Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Browns take a giant step backwards

There is a quote from former Tampa Bay head coach John McKay that seems appropriate for the Browns’ loss on Sunday.

When asked about his team’s offensive execution, McKay didn’t hesitate and replied, “I am in favor of it.”

I would say Browns fans everywhere know the feeling.

If a team that is below .500 can have a trap game, this Buffalo matchup was one.

I was worried heading into this matchup and I have nothing good to say about it now that it is over.

The whole team with the possible exception of punter Reggie Hodges played like utter crap.

The first drive started out beautifully. The gameplan was to hand the ball to Peyton Hillis and it worked until the drive sputtered inside the 5-yard line and the Browns had to settle for chip-shot field goal.

The defense, however, made a big play and the Browns got the ball back on the 25-yard line.

There has been much to say this season about the rise of Hillis. Given away by his former team for Brady Quinn, Hillis has become a folk hero in Cleveland.

Fans have fallen in love with his bruising style of running. Special attention has been given to his tendency to leap over opponents. Writers and fans alike have waxed poetic about Hillis’ super hero traits.

And, well, apparently Mr. Hillis has been reading about himself.

How else can you explain his stupidity that followed the Browns recovering a fumble? The Bills entered the game 2-10. Hillis had run over them on the first drive.

If they Browns pounded the ball in for a touchdown, maybe they would have rolled over.

We will never know because Hillis lost his mind. He tried to leap a defender standing straight up.

It is one thing to jump over a defender diving at his feet but Hillis tried to impersonate Michael Jordan and fly over a man standing tall.

It led to a fumble and changed the game.

The Buffalo defense smelled blood in the water and dominated the Browns offense for the rest of the game.

Later Hillis would fumble two more times, and luckily, both times the ball wasn’t lost. But if Hillis were any other running back, fans would be running him out of town.

It doesn’t matter how hard you play if you can’t hold onto the ball. Hillis has to be better. And part of being better is playing smarter.

Not that anyone on the Browns offense played well. The play calling was mind-blowingly bad. How many times can you attempt one-yard pass routes?

Delhomme’s mobility is gone. If he had been the Browns quarterback in 2007 with all of those weapons, the Browns would have made the playoffs. But those weapons are gone and so is the sharpness of Delhomme’s skills.

At least all that stupid talk of the playoffs is dead. I don’t even want to hear about should’a, could’a, would’a from the Browns’ early season losses.

The Browns don’t know how to win. They don’t deserve to be in the playoff race.

The defense was just as disappointing.

They let the Bills own the football in this game. When a stop was needed, the defense fell short. T.J. Ward may occasionally hit like Jack Tatum but he tackles like Tatum O’Neal.

While the Browns offense was putrid, at least you could sense the Bills defense rising to the occasion. The Bills saw an opening and took advantage.

The Browns defense, in contrast, was never able to make a game-changing play in the second half. And on the last drive, they rolled over.

For most of the season, the Browns have played hard. Against the Bills, the Browns were flat. It was disgusting to watch and you could sense it from Hillis’ fumble on.

All of the good feelings the Browns built up this season among fans dissipated against the Bills. On Sunday, the Browns were back to being the Browns.

And that sucks.