As painful as it must be for Browns fans to watch — self-mutilation comes to mind — it does get worse. It gets worse than Romeo Crennel and the bad Browns of 2008. It gets worse than losing in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers toying with the Browns last week. Sunday’s 31-3 loss to Green Bay at home looked like a white flag coming from the Cleveland locker room.
As painful as it must be for Browns fans to watch — self-mutilation comes to mind — it does get worse. It gets worse than Romeo Crennel and the bad Browns of 2008. It gets worse than losing in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers toying with the Browns last week.
Sunday’s 31-3 loss to Green Bay at home looked like a white flag coming from the Cleveland locker room.
By no means did anyone believe Cleveland was a threat across the NFL in the three games prior to Sunday. But they didn’t look comatose in those game. They even managed to win one.
Head Coach Eric Mangini looked like he was making progress in the team’s approach.
“There’s pains along the way,” Mangini tried to explain.
Pains? He’s been around for seven games. Browns fans know pain. Since “The Fumble” in 1988, this is a franchise with five winning seasons. If Mangini thinks this is pain, stick around for a while.
What can this team hang its hat on, almost midway through the season? What is it the Browns do well, other than disappoint?
“I thought we were making progress in a lot of areas,” Mangini said. “I don’t think we showed that today at all.”
Fittingly, perhaps, images of great coaches Paul Brown and Vince Lombardi graced the cover of the Browns’ “Game Day” magazine. The expansion era Browns have set this franchise so far back, neither Lombardi nor Brown could help.
There is no quick fix. There is no silver bullet. And if there was one, the Browns would shoot themselves in the foot with it.
Why did Mangini’s team look so bad Sunday? Teams like Cleveland, which is to say those lacking talent and star power, need to play with heart. The Browns didn’t. They need to play with passion. The Browns didn’t. They need to play inspired. The Browns didn’t.
The result is a 28-point defeat at home, the worst loss since 2006.
No, the Mangini regime isn’t making progress. Not this week.
So telling are the struggles that Mangini would have to grow limbs to have enough digits to plug holes. Asked about the team’s red-zone problems, Mangini needed clarification.
“Offensively, or defensively,” he said. It was an honest clarification point, not sarcastic, but very telling.
“We’re not good right now. Period. Flat out,” quarterback Derek Anderson said. “We haven’t executed. We haven’t done the things you need to win ballgames. We turn the ball over. We can’t run the ball effectively. We haven’t protected like we have. We haven’t thrown like we need to. We haven’t caught it like we need to. You can’t win like that.”
Anderson is part of the problem, but he isn’t all of it. Rookie receivers don’t understand the NFL game yet, let alone the offense they’re running. The running game? By the time Jamal Lewis gets in a groove, the defense has given up too many points to run the ball.
“We’ve been bad before, but we’re not a terrible team right now,” Anderson said.
Oh yeah? The Browns can’t run, can’t pass, can’t catch, can’t block, can’t tackle, can’t win. What’s Anderson’s definition of terrible?
Anderson is an easy target, and he’s been awful in a bad situation. Mangini said he didn’t think about replacing his quarterback with Brady Quinn. Mangini seems to hint it isn’t just Anderson.
“We can improve in every single place on this team,” Mangini said.
This is a team Mangini both inherited and created. He brought in Jets castoffs that New York didn’t want, most of whom would be backups there but are starters here. He ridded the team of divas Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards, but they were inconsistent talents.
Yes, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The Browns haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Not by a long shot. Four of the last five home games are in danger of being blacked out on TV.
The way things look now, it might be a good idea to hide this misery from the masses.
Todd Porter writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at email@example.com.