Reporting Jeff Phelps
Thoughts as I watch the Browns play the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium…
OK Browns. Easy formula to compete against the Steelers. Be smart, and take care of the football. For instance, don’t have a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage, intercepted, and returned 53 yards for a touchdown on the fourth play of the game. That would be bad. Very bad. Congratulations on your score Lawrence Timmons. 7-0 Steelers before I even had a chance to open the peanuts.
Browns get into field goal position. Phil Dawson makes it. Shocker. As you may have read here week after week, he’s the best kicker in the NFL. It’s 7-3.
I’m wondering if Jimmy Joe (my cute code name for the management combo of Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner – don’t you love it!) wants to invest big money in a kicker, as previous Browns management has with Dawson over the last several years. Remember, Banner was with the Eagles when they decided to let David Akers leave town, and pick up a new kicker (Alex Henery) in the draft. Something to keep an eye on this off-season.
Why is there a flock of birds hanging out at the 15 yard line?
Steelers turn it over deep in Browns territory. Obviously, Mike Tomlin didn’t pass along my easy formula to compete. Weeden makes a nice throw to Jordan Cameron for a touchdown. 10-7 Browns. For the record, I did pick the Browns to win this game on Friday’s “Baskin and Phelps.”
I do think the AFC North is a division in transition. I think both Pittsburgh and Baltimore are slipping. Neither one is still a dominant team, a team that should be feared. They both need some tinkering. That means the opportunity is there for a young team with god talent to make a move in the next few seasons. That team, is Cincinnati. At least for now. But it could be the Browns – if they have another good offseason, and Jimmy Joe makes a few good moves.
CBS play-by-play man Kevin Harlan just used the expression “burn a timeout.” I hate it. Nothing personal Kevin, everyone says it. But “burn” a timeout? How about “used” a timeout, or simply “called” a timeout? “Burn” is silly, and has become cliche.
Charlie Batch just threw to the man who should’ve been a Brown, Plaxico Burress. He just ran a simple pattern into the end zone, the same thing he should be doing for Brandon Weeden and the Browns. Plaxico is 6’5” and can catch the ball. He’s a veteran. He’s a safe outlet on fades and jump balls into the end zone, and, as I’ve been saying on “Baskin and Phelps” all season, would have been perfect for the Browns offense with an inexperienced quarterback like Weeden. Browns called for pass interference on Plaxico – because you can’t cover a 6’5” guy in the end zone – and they score on a short run. 14-13 Steelers at halftime.
Why is it that every time Weeden throws a pas on a sideline pattern, I expect it to be intercepted? Maybe, because it almost always is. He has a strong arm, we all know that. But either Weeden doesn’t throw that ball very well, or somehow, defenses know it’s coming. The Browns don’t disguise it very well, and it will cost them.
It just cost the Steelers! Charlie Batch just threw a sideline pass that was a little light, and Sheldon Brown gets the interception for the Browns.
Three plays and 31 yards later, Trent Richardson with a 15-yard touchdown run. Browns lead 20-14. And I don’t care that Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich aren’t playing.
CBS analyst Solomon Wilcots just said what I’ve heard a lot of national folks saying in the last week or two — the Browns are playing good football, especially for such a young team. I know they haven’t won, but I agree with the national folks completely. The gents on the ESPN pregame show were saying the same things about the Browns. Honestly, makes me want Jimmy Joe to just stand pat for a bit. Keep Tom Heckert. Keep Pat Shurmur, especially if the Browns can win a few games the rest of the way. I do like the progress the team is making, despite the lack of wins to show for it.
Kevin Harlan: “Scouts around the NFL tell us they like the talent in Cleveland. It’s a rising team.” See… there it is again.
Brandon Weeden has a hand injury and is in the locker room. Colt McCoy is warning up, with the Steelers on the move and 3:09 left in the 4th quarter. Ladies and Gentlemen, here we go.
Did Joe Haden just end the suspense? Charlie Batch doesn’t have an arm, underthrows Mike Wallace, and Joe intercepts.
Colt in for his first action of the season. He looks FABULOUS handing off to Trent Richardson on first down. And second down. And third down. So much for aggressive play calling, so much for playing to win and not to lose.
I smell a quarterback controversy. Something like salmon that’s been left in the fridge for a month.
A thank you note is in order to all Steeler running backs. Chris Rainey fumbles with 2:25 left, the fourth fumble by a Steeler running back. Seven Pittsburgh turnovers today. Yikes. And again, thank you.
Thanks to the help from the Steelers, the Browns get a 20-14 win. How about that! A few more of these, and Jimmy Joe actually might have a tough decision to make about their head coach. I hope they do face a tough call. What the Browns need now are wins. Set a tone for next season. Learn how to finish off some of these games that could have been won. If the Browns can learn how to win now, it speeds things up for next season — a step in the process will be checked off the list.
Stay tuned for the Brandon Weeden injury update. Sure hope he’s fine. If not, let the quarterback talk begin