So who is the backup for the backup?
As Scott told us today, Thad Lewis, recently called up from the practice squad, got the first team reps today in Berea. That’s right. Not Brandon Weeden with a bum shoulder. Not Colt McCoy, also with a bum shoulder. Thaddeus Lewis. Just a reminder, Lewis is a 25-year-old from Duke with a much-heralded arm and some decent athletic ability. He’s been with the Browns since Pat Shurmur arrived having originally been with the Rams via undrafted free agency in 2010.
Although not the exact same scenario, this reminded me of another season-ending game against Pittsburgh when the Browns had no healthy quarterbacks left and signed Bruce Gradkowski to play. Obviously this is a bit different because Thad Lewis has been with the Browns, played with them in pre-season and has been in practice all year. Regardless, let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember what that final day of the NFL season was like.
First of all, the Cleveland Browns lost that game 31-0 to finish the season 4-12.
Bruce Gradkowski finished the game going 5/16 for 18 yards and two interceptions. His QB Rating was 0.7. Even if you don’t love QB rating as a measure, that’s an exceptionally bad day. In two gimmick plays, Josh Cribbs went 1/2 for 8 yards to finish with a QBR of 36.6.
Donte Stallworth was the Browns’ leading receiver with one catch for 12 yards. Jerome Harrison had two catches for -1 yards.
Dave Zastudil punted six times on the day. Josh Cribbs had one punt return opportunity. That’s not a recipe for success.
In addition to the offensive struggles, the Browns gave up 116 yards to Willie Parker while giving up 176 yards on the ground total.
Needless to say, it wasn’t a good day.
It also hadn’t been a good season. This was the final game for Romeo Crennel as head coach. It was the final game for Phil Savage as GM. Yes, it was the final day as QB of the Browns for Bruce Gradkowski, but you already knew that. Even though the 2012 Cleveland Browns are in a vastly different position from the 2008 Cleveland Browns, it could be the same story for Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert who many expect to be fired following the season finale.
But it’s not the same really. I found Rick’s post from that time.
Talk about offensive struggles. I know, I know we were using Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski (congrats on that 1.0 passer rating Bruce!) the last few weeks, but not a single offensive touchdown in six games? Twenty-four consecutive quarters without a passing or rushing score? Two consecutive shutouts? (Never happened to the Browns before by the way. Not in the Paul McDonald era, the Tim Couch era, the Spurgeon Wynn era…) In fact, if you compare the Indians last six games against the Browns, the Indians would have won by two runs/points. (Thanks Scott.) But let’s consider the season before the QB revolving door began.
If you eliminate the Giants game, (which seems like some sort of distant memory by this point, and still can’t really be explained) the Browns scored 19 offensive TD’s this season. Three of those came in one game against Denver. The Browns finished 31st in yards per game (249.1). They finished tied for 30th with St. Louis with 14.5 points per game. I could go on, but you get the picture.
As frustrating as this season has been at times, it is worth noting that the Browns have played a relatively difficult schedule with a lot of rookies in key spots and still managed to put up 20 points or more eight times so far. The Browns have 15 passing TDs and 12 rushing TDs. While far from an offensive juggernaut, the Browns are 23rd in the NFL in points, 27th in yards, 20th in passing, and 25th in rushing.
Which all means to say that this could be a really ugly way to end this season and a regime. It might even bring back memories of Bruce Gradkowski finishing the 2008 Browns season. It’s hard to imagine that anyone will feel as listless about the Browns at the end of this 2012 season as they did following the 2008 season.