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Terry Pluto's postgame notebook from Browns-Broncos


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Terry Pluto's postgame notebook from Browns-Broncos

By Terry Pluto

September 20, 2009, 11:45PM

UPDATED: 11:44 p.m.


DENVER, Colo. -- Scribbles in my notebook after the Browns drop to 0-2 with a disappointing performance in Colorado:



1. After watching this game, my first scribble was, "I just didn't think it would be this bad." And this is a very big word when it comes to the 0-2 Browns. This is not heavy analysis. It was just a hope that the offense would be better, maybe scoring a touchdown in each game when it actually means something. This is a team that has allowed more sacks (9) than it has rushing first downs (6). It's an offense that has more turnovers (4) than it has complete passes for at least 20 yards (3). This is not much fun for Browns fans.


2. The Browns scoring only two field goals, having one first down rushing with 54 yards on the ground along with 3-of-14 third down conversions came against a defense that was ranked 29th last season. Granted, Denver's defense is improved, holding Cincinnati to seven points in the opener. But it's not the same class as Minnesota -- yet the Browns looked worse on offense this week than they did in the 34-20 opening loss to the Vikings.


3. Something good: Braylon Edwards had no drops, no penalties and caught six of the seven passes thrown in his direction, good for 92 yards. He caught the ball in traffic, taking some big hits and hanging on. He often was covered by Pro Bowler Champ Bailey. In two previous games against Bailey, Edwards had only three catches for 24 yards. He came back from a terrible opener against Minnesota (one catch, two penalties, one drop) to play one of his better games.


4. Denver's special teams played a major role in winning this game. Joshua Cribbs averaged 20 yards per kickoff return, and brought back two punts for a 12.0 average. Nothing embarrassing about those numbers, but Denver kept Cribbs from breaking off a big play that either ended up as a touchdown, or at least put the Browns in good field position.


5. Cribbs is credited with five catches for 22 yards. But he had a costly drop. Then center Alex Mack made an awful shotgun snap that led to a fumble, setting up a Denver touchdown. Cribbs also fumbled in the third quarter, and that led to a Denver field goal. Somehow, both the Browns and Cribbs need to do a better job of getting more out of him in the regular offense.


6. I do like how the Browns have tried the no-huddle offense at different parts of the game. I really thought it could underline some of Quinn's strengths, but so far it hasn't produced much.


7. The Browns will have to look at Hank Poteat, who seems to be having as much trouble covering the slot receiver as Terry Cousin did last year. Both Poteat and Cousin are small, veteran defensive backs who struggle against quick receivers. One thought is using rookie Coye Francies, but coaches say that it's a very difficult job for a young player because he's usually matched against veteran receiver. The other possibility would be Mike Adams, the third safety. Either Poteat has to improve, or the Browns need to figure out something else.


8. I love defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's aggressive approach with the different formations and a variety of blitzes. The one downside is the cornerbacks have to do a lot of single coverage, and that does sometimes lead to big gains -- Denver hit on four passes for at least 25 yards. This happened with Kyle Orton, who won't make anyone forget Otto Graham or even Jay Cutler when it comes to throwing downfield.


9. Eric Mangini was upset because the defense collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing 188 yards and 14 points. Tackles were missed, blitzes backfired, but football is a team game. It was 13-6 heading into the final period. The offense has to help.


10. So far, the Browns have gotten very little out of their three second-round draft picks: Brian Robiskie, Mohammed Massaquoi and David Veikune. Robiskie was inactive for this game. Massaquoi played little until the game was getting out of hand in the fourth quarter. Veikune has appeared mostly on special teams. Certainly the Browns hoped that one of their young receivers -- Robiskie or Massaquoi -- could supply some immediate help.



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