The moral victory.
Some people believe in them, others do not. We are seeing that clear divide this morning from Browns fans on talk radio and internet message boards.
There was a lot to be excited about in yesterday’s performance. Had Matt Stover’s game winning 52 yard field goal attempt been pushed just a little more left, we’d all be hailing this performance as a phenomenal victory over one of the better teams in football.
The defense played incredibly well, led by inspired performances from youngsters Kamerion Wimbley, Sean Jones, Brodney Pool, and D’Qwell Jackson. Leigh Bodden and Andra Davis played their usual solid games, and we’re finally starting to see a young and dynamic nucleus develop on the defensive side of the ball. In addition, Ted Washington and Willie McGinest finally looked like the savvy veterans we all envisioned this off-season after backing up the Brinks Truck for them. THIS was the type of defensive effort and performance I thought we’d see from the get go. The type of defensive performance that I felt would be able to keep the Browns in games, and enable the team to come close to winning as many games as they’d lose this season.
On the offensive side of the ball … Charlie Frye, Kellen Winslow II, and Braylon Edwards all verified yesterday that they are the face of this offense going forward. Despite taking a vicious Tim Couch-like beating yesterday, Frye continued to get up off his ass, shake off the hits, and make clutch plays for the team when they needed him to, putting on full display the set of intangibles that will entrench this kid as a starting quarterback in this league for many years to come. On the late interception that ended spelling doom for the Browns, you can blame a lot of different people, but that angst should not be directed Charlie’s way. Blame the blocker that allowed Bart Scott an unimpeded shot at him that caused the ball to float.
Blame Mo Carthon for calling a play that involved throwing the ball over the middle of the field as opposed to a run or fade pass to the corner. Blame Braylon Edwards for not putting his defensive back hat on when the ball was floating up for grabs between him and Chris McAllister in the back of the end zone. But I don't blame Charlie.
Me personally, I’m not a moral victory guy. At least not yet. We’ve been down this path too many times with this team before. The Browns played a very nice ballgame yesterday, and deserve credit for doing so. But I want to see the team repeat the effort, and display some consistency before I start hailing them as being definitively on the right path. This team has still yet to win back to back games under Romeo Crennel, and they are 0-3 on the season and 6-13 in the Romeo Era.
There’s a couple things that Browns fans who are elated with this loss yesterday need to keep in the backs of their minds. One, this is the same team that looked like the worst team in football the first two weeks of the season. The Browns aren’t that bad and they likely also aren’t as good as they looked yesterday.
Secondly, let’s turn back the calendar to a year ago. The Browns defeated a pretty damn good Bears team 20-10 in week four, climbing to 2-2 on the year in the process. Optimism was incredibly high. Misguided fans, starving for success, were starting to talk wildcard. The Browns went on to drop their next three games. To a bad Baltimore team, and terrible Detroit and
Houston teams … scoring 29 combined points in those three contests.
I’m honestly not trying to piss in everyone’s Corn Flakes this morning, and realize this column will likely generate some negative feedback. I just find it a little funny how excited some Browns fans are about losing a home game we had in hand to one of our arch rivals. Is that how far things have fallen here?
The Browns missed a golden opportunity to turn around the season yesterday, and I simply CANNOT be happy about that. Still very early in the year, the Browns should be 1-2 right now, and off to
Oakland to play the worst team in football with a legitimate chance to run things to .500. Instead? We’re 0-3, and a loss to the Raiders away from a 0-4 start followed by games at
Carolina and then at home against a very good Broncos team that just went into New England and spanked the Patriots.
I’m not down on the team after yesterday’s performance; I’m down on the result. When the Browns can show me effort and performance like that for three or four weeks in a row, maybe then I’ll start claiming moral victories.
But this morning? No way. I’m still trying to get that sick taste of losing to the Ravens out of my mouth.
And if that ever goes away on Monday mornings after losses, then I’ll know things have really gotten away from us.