I know you all watched NFL games on Sunday. I was all set to watch the Browns at 1 PM, despite the fact that it was a beautiful day outside in Cleveland. By 1:15, I might as well have tuned out. By halftime, I had moved to the Red Zone Channel so I could see what real football teams look like.
I was absolutely disgusted by what I saw with the Browns on Sunday. Its been talked about ad nauseum over the past two days on this site, so I am not going to get into detail. All I can say is that the lack of talent on the field, coupled with the complete lack of preparation from this coaching staff (who cannot make halftime adjustments either by the way), proves that the Browns are nowhere close to being relevant.
How many more years of this do we have to take? I’ve asked this question way too many times.
The worst part about this season is that the Browns have the easiest schedule that they will ever have. Take a look at it. Outside of their divisional foes, the schedule is littered with junk. Indianapolis, Miami, and St. Louis have a combined two wins. Seattle, Jacksonville and Arizona each have just two wins apiece. Tennessee and Oakland are middle of the road. Nobody expected the 49ers to be as good as they are (another case of a team completely turning it around in one year with a new coach, yet the Browns have never been able to do so).
Think things are bleak now? Wait until the stretch run where the Browns have to play the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals in five of the final six games. If you watched the Steelers/Ravens game Sunday night. one thing was abundantly clear – the Browns aren’t even in the same stratosphere as these two teams.
And while we are on the subject, how about those AFC North “rivals.” Its tough to refer to the Steelers and Ravens as rivals anymore, considering the Browns have had little to no success against either team in the last decade. The Bengals are the surprise of the NFL at 6-2. Let us now take a quick look at each team and their prospects compared to the garbage coming out of Berea.
Baltimore (6-2) – The Ravens have consistently one of the most feared defenses in the league, led by one of the greats to ever play the game, the ageless Ray Lewis. Ed Reed (another sure-fire hall of famer) anchors an underrated secondary. Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata (thanks, Phil Savage) are amongst the best in the NFL at their positions. On offense, they have Ray Rice, one of the top five backs in the game toting the rock, stud veteran WR Anquan Boldin on one side, and rookie speedster Torrey Smith (averages 19.4 yards per catch, and 4 TDs) on the other. QB Joe Flacco has regressed this season, but in the biggest drive of the season, took his team 98 yards and threw a TD pass with eight seconds left to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh 23-20. He has also taken the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons.
Head Coach John Harbaugh has continued the Ravens success despite coming in with zero head coaching experience. Ozzie Newsome is still running the show, which is viewed as a model NFL franchise. On the field, the talent gap between the Browns and the Ravens is Grand Canyon sized.
Cincinnati (6-2) – Sure, they may be like the 2007 Browns; a success because of their soft schedule. But you can only play the teams in front of you. The Browns have had the same soft schedule and have three wins (how they won those three are a mystery). But unlike in Cleveland, the Bengals have found themselves offensive skilled players for the future.
QB Andy Dalton (61% completion percentage, 12 TD, six wins) has started from day one and would be running away with Rookie of the Year if not for a guy named Cam Newton in Carolina. He is throwing to the next great NFL WR, A.J. Green (40 catches, 599 yards, 5 TDs), budding TE Jermaine Gresham, and a group of other no-name receivers who are stepping up. RB Cedric Benson is an in his prime, smash mouth type of RB.
Defensively, the Bengals are one of the most underrated units in the league, ranked second in the NFL (2nd vs the run, 10th vs the pass). Yes, the Browns rank #1 against the pass in the entire league, but when a team is 30th against the run, it speaks to a team constantly being behind.
The difference here is the Bengals have their young skill position players set with Dalton, Benson, and Green. The Browns don’t know about Colt McCoy long term, have no idea what is going on with Peyton Hills or what they have in Montario Hardesty, and need Wide Receivers badly. Oh, and their offensive line is a disaster.
Pittsburgh (6-3) – Lets see. Ben Roethlisberger at QB. Rashard Mendenhall at RB. Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown, and Jericho Cotchery at WR. Heath Miller at TE. Troy Polamalu at Safety, James Harrison as an outside pass rusher, James Farrior and Lamar Woodley at LB.
Do I really have to keep going?
Oh yeah, can’t forget the fact that they have Mike Tomlin as their head coach, who already has a Super Bowl under his belt and is well respected and liked throughout the league. The Rooney family runs this organization as well as any in pro sports. Like the Ravens, they are at the top of the heap in the NFL.
Raise your hand if this depresses you at all?
Someone needs to give me a reason to believe that the Browns can turn things around and compete for this division any time soon. I just can’t see one right now. If they were in the NFC West, I’d feel much much better.