Monday, October 30, 2006

Old School

Lead plays, traps, and sweeps. Linemen staying on their blocks. A 250 lb. fullback lead blocking. Guards pulling. A running back hitting the hole and pushing the pile. That's what an old school running game looks like, and that's what the Cleveland Browns offense did pretty darn well for most of yesterday's game.

The Browns offense appeared to feature a lot less of the infuriatingly ineffective zone plays that had formed the cornerstone of their anemic rushing attack to date. Yesterday's attack was full of old school stuff that the Browns ran because they had a coach who believed his linemen were physically superior to the Jets defensive line. Jeff Davidson's linemen rewarded his confidence in them with what was clearly their best performance of the season.

It was nice to see a little offense for a change, but the game's real heroes were the guys on defense, and the defensive backs in particular. It's hard to imagine how Holly, Bodden, Jones and Russell could've played any better. Coles had only four receptions for 40 yards. Pennington was a dismal 11/28 for 108 yards and two picks compliments of Sean Jones. The Jets only got into the red zone once, and whiffed. (Thank you, Mike Carey!)

Notwithstanding the win and all the positives from yesterday's game, there were also plenty of reminders of just how far the Browns have to go. You didn't like the way the Browns went into their shell and played Martyball during the last eight minutes of the fourth quarter, did you? Want to know one of the biggest reasons they did that? His name is Charlie Frye.

Right now, Charlie Frye's poor judgment makes him a player that the Browns need to manage late in games, not a guy you want to turn the game over to in tight situations. He's got the ability to make big plays, but he's convinced he can make a big play on every play. For example, Frye got lucky scrambling and then throwing back over the middle to Braylon Edwards on the Browns' first touchdown drive. That encouraged him to try to do something similar from deep in the Browns own territory in the second half. Unfortunately, Unitas in his prime couldn't have hit Josh Cribbs on that play, and the ball was intercepted.

Frye has talent, but plays like that are why I don't trust him when the game is on the line. Neither do the Browns. I applaud the coaching staff for their decision not to put him in a position where he could throw his weekly late fourth quarter interception. The Browns had lousy field position, the line was having trouble picking up the Jets' blitz, and Charlie Frye was an accident waiting to happen. 70,000 people booed Crennel and Davidson for keeping the ball on the ground, but I think putting the game in the hands of the defense was the right thing to do under the circumstances.

Hey, it wasn't always pretty, but it was the definitely the best performance on both sides of the ball that we've seen this season. When you couple it with the Pittsburgh's loss to Oakland, it's hard to imagine a better end to a weekend.

1 comment:

stevie said...

I guess Davidson read your earlier post and decided to use Josh Cribbs for something other than returns. Keep up the good work.