Monday, December 03, 2007

Merry Christmas, Arizona

I think I speak for all Ohioans when I say that I've seen quite enough of Glendale, Arizona for one year. Last January, Glendale hosted Ohio State's epic collapse, and yesterday, it was the site of the pilot for the NFL's new situation comedy, "Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?"

The Browns contributed 10 penalties to yesterday's mess, but somehow the Cardinals managed to outdo them, with 11 penalties of their own. The difference in the game was turnovers, with the Browns turning the ball over four times in total, and three times during their first four possessions. These turnovers led directly or indirectly to all three of Arizona's touchdowns, and that proved to be a hole too deep for even this offense to dig itself out of.

What infuriated me most about yesterday's game is just how much better than the Cardinals the Browns were. Just about the only way Cleveland could've lost that game is by doing exactly what they did -- gift wrapping it through turnovers and penalties. Merry Christmas from the Cleveland Browns.

Unfortunately, the Browns' generosity dented their own playoff hopes a little, although not too badly given the schedule they've got remaining. However, yesterday's loss turns up the heat on the team to get a win in next week's game against the woeful Jets. Lose that one, and I think I'm going to start to get the knots in my stomach that I had after the Tribe lost Game 5 of the ALCS. But I don't think that's what is going to happen. There are no "gimmes" in the NFL, but none of the teams left on the Browns' schedule will remind anybody of the Boston Red Sox, and I still think the Browns are in very good shape to win 9 or 10 games.

That being said, the Browns simply have to do something about the penalties that continue to plague them week in and week out. I think the turnover problems that the Browns experienced yesterday are an aberration, but the penalties aren't. Since the bye, the Browns have averaged nine penalties a game. Those infractions have cost them an average of over 72 yards per game. That's one hell of a hole to have to dig yourself out of each week. Penalties are the single biggest correctable problem that this team has (the defensive line will have to wait), and the failure to address the penalty situation is probably the coaching staff's biggest failing this season.

If the Browns don't figure out a way to stop the weekly avalanche of yellow flags, they could find themselves behind the eight ball again to another team they should beat. With two of the Browns' final three games including a home contest against a dangerous Buffalo team and a road trip to Cincinnati, the road to the playoffs could get pretty bumpy if they don't take care of business next Sunday.


Dwayne Rudd said...

Quote from Romeo re: Simon Fraser's 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, putting us 15 yards further back for the final drive: "They always see the second head butt".

Glad to see Romeo's doing so much to eliminate penalties.

TopDawg said...

LOL Dwayne

HR...Totally agreed. Penalties can be fixed faster than any other problem this team has. Imagine how different some of these games could be with just a couple penalties for minimum yardage....and a d-line ;)