First, let’s do a little review of last week: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
1. The Good: Jason Campbell
Now, let’s not confuse good with great. Jason Campbell was just good. But good was good enough for me. Campbell completed 22 of 36 pass attempts for 293 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a QB rating of 105.4. Most notably, he was sacked only once by the NFL’s best defense, showing off quick decision-making and scrambling capabilities not possessed by Brandon Weeden.
After this performance, Chud was quick to announce Campbell as the starter for this coming Sunday against the Ravens. And I feel good about this. Not great, but good.
2. The Bad: Defense
You might want to argue with me over this. You might say that the defense started off bad and then got better in the second half. I don’t care. Bad for the first half is just bad. The Browns defense allowed Alex Smith (not exactly a threatening passer) to go 18 of 26 for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. How did this happen? The Chiefs offense converted 9 of 12 third downs in the first half of the game! If you let any team convert 75% of its third downs it is going to win, even if it does so with field goals. There is no excuse for playing beautiful defense on the first two downs, and then scratching your ass on the third one, especially 9 times in one half!
(Side Note—It would be wrong not to mention the one defensive achievement the Browns had against the Chiefs. They held Jamaal Charles to 74 rushing yards and 46 receiving yards and prevented him from scoring for the first time this season.)
3. The Ugly: Davone Bess
Davone Bess is the new Greg Little. His performance against the Chiefs was just awful. Three dropped passes and a fumbled punt return…. awful. He actually single-handedly cost us the game… TWICE. First, he botched a punt return at midfield that would have given the Browns, only trailing by three at the time, beautiful field position for at least a game-tying field goal, if not a game-winning touchdown. Instead, he fumbled the ball and gave the Chiefs the field position to score another field goal, putting them up by six. Then, he dropped a beautifully thrown pass on fourth and seven that would have led to a first down and given the Browns a legitimate chance at the comeback win.
After Travis Benjamin was injured (Update—Benjamin is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. I have not accepted this yet, so I will not be commenting on it further.), I yelled that Fozzy Whittaker should be returning all of the punts. (Yes, I believe that yelling at the TV during Browns games is a valid exercise of my time and vocal talent. I believe this because my dad taught me it was so. If you don’t agree, you’re wrong.) Anyway, I digress… Fozzy has been doing a great job with kick-off returns, and I thought having him return punts made the most sense. Apparently, however, Fozzy doesn’t want to return anything but kick-offs, so we are stuck with Bess in this role for the foreseeable future. Ugh.
Speaking of the future, let’s talk about this coming Sunday a little.
4. Back to the Future
First, let’s revisit Week 9 last year for some insight into Week 9 this year. Much like last year, the Browns are scheduled to take on the Ravens in Week 9. But the similarities with last season end there. Last year, the Ravens won the Super Bowl. The likelihood of that happening this year is essentially nonexistent. In last year’s Week 9 face-off, the Browns lost to the Ravens 25 to 15. At the time, the Ravens were 6-2, and the Browns were 2-6. This year going into Week 9, both teams have only 3 wins. Last year, the Ravens went into Week 9 with 10 consecutive AFC North wins. This year, the Ravens will face the Browns with 0 consecutive division wins, having just lost to the [abysmal] Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago.
5. Feeling [Guardedly] Optimistic
Clearly, the Ravens are not the team they were last season. (Let’s be honest. No one expected them to be. They lost their best defensive player in Ray Lewis (retired) and their best offensive player in Anquan Boldin (49ers). PS—If you are a Ravens fan who is currently feeling the urge to insist that Joe Flacco was, and still is, your best offensive player… hahahaha… ok.) Anyway, it’s important to remember that the Browns almost won their last meet up with the Ravens back in September. Unfortunately, the Browns blew a halftime lead, giving up two touchdowns while failing to score in the second half. But, the Browns were missing Josh Gordon (suspension) that game. Also, Weeden looked like Weeden, and the defense was exhausted by the fourth quarter after spending way too much time on the field. I think with Jason Campbell at the helm and Josh Gordon catching the ball, the Browns have a better chance of winning this Sunday. Time to end the Ravens’ 5 year, 11 game winning streak against the Browns.