particularly the young players, of which there are a bunch.
We understand the Dallas Cowboys are one of the best teams in the NFL this year, and they have perhaps the best offensive line in the league, and a dominant running game, led by former Ohio State standout Ezekiel Elliott.
Expecting a win today would have been ludicrous. However, the Browns were overwhelmed in every phase of football today.
And we aren’t seeing progress.
Here is a short positive, lengthy negative review of today’s 35-10 loss, which dropped the Browns’ record to 0-9. And today’s referee was Jeff Tripplette, which pretty much speaks for itself.
Positives. Look, Cody Kessler may never make a Pro Bowl, heck, he might only be a starter for this season, but that doesn’t mean he can be considered a questionable draft pick anymore.
Kessler connected on 19 of his 27 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown, and generally moved the football very well, at least in the first half when it was kind of a game.
He connected with Isaiah Crowell for a 44 yard gain on the opening drive, which set the Browns up for a field goal.
Kessler should be the starter the rest of the way unless there is an injury, or the coaching staff wants to see what Robert Griffin III can do when he is healthy.
Terrelle Pryor caught the TD pass, and four other passes. He has become the guy that opposing defenses want to stop on the Browns.
Corey Coleman returned to the field and snagged three passes for 41 yards. He should give Kessler another weapon when the Browns have the football.
Negatives. The Cleveland defense continues to resemble a sieve. Dallas controlled the ball for 40 minutes, Ray Horton’s crew had no answer for the visitor’s attack.
However, there are things defensively that seem to be repeating from week to week, and that should concern Hue Jackson and the front office.
Tight ends continue to plague this team and have all season. We were critical last year that then defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil didn’t change anything, especially against the run. We have the same thought about Horton.
Three plays where the defense lined up in the neutral zone? Xavier Cooper should lose playing time for doing this twice in the same game. That’s a mental error.
The secondary is general continues to be horrendous. Opposing receivers are wide open way too often.
We understand you can’t play all rookies, but some of the veterans who do play simply aren’t getting it done.
We’ve talked ad nauseum about Tramon Williams, but it wouldn’t bother us if OL Alvin Bailey didn’t play anymore, as we fear for Kessler’s safety.
We have two problems with Jackson’s play calling today. First, he abandoned the run too early again. The Browns have to continue to try to run, if only to shorten games.
In the first half, with a 3rd and 2 deep in Dallas territory, Jackson went for the end zone and the pass to Pryor was incomplete. He then tried a field goal and Cody Parkey’s attempt hit the upright.
The pass to the end zone should have only been called if you were going to go for it on fourth down. Otherwise, the correct play is move the chains and keep the drive alive.
Now, the Browns have a short week, playing Baltimore on Thursday night.
For the first time this season, this young football team looked dejected, defeated. Jackson has to get that attitude adjusted in a couple of days.
Otherwise a nationwide audience will witness another butt kicking.