Here we go again Browns fans. The calendar year may change, but the results stay the same. Clunker is too kind of a word to describe the Browns performance on the Lake front this afternoon. Pathetic and despicable or more like it. I've been to some bad openers, but I don't ever remember seeing a start worse than this one. There were many goats. Starting with head coach Romeo Crennel who had his team so unprepared it's mind-boggling. What about QB Charlie Frye? He was good....good and terrible. Just look at the first quarter blog by Plain Dealer Browns expert Tony Grossi:
Browns go 3-and-out on first possession ... First punt by replacement Paul Ernster is a disaster. He drops the long snap, picks up ball, is chased, gets off punt of 15 yards ... That's what they get for being coy and pretending Dave Zastudil was fit to play ... Browns commit 3 penalties on the play and holding is assessed.
Pittsburgh's first possession is at Browns' 22 ... Perfect Ben Roethlisberger fade to Hines Ward over Eric Wright and great footwork in the end zone for the TD.
Charlie Frye's second possession: Scramble for 1 yard. Interception ... Browns defense holds Steelers to 26-yard field goal, 10-0 Pittsburgh ... Can you think of a worse start for the Browns?
Frye gets something going on completions of 15 yards to Kellen Winslow and 6 to Lawrence Vickers ... Drive disintegrates on Winslow interference call and another Frye sack ... Jamal Lewis loses fumble ... On next play, Roethlisberger play-fake freezes both safeties and he lays it in to Santonio Holmes for 40-yard TD.
Nice start to the season huh? The Ernster dropped punt was just a microcosm of what was to come. That was vintage new era Browns action right there. Frye looked like a deer in headlights in getting sacked FIVE TIMES before getting pulled mid-way through the second quarter. That's right, Frye was so bad, he didn't even make it to halftime of the first game of the season before getting the hook; and rightfully so may I add. Of the five sacks, I'd say four of them were due to holding the ball entirely too long in the pocket. It was as if he had never taken an NFL snap before. Frye acts as if he can still use his legs to get away from pressure. Well Chuck, this isn't MAC conference football, it's the NFL where the defensive end run 4.8 40's. Romeo had to take him out of his misery, he had no choice. Frye was booed unmercifully by the crowd as one pass after another was behind the intended receivers. I marked it down; the game clock read 10:34 in the first quarter before the first chants of "Brady! Brady! Brady!" rang through Cleveland Browns Stadium. Frye's day was done at 4-10, 34 yards, and 1 (real bad) INT.
Romeo didn't bite - he went to Derek Anderson, the man who played so poorly in preseason that he couldn't even beat out Frye. Give Anderson a little credit, he did move the team when he had the ball. He was 13-28 for 184 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. But as he showed today, his rocket arm isn't enough. He too was often behind his receivers and threw a few passes to players wearing white, rather than Brown. Luckily, the Steeler defenders had as good of hands as the Browns WR's. RB Jamal Lewis never got a chance to get going since before you could say boo, it was 17-0. He only carried the ball 11 times for 35 yards with one costly fumble.
Then there's the defense. Truth of the matter is the offense put the defense behind the eight ball from the first three and out. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright was targeted by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger for most of the day. He did his best to hold his own, but Hines Ward took advantage of him. The crossing routes the Steelers ran confused the Browns defense all day and Big Ben continued to find the right man. The TD pass to Heath Miller was brilliantly drawn up by Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians. Hines Ward took his man and the safety to the corner of the end zone, leaving Miller one on one with a linebacker cutting across field. Roethlisberger hit him in stride and he took it 22 yards to the house.
There was major confusion in the Browns secondary one play after the Lewis fumble. Big Ben hit Santonio Holmes on a deep post for a 40 yard TD. Safety Brodney Pool ended up one on one with Holmes and was burnt to a crisp. A visibly angry Sean Jones was two steps to late in coming over to help Pool, but it was all for naught. From my vantage point, it was typical - the defense spent so long on the field that they wore down. Leon Williams had some nice moments at MLB, as did Antwan Peek, the defensive line was pushed around by the Steeler offensive front, and Kamerion Wimbley was a non-factor most of the day. There were essentially no positives to speak of.
Towards the end of the third quarter, the skies darkened, almost to signify the black cloud that resides over the franchise. We knew what was coming - a downpour. So we headed for the exits and by the time we left, it was torrential. Oh, did I mention when we left it was 34-7 with a minute left in the third quarter? Now Romeo and Phil Savage have to decide when is the time for the QB of the future, Brady Quinn to take the reins. It was clear after a quarter and a half that Charlie Frye is a mental midget and cannot be the man to lead this team. Derek Anderson should start next week against Cincinnati and for the next few weeks. The way the schedule is, there is no way you can send Quinn out there against the Ravens in week 4. Week 5 the Browns travel to New England. Week 6 at home vs. Miami is the game to move forward with the future.
My 5-11 prediction may be off. The Browns will be lucky to win five games the way they looked today. It was disgraceful to all loyal Browns fans who year after year shell out their hard-earned money for this inferior product. Detroit sports talk callers like to use the phrase "one constant" in describing their decades of failure; that "one constant" being bad ownership. You can very easily use that phrase to discuss the Browns. Randy Lerner has stood by and watched a once proud organization turn into the laughingstock of the NFL. Congratulations Randy! You are starting to make David Modell look good.
One down, only 15 more to go. At least we have the Tribe and Lebron.