(Sorry if I'm a little late with the blog post this week...I've been Tebow-ing).
Well here we are, the Browns heading into week 10 at 3-6....looks a little too familiar, doesn't it? No need to go through the laundry list of reasons Browns fans are reaching hard for the Christmas Ale to help them through another shift at the Factory of Sadness.
So where do we (and the Browns) go from here? I would like to think that, as professionals, the team would play hard and try to finish strong. Maybe because they've lost to so many "easy" teams, they'd play up to the competition during the "hard" part of their schedule and win a game or two. What better way for Pat Shurmur to show the fan base that he's not a total disaster by getting the players to go all out the rest of the way.
Or do they just fade away and lose the rest of their games? (The Colts have the "Suck for Luck" campaign wrapped up, so maybe the Browns can start a campaign for the second pick--"Drop a deuce for number 2?" No? I'll work on it....)
All kidding aside, I think we can learn a lot about this team by how they play in these last seven games. We'll learn a lot about Pat Shurmur especially--and I think he has to approach these games as an extended job interview. There's a good chance, because he's a good friend of Mike Holmgren, that he's back next year--but Shurmur needs to coach as if job was up for grabs.
There should be no more handing off to the tight end. No more playing for a field goal. And why not? You're not going to the playoffs, you need to find out what you have on offense--including Colt McCoy. Go hurry-up offense on the opening drive. Call more roll-outs for McCoy, who seems to be better on the run. Line Josh Cribbs in the backfield, in the slot, as a H-back--move him around and make the defense account for him.
On defense, when was the last time we saw a good hit, something that might be borderline fineable? (Let me go on the record here and say I don't condone shots to the head or laying out a defenseless receiver--who am I, James Harrison?) I know TJ Ward is currently injured so how about Mike Adams or Usama Young or even D'Qwell Jackson knock somebody on their wallet, making them think twice before romping so freely through the Browns defense? They've naturally taken the personality of Dick Jauron--very calm, very methodical--which is good. And while they deserve a lot of praise, it'd be nice to see them show some emotion and rip someone's head off.
And that's why Browns fans feel so hopeless about this team. They see guys on other teams play inspired, while they're team plays with the enthusiasm of a proctologist appointment. You just get the sense that these guys aren't having any fun. Granted, losing isn't fun for anyone, but it seems like they play on auto-pilot. It looks like they're working, the game on Sunday the equivalent of a client meeting. There's no fire, no passion--and fans are finding any reason to not watch them.
Shurmur has to get these guys playing like they have nothing to lose--which, by sheer coincidence, they don't. If he can't, he loses the fan base as well as his team. And we've seen this movie before.
Come January 2013, the Browns will be hiring the next great disciple of the West Coast Offense.