Sunday, October 12, 2014

Exactly who are the Cleveland Browns? Who are these guys? Are the Browns teasing their fans on the kind of winning team that they can truly become if they put forth the effort? The Browns will play the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1pm on CBS on Sunday, Oct 12, a home game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland in the fifth game of the 2014 regular season, By Cleveland Urban News.Com Sportswriter Karl Kimbrough

By Karl Kimbrough, Cleveland Urban News.Com Sportswriter ( Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Leaders In Black Digital News . Tel: 216-659-0473 
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(Editor's Note: The Cleveland Browns will play the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1pm on CBS on Sunday, Oct 12, a home game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland and the fifth game of the 2014 regular season)

CLEVELAND, Ohio- Should we think of them as a reincarnation of the Cardiac Kids or might they have dipped into the potion of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Either way, this version of the Cleveland Browns football team, now with a 2-2 win-loss record after beating the Titans on Oct 5, has questions that are yet to be answered. Are they going to keep their fans on the edge of their seats in every game this season? Are they simply not very good nor very bad, or are they going through growing pains and getting ready to turn into a relevant team in the NFL that's worth looking forward to?

For the second time in their first four games the Browns gambled by last week staking the Tennessee Titans to a lopsided lead of over 23 points in the first half before dashing back in the second half to over take them in the last minutes to win the game 29 to 28. This time their unsuspecting opponents were so stunned by the round house right that the Browns hit them with that they couldn't shake off. This was unlike the first game of the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a season opener that saw the Browns lose 30-27.

In that first game, the Steelers jumped all over the Browns so fast that they thought they were in a fight with Mike Tyson going down 27 to three at the half. Fortunately, the Browns proved to have a strong chin in the first game and shook off the heymakers that the Steelers hit them with early on and battled back in the second half to take the lead late in the game before going down for the count in the final seconds.

Let's analyze last week's game winner against the Titans, the fourth game this season,  in comparison to the loss to the Steelers in game one.

Again, last Sunday the Brown were surprised by the Titans, who were one and three going into the game. They hit Cleveland with big plays that sent them reeling like the 38 yard reverse by wide receiver Kendall Wright . He found wide open field and the Browns were out of position to defend. They were back peddling on their heels, missing tackle after tackle. That big gainer led to an 11 yard touchdown run by Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who ran untouched to the end zone. How about the 29 yard pass interference call against Joe Hayden that gave the Titans a first down on Cleveland's yard line. Subsequently, Tennessee scored another touchdown, putting Cleveland in a big hole.

Wright's run in last week's game between the Browns and the Titans resembled the 38 yard run for a touchdown by Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell early in the second quarter of game one, the season opener, a loss that Browns fans would like to forget. By the end of the first half the Titans had rumbled to 120 yards rushing. Tennessee ended their barrage of touchdowns in the second quarter on a 75 yard touchdown pass to another wide open receiver, Justin Hunter ,who easily beat Browns cornerback Buster Screen.

The Titans would also have pass plays of 21 and 20 yards against Cleveland before the defense would decide to show up in the second half. Again, those pass plays for huge gains were like the running play by Wright and were reminiscent of the first half of game one with the Steelers, who bombed the Browns with a 35 yard touchdown. This was followed by three other passes for 25 yards or more in the first half. With a little more than two and a half minutes left in the half Sunday against the Titans, the Browns offense flipped the switch again, just a they did in game one at Pittsburgh at the beginning of the second half. In that second half the Browns come to life. Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer and the offense began to do their imitation of the Brian Sipe led 1980 “ Cardiac Kid” Cleveland Browns. That team kept every cardiologist in Cleveland on call on Sundays because their games were never over until they were over. Sipe often had to perform heroically to bring the Browns back to win a number of games that season.

Thirteen of their sixteen games played in that 1980 season were decided in the final two minutes of the game. Unlike these Cleveland Browns, the 1980 Browns were not missing in action for a half before they mounted comebacks. Looking like Sipe, Hoyer took Cleveland on a 90 yard drive, scoring with just seconds left in the half to cut Tennessee's lead to 18 points last week. Again, an embarrassed, but not yet beaten defense shook off the Titans barrage from the first half and shut them down in the second half, giving up no points in the third and fourth quarters in order to win the game. 

It appeared as if the defense decided to become who we thought they were going into the season, a top 10 NFL defense. They did their best Jekyll to Hyde imitation. After giving up an average of seven yards per carry in the first half Cleveland defense would limit the Titans to 29 yards rushing on 16 carries in the second half. They also shut off all of the big plays through the air by Tennessee holding them to only 109 yards passing in the second half. In contrast, Cleveland's offense had scoring drives of 56, 67, and 57 yards and out scored Tennessee 18 to 0 in the second half. The Browns defense also allowed only 127 total yards against Pittsburgh in its opening season lost on Sept 7. 

So, the up and down performances by the Browns so far this season have left everyone wondering. Who are these guys? Are the Browns teasing their fans on the kind of winning team that they can truly become if they put forth the effort?  Are they starting to put it all together or are they just average as their two and two record indicates? 

“We just got to start faster, said Browns linebacker Tank Carter. "We gotta play with more passion from the start.” 

There is no doubt about it, passionate play would be great, but at the least more effort for four quarters is need to win consistently. But are these Browns willing to give that effort? That question remains unanswered. It may be a while before we know who these guys are. But one thing is certain, if you are going to follow this team this season you better check your heart and be ready for an emotional roller coaster.  ( / (