We've noted this phenomena before and will note it again: fans read too much into both every Browns win and every Browns loss. That's why we're not surprised at the level of anger being directed at Berea right now.
The easy analysis of yesterday's Browns/Steelers game is to say that, like the Baltimore game, the Browns found a way to snatch a loss from the jaws of victory. It's easy to say that because, for the most part, it's true. The harder analysis is to figure out what, exactly, yesterday's loss means in the grand picture.
To gain some perspective we were inspired by tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr., who told Steelers linebacker Joey Porter before the game that the 41-0 drubbing last Christmas Eve came with he and receiver Braylon Edwards out of the lineup. That made us go back and check the team's progress over these last two seasons.
Here's where the picture doesn't get pretty. At the same point last year, the Browns were the same 3-6 as they found themselves this season. But they went on to win three of their last seven to finish 6-10. Last year, their sixth loss was against Pittsburgh, a not too competitive 34-21 drubbing. But the Browns responded by playing one of their best games, a 22-0 shut out of Miami and responded to that 41-0 beat down by Pittsburgh with an impressive win against Baltimore.
The conventional take on last year's team was that they were young but competitive for the most part. They had other chances to win but couldn't quite finish, which is typical of a young team. That's what we were left with entering into this season.
And as we entered the season, we were buoyed by the fact that both Edwards and Winslow would return as would safety Sean Jones. Throw in a decent draft and some free agent acquisitions and 7 to 8 wins was not supposed to be out of the questions.
But what we're left with is, at best, a rehash of last year's season, a team still unable to finish games. The fact that 10 games into this season we have a team incapable of finishing off a reeling opponent is the most telling and obvious sign that this has been a lost season. While there have been several injuries, that is hardly an excuse in today's NFL. Everyone has injuries. The bottom line is that even with their playmakers in tact, the Browns have simply not progressed by the only stat that counts--winning.
We're glad that quarterback Charlie Frye has another season under his belt. We're even more glad that he's been able to answer the bell each week given the inept play of the offensive line. But this additional experience has been of questionable value. The Browns still aren't winning and the difficulty of their remaining schedule strongly suggests that their win total will be less than last year's.
We're sure that the Crennel apologists will be out in full force, just as we're sure that neither GM Phil Savage nor Owner Randy Lerner have any appetite to fire Crennel. But in terms of the ultimate assessment, we'll again turn to Joey Porter of the Steelers. When asked about all the jawing with Winslow yesterday, Porter summed it us thusly: different people, same result.