Browns Preview: Game 14 (@ Seattle)

Opponent Preview

Let me begin with a confession. When I said, in the 49ers quick hits, “Seattle will gut them like an overripe trout next week,” I hadn’t been paying too much attention to what was going on up there. Part of the “working on a book” thing is that it cuts into your time.

After looking at the opponent more closely, I can see how it could be a game. The Seahawks aren’t nearly as good as they appear. But they sure look good from a distance:

  • Since starting the season 2-4, the Seahawks have gone 6-3, losing only to Cincinnati (27-24 in overtime) Carolina (27-23) and Arizona (39-32).
  • Seattle is averaging 26.2 points a game, sixth in the NFL– up from 24.6 points and 10th last year.
  • They’re allowing 18.1 points per game, which is third. It’s down a bit from 2014 (15.9 points and #1), but not a lot.
  • They’ve outscored opponents by 105 points (8.1 a game), which is fifth.

But here’s the catch– their schedule has been really weak. They crushed San Francisco 20-3 and 29-13 and whaled on Baltimore (with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback), 35-6. They shut out the Bears (now 5-8) 26-0, beat the 4-9 Lions 13-10 and whomped the Vikings (the worst 8-5 team in christendom) 38-7.

Add in the 13-12 win against Dallas (with Matt Cassel under center) and the only marginally impressive win is the 39-30 shootout against the Steelers. Sattle should get into the playoffs (the wild card obviously won’t come out of the NFC East or South); if they get to play the Vikings again, they’ll win the Wild Card. And you never know what a veteran team might do.

But their chances of getting back to the Super Bowl are slim to none.

Of course it isn’t entirely Seattle’s fault. RB Marshawn Lynch has a hernia and will probably miss the season. They developed Thomas Rawls to replace him (820 yards and averaging 5.6 yards a rush), but he broke his ankle. 34-year-old Fred Taylor (whom they hoped would add dept) is washed up.

They re-signed last year’s backup, Christine Michael, and will try him with Bryce Brown and Derrick Coleman. If they were playing any other team, I’d say “Good luck with that…”

At tight end, Seattle acquired Jimmy Graham, hoping he might be the last piece in the puzzle. he’s on injured reserve… and it’s just as well, because he and QB Russell Wilson didn’t looked like they were playing in parallel universes.

Plus, Seattle let both G James Carpenter and C Max Unger go over the off-season, feeling they could do better for the money. That hasn’t worked out so well.

What they do have is two-time Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson— playing so well that only an utter imbecile would fail to be impressed. He’s always been a quality player, but this season his ability to throw the deep ball has improved dramatically. He isn’t running nearly as well as he has… mostly because he’s staying in the pocket more and looking for receivers.

Between WRs Doug Baldwin (61-80 for 860 yards and 11 TDs), Tyler Lockett (41-51 for 540 yards and 5 scores) and Jermaine Kearse (36-52 for 503 yards and 3 scores), he’s been able to find someone.

Having Graham and Jackson out of the picture and mostly ignoring TE Luke Willson has made it simpler for Wilson. He’s just playing pitch and catch with his deep guys– challenging opponents to stop him. In the last for game, he’s thrown 16 passing TDs, with no interceptions.

Just what a secondary whose best player might be 32-year-old Tramon Williams wants to hear, right?

Defensively, things aren’t even close to being what they used to be. Pittsburgh lost 39-30, but got 538 yards. In their 39-32 win, Arizona got 451 yards. The Bengals had 419; the Panthers 383.

This is what happens when Peter Queen and the Mean Girls start writing “OMG!!!! Best Defense EVER!!!!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!!” People want pay raises, and nobody wants to do the unglamorous stuff. Also, people get old (and injury-prone or slower), people jump to other teams and opponents fixate on stopping you.

Many of the performance stats still look good, but I really think that’s mostly quality of opposition. About the only pleasant surprise has been DT Ahtyba Rubin.

I think a good team could beat Seattle, but the only good team they’re going to face is Arizona in game 16.

Browns Preview

It’s getting more and more difficult for me to remember the time when I sincerely believed that Mike Pettine had a chance to be a good coach. Things are now beginning to go south in ways that I haven’t imagined.

As I mentioned in the game review, Puff Gordon has announced that he is cured. Turned out he just needed some time out to get in touch with his inner Tiger Blood and Adonis DNA.

And guess who Puff’s BFF is? None other than Johnny Relapse. They’re looking forward to getting comatose together.

And guess who thinks this is a good idea? Blunt Force Trauma. In the story written by Puff’s agent and planted in the Mary Kay Greenhouse, the coach allowed how this might be nice.

Only Everybody’s Girl could write the following with a straight face:

“He refused, however, to dream about what the passing game might look like next year if Gordon makes it back, and with Terrelle Pryor having a whole offseason with the team at receiver. In addition, tight end Gary Barnidge has signed a contract extension and Travis Benjamin said he’s close to signing his.”

This makes her suggestion that Jason Campbell was an elite quarterback look rational. I’m almost surprised the dizzy bitch didn’t mention Dwayne Bowe. Let’s take this from the top:

  1. Puff won’t make it back. Assuming he doesn’t get himself suspended again, the new GM will trade him.
  2. Terrelle Pryor can’t play. He’s busted out everywhere he has been. They only brought him back because they needed both a receiver and an emergency quarterback
  3. Johnny Relapse won’t be here either. The blowers in the “Chamber of Farts”– the annual offseason hotbed of speculation about stupid ideas– are already being fired up. (A Tood McShay mock draft is the equivalent of eating a sackful of White Castles and washing them down with broccoli smoothies.) As Pat McManamon correctly notes, there isn’t space on the team for a failed savior and the new one.
  4. Whatever player becomes “Rufus Le Petomane” (the imaginary superstar created in the “Chamber of Farts”) might or might not like throwing to his tight end. Plus Gary Barnidge will be 31 next season.
  5. Travis Benjamin doesn’t have an extension. He probably will not get one (Barnidge’s happened overnight, and this has already taken more than a week). He might end up going to another team. Plus, if he does re-sign, he might do what he has done in every other season– get hurt and miss time.

And Pettine had better not be coaching them. There are traits that good coaches simply do not possess. One of them is the compulsion to open your bazoo at every possible opportunity and be equal parts moronic and obnoxious.

As Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett pointed out, anyone who started Josh McCown at quarterback has demonstrated that he knows so little about offense that his opinion is valueless. If Pettine thinks that a player who has made two Pro Bowls in three years– and taken his team to the Super Bowl twice– isn’t an elite player, then he is an idiot.

And the shot at the 49ers after the game was simply unprofessional and classless. Aside from the obvious– San Francisco still has a better record than the Browns– Pettine’s teams have come out flat on so many weeks that the team might want to consider changing its name to the Pancakes.

This is the sort of low-rent nonsense that overrated putzes like Rex Ryan love to engage in. Good coaches keep quiet and let their team’s performance do the talking.

The Browns suggestion that the San Francisco games validated them to any degree– bought them any amount of credibility– or that they have the talent or the scheme to defense Wilson is arrogance.

Game Preview

Let me see if I have this right.

  1. The Browns are playing a team that has been to the last two Super Bowls.
  2. They will be playing on the road, where the Browns are 6-24 since 2012.
  3. The opponent will be in a stadium where it has gone 26-4 since 2012.
  4. The Browns are 29th in points scored (18.5 per game) and 30th in points allowed (27.5 per game).
  5. Cleveland has allowed opposing quarterbacks a QB rating of 100.3 (tied for 28th), 8.1 yards per pass (also tied for 28th) and 26 TDs and 8 interceptions (worse than a 3-1 ratio).
  6. Seattle’s quarterback has a 110.0 rating (higher than the Browns defense is allowing), gains 8.6 per pass (better than they allow) and has 26 TDs and 7 interceptions (a better ratio).
  7. The Browns gave the opposing quarterback some incentive to play well by insulting him, and comparing him to the drunken asshat they currently start
  8. Everyone on the team is preening as if they had just beaten the 1970’s Steelers.
  9. The Browns will be playing without G Joel Bitonio, FB Malcolm Johnson, and WR Brian Hartline, all of whom were added to injured reserve.
  10. Their spaghetti-legged kicker has a groin injury and the team is actually thinking about using the backup quarterback as the kicker.

Gee, I dunno– what do you think might happen? The Seahawks have beaten up on opponents who had more talent– and didn’t give them an incentive to roll up the score.

Game Prediction: Seattle 35, Cleveland 7

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